Posts Tagged ‘area activities’

A Note from Mary White

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

A Note from Mary White

Hotels have B&Bs beat when it comes to taking advantage of Internet marketing … or do they? True, they have infringed on our territory – brands from the Four Seasons to Hampton Inns are offering complimentary breakfast and an abundance of amenities, hallmark features of a bed & breakfast getaway – however, I believe there is still plenty of room to compete.

When I started BnBFinder in 1998 the Internet was about to become the great equalizer, the chance for B&Bs to be on a level playing field with hotels because of a cost effective advertising vehicle (a website) to get the word out about our properties. Our industry has changed a great deal because of the Internet and the benefits have not come to an end.

Our agility and individuality are some of the advantages that we should seize. As a small business owner you can make a decision right now and implement it immediately, you’ll never be held up by corporate bureaucracy. You can provide a truly personal experience for your guest, something even a 5 star hotel will have trouble rivaling. You frequently know ahead of time, or are the first to know, when couples become engaged and can add an extra touch such as champagne at breakfast or a mug from your inn as a remembrance of their engagement. You also have the advantage of deciding on the spot what to do, based on guests’ personalities, making the gesture more meaningful than a canned, corporate response. Beyond the special touches, guests would have to stay at a very high-end hotel to experience the type of concierge service offered at most B&Bs. Innkeepers are in the know about the best spots, restaurants, and local secrets.

As a result of your agility and individuality, I believe your “Internet message” should always convey the value and experience that your B&B offers. Your advertising should start with the premise that your B&B is more than just a place to sleep; that to stay at a B&B is to wakeup someplace special; that B&Bs are a better way to stay. This means something different for every inn, so how do you use the Internet to convey this?

Good photos are essential. We had wonderful feedback on Melissa Giannelli’s article on photos of your inn in last month’s newsletter. Does your marketing (website, blog, newsletter, directory listings, etc) show your breakfast, amenities, and area activities? Keep it simple and appealing and when it applies, flaunt it!

Video tells your story and conveys the experience far better than words. No longer do you have to be able to shoot and edit video clips or hire a high priced videographer to have great video for your website. Programs, such as Photo Story 3, make it easy to assemble photographs into high quality, engaging video. I created the video below in less than an hour after one webinar taught by Acorn Internet. (If you’re not an Acorn customer you can sign up for their webinar series by contacting sales@acorn-is.com The video class was originally offered as a “test” beta-class, and will be worked into the class schedule later this year.)

Don’t forget Social Media. At a recent HSMAI (Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International) panel discussion, revenue managers were asked how to judge the return on investment (ROI) of their social media efforts. I listened closely for this answer, as this is a question I am frequently asked by innkeepers. Interestingly, many chain hotels have not embraced social media as a format for engaging guests. It’s not that they don’t want to, but because of the priority of other corporate tech projects or because of the personal message necessary to engage in social media, they are unable to approach this medium with the agility that countless B&Bs have.

As an Innkeeper you can always be thinking about what makes your inn special and how to convey that in whatever form of Internet marketing you use. It’s a privilege and a pleasure to promote your inn and as always I value your feedback.

P.S.: I will be at the Northwest Innkeeping Trade Show & Conference April 4-6, in Portland Oregon. If you’re at the conference, make sure you stop by the booth and say hello!



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