In other postings on The Innkeeper's Resource we often talk about tools like Google Alerts that can help you monitor your "social presence." We have a regular Google Alert for "The B&B Team." It lets us know if someone might be using our trademarked name, so we can address it, but the spinoff is that one comes across some interesting links. This morning there was an alert that flagged "B&B" in the article. It caught my eye for a very good reason.
The title was "The Importance of Proper Signage Advertising Your Business." It's a blog post by a young Irish woman who was traveling in Italy (I assume). They'd found a business card from a B&B, called the owner, and were directed to the property. As they approached they saw the poor quality, amateurish sign and almost turned away, imagining the worst. Fortunately, they forged on and were delighted to find a wonderful country inn!
There are two great lessons for innkeepers here. The first is that those business cards and rack cards that you distribute around town at friendly businesses, etc. can actually pay off with the serendipitous traveler. There are great stories of innkeepers who have really used everyone from gift shops and restaurants to their local mechanic's garage to promote their B&B. The cost is low and the payback can be big.
The second, perhaps more important, lesson goes to the heart of the article: signage matters! Most B&B's in recent years have done a good job with their signs. Sign makers are present at conference trade shows and are readily available online. Good signs aren't cheap, as anyone who has bought one will tell you. Unfortunately, most signs won't last forever.
We see lots of great inns whose signs seem to be the forgotten stepchild. While you pay lots of attention to your rooms, when was the last time you took a close look at your street sign? Is it a bit moldy? Maybe it's started to rot. Even slate signs can start to turn green with algae. If your sign is less than pristine, consider a simple cleaning, repainting, or even replacement. It matters. They always say you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and this applies to signs as much as it does to your web site, which is where the real first impression is. But I'll leave that for another post!
On the topic of signs, there's one other perspective. Some B&Bs out there have absolutely magnificent signs (or websites), but the B&B itself disappoints. I'm not saying to dumb down your sign, but it's always a good reminder to look at EVERYTHING you do to make it the very best it can be. In these tough economic times, especially if business is slow going into the winter, take advantage of the extra time to do something really positive for yourself and your business. Deep clean. Repaint. Caulk. Upgrade some linens and towels. Spend some time (and money if necessary) improving your website. You and your guests will be glad you did!