Every year The B&B Team travels to various innkeeping conferences, sometimes to exhibit in the trade show, but always as speakers. In the past month we attended the Mid-Atlantic Innkeepers Conference and Trade Show in Hot Springs, Virginia and just this week were at the 17th annual conference of CABBI, the California Association of Bed & Breakfast Inns, in Monterey. As always, we had a great time meeting innkeepers and speaking about topics that we're passionate about, like "Attracting the i.guest in a Slowing Economy"(a version of which we presented on a PAII webinar recently) and "Inn Branding and Market Positioning."
In both of these presentations we focus on the contemporary traveler, the i.guest, who is intelligent, independent, informed, imaginative, Internet-savvy and empowered, and Identified. This i.guest is using the Internet and social media to make travel decisions, and one of the topics that always comes up when we mention blogs is, "Does a blog bring innkeepers business?"
While we have anecdotal evidence that it does, based on some innkeepers who swear by their blogs, there is some new evidence of a blog's effectiveness in generating new business.
Stephanie at the Albert Shafsky House Bed & Breakfast in Placerville, CA has been writing a blog for a year and a half. Before speaking to an eager audience at CABBI about blogging and social media, she showed us her Google Analytics page that proved that one of the top referrers to her B&B's website is her blog. And her bounce rate on those referrals is a mere 25% or so. That's quite something. She thinks that the blog is integral to their marketing, along with the B&B's Facebook page and other efforts. Steph and Rita are really working social media, and it's paying off.
This morning I received a Google Alert linking to My Bella Vita, a blog by an American innkeeper in Italy, Cherrye Moore, at Il Cedro in Calabria. We exchanged an email or two, and I asked her if she got any business from her blog. Her reply was that her "blog site has been a great source of leads for our B&B." She also made an incredibly valuable point, that many people go out of their way to book with them, "because they feel like they know us through the blog." That, folks, is what social media, Web 2.0, Travel 2.0, and all the other stuff is about. Successful innkeeping is about building relationships and providing enduring experiences.
If a blog at your inn could help you build relationships before you've ever met a potential guest, that's really getting a head start on a long term relationship that can pay great dividends, both financial and "psychic," as Holly Stiel likes to say.
For all the inspiration from all the innkeepers mentioned above and those that keep us going every day, all I can say, again to echo Holly Stiel (and some guy with sideburns), is "Thank you, thank you very much!"