Inn Consultants and Brokers Since 1993

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

The B&B Team
 

Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

What is a Hat Tip?

September 26th, 2014 by Janet Wolf

What is a hat tip?

H/T

What is a Hat Tip? That was my question to myself when I saw the abbreviated “HT” or “h/t” mentioned in a tutorial on Google Plus. So I go to my first source of information, good ol’ Wikipedia. In today’s blogosphere it means to “acknowledge someone who has made a significant contribution toward an effort, or someone who drew attention to something new or interesting.” You are tipping your hat to the person who has given you an idea, your inspiration. I do that all the time when I read an article that brings on the muse for my next blog posting. Just did not know I was h/t-ing.

For more in depth information on Google Plus engagement  here is a link (h/t) to Rebekah Radice, 7 Google+ Tips to Create Maximum Engagement.

Wikipedia information goes on to tell us a hat tip is “good netiquette when sharing a link or news item to give a hat tip to the person from whom you learned of the item.” When you think about it, sharing a link is an acknowledgment. Linking to a person’s article, a business’s website or video is also a compliment. You believe in that source and you want to share its message.

For more detailed information on how linking is important for SEO here is a link (h/t) to Shawn Kerr of InsideOut Solutions, Link Building for SEO.

Whether it is in a blog, Facebook, Google+ or YouTube, the sharing should have a point, a meaning. Throwing stuff out on social media just for the sake of posting can turn into noise. After a while folks stop listening. The Google+ tutorial tells us; “Don’t just share posts for the sake of sharing. Curate content that matters to your followers and then inject your personal view.” All this is good advice and I tip my hat to the all- powerful Google, that mysterious wizard behind the curtain.

hat tip to Google

Hat Tip to the powerful and mysterious wizard behind the curtain

In conclusion I want to tell you about an old hat tipper, a person not too many people will know. “In 1929, syndicated cartoonist Jimmy Hatlo started thanking readers who suggested a funny idea for a strip with the phrase “Thanx and a tip of the Hatlo hat to [name] at the bottom of his comic strip panel They’ll Do It Every Time. He continued drawing the hat tip box in the strip until his death in 1963.” From 1929 to 1963 he would acknowledge hundreds of people who sent him ideas. I can imagine how thrilled those people were to see their names in print with the tip of the Hatlo hat. As a personal aside, when the name Jimmy Hatlo appeared in my research, I knew who he was. My husband and business partner Rick Wolf went to school with his son and had met Jimmy as a kid. Rick and his friend have reconnected since then and you guessed it, through Facebook.

Jimmy Hatlo hat tip

Jimmy Hatlo cartoon that innkeepers will relate to

So here is a hat tip from me to Jimmy Hatlo, for having the etiquette to acknowledge his followers. He knew who they were, what mattered to them and then injected his personal view which were his hundreds of cartoons, offering a smile and a chuckle to start their day.

So just remember when you link to a source, a website, article, link to a video on Facebook you are hat tipping. Hopefully your hat tip gets back to a real person, the source. Hopefully that person feels acknowledged and it may even make their day.

Thanks for Listening,

Janet Wolf

Pinterest Travel-Are We There Yet?

July 23rd, 2014 by Janet Wolf

Pinterest travelDid you know that the most popular category on Pinterest was travel?  Pinterest is fairly new on the ‘social media ecosystem’. It is a newbie worth exploring. And it is one of the social media tools that is fun, really!

Frederic Gonzalo is my latest social media guru go to guy. Love his article; Social Media Best Practices in Travel: Pinterest. “With less than four years under the belt. In 2014, it nevertheless continues to grow and ought to catch any travel marketer’s attention.” Here are some interesting Pinterest travel facts:

  • 70 million users worldwide, with 30 billion pins across more than 750 million boards created so far
  • The most popular category on Pinterest? Travel
  • 80% of pins are actually… re-pins!
  • It matters where the original photo or video sits, as referral traffic is huge from Pinterest. How huge? More than Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn… combined!
  • 80% of Pinterest users are female
  • 75% of daily traffic to Pinterest comes from mobile apps

I believe Pinterest travel boards are a natural social media tool for bed and breakfasts. If the number one category is travel and there are 70 million users worldwide, hey, no brainer.

 

Pinterest travel Portland Maine

Caiola’s in Portland ME. Great visual of a favorite destination restaurant.

Convention and Visitors Bureaus use Pinterest. Here is just one example for Portland, Maine. http://www.pinterest.com/visitportland/.  Their Pinterest travel boards show  great examples of how to categorize your B&B Pinterest travel boards. Using the map option is also a good idea.

On a more global scale. The Four Seasons Hotel’s  Pin. Pack. Go. Choose your Four Season destination hotel. Follow them on Pinterest. They call this their ‘new trip planning service that re-imagines the way travelers share and receive travel recommendations.’  Jetsetter has their, Jet. Set. Go. Their promotional for their ‘adventure trips’. They have packaged trips to places like India, Peru and South Africa. This also makes it easy for travelers to book a vacation with jetsetter doing all the planning.

Pinterest travel Albuqerque

Pueblo Indian Cultural Center’s
Pueblo Harvest Café. Live Music • Drink Specials • All-you-can-eat Horno Baked Pizza & More! $10 Admission • Thurs, Fri, Sat 6-9pm

Travel itineraries on your B&B websites are very helpful for your guests coming to your destination. Sarah Dolk innkeeper at Adobe Nido B&B does a good job providing her guests with Albuquerque destination information on her blog.  If you are providing them with travel information on your website than why not transfer that to Pinterest? We know that visuals are the most enticing way to grab an audience. It is called ‘visual storytelling’.  Pinterest can open your Inn to a whole new audience of travelers.

The small lodging industry, your B&B, is known for personalized service. Your Pinterest travel destination boards would visually showcase the unique and personalized service you offer. It would be a perfect extension of who you are and where you are.  Help your guests get to your destination location with a good plan. Are we there yet?

Pinterest travel visual

They aren’t there yet! Travel planning has come a long way.

Oh yes, and check out The B&B Team’s Pinterest boards.

Thanks for Listening,

Janet Wolf

Best Apps for Marketing Your B&B

April 26th, 2012 by Peter Scherman

5 tools that use word-of-mouth marketing to entice new customers
Guest Post by Jane Johnson

Bed and breakfasts (or B&Bs and BnBs) offer a quaint, intimate, and less expensive alternative to larger hotels for the North American traveler. However, if you run a bed and breakfast or guesthouse, your time is likely largely consumed by making sure your inn is spotless, your meals are fresh, and your guests are comfortable. Apart from cooking meals, meeting guests’ needs, and cleaning, you probably don’t have a lot of time to think about how to market your accommodations, improve your online reputation, and grow your business within your local community.

Luckily, using smart phone apps to help build your bed and breakfast marketing plan can help you focus your efforts so that when visitors plan to travel to your area—your B&B automatically pops up on their radar.

Thanks to a proliferation of devices, competitive pricing and innovate wireless internet products like T-Mobile mobile broadband services, more people than ever connecting to the web on-the-go. These five popular apps will help market your bed and breakfast or guesthouse wherever internet service is available:

1. Yelp for Mobile (Free – for BlackBerry, iPhone, and Android)

The Yelp for Mobile app is made up of reviews from an active community of locals in the know! So it’s your prerogative to make sure your B&B is listed on Yelp. In fact, whenever I make travel plans for out of town business or vacation, I read the user reviews for hotels, B&Bs, resorts, restaurants, and tourist attractions on Yelp before I pull out my credit card. Yelp is the traveler best ally—it offers up thousands of results for places to eat, stay, shop, drink, relax and play. Users can use this tool to search for a variety of businesses according to geographical location, category, business type, or even by deal. B&B owners can list their contact information (including address, email, website, Facebook profile, directions, and phone number), and even offer special deals via the Yelp app in order to entice and introduce new customers to your accommodations.

2. foursquare (Free – for BlackBerry, iPhone, and Android)

Fifteen million people can’t be wrong! That’s how many potential customers you can draw by listing your bed and breakfast with the foursquare application. Not only is this an excellent business directory, foursquare also works as a viral word-of-mouth marketing tool. Users can use the app to see what restaurants, stores, accommodations, products, services and entertainment their friends recommend or they can use the app to browse local business by category to discover what’s nearby. This app is built on personalized recommendations from clients—if you gain enough, your business will be placed on a list of the best spots to go, stay, see, or do and shared with foursquare’s audience of 15-million!

3. Yellow Pages Mobile (Free – for BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad, and Android)

Join over eighty-million listings and include your business on the Yellow Pages Mobile app—the leader in local mobile search. This app offers users tons of customer ratings and reviews on a variety of businesses and services according to geographical location. Plus, the unique turn-by-turn voice GPS navigation tool (only for the iPhone) will ensure visitors can search for your establishment by voice, user rating, or deal (when you feature discounts in the Deal Section).

4. Urbanspoon Mobile (Free – for BlackBerry, iPhone, and Android)

Urbanspoon is ideal for users who need some help deciding where to eat and where to stay (if you’re B&B offers dining). This app works like a dining slot machine—users just shake their smart phone to make the app spin, and they will view a collection of nearby restaurants with good user ratings. If you list your B&B with Urbanspoon, potential clients will be able to search for you according to neighborhood, cuisine, or price, and they can also use their current location to identify the nearest dining options to their current location.

5. Groupon (Free – for BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad, and Android)

For B&Bs who want to appear on the list of the very best stuff to do, see, eat, stay, and buy within 500 cities around the globe—Groupon is the app for you! This app offers businesses the option to entice new clientele by offering spectacular discounts between 50% and 90% of the regular price! Groupon is renowned for handpicking every deal they deliver to customers’ smart phones, so if listed, your business is automatically viewed with confidence. Offer a deal to draw new customers, and users can easily redeem deals directly from their mobile phones.

Bio: Jane Johnson is a freelance writer for BBGeeks, a popular site that provides BlackBerry news, commentary, reviews and beginner BlackBerry tips for BB newbies.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of The B&B Team®.

Is Living Social or Groupon Confusing Your Performance Indicators?

July 27th, 2011 by Scott Bushnell

Countless inns are participating in the Living Social and Groupon craze (not sure if I should use the word “fad” there, which implies a short-term shelf life) and, as seen in previous postings from Janet and me, there are a number of “rules of thumb” that can make participation worthwhile.

One thing that is happening, however, is the monstrous effects it has on Occupancy and Average Daily Rate (ADR) calculations…typical discussion mileposts among innkeepers concerning the strength of their businesses.  The voucher bookings send occupancy soaring but the revenue margin on each voucher is miniscule compared to the “normal” operating rates.  Consider this example from this 10 room inn in Pennsylvania:

2010 revenues were about $156,000 and occupancy was 31.7%.  They sold 1156 rooms in 2010 giving them an annual ADR of $135.  Like many inns, they are seasonally slow in January-May and participated in a coupon drop with a net income per coupon (after discount to purchaser and the company) of $47.25.  They sold 413 coupons for a windfall check of almost $20,000…nice bucks in the slow season.

Using their 2010 performance, with these additional 413 room-nights sold, their occupancy for the year LEAPED from 31.7% to 43%!  But because their revenue for the additional 413 rooms was so low, their ADR fell from $135 to $112.

With these indicators was the coupon drop worth it?

Don’t know yet.  The hotels have been using RevPar as their measuring indicator forever.  RevPar is the Revenue per Available Room and is calculated by dividing the total room revenue by the number of rooms in the facility times 365 (days per year).  This combines the Occupancy level and the ADR into one number and makes comparisons so much simpler.

In our guinea pig inn above, the RevPar for 2010 prior to the coupon drop impact was $42.76.  With the addition of 413 room nights at $47.25 each, RevPar increased to $48.10.  This makes an easy correlation when comparing performance indicators from year to year or from inn to inn.

So was the coupon drop worth it?

Some of you just now said, Yes!   (I heard you!) but I am not sure you are right.  RevPar does NOT take into account your expenses and the ultimate impact on Net Operating Income…the REAL driver of the strength of your business.  If the inn’s expenses for the coupon drop are above $47.25 (the revenue received for each one) …their NOI dropped unfavorably.  And, as you have seen in previous postings, an inn’s variable costs (for housekeeping labor, those little soaps, laundry, breakfast, etc.) can easily be $30 or more.

RevPar needs to become the measurement of choice in the B&B industry to replace Occupancy and ADR.  It’ll take a generation or two to evolve, but with the current discounting crazes that will, most likely, become routine marketing tools (thus throwing the traditional indicators into a roller-coaster tizzy), RevPar is the only one that makes sense when comparing performance from year to year or from inn to inn.      Scott

Living Social Interview II

June 29th, 2011 by Janet Wolf

The Lakehouse Inn & Winery

The Lakehouse Inn & Winery

The Lakehouse Inn & Winery in Geneva-on-the-Lake, Ohio is the subject of our second interview with innkeepers who have used Living Social or another of the social commerce sites available. The opportunity for innkeepers to take advantage of these sites to pump up the volume of their business in the off seasons have become more and more prevalent. Is it here to stay? That will depend on the public and the experiences they receive. Let’s hear what innkeeper Andrea Bushweiller has to say about her experience and her guest’s comments on their experience.
Q What was your motivation for using Living Social?
I first heard about Living Social at the PAII conference in January and after speaking with a representative from the company decided it would be a good way to generate business mid-week during the winter months when business is usually very slow.  I also thought it would be a great way to reach consumers that did not know about our facility and the extra business would keep my staff busy.
Q What did your package include?
The package includes 2 nights lodging in a traditional B&B room or cottage (Sunday-Thursday), a full breakfast each morning, 2 wine tasting trays, a bottle of Lakehouse Inn wine and 2 souvenir wine glasses.
Q What kind of feedback have you gotten from the participating guests?
Overall, the guest comments were positive-many of them had never been to our area or our Inn before and many said they would return again.  Some people were disappointed that there was not a lot to do in the area (it was the off season) and many complained about the weather (nothing I could do about that!).  Also, many people did not read the restrictions before they purchased it so we had to spend time explaining to guests that it was only valid in the winter and why they could not use it during the summer.
Q Would you do it again?
Yes, I would do another Living Social for a similar time period (mid-week during the winter months)
Q What advice would you want to pass on to innkeepers who are considering putting a package on a social commerce site?
1.) Be prepared for your phone to ring like crazy the first 48 hours.  Even though we were told to be prepared we were not ready for the 100+ phone calls we received each of those days.
2.) We had to extend the dates of our offer. All of the dates for the last month (May) booked up in the first few weeks.  We then had numerous guests call us in mid-April/May wanting to make reservations and we no longer had dates available so we had to extend the offer for the end of October-mid-December.
3.) If you are going to offer a deal from Living social or a similar site think carefully before you choose the dates that you want to the package to be valid for and only offer dates that would normally be empty.
Thank you Andrea.
For more information on the subject PAII CEO Jay Karen has recorded a video entitled “Social Buying: Craze or Just Crazy?,” which is one of PAII’s webinars available to members. He has teamed up with innkeepers like Andrea who have used social buying. They discuss everything from the successes to the challenges. Worth looking into? Any information available to help innkeepers attain a higher degree of marketing success is definitely worth looking into. The video is available for purchase or free depending on your membership level.  Also check out the PAII Forum for the occasional thread on innkeeper’s experiences and questions concerning social commerce.
One of the best and most informative blogs on social buying was written by The B&B Team affiliate and braniac Scott Bushnell. If you haven’t read this already, read it and read it again! What’s all this Stuff about Living Social and Groupon? Among other information Scott explains the financial process innkeepers should consider to help them understand the variable costs involved when creating a package. This information is most valuable. We believe that before you proceed with social buying as a provider the more research and preparation you do, the more successful you will be.
Janet Wolf

What’s All this Stuff about Living Social and Groupon?

April 28th, 2011 by Scott Bushnell

A little more info to add to Jan’s post of April 6th.

It used to be the mantra in the B&B industry to NEVER discount your rooms.  You cheapen your image and could set lower price expectations for the traveling public for their next trip to your inn.  Well William Shatner in his TV ads and a multitude of Price Lowering websites and alternatives have already changed those expectations…so get over it.

Here are a few Mid-Atlantic stories that counter the old school discounting taboo:

A Full Service Inn in New Jersey, through Living Social Escapes, sold 225 vouchers offering two options to purchasers…a one night stay (voucher price $230) or two night stay ($380)including dinner, breakfast, champagne, chocolates, 2 martinis at the bar and 2 tickets to a regional attraction.

Another upscale B&B in Maryland sold 86 coupons through Groupon for one night, flowers and chocolates for a voucher price of $155, and a larger inn in Maryland, using Living Social Escapes,  is offering two nights, wine and chocolates for $157 (weekends) and $117 (weekdays) and sold 632 at last count.  They make their money on upselling spa services and gift baskets with each voucher at a 20% discount from usual pricing.

A fourth, very upscale inn in Baltimore sold 550 Groupons at $99 for a room with a value up to $250!

The two largest companies, Living Social and Groupon, offer coupons to their memberships at deep discounts…often 50% or more.  They do mass marketing through their email membership databases usually targeted in a particular region or city.  Retailers and service providers have seen phenomenal traffic from the vouchers sold to these members.

Living Social has an “Escapes” section on their site specifically attractive to their travel membership.  Often, this is the section in which an inn can participate.

Here’s the general process:  A retail or service provider signs a deal with the service for a particular product or service having an identified value.  A discount to the purchaser is provided (50% off is usually the minimum…but negotiable with the company), and the coupon “drop” is targeted for a specific market.  The company sells the voucher, subtracts a commission (often 30%+ depending on the voucher price), and sends a net proceeds check each month to compensate the business.

Sound scary to try it?  Here are a few VERY IMPORTANT considerations when planning such a coupon drop:

  • Understand your variable costs.  Your fixed costs are those bills that you have to pay anyway…whether there is a guest in the house or not…such as the electric, real estate taxes, insurances and cable TV bills.  Variable costs are the extra costs when you have a guest, including:
    –  Food costs (take your annual food costs and divide by the number of room-nights sold…should be about $8 or $9).
    –  Laundry (use about $4 per room)
    –  Room amenities (shampoos, soaps, munchies, etc….perhaps $3?)
    –  Housekeeping labor and the withholding associated with wages (probably in the $10-$12 range)
    –  We won’t count the little bit of extra utilities a guest will use.
    –  Add a buck or two for the office supplies (confirmation letters, postage), wear and tear on the linens, etc.

This Variable Cost adds up to about $25-$30 for the first room-night…about $15 more for a second night’s stay.

  • Take the rack rates for the rooms you wish to dedicate to this effort…say it’s $160.  Divide that by two to figure in the 50% discount to the purchaser.  That leaves $80 price for the voucher in our example.
  • You can expect to pay at least 30% commission to the company.  They will also, most likely, charge you the credit card fee they have to pay (let’s say 2.5%).  That leaves $54 which is sent to you for each voucher sold.

    Then compare the proceeds you will receive with the Variable Costs you will incur…Worth it?

That is why inns are upselling other packages and services with their offer.  It increases the value of the voucher and ultimately the check received at a rate greater than the costs associated with the package.  But you must understand your costs.

On the good side of such an effort:

  • You can dedicate a time frame within which the voucher must be used.  Aim those dates to the holes in your schedules including the slow season and mid-week.  Stay away from the weekends and busy season when you will sell your rooms at your usual rates anyway.  You can put those restrictions on the voucher.
  • You can limit how many you sell so that you don’t have the risk of overselling for the time frame and angering guests.
  • Experience is showing a large number of younger couples taking advantage of the deals.  This is the NEXT generation of inn visitor…a valuable asset to the industry.
  • You will build your database with email addresses for future marketing efforts.
  • You can “hook ’em” with your hospitality so that they become repeat guests.
  • It seems about 20% of the vouchers will never be redeemed.  This is free income to you, but don’t budget it.

A few watch-outs from those who have used these programs:

  • The demographics of the visitors may not be your what you are used to.  They can be “cheapskates” (as one innkeeper put it), asking for other discounts and taking advantage of the free goodies you have around the inn.
  • “Sit by the phone” when the coupon drops…you will be swamped all at once.  One inn had a list of 60 callback names and numbers to get back to because the calls came in like a tsunami.
  • You will get calls from people trying to buy the deal after the vouchers sell out.  They saw it online and feel they have the right to book it directly with you.
  • The voucher holders tend to book early (as soon as they buy it) or late (just before they expire).  Be prepared with rooms for the procrastinators.

For those start-up inns or inns with very slow months of the year…I think it’s a valuable tool for cash flow.  Any other inns out there doing it?  Would love to hear your comments.    Scott

Living Social Tips from Innkeepers

April 6th, 2011 by Janet Wolf

ShoppersAttention shoppers…group buying marketing companies have hit the air waves. In radio days the airwaves were the frequency that transmitted the signals that carried information to the world. We all know what claims the airwaves today, social media.  And the latest addition to the social media tool box is…

If you haven’t heard, Living Social along with Groupon are the front runners when it comes to social commerce. These two companies have attracted the largest audience of consumers.  Since the introduction of Living Social Escapes (many of us were first introduced at the Charleston PAII Conference) there have been a number of innkeepers that have taken advantage of this form of ‘social shopping’.  This is a new way to attract buyers to your brand. Increased exposure, isn’t that what we all need?

I recently interviewed Janel Martin, Innkeeper/Chef (extraordinaire) of The Wakefield Inn in New Hampshire about her experience with Living Social Escapes.

Chef Martin in The Wakefield Inn Kitchen

Q.  What was your motivation for using this social media tool?

A.  Marketing exposure. In the past I tried all the conventional advertising media and spent lots of money with no results. It has been a struggle to get my name, brand out there. I got instant and phenomenal exposure with my package posting. It went viral instantly.

Q.  What did your package include?

A.  I tell myself all the time, sell what you know and what you know will sell. I do cooking classes that are hands on; I love to get the guests involved. So my package includes a cooking class, a massage and a Deneen mug to take home, and the room of course. Oh yes, I believe it is important that the guest take home something with the Inn’s logo to remind them of the great time they had, so don’t forget to pre order the mugs, I ran out!

 Q.  What kind of feedback have you gotten from the participating guests?

A.  They all leave saying they can’t wait to tell their friends about the experience. I got at least 20 new reviews on Trip Advisor from these guests. Also there were at least 100 people that contacted me saying they missed the deadline and was I going to post one again. These are new people that are now in my database. Many of the people are from as far away as Montreal.

Q.  Would you do it again?

A.  Definitely!

Q.  What advice would you want to pass on to innkeepers who are considering putting a special on a social commerce site?

A.  If I was to do it again I would be more specific and firm about the rooms I offer and the dates. It would be for mid-week only and for a shorter period of time. You must structure your package very carefully and be very detailed about what you offer.

                Thanks Janel.

A point that Janel wanted to empathize is that you can do all the number crunching to see if your package will be profitable and that is important but her real motivation was the increased marketing exposure. This is what we at The B&B Team also believe is a prime reason to use any social media tool.  Marketing 101: Draw customers to your sell!  Your package is your invitation to customers to experience what you have to offer and it must be worth their while. If the growing number of customers using social commerce see your ‘escape’ and think it is worth their while than you have a new customer X 100, 200, 300, 400! Is it worth your while too?  Hope this helps you decide one way or the other.

This will a part of a series of interviews I will have with innkeepers that have participated in Living Social. Stay tuned.

Janet Wolf

Greetings from the Mid-Atlantic Innkeepers Conference

March 8th, 2011 by Scott Bushnell

Peter Scherman and Lynne Griffin

Hello, All;

We are partway through the Mid-Atlantic Innkeeping Conference in Lancaster, PA.  Nice trade show with about 45 vendors, several meaty general sessions and over 30 timely workshops dealing with the latest marketing trends, local and fresh food ideas, and topics of broad interests for all innkeepers.  The organizing group of innkeepers, most from right here in Pennsylvania, did a GREAT job of putting together this necessary and interesting innkeeping event.  Thanks!

Thought I would pass on a few photos with some of the interesting topics and networking connections that are so important in this industry.  Above, Peter and Lynne from the Australian Walkabout Inn, a 5 room inn right here in the Lancaster area, and one of the voluteer orgainizer team members, discuss one of the services of The B&B Team.  To be fair to the 45 vendors and their comments, the one-on-one face time was a bit limited with the packed agenda of the conference but there were a few short periods of time where the innkeepers had the opportunity to try to visit them all.

Innkeeper's Advantage Booth

At the Innkeeper’s Advantage booth,  an integrated online reservation, blogging and guest management software 2009 newcomer, Felix and Cindi Bachman demonstrate the advantages to innkeepers who are seeking a strong, guest friendly, applications to help manage the diverse needs of inn operations. 

One of the innkeeper-useful and interesting workshops presented on Monday was by Carol Rizzolli, owner with her husband Hugo of the Royal Oak House in Royal Oak, Maryland.  Carol authored the novel “The House at Royal Oak”, the story of their adventures from run down wreck of a

Carol Rizzoli at the Publications Workshop

house (with potential!) to their active and ideally located 3 room inn on the active and tourist-rich Chesapeake region of Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  How many of us innkeepers have had the desire to log and publish our stories and memories of our innkeeping careers?  Carol shared the Do’s and Don’ts of her experience leading to the successful launch of her work and advice to innkeepers interested in effective press releases, cookbooks or memoirs.

Time to head back to the Trade Show floor…talk to you again soon!    Scott

Social Media Fatigue

December 28th, 2010 by Peter Scherman

I can’t resist! We’re all out here trying to do “what we’re supposed to do” with social media, because it’s a new world. And it is. Truly. No kidding. We know it is. Tweet tweet tweet! A little birdie told me so. And I LIKE it that way! It’s very cool. But, alas, it can also be overwhelming. I was lying awake the other night and darned if I wasn’t being kept awake with thoughts about what The B&B Team should be doing, just like Smigley in this video.

Enjoy this little clip, and remember to enjoy life. One day at a time. One. Posting. At. A. Time. And have a safe and happy new year. Maybe you can even turn it all off for a couple of days. I’ll certainly try (but it will be HARD)!

— Peter

We’re Stuck with Social Media: Capitalize On It!

May 7th, 2010 by Peter Scherman

I subscribe to piles of blogs and newsletters about marketing and advertising, social media, hospitality, demographics, and trends that affect all of the above. Some of these are pretty esoteric, and some are very down-to-earth practical. One of our jobs at The B&B Team® is to weave the mass of information together and make at least some of it useful to Innkeepers, saving you time and helping you sell more rooms, make more money, and have more fun.

By now most of you realize that social media and consumer generated content, whether it be blogs, Facebook and Twitter, TripAdvisor, or product reviews on e-commerce sites, are essential to long term business success. After all, while Boomers still make up the lion’s share of inn guests (and, by the way, females aged 55-65 are the fastest growing segment of Facebook users), Gen X and Gen Y (the Millenials) are forming a growing percentage of the traveling public. And, since most businesses (like your inn) want to be around in a few years, paying attention is a smart choice.

A great article in Hotelmarketing.com called “Gen Y and the online travel marketer” by Caroline Gates of TIG has some eye-popping statistics blended with some good advice. For instance, not only did this generation (born between 1977 and 1995) grow up with an electronic device in their hand and a computer at every turn, but they are already spending about $200 Billion a year.  The younger ones aren’t booking rooms at your B&B, but the older ones are starting to, especially if you give them a compelling reason and show them that you “get it.” Gen Xers, more than Millenials, are definitely part of every inn’s guest roster, and they’re pretty plugged in, too.

If 78% of people trust peer reviews and only 14% trust advertisements, and your website is an advertisement, the importance of bringing those reviews front and center is critical. If you’re already doing this, good for you. If you aren’t, start engaging your guests in the process and build a reserve of great reviews on all the main travel sites. And put those reviews on your home page.  This is pretty basic.

The younger generations, who are the future of travel, want to be entertained and respected, too. Keep your content on Facebook, your blog (which you should be doing) and your website fresh. Keep and show a sense of humor. Seek out places where all your guests might congregate, and join the conversation. Read and respond to travel blogs. In other words, engage.

In branding and marketing we talk about the fact that travelers want “bragging rights” when they return home. Where once being able to have stayed at the most luxurious, well known, and expensive place constituted the only important thing to brag about, today people want to brag about what they did on their vacation. And increasingly what they did may have social implications. They helped build a Habitat house, volunteered to clean up a park, ran a race for the cure, or otherwise did something that, in their opinion, “mattered.” And hopefully they also stayed at a great inn whose owners helped them find the opportunities and took good care of them. They’ll tell all their friends (via social media), and we’ve always known how important word of mouth is.

We all know about SEO, search engine optimization, and how important it is for travelers to find your website. But are you aware of Google’s new real-time search results? There’s a new wrinkle in SEO, and it involves social media. Google can now find and index information about your inn as it is being published on Facebook, Twitter, and other media. What does this mean for you? The more people you can have writing about their great weekend with you (bragging about it), posting pictures, telling their friends, the more prominent you’re going to show up in the new search results. Will it affect traditional search ranking? No one knows for sure. But “social rank” is increasingly more important to many than organic Google ranking.

But let’s be honest, innkeepers don’t have to obsess about this the way Pepsi or Apple do, but you do have to be in the game. For years at conferences in our blog (The Innkeeper’s Resource™) and in personal consultations with clients we’ve spoken and written about changing trends, tastes, and demographics, social media marketing, and the basics of hospitality. In the end, the important thing is not to get discouraged. Take bite sizes. Put together a plan for reinventing and reinvigorating your marketing. This may have to start with reinventing your inn, but you won’t know if you don’t ask. Sound daunting? It doesn’t have to be. Think of it as FUN! And if you can have fun, you’ll be happier, your guests will be happier, and your bed & breakfast will be more successful. Did I hear “exit strategy?”

What are YOU doing to be part of the new world we live in?

Peter

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