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 ‘social media’

Bed and Breakfast-Experiential Travel

January 28th, 2015 by Janet Wolf

 

 

experiential travel and millennials

Experiential Travel-Seek and they will find.

It’s the new buzz phrase and it has caught on big time. Once again the focus is on the millennial and their travel wants and needs. Despite what the studies and media are putting out there the generation gap may not be that wide. We all want an exceptional experience when we travel.  But for this post I will focus on experiential travel for the millennial traveler. A Huffington Post article lists 29 wants and needs the millennial traveler is seeking. Let’s take a look at a few of the bullet points that relate to experiential travel. Followed by some suggestions for Bed and Breakfast innkeepers.

#2. They make quick decisions.

Email marketing is a great way to promote timely events and new businesses in your area. Content marketing is hot right now. Also engaging and timely blogs that are shared on your social media platforms. Good example of a timely blog is from the Brampton Inn in Chestertown MD about the new restaurants in town. They also shared it on Facebook.

#10. They’re comfortable booking trips on the go. #20 They’re spontaneous.

Mobile booking is becoming more main stream. It will become a must to have the ability to book from mobile devices.

#5. They travel to pursue their own interests (like food, wine, or outdoor adventuring) more than other generations do.

 

experiential travel for food and spirits

Flights of beer or any trendy libation

Spotlight those restaurants that offer a hipper experience. i.e. Wine, beer or whiskey flites. Local foods with a creative flair. Food carts. Local bands, entertainment. Pop-up restaurants.

 

For the experiential traveler a food truck is fast. fun and very local.

For the experiential traveler a food truck is fast. fun and very local.

Find out what is new in your area that screams ADVENTURE, connect with the provider and promote it big time. It may be that there is an adventure experience out there that is virtually unknown. Great opportunity to get the word out to your guests.

#24. Many of them are seeing the world’s wonders for the first time, generating an unmatched essence of thrill and awe.

What a great opportunity for innkeepers! If you are near any national or state park, the millennial traveler would love to experience it their way. (not the way they experienced it at 12 from the back seat of the family wagon).

Scenic highway road trips. Create your own itinerary that leads right to your door!

They have lots of energy and can pack 3 adventures into one day. Backpacking, on a trail then a horse then hop on a jeep. Or a dog sled… The Lodge at Moosehead Lake in Maine does a great job creating and promoting their Wilderness Adventures in all seasons.

 

experiential travel at Lodge at Moosehead Lake

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

Have information available (online and onsite) that offer ‘free’ places to visit.

Out of sequence but a good finish to this post. #14. They want to travel more than older generations do.

Great news. But they must be able to find you. You have the unique lodging experience as well as the personal knowledge of your area. Where are the millennial travelers finding their lodging choices? Online reviews are a biggie. AirBnB is another, as well as some OTA’s.  Something to think about.

But once they have found you, they may come back and book with you directly. Or…they may tell their buddies about their experience. Word of mouth, so easy to communicate on social media. #6 They’re Internet masterminds.

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

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

Give Me the Simple Life

May 11th, 2011 by Janet Wolf

Ahh…the simple life of an innkeeper. Well maybe not so simple these days with social media, online reservations, website updating, conferences, webinars, the list goes on. So let me tell you a story of a couple of innkeepers of yore. Their names were Maryline White and Louise Shangle, partners in business and life. They owned a house on Goose Rocks Beach on the ocean in Maine. Many friends came to visit being that they loved to cook and entertain and the location was grand. So they say one day,”why not open for business, share our lifestyle with guests?”  So they did and The Snow Goose was opened.

Maryline now lives in Oregon and just celebrated her 90th birthday. Unfortunately Louise passed away a while back. Rick knew Maryline and Louise when they had a small restaurant in Carmel, California. They moved there after closing The Snow Goose.  The two of them were very adventurous and nomadic for a while!  Rick bused tables for them when he was in junior high school. They eventually moved back to Goose Rocks Beach and when Rick and I vacationed in the area and eventually moved and opened our bed and breakfast in Kennebunkport we reconnected.

I recently called Maryline and asked her a few questions about her and Louise’s experience as ‘simple innkeepers’ in the early 1960s.

Q  What are your memories of the worst guest?

A  I don’t think we had any bad guests. There was one that was unusual, he would bark at our two Scotties, maybe trying to communicate with them? They would just bark back. They had a great conversation.

Q  What did you do to market your inn?

A  My career in NYC was advertising and PR and Louise’s was graphic arts. We purchased a mailing list of companies related to these two fields and sent out mailings. Then we had these cards printed and distributed them in the tourist centers. That was about it in those days, but it worked. We would also make friends with the other innkeepers in our area. The Colony Hotel would send us people who didn’t want to pay their rates. We would also send people to The Colony who we thought would not be happy with our type of lodging.

Maryline wanted to say that she is still actively organizing and promoting. She started a ‘Poetry Jam’ at her senior living center where she lives. She says, “We keep it simple, no rules, just don’t recite for too long so you won’t embarrass yourself. It is a very popular event, in our first session we had over 40 attendees.”

Reading their clever ad says it all. You know exactly what kind of experience you will have at The Snow Goose. Can you imagine taking a reservation on a party line? Do any of you recall what a party line is?

Well I’m not going to make this a long blog, just going to keep it simple. But first a line from the song ‘Give Me the Simple Life’, words and music by Harry Ruby and Rube Bloom.

‘A cottage small is all I’m after

Not one that’s spacious and wide

A house that rings with joy and laughter

And the ones you love inside’

I believe this is what The Snow Goose was all about, simple hospitality from the heart. Thank you Maryline and Louise for your memories.

Janet Wolf

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

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