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

Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

Facebook 2014

March 13th, 2014 by Janet Wolf

Facebook 2014

Facebook 2014. Let’s take a look at what some marketing gurus are saying about Facebook. What is the outlook for Facebook 2014 for your bed and breakfast business? In an article by Daniel Edward Craig in a recent Hotel Marketing newsletter. Is Facebook a sales, marketing or customer service channel?  Good question. I have taken some quotes from the article that I  found interesting and may give some insight into how Facebook 2014 could become more powerful and profitable for your B&B.

Engaging Your Fans

“The real power behind Facebook is its sharing features. A comment is worth seven times more than a like, and a share is worth 13 more times than a like.” The article’s suggestion is to…”Hold an onsite contest such as asking a guest to post a selfie or a photo of the view from their room or to vote for the best local bars, restaurant.” I would also add to that list. i.e. favorite ski trail, museum exhibit, or hiking trail. The list could be endless. This type of activity engages the guests to share their experiences.

A good example of a Facebook post is from Norumbega Inn in Camden Maine.  In the “spirit” of the season we bring you: Chef Phil’s Drunken Irish Soda Bread! Enjoy and if you make it, share your photos! The post includes this great photo and the recipe. Another interesting point from the article is…”pictures of food get shared the most, photos of local scenery get liked the most and promotional posts receive low engagement rates.”

Norumbega Inn Facebook 2014

Norumbega Inn’s Chef Phil’s Drunken Irish Soda Bread with enhancements!

Facebook as a Customer Service Channel

“More travelers are using Facebook to share feedback and make inquiries directly with hotels. Facebook can be a channel for helping guests to plan their stay, for connecting with them onsite and for keeping in touch post-stay.” The key here is ‘helping guests plan their stay’.

Example: Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands National Lakeshore became a tourist destination as Lake Superior was frozen over enough this winter for people to walk the ice caves. The Pinehurst Inn in Bayfield WI kept their FB followers informed through posts on the opening and the conditions. The event increased tourism and guests flocked to the Pinehurst Inn.

Pinehurst Inn good use of Facebook 2014

The Pinehurst Inn kept their guests informed and the post was shared

Facebook as a Marketing Channel

“…people go to Facebook to socialize, not plan trips.” This sounds like a contradiction from the advice just mentioned but the article goes on to say…”the path to purchase is increasingly social, and more customers are checking out lodging Facebook pages and inquiring with friends before making booking decisions.” If you post current events (like the example of Pinehurst Inn), activities, new restaurant openings, culinary classes, added amenities, guestroom makeovers, anything that will spur interest and help them make a decision to book with you.

Another example of engaging (pun to follow) your FB followers. From Lookout Point Lakeside Inn, Hot Springs, Arkansas. ‘Mathematicians, we have an exciting announcement! We are giving away a FREE Sapphire Elopement to take place on Pi Day (March 14, 2014)! Check out our blog for more details on how to win this intimate ceremony: If you recall it was mentioned in the article that ‘promotional posts get low engagement rates’. But the Lookout Point Inn has a strong wedding business. Couples looking for a wedding venue for their  elopement would find this giveaway offering on Facebook, their blog, their website as well as local press and a popular national bed and breakfast blog. The word got out. This activity on all these marketing channels had the opportunity to engage and then hopefully get shared.


Sapphire Elopement Package Giveaway Lookout Point Lakeside Inn, Hot Springs Arkansas

Facebook: A Little of Everything

“So it seems that a well-managed presence on Facebook 2014 can be a modest hybrid of all three channels: marketing, guest service, even revenue. The key is to stay disciplined, to make satisfaction the priority.” I think the key word here is discipline. Post often. Encourage comments and respond to them. Engage in the conversation like you would at any social event. Have an FB party!

Thanks for Listening,

Janet Wolf



Are You A Connector?

September 20th, 2012 by Janet Wolf

In Chapter 2 of  The Tipping Point – How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell  (a must read in my opinion), he writes about three personality types; Connectors, Mavens and  Salesmen. A quote …”What makes someone a Connector? The first–and most obvious–criterion is that Connectors know lots of people. They are the kinds of people who know everyone. All of us know someone like this.”  From what I understand  this is not about your BF’s.  It is more about having the knack or instinct that helps you relate to people you seek out and meet. Connectors are curious and get excited about meeting people from all walks of life. Another quote…”The point about Connectors is that by having a foot in so many different worlds, they have the effect of bringing them all together.”

I contend that good innkeepers are good connectors. Innkeepers welcome guests from an array of social, cultural, professional and economic circles.  ‘Arrive as guests and leave as friends’? The B&B Team often sees this phrase on plaques in the many inns we visit as well as on B&B websites.  Those guests  who leave as friends will be your most loyal return customers. I may be stating the most obvious here, but think about it for a minute. Gladwell attributes the social success of Connectors to the fact that “their ability to span many different worlds is a function of something intrinsic to their personality, some combination of curiosity, self-confidence, sociability, and energy.”  If you possess those four attributes in any combination people are naturally drawn to you, thus the connection. It does take two to tango, so those guests who connect are willing partners and are usually the guests who have the best time.

What about the grumps, complainers and ‘I wish they’d go away’ guests? Do you go out of your way to connect with them? It is hard but sometimes just a little bit of TLC does the trick. After one of those tired road weary grumps would check in to our Inn, Rick or I would make a bet with each other to see who could turn them around first. We had the assurance or self-confidence that the seemingly unwilling partner would relax and have the best  time once they connected to us and our Inn. It worked probably 99% of the time as I’m sure it does for most successful innkeepers who make the effort.

The guests you successfully connect with on a daily basis Gladwell calls acquaintances,  the ‘weak ties’. He contends that these ‘weak ties’ are more important than the strong ties, your real friends. “Acquaintances, in short, represent a source of social power, and the more acquaintances you have the more powerful you are.”  This principle holds for anything that “moves by word of mouth”. And we know our industry moves by the power of social media as well as the old fashioned WOM. If you think about it, this is the principle behind Facebook. The more connections  (likes and followers) we make on Facebook, Twitter, the more WOM exposure you acquire.

In addition to the Connector there are the other personality types, the Mavens and the Salesmen.  Mavens are “information specialists”. “They accumulate knowledge, especially about the marketplace”. Boy does this ring a bell. Successful innkeepers must keep up with the trends in marketing their Inn or be left behind and be deemed irrelevant by the public. Pretty scary! A Maven is also someone ‘who wants to solve other people’s problems, generally by solving his own.” Another bell ringer. Innkeepers are constantly working to solve problems which in turn improves the Inn’s  physical property, operations and the profitability of your business. 

Salesmen are ”persuaders, charismatic people with powerful negotiation skills”.  We all know people that have that special knack, you may be one of them. But if you are upbeat and enthusiastic about your Inn and love what you do that may be all you need in the persuasive and charismatic department. No one can ‘sell’ their Inn as well as you do.

Your ability to connect is the most powerful tool you can have as an innkeeper.  And if you possess the drive to acquire all the knowledge that is available through education (conferences, our blog and Facebook feeds, webinars, just to name a few) this will help you make knowledgeable and prudent decisions and improvements. And if you enthusiastically deliver service with a smile (even to those grumps). Man you have got it and you get it!

Thanks for listening.

Janet Wolf

Guest Complaints:Face to Face or Facebook

June 25th, 2012 by Janet Wolf

complaint dept

Remember William Buckley Jr., the conservative political commentator and author? He had a command for the English language unlike no other. Here is what he wrote in an essay about why people don’t complain face to face.

“…we are all increasingly anxious in America to be unobtrusive, we are reluctant to make our voices heard, hesitant about claiming our right; we are afraid that our cause is unjust, or that if it is not unjust, that it is ambiguous; or if not even that, that it is too trivial to justify the horrors of a confrontation with authority; we will sit in an oven or endure a racking headache before undertaking a head-on, I’m-here-to-tell-you complaint. That tendency to passive compliance, to a heedless endurance, is something to keep one’s eyes on — in sharp focus.” 1961 Essay ‘Why Don’t We Complain’ by William F. Buckley Jr.

Remember this was 1961, decades before social media and all the outlets we have for anonymous complaining. I wonder what he would have thought about Trip Advisor and Facebook?

As consultants, The B&B Team has the opportunity to listen to innkeeper’s stories about guests who have checked out and appear happy as can be. Then a few days go by and they receive an alert about a new review posting. Behold those happy guests were really NOT happy and their complaints get posted and go out there for all to read. It hits you up side of the head and in your gut, right? So why didn’t these folks just tell the innkeepers about their issues during their stay? Most innkeepers would gladly do everything in their power to rectify any negative situation.

Just like Mr. Buckley writes, most people don’t like to complain face to face because it feels confrontational. Is this a bit cowardly? I don’t think so, just human nature. The dis-satisfied guest will leave your inn feeling they have not received a good value for what they have paid for. Remember, true or false, their perception is their reality. Is the complaint legit or an emotional rant?

Let’s go back a few years before the social media phenomenon. A piece of paper in a guest room with a title ‘Guest Questionnaire’. Many innkeepers still provide this outlet, certainly hotels and airlines do. This may not be face to face communication but it is still a more direct guest to innkeeper approach. Your response can also be more direct and personal. Note: This should not take the place of encouraging your guests to post on social media outlets. Those glowing reviews pilling up help your business and help you manage your reputation which can result in bookings. This non tech suggestion is just another way of receiving customer feedback.

Some suggestions for survey questions:

  • Was check-in prompt and courteous?
  • Was the cleanliness of your room satisfactory?
  • Was the room temperature comfortable and controllable?
  • Was the lighting adequate?
  • Further suggestions welcomed.
  • Would you choose to stay with us again?

After receiving a negative (or positive) comment from a questionnaire you can then email or call and discuss the complaint and then take action. Communication is key. Listen and respond and set emotion aside.

Another author who has a good insight into the subject of complaints is Janelle Barlow. Her book ‘A Complaint is a Gift’ is a classic and great read. A few basics from her:

“You don’t know how to improve your product or service if you don’t know what’s wrong.”

“Complaints can give you valuable information on what is important to people, what they are willing to spend money on.”

In conclusion the reality is there will always be complaints and dis-satisfied customers. This is human nature and the nature of doing business. In general complaints are also a normal part of being in relationships with people. Our bed and breakfast world of the hospitality business is very personal and face to face. The key to success is in the perceptions (there is that word again) of your guests. If you can recognize during their stay any hints of dissatisfaction you can then ask them face to face if there is anything you can do to make their stay better. By understanding them better you can move forward and take action towards an improved and ‘Better Way to Stay’ inn.