Inn Consultants and Brokers Since 1993

The B&B Team

Rick Wolf and Peter Scherman (that’s Rick on the left and Peter on the right) are both experienced speakers who have presented on a range of innkeeping related topics at the state, regional, and national level. They gather and analyze research for the Innkeeping industry and welcome the opportunity to share it with others. Contact Us

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Archive for the ‘Market Trends’ Category

What do Millennials Want?

March 26th, 2018 by Janet Wolf

what do millennials want

What Do Millennials Want?

Remember this catchphrase from TV’s The Brady Bunch? “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha”. Her sister Jan thought she got all the attention. Today it’s millennials, millennials, millennials, its’ all about millennials!

What do millennials want? How much attention should we give them? One thing for sure, we must pay attention to them as active consumers with disposable income. About 10 million millennials make over $100,000. And double that for 2 income couples.

Wednesday at the AIHP Knowledge Sharing Summit & Marketplace. I listened to Jeff Fromm’s session, ‘The Financial Impact of Millennial Influence on Travel‘. Among many attributes, Jeff is known as the Millennial Marketing Guy. He’s done all the research, written the books and has some great insights.

Some millennial facts:

what do millennials want? All you Baby Boomers out there know this TV catchphrase. For everyone else, Google it. I digress…

Millennials were born between 1977-1995

Comprising of about 25% of the U.S. population

As a group they are larger than the Baby Boomers

Three times the size of Generation X (born 1965-1976)

These facts alone give us reasons to pay attention, work on your business to be relevant and attract this generation of active consumers. “Brands old and new, cannot afford to ignore this generation.”

An interesting insight from Jeff; “Consumers date brands before they fall in love”. Online dating of course.

Let’s start the conversation with this mindset.

Timeline: shop..date…fall in love…get married for life?

Maybe, unless that brand messes up, becomes irrelevant, inconsistent and loses their trust. Or if you are a millennial, you may just get bored and want to try something new. Think about it. Would you, millennial or not, go back to the same brand if it disappointed you, or would you shop another brand? You know the answer.

“Understand that millennials are the ultimate day traders, and that’s what’s driving changes in food, restaurants, travel, insurance,” says Jeff Fromm. “If your brand isn’t unique, you run the risk of being traded out for private-label or a low-cost alternative.” Jeff Fromm

Our industry’s B&B’s could be described as ‘private label’. We sure aren’t the Hilton or Motel 6.  So how can you get that millennial to trade out to you?

I am picking 3 areas of focus from Jeff’s session. Focusing on what may help you create and sustain a brand that millennials will shop, date and fall in love with.

Unique and Innovative

put an egg on it

New England Johnny Cod Cake with Poached Egg, Oven Roasted tomatoes and Lemon-Tarragon Aioli– Inn at Pleasant Lake, NH

Are you serving the same breakfast you served 5 years ago? Breakfast is half your name. Millennials as well as older generations with millennial mindsets are adventurous eaters. Food trends are constantly changing. Discovering and trying out new recipes is fun. Make them as visually appealing as they are appealing to the pallet. Millennials want to share their experiences on social media but only if they are worth sharing.

Adventurous

Millennials are searching for new experiences in everything. Travel for sure. Does your website show potential guests unique adventurous experiences inside and outside your property? Or do you show the same outdated guest room photos, typical romance packages (that everyone else has) and lists of ‘things to do’ (without any links or photos) that hasn’t been updated in years. Unfortunately, The B&B Team sees this all to often.

what do millennials want?

Dogsledding-Mush your own dogsled memorable adventure. Lodge at Moosehead Lake, Maine

It is easy to connect with local businesses that offer unique and adventurous experiences. Create packages with them. Wherever your inn is located, there are adventures nearby.

Frictionless Journey

How easily are you found on a web search? First, you want to come up at the top of pages in a search of Inns in your area. If not, your SEO needs help. Pretend you are a potential guest (millennial or not) and do a search. You may be surprised. Second, how easy is your booking process. Seamless? Is your PMS (property management system) outdated? May be time to research a new, innovative user friendlier system. Third, how frictionless is your check-in procedure? Can guests access your inn after hours with a keyless lock system? Or do you wait up for them, greet them with tired eyes and impatient words?

These questions and examples just touch on the insights that Jeff spoke about.

A final insight from Jeff Fromm. Successful brands: “Treat others the way they want to be treated”. Plus…“Always be helping”. These things are huge when sustaining your brand.

Innkeepers have got that down, right? But there is always room for improvement, for more love.

Thanks for Listening,

Janet Wolf

Wellness Tourism-Growing Trends

March 19th, 2018 by Janet Wolf

wellness tourism growing trend

Wellness Tourism-Growing Trends

Wellness tourism is a 500-billion-dollar segment of the travel industry. Looks like something innkeepers should consider integrating into their business plan. Don’t leave a piece of that 500-billion-dollar pie on the plate!

AIHP Knowledge Sharing Summit and Marketplace, day two.

I attended Julie Pankey’s session, Top Trends in Wellness Tourism, The Guest Experience. After many years of experience managing and growing successful hospitality spas, Julie formed her own spa consulting services company, J M Pankey Partners. She is very passionate about what she does, a huge key to her success.

Here is a brief summation of Julie’s top ten wellness tourism trends, with some added observations from me.

Welltality

A nice take on the word hospitality. Is welltality the new hospitality? In the hotel industry many are marketing themselves as ‘healthy hotels”. Take a look at what hotels are doing and incorporate some of the features into your ‘healthy B&B’. One example from Julie’s session was introducing dawn simulator alarm clocks or sunrise clocks into your guest rooms. For more information: The 10 Best Wake-up Light Therapy Alarm clocks to Buy in 2018. Listing the types of clocks available and their individual attributes. Possibly a nice wellness touch to your Inn? Also, take a look at Nature’s Tribute-doTerra Essential Oils.

Wellness trends

Dawn Simulator

Incorporate the Outdoors

 

Wellness tourism trends

Jumping Rock Photography-Cheshire Cat Inn, CA

Create outdoor spaces that become an extension of your Inn’s brand, style and ambience. The B&B Team is seeing Inns create outdoor spaces that are transformed into outdoor rooms. Not just a few chairs on a deck.

  • Private decks with an outdoor shower, hot tub, fire table with a nice view. That’s the ticket!
  • And beyond the porch, fire-pits, waterfalls into pools, fountains, great landscaping with outdoor lighting.
  • Winding paths to secluded spots with seating.

And don’t forget to showcase these areas with great photos. It’s not only the Wow affect but the Ahh affect. To add that Ahh affect to your property, check out Outdoor Lighting Perspectives. They were an exhibitor, speaker and sponsor at the conference.

Wellness tourism

Fire Table-Hermann Hill Inn, Hermann Missouri

Sustainability

Being mindful of using local products. Food especially. Many inns incorporate this into their brand and marketing successfully. Important to capture the guest looking for a ‘foodie’ wellness experience.

From The Inn at Weathersfield in Vermont

We know our farmers by name. 

For most of the year, over 75% of our ingredients come from within a 25 mile radius of the inn or from our IW Heirloom Garden. Just before winter appears, we stock our root cellar to carry us through until spring.

So…when tomato or corn are not in season, you’re probably not going to find it on our menu unless it’s been preserved.

To be an authentic farm-to-table restaurant, we know we have to keep things REAL.

 

Extreme Wellness

One step beyond the expected. One example mentioned was ‘salt rooms’ and ‘salt lamps’. I had never heard of this. What I found:

Salt therapy is a natural therapy that has been practiced since the 18th century. it involves inhaling dry salt, which can help cleanse both the airways and the skin to relieve congestion, inflammation and skin irritations. In a salt rooms or salt cave a halogenerator grind up pharmaceutical grade salt into minute particles that become airborne when dispersed into the room.”

May be worth finding out if you have one in your area and partner with them. Business partnerships can be a real asset to your Inn business. Making your partner businesses easily accessible to your guests.

Well NOT Wealth

This is offering your guest a retreat from technology. Regaining personal connections. Turn off the Wi-Fi, no phones, tablets, etc. allowed. Lock them up in a safe! This is a tough one, but just maybe this could be attractive to guests seeking a real getaway from it all. You must admit, todays small portable electronics glued to our eyes and ears for hours on end can create a lot of stress. There is always the old fashioned land line open for emergency communication.

Inn at English Meadows-Sunrise Room-Soft colors, clean, fresh. AHH

Another trend The B&B Team has been seeing is incorporating a spa like feel into guest rooms.

  • Hardwood floors.
  • Soft color palettes.
  • Bathrooms with spa features, luxury showers with body sprays, rainwater shower heads.

Another example of the non-extreme and more reasonable wellness approach from Julie.

“I am working with an Inn in Sandwich, MA to help them transform their suites into wellness suites.  Each of these rooms already have smart TV’s, king size beds, jacuzzi tubs, in room air purifiers and sleep sound machines so it will be really easy to incorporate yoga mats and a smart TV on demand fitness and relaxation programs as well as relaxing bath accessories and products, we will also add a mini bar of wellness products which may include sleep mask, relaxing pillow mist, anti-aging pillow case, foot cream and cozy spa socks, hydrating facial sheet mask and other goodies that just transformed these rooms into wellness rooms with very little money being spent.”  

wellness tourism

Upon arrival…Warm or chilled towels depending on the weather plus refreshment. Not just in the tropics but anywhere! Ahh

Think beyond the massage. Whether you have a spa, plan on opening one or just want to integrate some of these trends into your own business, being aware of these ‘welltality’ trends is enlightening and good food for thought. Always know that improvements, additional services and amenities are investments that will pay for themselves with increased rates and well marketed packages.

Thank you Julie Pankey for your enlightening session. JM Pankey Partners offers a Spa Hive Community, a place to “share ideas, solve challenges and connect with leaders and colleagues in the spa industry in a secure and private group.”

Thanks for Listening,

Janet Wolf

 

Online Marketing Made Simple

February 22nd, 2018 by Janet Wolf

Online Marketing made simple

The Lodge at Moosehead Lake’s New Head of Guest Relations and Marketing!

Online marketing made simple? I think this is an oxymoron (a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction). Any moron knows online marketing/social media is NOT simple, but I got your attention, right?

In a recent article by Steve Olenski in Marketing Insider Group, ‘4 Online Marketing Tips That May Sound Obvious But Should Not Be Overlooked’, the author attempts simplicity. I will further attempt to simplify his 4 tips.

Understand that Social Media Constantly Changes

  • Instagram is taking the lead with “more than 500 million active daily users”.
  • Facebook has fallen behind for the first time recently.
  • “Facebook created quite the buzz when they began limiting organic exposure in an effort to drive more businesses to run paid ads. Instagram is currently making headlines for doing the same thing now.”
  • But Facebook is still an important social media tool for you. It is still a good place to share basic information and direct visitors to your website. Don’t give up on it, even though those ads may drive you crazy.
  • Instagram-Show what you offer

whitefenceswatermill#breakfast on the go! #international #travels can’t stay for breakfast but we have them covered! #coffee and #croissant #bedandbreakfast

Don’t Get Hung Up on Outdated SEO Techniques

The one and most important tip here is, SEO is not a good DIY project!

  • Old outdated techniques and strategies are just that, old and outdated. “What worked several years ago just simply isn’t effective these days, and in many instances can get your website penalized.”
  • “Want to master 2018 SEO? Learn from people who are practitioners, not just talkers.”
  • We have many excellent ‘practitioners’ in our industry. Work with them and you will get the best results.
  • Refer to The B&B Team’s Industry Referrals page for a list of internet marketing companies that are leaders in our industry.

Share Your Story and Leverage It to Connect with Your Target Audience

This is my favorite tip. Something innkeepers should make sure they do, not only on social media but face to face with guests, community and staff.

  • “Your personal brand can be one of your most valuable marketing channels, but it requires putting yourself out there and sharing your story. Most consumers will connect with a person over a brand much easier.”
  • “The average consumer is going to welcome inspirational and educational lessons coming from a business owner, while blocking out messages that come from a company and reek of an advertisement.”

Create Content That Delivers Value

Content Marketing, the buzz phrase that has been out there for a long time. On all Social Media platforms.

  • “Focus on creating content your audience loves so much that they are encouraged to share it on social media. The referral traffic and social shares will positively impact your SEO naturally.”
  • This includes the image driven platforms, Instagram and Pinterest.
  • Check out this blog; ‘The Nine Ingredients That Make Great Content’.

I am going to end with sharing what I believe to be a very clever and compelling email newsletter from The Lodge at Moosehead Lake, it illustrates great personalized content that connects, tells a story and promotes. Opening with an image of a cute dog, always a great way to engage! Go Phoebe.

Thanks for Listening,

Janet Wolf

Recap of Top 10 Lodging Trends 2017

December 6th, 2017 by Janet Wolf

Recap of Top 10 Lodging Trends 2017

As the year winds to a close I thought I would compile a recap of top 10 lodging trends 2017. Some of these come from blogs I have written this year and others from a quick Google search of hotel/lodging trend articles.

1. In-room technology. The two items that stood out were: High-definition flat screen TV and high-speed Wi-Fi. It is all about providing the best picture and the fastest band width. Instant gratification plus a shorter attention span are the drivers.

2. Varied dining options. In most of your Inns, it is breakfast. The trends are:

Grab & Go Yogurt Parfait

Yogurt Parfaits – For your early risers

  • Grab & Go for early risers and early departures.
  • Letting your guests know (on your website breakfast page and/or booking process) that their food allergies and/or preferences are gladly accommodated.  Stressing they MUST let them know in advance.
  • Lighter fare options at breakfast. See The B&B Team Pinterest board for some great lighter fare breakfast ideas.

3. Self-check-in options for after hours. Convenience and peace of mind for the many guests that are delayed for a variety of reasons. Or just want to mosey their way to you without a time schedule.

4. Communal areas that bring people together. Hotels have been remodeling their lobbies to become more people friendly. Your common rooms and dining rooms may need a revamping too. Sometimes it can be as simple as rearranging your furniture to create comfortable communal seating areas or creating comfortable reading or laptop working nooks with great lighting.

Example of dining/common room divided into communal areas. Used beyond breakfast! Jumping Rocks Photography

5. Don’t forget the millennials. The ‘millennial appetite’ is not just about food or a more contemporary design. In addition, they are more into a healthy lifestyle, self-growth, and digital technology. They may want to experience the same places (your Inn and location) their parents have but experience them in a different way. They are a bit more adventurous and willing to explore ‘outside the box.’

6. Paying attention to your guests’ experiences outside your Inn as well as inside your Inn. Get to know them before they arrive. In your confirmation email you can ask them targeted questions. Why are you travelling to… (name your town and state)? Are you celebrating a special date? Take your pick of questions but don’t make it an inquisition, you’ll lose them.

7. Bring in the locals. Hospitality has always been focused on the traveler, as it should. But what about the locals? There are business influencers in your community that can benefit you and your Inn. Events like Pop-up dinners, Inn tours, holiday open house, Chamber After Hours, and hosting local charity events.  These events welcome locals into your Inn which brings awareness to your Inn and you!

8. The new definition of luxury. Read my past blog on that subject.

9. Mobile friendly websites. Getting back to technology. Today 51.8% use mobile devices to book. In 2019, the estimate is 86.4%. ‘Nuff said.

10. Video. 4 times as many customers would rather watch a short video relating to a product or service than read about it. Create your own or find out if your town chamber or state tourism organization has a video you can use on your website.

Woods Hole Inn, Woods Hole Massachusetts has a great video.

I know that many of you out there have been paying attention to these recap of top 10 lodging trends 2017, but there are still the innkeepers out there who are lagging. For those laggards, in the long run (your future) it will affect your business negatively. It is December and the future is just around the corner. Time to make your list and check it twice in 2018.

Thanks for Listening,

Janet Wolf

Bed & Breakfast Bathroom Appeal

November 30th, 2017 by Janet Wolf

bathroom appeal

Bed & Breakfast Bathroom Appeal-Photo by Christian Giannelli

We have all heard about how important curb appeal is to properties. There is also the ongoing trend and need to create bathroom appeal. I would like to share some highlights from a recent article titled, Hotels upgrade bathrooms for more demanding guests’.

From the article, here is what the vice president of Marriott global design strategies had to say. “We’re spending more time focusing on bathrooms because so many of our customers have upgraded bathroom experiences in their own homes with fancy amenities, elaborate finishes and integrated technology.”

So true. Over the last number of years The B&B Team have seen innkeepers, (who are their own ‘design strategists’), replace jetted whirlpools with soaking tubs or used the space to install double showers with body sprays and other ‘bells and whistles’!

Lighting is another design feature that is important. Correct lighting for grooming surrounding the vanity/sink area adds to your bathroom appeal. Another informative article, ‘How to Pick the Best Bathroom Vanity Lighting for You’. 

From the article, “Grooming requires just the right amount of well-placed lighting. Too little and you won’t be able to see what you’re doing. Too much lighting, or poor placement can cause glare issues.”

Plus the technology of light fixtures and bulb choices is very sophisticated (confusing!) today.  One suggested rule is side lighting. Avoid lighting above the mirror which can produce shadows if not placed properly. The article from Lightology gives great advise on the height and suggested amount of light.  Worth a read. 

Another suggestion is dimmers. Not just for the vanity but all lighting in the bathroom. Your electrician can suggest the type of dimmers for the fixtures you are installing or already have. As we tell folks in our seminar for aspiring innkeepers, “Nothing takes the edge off of romance like multiple 100 watts of light.” It IS all about the experience, soft lighting and soft music, you got it.  

Here are a few examples:

bathroom appeal

Bathroom Appeal-Eden Vale Inn, Placerville CA. Jumping Rocks Photography

Note the rain shower head, soft side lighting (dimmable) for the vanity and shower light. The colors are also warm and inviting.

Example of a relaxing ‘slipper tub’ that replaced a ‘retired’ and noisy jetted tub.

Bahtroom appeal

Maine Stay Inn, Kennebunkport ME-Cottage Bathroom Makeover

Example of a luxury cottage that had a kitchenette and small bathroom. Voila…same space with double sink vanity with large luxury shower. Notice the pocket door, a real space saver.

I think you get the picture, literally. Notice there are no toilets in these photos? We know there is a toilet somewhere. Now if you have an automated bidet with heated seat, now that may require a photo!

Thanks for Listening,

Janet Wolf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rise of the Independent Innkeeper

January 13th, 2016 by Janet Wolf

independent innkeeper

Lookout Point Lakeside Inn-Prime example of a unique independent successful Inn

Over the last few years much has been written about the travelling public’s changing wants and needs. There was and is much talk about “experiential travel,” “live like a local” and other catching phrases that target today’s travelling public.  Who better to deliver a local experience than our industry’s independent innkeeper? My last blog boldly stated that “2016 is the year of the entrepreneur/innkeeper.” Now I state that 2016 is the “rise of the independent innkeeper!” Read on.

“Travelers don’t necessarily want that golden bathtub anymore but would rather pay more for an unforgettable experience. Luxury is now shifting from ‘having’ to ‘being’.” From “The rise of independent hotels” By Mendes Cavin, Founder & Managing Partner, Miners Hospitality

Mr. Cavin points out in his writing that the smaller independent hotel has an advantage over the larger hotel chains because they can adapt quicker to the changing traveler trends.

“Being able to adapt to the quickly changing customer demands has become the biggest advantage of individual hotels and small hotel chains.”

Independent properties like our B&B’s and full service inns with restaurants can be more flexible and can create “experiential” packages, add new and unique amenities and create menus using local foods without the reporting layers and corporate red tape of a large chain. Mr. Cavin predicts that there will be “a shift of travelers moving from large brands to their unique type of hotels.”

Humm…I see an advantage here as well as a challenge.

“The world is in constant change and so should you. Guests want to see, feel, taste something new all the time or else it gets boring. As a hotelier you will have to keep re-inventing yourself to stay ahead of your competition.”

OK, independent properties like B&B’s and full service inns have the advantage, the question is, are you recognizing this advantage and working it to your advantage? Are you keeping it exciting and re-inventing yourself?

We all know it is very easy to get into a rut. Your business is increasing, you are receiving more return guests, it is “steady as she goes!” So you sit back and enjoy the view. (I see a rut coming.) And once you are in it, it is harder to dig yourself out. But dig you must. The alternative is not a pretty picture.

One way to do this is to network with other innkeepers, learn from industry experts and expand your mind and discover the opportunites available to help you”re-invent yourself and stay ahead of the competition.”

How? Easy. Look at your calender and mark the dates of April 4-6. The 2016 Knowledge Sharing Summit and Marketplace. Nashville TN, the place to be.

INDEPENDENT INNKEEPER

Want to learn the latest in innovation to ensure your success in the bed and breakfast and independent lodging industry? Then you have found your home.

From personal experience the best way to learn, network with like-minded independent innkeepers, meet new friends, refresh and have fun at the same time is to attend an industry conference. When Rick and I became innkeepers in 1999, innkeepers from a neighboring B&B encouraged us to attend our first innkeeping conference. Actually as I recall they didn’t just encourage us but told us we HAD to go! It truly was the best advice given to us as new innkeepers. Throughout our careers as innkeepers and partners/owners of The B&B Team®, we have continued to attend Innkeeping conferences as sponsors, speakers and volunteers.

Make 2016 be the Year of the Independent Innkeeper. Take advantage of the vast knowledge that is so readily available to you at the upcoming AIHP conference. Rediscover your ability to be unique, inventive and creative. There is no one holding you back except you.

See you in Nashville!

Thanks for Listening,

Janet Wolf

Trip Advisor-The Hate/Love Relationship Continues or Does It?

November 16th, 2015 by Janet Wolf

tripadvisor-inc-logo

 

In the beginning there was Trip Advisor, the review site. A hate/love relationship flourished within the lodging industry including bed and breakfasts. No big news here.

‘Slowly I turned…step by step..inch by inch’… and Trip Advisor became the largest travel related website in the world. For those who could see into the future it became inevitable that Trip Advisor would become a travel ‘seller’, going up against the hotel metasearch engines, vying for their position.

That is just what has happened. Here are  two stats to illustrate Trip Advisor’s huge influence in the metasearch marketplace.

TA   68,378,830

Expedia   32,976,218

October 2015 data which includes mobile web and desktop PC visits. For the complete lists of stats see ‘TripAdvisor dominates web visits, so no wonder everyone is scared’, a very eye opening (pun intended) article by Kevin May, a co-founder of Tnooz.

For bed and breakfasts and other small lodging properties, with the emergence of Trip Advisor’s  TripConnect, the love/hate relationship continues. Or does it?

I decided to ask some innkeepers who are participating in the program to weigh in on their experiences.

From the Afton Mountain B&B, Virginia.

“We are enrolled only on the pay-per-click side of TripConnect, not instant booking. We’ve actually received a good response (and bookings) from it and will definitely continue. One interesting note is that you don’t need a business listing to be enrolled in TripConnect (at least not the PPC side). Because we are in a less competitive market, our PPC cost is quite low. So our return is extremely good.”

This innkeeper is referring to the TripConnect™ cost-per-click campaign. When you see that in just one month there were over 68 million visitors to Trip Advisor, getting involved with the action appears to be pretty compelling.  The CPC campaign allows the guests to book directly with you using TA’s ‘official site’ logo button that links to your website. This is a nice feature, one that innkeepers can possibly love?

Another possible love-in. “Unlike most other travel website “instant booking” options, Trip Advisor’s auction (CPC) model is making it affordable for independent properties and small chains to compete against other travel websites.” Kevin May.

Trip Advisor Instant Booking is in all manner of speaking, another OTA. With a few twists and turns to set itself apart. With seemingly competitive commission rates, plus upgrading to Trip Advisor Business, it can becomes pricy for small businesses.

Like any marketing tool, TripConnect cost-per-click campaign is available to help put heads in beds. It is the return on your investment that is the determining factor. Having the ability to budget and track your clicks is something innkeepers can control.

From the Brewster House Inn, Freeport, Maine.

“We participated for a few months (maybe a year ago) and never even went through our $50/ month experimental pay-per-click budget. We quit, as we felt no business came from it, but that Trip Advisor was really only being used for vetting us, albeit with excellent results.”

Trip Advisor is still the 900 pound gorilla in the room, now we know he is gaining weight. As  independent innkeeper business owners you can choose and create our own marketing campaigns. As technology grows it becomes more complicated and challenging, there is no doubt. But…

With Trip Advisor’s increased dominance in the travel world, love or leave it, their huge influence cannot be ignored.

Thanks for Listening,

Janet Wolf

 

The Path of Connectivity in Marketing Your Inn

September 22nd, 2015 by Janet Wolf

The Path of Connectivity and it is crowded!

                   The Path of Connectivity and it is crowded!

As innkeepers, your job, and the job of the marketing firm or marketing association you have hired or joined, is to connect people with your Inn, your brand message. The path of connectivity in marketing your inn has evolved since the emergence of the internet so many years ago. It is hard to even remember marketing without it!

According to Lisa Gevelber in an article entitled, “The Shift to Constant Connectivity,” “What distinguishes great marketers is their unwavering focus on those people – on their needs, behaviors, intentions, wants – and an ability to avoid the shiny temptations of marketing solely to things – like devices, channels, technologies.” What does marketing to things mean? I believe it means using technologies to push a product, “buy this because it is cool.” Basically the difference between marketing and branding.

“A brand will help encourage someone to buy a product, and it directly supports whatever sales or marketing activities are in play, but the brand does not explicitly say ‘buy me.’ Instead, it says ‘This is what I am. This is why I exist. If you agree, if you like me, you can buy me, support me, and recommend me to your friends.’ James Heaton,‘”The Difference Between Marketing and Branding.”

Let’s look at an example of how marketing “solely to things” can create disconnects.

People can be easily lured by the flashy veneer of a property on the web, but when a guest’s feet hit the floor of the reception area, this is where the guest experience starts or…

Here is an example. Recently some friends of ours checked into a new property basically to see if all the recent publicity stood up to the reality. Here is what they experienced.

  • They asked for restaurant recommendations and were told that there were not many “good” restaurants in the area. The staff at the reception desk went on to  recommend the restaurant at the Inn. They told her they had dined at their restaurant last night and wanted to try something else. Blank face and no recommendations were offered. Are you kidding me! Disconnect.
  • Their guest room looked great on the web (flashy) but the rate and the room size and features created a definite disconnect. Nothing wrong with a small entry level room but it must match the rate and this room did not deliver value. Disconnect.

Remember what was said earlier, good marketers focus on reaching the people, their needs, behaviors, intentions and wants. This Inn was good at the “look at me, buy me, I am cool,” but beyond that the lure was broken.

Here is an example of innkeepers and their marketing team that “get it.”

Linda and Dennis Bortis, innkeepers of The Lodge at Moosehead Lake wanted their brand message delivered. Here is what they had to say after their new website and photography was launched back in 2010.

Just one of many experiences at The Lodge at Moosehead Lake

One of many experiences at The Lodge at Moosehead Lake

“We are the only lodging in inland Maine that provides an authentic North Woods experience in the lap of luxury.  It’s this story that became the communication message we want the lodge to be known for. In the world of small hospitality properties, as for most small businesses, the Internet is the Great Equalizer.”

The Lodge at Moosehead Lake

The Lodge at Moosehead Lake

Now, this was in 2010 and their message is still strong on their website. But the constant connectivity and the multi-screen reality that has evolved since 2010 is also apparent in their marketing. The increased ability to reach their audience through new technologies is understood by the innkeepers and their ongoing relationship with their internet marketing group, White Stone Marketing and Jumping Rocks Photography.

Does The Lodge at Moosehead Lake have great rooms with custom log beds, views of Moosehead Lake, luxury bathrooms, a fire pit by the lake, great food (lobsters!) and signature cocktails? You bet and much more. But these are the things that support their brand, that complete the package. People come the Inn to experience the overwhelming beauty and adventure of the Moosehead Lake Region. Linda and Dennis provide this because they know what their guests want and need while visiting them. No disconnect here!

In conclusion, we know that advancements in technology are constantly growing and changing at a rapid pace, that 99% of your guests are constantly connected and are your guests today and tomorrow.  They have followed that path of connectivity, have you? The new technologies are available as a benefit to enhance your marketing. It will never replace you and the experiences you provide for your guests. That is the connection that is sustainable.

I’ll end with another great quote. “The brand is what remains after marketing has swept through the room.” Love that! Thank you James Heaton.

Thanks for Listening,

Janet Wolf

Amazon Destination-New Travel Brand

May 18th, 2015 by Janet Wolf

Amazon destination

Road Trips-Not Flights

Another mega company, Amazon, (which means big anyway), has moved into the travel industry with a new direction. It is now connected to Amazon Local but will soon be on its own.

Here is Amazon Destination’s brand focus.

  • Created to solve problem-“How to easily plan and book a local getaway trip.”
  • Weekend getaway within driving distances from major metro areas.
  • Road Trips-Not Flights
  • Moving towards including independent properties, regional groups, chains and B&B’s.
  • Right now the areas they are featuring are the Pacific Northwest, Southern California and the Northeast. They plan to expand.

I like that they will include the smaller independent properties. Not just the big hotel chains. They will charge standard commissions and use published rates. Sounds like they want to differentiate themselves from the popular OTA’s that fill rooms with rock bottom rates. They say they want to be able to offer full-price inventory during peak periods to “a large qualified audience.” Sounds like a good opportunity for our industry.

I also like that vacation planners can go to the property’s  websites and view the room inventory.  No blind bookings.

Including boutique hotels and B&B’s in their inventory is encouraging. Another outlet to showcase to the traveling public what we are all about. Our small lodging industry has always been about local getaway road trips. 40% of all U.S. domestic leisure trips are short-term getaways of 1-3 nights and many of these trips are nearby, drivable distances.

Amazon Destination catskills

The Graham & Co in the Catskills. “rough-lux”.

I went on their website and searched for a place to stay in the Catskill Mountains of New York. Discovered two properties I would book in a heartbeat. An 18 room boutique B&B The Woodstock Inn on the Millstream and a place called The Graham & Co. A bit more remote but very intriguing, they call themselves “rough-lux”. These two properties really appeal to the “get me away from the city” getaway. Just what Amazon Destination is promoting. They also list the number of miles these Inns are from NYC.

 

Amazon Destination Finger Lakes

Genesee Country Inn, Finger Lakes NY

Took a look at the Finger Lakes and found the Genesee Country Inn B&B listed with larger Hotels and Lodges. Again a great way for travelers looking in this area to compare the smaller property vs the larger ones. The B&B Team’s Eliot Dalton represents this inn for sale and knows the Inn and area very well. A beautiful location with 8 acres, a trout stream, waterfall and pond. A real country getaway. The fact that the Finger Lakes is a major B&B destination and this property is featured is tremendous.

Amazon Destination is new and work-in-progress but worth taking a look at. One thing you know is Amazon has capital to promote this brand far and wide.

Thanks for Listening,

Janet Wolf

Weddings at the Inn-Intimate or Ultimate

June 13th, 2014 by Janet Wolf

Weddings at the Inn

Blessing of the rings-Kristie Rosset officiating at Lookout Point Lakeside Inn

Many Bed and Breakfasts have great settings for weddings at the Inn. Most innkeepers say they have been approached at least once by couples inquiring about their Inn as a possible venue for their nuptials. Whether it is a rustic picturesque barn, landscaped garden with views or perhaps an outdoor amphitheater or gazebo, it is the uniqueness that is appealing.  Bed and Breakfasts and country Inns are a natural. With larger banquet halls and hotel event spaces, the ‘natural’ has to be artificially created. Not so appealing!

If you are an aspiring innkeeper that has pondered the idea of adding weddings to your business plan, read on.

In the 2010 Innkeeping Quarterly, the cover story was ‘The Rise of the Small Wedding’. In 2014 the trend is still around and growing. The B&B Team has a number of properties listed for sale that do weddings from small to large, the intimate and the ultimate. I talked with a few experienced innkeepers about their weddings at the Inn. Here is what they have to say about the subject.

Kristie Rosset is the owner/innkeeper with her husband Ray of Lookout Point Lakeside Inn in Hot Springs, Arkansas. She is also an ordained United Methodist clergyperson. A quote from Ray; “She truly enjoyed officiating at weddings. With her experience, she understood that she could help couples create a meaningful and beautiful wedding that might ‘feel’ like a church wedding, but the setting would be outdoors in a beautiful lakeside garden.” Their specialty is small intimate weddings, nothing over 50 people.

Having policies and contracts in place before the first wedding is booked is very important.   From the Rossets; “A solid contract is critical-even for elopements! The only way weddings can work well and efficiently is through great communication in writing through a rock-solid contract that both parties sign. When we are clear (and caring!) from the beginning of the wedding conversation, we protect ourselves and our inn from being taken advantage, we are seen as professionals, and we expect the highest standards of behavior from our guests. It’s a win-win.” Tip: They say they are happy to share their contract with anyone!

 

Weddings at the Inn, hawthorn Inn, Camden Maine

Hawthorn Inn wedding setting

Innkeeper Maryanne Shanahan of the Hawthorn Inn in Camden Maine did not plan to have weddings at her Inn when she became an innkeeper over 12 years ago. But her first guests often told her that the Hawthorn Inn would be perfect for weddings. Voila, June 2002 twenty-two people booked the entire inn and her wedding business began. She advises to communicate with the couple face to face about what type of wedding they want, aka, their vision. If Maryanne doesn’t think she can deliver she will be forthright and gently tells them they may want to look elsewhere. Tips: She likes to encourage afternoon weddings followed by a brunch. Easier and less expensive for all involved. The smaller groups of about 20 are more manageable but her outdoor weddings can accommodate up to 80.

Weddigngs at the Inn

Wedding setting. Rustic and picturesque barn at the Brampton Inn, Eastern Shore of Maryland

Danielle Hanscom, innkeeper of the Brampton Inn in Maryland started ultimate and ended up only doing intimate weddings of up to 20 people. She said her earlier experiences with large weddings were not only stressful for her but stressful on the property. Innkeepers must respect their septic systems! She also commented on stiletto heels on old original hardwood floors that caused significant damage. Something she said she had not thought of. Live and learn. Temporary runners would be a suggestion. She books about 30 small weddings a year. She says this is a manageable number for the Brampton Inn. Tips: Make sure your electrical system is up to date and can handle extra loads for outdoor lighting and music amplifiers. Control the noise levels and adhere to any local ordinances.

The three inns interviewed have chosen the intimate wedding venue route. For the property and for the innkeepers this was their choice.  Not that a small wedding can’t be the ultimate in experience as well as a great source of extra revenue. The celebratory nature of the bed and breakfast business is both fun and a profit maker. Return guests, you bet. The married couples often return year after year on their anniversary. The celebration continues at the Inn well after ‘I do’.!

A wonderful side note: Maryanne and now husband Bill were married at the Hawthorn Inn in 2007. They call it ‘a perfect partnership for the Inn’.

Weddings at the Inn

Maryanne and Bill. Love is lovelier the second time around at the Hawthorn Inn, Camden Maine

 

The goal is not the size of the weddings but the commitment to make your Inn’s intimate weddings the ultimate in experience as well as revenue and good will.  As the Rossets said. It’s a win-win.

Thanks for Listening,

Janet Wolf

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