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

Posts Tagged ‘branding’

What Story Does Your Inn Tell?

June 27th, 2018 by Janet Wolf

waht story does your inn tell?

What Story Does Your Inn Tell? Devonfield Inn, Massachusetts Berkshires. Jumping Rocks Photography

What story does your Inn tell? Or in the tried and true marketing term…what is your USP, unique selling proposition?  Its’ all about defining who you are, what makes your product (your Inn) stand out above the ordinary. If someone asked you this moment to describe your USP, could you answer without hesitation? What unique experiences does your Inn offer? Marketers call this the ‘elevator pitch’.

One way is to tell your story with images. Images that a viewer can see not just on your website, but Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest. Compelling images that tell your story and motivate a viewer to book a stay with you and become a repeat loyal guest.

Hospitality photographers, Jumping Rocks Photography‘s portfolio of images include images of ‘experiences’.  Mathew and Mark describe how they approach photographing the guest expereince.

“When providing inn and hotel photography, we understand that interior design and architectural photography cannot tell the whole story. The guest experience transcends these physical elements; the human aspect must also be conveyed. Authenticity is key to making effective travel lifestyle photography. Typically, we use our models as “props” to help sell the unique experience of a particular resort or hospitality property.”

These experiential images on your website are important. But what about the instant gratification images that today’s travel shopper is seeking.

If you are marketing for a visual-heavy industry, like travel, food and beverage, or the arts, or any brand that targets millennials, you can’t afford to ignore the latest force to join the social media leviathan line-up.” Ignite Social Media.

What is this? I gave you a hint, Instagram. Maybe not the latest force, it has been around since 2010, but a most popular one, specifically for mobile engagement.

Hint: Add special events to that list, especially weddings.

What story does your inn tell?

Travel for Food & Beverage here at The Inn at English Meadows, Kennebunk Maine

What story does your inn tell?

Eden Vale Inn, Gold Country CA. Photo by Jumping Rocks Photography

With Instagram you can shoot and post your images not only instantly but often. Each photo you post adds to your story.

Now some people are better at taking smart phone photos. You may be one of them, or not. But you can learn. There are short webinars that show you some tricks. Experiment and find your hidden talent. It’s there!

The Monhegan House on Monhegan Island Maine. I Phone Photo by Janet

And then there are hashtags. (Do I have to!?) Why are they important? Here is a good explanation from ‘secret Instagram hashtag formula.’

“Instagram hashtags aren’t just about keywords. It’s about expressing commonality with your audience.” Jenn’s Trends

The author’s formula recommends 15-20 hashtags per post. Wow, that is a lot but worth it when it works.

Another eye opening article on Instagram. Top Tips on Instagram Marketing From the World’s Instagram Experts. By Foundr, Jonathan Chan

After posting images on Instagram (and other social media platforms) that tell your story, your USP enfolds. You now have the opportunity to expand on your story, add chapters that ‘transcend your physical elements’ and tell the experiences your brand/Inn conveys.

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

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