Posts Tagged ‘better way to stay’

Custom Commercial

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

Good morning from Little Rock! Nearly 500 innkeepers are having a high-energy, fantastic time here. They’re attending top-notch educational classes, making new friends and getting pumped about the association and the Better Way to Stay campaign.

At yesterday morning’s general session, we revealed some of the latest and exciting content available to our industry through the Better Way to Stay campaign. We showed several “commercials” that are ready for you – the innkeeper – to download and use in your own marketing. You can view these videos on our YouTube channel by clicking here. We encourage you to pick the ones you love most and put them on your web site, blogs and Facebook walls.

We also announced our upcoming promotion to be run in April, which will tell the world that B&Bs are evolving and meeting the needs of today’s traveler. This video says it all. The audience was on their feet at the conference after watching this and the other videos. They’re excited we are moving this campaign forward in a fresh, humorous way with a DIRECT message – B&Bs are the obvious choice. We’re hoping those considering AirBnB as the hotel alternative will be swayed to do “better” after seeing a video such as this one. So much more is planned for this year.

Here’s why I’m writing. While our annual need is at least $100,000 to keep this campaign alive and well, we are tasking the industry (and conference attendees) to raise at least $50,000 before 2 pm – the end of today’s Awards Lunch. Here on site we have a raffle and silent auction going on, but it’s not going to be enough to get us to our goal. If you’re back at the inn and reading this, we need your help! 2012 will be the year we start advertising Better Way to Stay to the traveling public in a larger way, as we continue to produce more fresh content as well, and need the funding to do this. We need the industry to step up even more, now that we’re turning the corner with some great content.


We are asking you to make your annual contribution to the Better Way to Stay campaign TODAY, and that you consider giving the equivalent of what it costs to stay two nights in your B&B or inn. If only 5% of the industry did this, we could fully fund the campaign every year. We are hoping that 95% of this industry is not going to let 5% carry all of the water, so to speak. We know you “get it” when it comes to spreading the word to the 86% of leisure travelers who did NOT choose a B&B last year (even though 80% indicate they would try a B&B). Please be among those who keep this campaign alive and well. Click here to donate online.


Association support is the most important part of our funding. You all know the importance of industry promotion. If you’re a leader of an association, we can’t wait to start promoting your group on the Better Way to Stay web site. We want to push visitors of our site in your direction, and this means you need to be front and center on your state or province page. Your support helps us “keep the lights on,” so we can continue to run promotions, improve the web site, produce videos, hit the media over the head, etc. If you’re a state or provincial group, your logo will be in the upper left corner of your page: like it is here with Virginia. If you’re a local association, your logo will be on the right side.

Here are the levels of support, based on the size of your group:

States and Provinces Partner Associations Allied Associations
Under 100 members $750 $1000
100 members and up $1000 $1500
Local Associations Within a State or Province (i.e. Key West, Asheville, etc.): $600


*Partner Associations are those B&B organizations with which PAII has an automatic dual membership for all innkeepers in that organization. They include New Jersey, Vermont, Ohio, Arkansas, New Mexico, Kentucky, and Louisiana.


In addition, if an association or any group of innkeepers want to come together and get a video produced like the one the innkeepers in Rockland, Maine produced (click here to watch the Rockland Way to Stay), we have a solution for you. The Better Way to Stay production team will travel to your area, film some fantastic footage and create a commercial just for you (i.e. the Napa Way to Stay, the Idaho Way to Stay, etc). We are offering a limited opportunity to the first 10 groups to sign up for your own commercial. The price is $3,000 (which can be split among participating innkeepers in the group), and includes transportation costs for the videographer, the filming, the editing, the voice over and all the B-roll footage. Participating innkeepers will be kind enough to host the lodging. We will use much of this footage from around the continent to start adding more variety into our larger Better Way to Stay video content. It’s important that we showcase our industry’s variety moving forward. If you’re interested in having a video produced, email Marti Mayne at right away. Priority will be given to those who pay first, so we can start booking travel. You can arrange payment with Marti or pay for the video package online by clicking here.

All proceeds go to the Innkeeping Foundation, a non-profit established to – among other things – educate the public on the B&B experience. The foundation is currently applying for tax exemption, and we will inform you when that happens.

In the meantime, as an innkeeper and/or association leader in this industry, please show your support for Better Way to Stay.

Thank you for supporting the cause to make sure B&Bs are moved up the list in consideration when travelers are looking for a place to stay – and an experience.

Best regards,

Jay Karen, CEO

Professional Association of Innkeepers International and the Innkeeping Foundation

B&Bs for Vets Promotion

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Hat’s off to the West Virginia B&B Association for creating B&Bs for Vets!  The brainchild of Kathleen Panek at Gillum House B&B, the B&Bs for Vets program grew from a few inns and B&Bs offering free rooms on Veteran’s Day in 2008 to a West Virginia promotion in 2009 to nearly 900 participating inns in 2010. In 2011 we expect the number of participating inns to grow once again as innkeepers offer free rooms to veterans on Thursday, November 10, 2011.  In 2011, the B&Bs for Vets promotion will be coordinated by the Better Way To Stay campaign with offers available on  Please note that will redirect to the Better Way to Stay web site.  This year, by listing your participation in B&Bs for Vets on, a number of new options open up:

  • You can customize your participation with additional information or offers that extend through the weekend or month, dinners, discounts at local shops or other community offerings.
  • You can go back in and mark your rooms FULL when you cannot offer more free rooms, yet still remain listed on the site even after you’ve filled up.
  • We can highlight offers from allied associations and consortiums.  If your B&B association is making a group offer, both your inn and your inn association can now be highlighted on on the side bar.

We hope you will participate this year by offering one or more complimentary overnight stays on Thursday, November 10th to those who’ve served to help protect our country’s freedom.  We consulted with the founders of the B&Bs for Vets program and with more than 100 innkeepers who participated in the promotion in the past about how to manage the program in 2011.  While we realize that each innkeeper will customize their participation, we have created guidelines for the program based upon feedback from those who’ve been involved in the past.  Please understand that while opinions from innkeepers may be divergent, we’ve designed the B&Bs for Vets program to be as easy and successful as possible for innkeepers and vets in 2011, based upon majority feedback.

We’ve summarized all the rules of participation and created a list of suggestions to make your participation in the B&Bs for Vets program as successful as possible.  Please click here before registering and read the rules of participation and tips for making the program successful.

We’ve already had a number of media inquiries about the 2011 B&Bs for Vets program.  We plan to announce the B&Bs for Vets program to the media as soon as we have a critical mass of participation from each state.  Be sure to be among the first from your state to post your participation.

Instructions for registering your B&Bs for Vets offer
All B&Bs for Vets offers will be posted on Please read and follow these instructions to register your offer.

First time posting an offer Better Way to Stay?  Follow these step-by-step instructions carefully if you have NOT already posted a B&Bs Kick Gas offer.

  • Go to
  • Mouse over FOR INNKEEPERS in the  top bar and choose SUBMIT A SPECIAL
  • Scroll down to the two blue boxes and click on the REGISTER box.
  • Create a user name and submit your email address. Remember to record your user name.
  • A temporary password will be emailed in a short time to you.  If you don’t see it immediately, check your spam filter to see if it is there. Be sure to record your password for the future.
  • Go back to and click on FOR INNKEPEEPERS and then SUBMIT A SPECIAL and scroll down once again to the two blue boxes.  Click on the LOG-IN box.
  • Now log in with your user name and password and complete all the information for your participation in the program.  We encourage you to post a low-res photo next to your listing.  High-res photos take a long time to load and might be rejected.

If you have already posted an offer on for the Kick Gas promotion, follow these instructions:

  • Go to
  • Mouse over FOR INNKEEPERS and choose SUBMIT A SPECIAL
  • Scroll down to the two blue boxes and click on the LOG-IN box.
  • Log in with the user name and password that you set up with your KICK GAS offer.
  • If you have forgotten your password, click on the link on the log-in page for a new password.
  • Complete the form for the B&Bs for Vets promotion.  Be sure to choose the B&Bs for Vets Promotion from the drop-down list on the form.

We’re estimating we will announce the program to the traveling public approximately a month from now; hopefully earlier.  Please post your offer today.

Once your rooms are all booked:
Once your rooms have filled, simply follow the instructions above to log-into, using your user name and password.  When logged in, the “edit special” screen has a “Mark as Full” checkbox. Be sure to check that box and your listing will appear FULL and remain on the site.

We look forward to building the number of B&Bs participating in the B&Bs for Vets 2011 program.  It’s been such a successful program in the past, and we know it makes a difference in the lives of those who’ve served our country.  Many thanks in advance for your participation. With your help, we’ll show veterans throughout North America that inns and B&Bs are the better way to stay.

Vacation Rentals – Friend or Foe? What do you think?

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

#On My Mind – Vacation Rentals – Friend or Foe?  What do you think?
By Jay Karen, PAII CEO
Anyone paying attention to the travel industry these days knows about the rise and success of the vacation rental as a popular lodging option.  Sites like VRBO, HomeAway, FlipKey and others have skyrockted in popularity.  Many cities around the world are concerned with the increased use of houses, apartments, and condos as vacation rentals, possibly altering the culture of buildings and neighborhoods.  Everyone in our industry knows that HomeAway bought last year, so it brought the vacation rental question into the forefront for our industry.  But how are innkeepers supposed to see the vacation rental market?  Friend or foe?  Of course, it’s not so black and white.

Activities undertaken by the vacation rental industry and its major players may end up benefiting the B&B industry.  For two years now, HomeAway has run commercials during the Super Bowl promoting the hotel alternative.  Since B&Bs compete with hotels (and we do, for those who say we don’t compete with hotels), I like this advertising.  It gets people thinking about alternatives to what can be the “cookie-cutter” experience.  HomeAway received a big infusion of capital from Google Ventures not long ago, and they recently filed to become a publicly-traded company.  The escalating scale and scope of this company will hopefully mean more propaganda to get travelers moving in the direction away from hotels.

Popular vacation rental web sites also provide another distribution channel for innkeepers to market their rooms, cottages, or cabins.  Not all rental opportunities on these web sites are condos and entire houses – some property owners rent rooms as well.  Many innkeepers have months during which occupancy drops to single digits.  Vacation rental web sites may be a great place to experiment with renting the entire B&B out to groups for days or weeks at a time.  I know several innkeepers who are having great success renting rooms on sites like HomeAway.  Think about it this way – there could be some kind of corporate sales training or other group-type function happening near you, and people booking blocks of rooms may not be thinking “B&B” when doing their homework.  But I’ll bet many are looking at vacation rental web sites.

One thing in particular I like about the HomeAway purchase of is the possible cross-pollination of opportunities.  Maybe HomeAway will find a way to market B&Bs to their vacation rental customers.  Maybe there are technology or marketing ideas that are highly successful in the vacation rental world that will find their way to the B&B world.

But, I do have concerns about the rise of vacation rentals.  When I think about the Gen X and Gen Y traveler – heck, maybe all travelers – and their likes and dislikes, I cannot help but be concerned about vacation rentals.  More and more, travelers seem to want it “their way” and they want it to be fast and easy – everything from the search process to the booking process to the on-site experience.  Some of the top reasons people don’t stay at B&Bs are the real or perceived notions that they will be forced into social engagement with strangers (that includes the innkeepers), that they will have to deal with policies and procedures that make the experience difficult (and which exist to make the lives of innkeepers easier), and that they just don’t know what they’re going to get when they arrive.  Will it be quiet or noisy?  Will the food be good or bad?  Will the innkeepers be absent, perfectly present or intrusive?  Who knows, right?

With vacation rentals, people oftentimes get the benefit of having a nicely decorated and clean experience that rivals just about any typical hotel experience.  When I say nicely decorated, I mean that many are outfitted like upscale homes.  Most have kitchens or kitchenettes – some might even be stocked with rations.  Vacation rentals can feel like “home away from home,” which been the calling card of the B&B industry.  Most have free WiFi.  There is likely no concern from travelers that they will have to encounter anyone but the people they are traveling with, so no fears of socially-forced/socially-awkward possibilities.  They can come and go as they please without worrying about bothering other guests or the innkeepers (I’m in someone’s home, so I better be on my best behavior).  And, they can be found in just about any town or city where B&Bs can be found.

Of course, we know that the best of breed in the vacation rental market cannot compete with the best of breed in the B&B market.  A well-run B&B by a caring innkeeper, who has figured out the right recipe for taking care of all kinds of guests and their wishes provides something that no vacation rental can – the warmth of hospitality.  That’s not my concern, because I know that travelers who get the “B&B bug” after staying at one good B&B will come back and come back often.  What I am concerned about is being bypassed completely by travelers have never stayed at a B&B, who get the” vacation rental bug” after a good experience, and who harbor the prejudicial stereotypes that the average traveler harbors about B&Bs.  Why risk staying at a B&B, where the experience could go either way?  Why not stay at a vacation rental where there is a good chance the experience will likely be what you expect?

Maybe this is another reason why we need the Better Way to Stay campaign more than ever.  Maybe the hotel market is not what we should be worried about.  Friend or foe?  If you’re not using what that industry has to offer innkeepers, then they’re only a foe.  If you are using what they have to offer, then they could be more friend than foe.  What do you think?


The Devil is in the Details!

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

The Devil is in the Details!

Fortifying your visual marketing portfolio with vignette photography
By Melissa E. Giannelli of

Any informed traveler will tell you that today’s bed and breakfast is more than just a place to sleep. Indeed, so much of the successful innkeeper’s hard work goes into the details – the things that make their inn special, like romance packages, afternoon teatime, spa treatments and gourmet breakfasts. It’s no wonder that a trend in “detail” photography is emerging as innkeepers let go of the “big picture” and begin feathering their portfolios with vignettes, which not only sell their rooms but also the unique experience of their B&Bs.

Current research indicates that the image-driven website is far more effective than the text-heavy alternative; and a rifle through scores of inn websites reveals that the modern innkeeper knows it. However, while myriad inn websites are comprised of necessary full-room photos, far less include the all-important detail shots—the very ones that have the strongest impact on potential clients. When styled properly, vignette photography delivers a very convincing message to prospective inn guests. The message is simple: Instead of wasting away at your office computer, you could be here.

Size doesn’t matter!
The distorted view of an extreme wide-angle lens is unflattering at best. But here’s the good news: we do not need to cram the entire space of a guest room into one photo! The goal is not to sell square footage like a real estate agent but rather to lure guests to an experience. Sometimes, in lieu of one full-room shot, a series of photos depicting narrower and varied perspectives of a space can be more interesting. While implementing choice angles and props, a photographer will have more opportunities to accentuate the very best of a room–perhaps sunlight pooling on a turned down sleigh bed or a fireside chaise draped with a cozy throw. These shots are the ones that emotionally compel the viewer, and make them wish that they were there!

Leave a little to the imagination.
We do encounter the occasional innkeeper who is intent upon showing everything. Like all ethical business owners, they come from a good place–they do not want to surprise their clients. However, inn photography is so much more than identifying guestrooms. It’s really an innkeeper’s most potent tool for demonstrating what type of experience guests will enjoy. There’s little need to indicate an air conditioning wall unit’s proximity to the bed or accurately depict the dimensions of a tiny room. Instead, snap a shot of a sun-drenched reading chair or display a snippet of a model warming up by the fire with a cup of cocoa. In other words, use your marketing dollars to showcase your assets and advertise pleasant experiences! I assure you, prospective guests will not be disappointed that you failed to visually disclose to them the spaciousness of your front hall.

Oh, unique you!
I’m in love with the argument that B&Bs ought to be competing against hotel chains and not each other. As our industry leaders forge ahead with the latest B&B marketing campaign, “Better Way to Stay,” we inn photographers are encouraged, because we know that great photography gives B&Bs an edge on their hotel competitors. Though uniqueness may have served as a detriment to the B&B business in the past, the new concept is that B&Bs ought to flaunt what even the best chain hotels are lacking: individuality. Sure, good hotel photography can deftly capture a chic bedroom suite or a lavish lounge, but because hotel chains are by their very nature monotonously designed, their portfolios are similarly uninspiring. Alternatively, by augmenting your own vignette photography, you can demonstrate to your guests exactly how warm, creative and personable you are in comparison.

What you can do:
So which shots will make your website more compelling? Think about what makes your inn special and unique. What are guests saying about your guestrooms? What are you most proud of? Meanwhile, are there any packages that are popular among your guests? Does your inn boast a cozy reading spot commonly occupied by guests? Is there a great location on your property to enjoy a picnic? Are you famous for a special dish? Is your inn a great location for the active traveler? You can start to compile a diverse and dynamic shot list if you think about these things. And, be sure to have this discussion with your photographer! Although they are trained to recognize photogenic spots throughout your inn, they can always benefit from your specialized knowledge of your inn and clients.

Props are crucial for vignette photography. Make certain to prepare in advance for the arrival of the photographer by gathering potential props and keeping them in a centralized location for easy acquisition. Your arsenal of props should include, but not be limited to: fresh flowers, potted plants of all sizes, throw blankets and pillows, books of varying sizes and colors, an assortment of bowls and baskets, and sporting equipment if your inn advertises its proximity to outdoor activities.

Use some models, but keep them generic. It’s great to incorporate models into the shot, as nothing brings an image to life like a living person; however, it’s important to use some restraint. You want your guests to picture themselves, not someone else, at your inn. In other words, keep the shots people-neutral and accentuate the space, or the experience that the models are enjoying.

As industry photographers and attendees of recent conference sessions, we are enthusiastic because we hear from our community’s compatriots what we have known all along: a fresh and updated visual marketing portfolio is an invaluable asset to the successful innkeeper. As the “Better Way to Stay” conversation continues to generate a buzz among industry professionals, it’s important to keep in mind the ways we can tell potential guests what makes us great. We can do so in part by keeping our websites fresh and beautiful with enticing photography. What’s more, we can focus our lenses on what makes us individual and unique. In the battle for business, it’s our not-so secret weapon.

On My Mind- In the Shadows for Too Long

Saturday, September 4th, 2010

On My Mind- In the Shadows for Too Long
By Jay Karen, PAII CEO

Have you ever tried to get someone to try something you just knew they would like, but found it hard to convince them? That’s what I feel our industry has been up against for decades – trying to get travelers to try B&Bs. There is no question with the sharp growth of the industry in the 80s and 90s and the marketing power of the internet since the mid-90s, millions of travelers have experienced our great product. We have loyal customers who understand the value of a fantastic B&B stay. But there are many more travelers out there who have never stayed at a B&B – either because of one of the many “myths” or negative perceptions they might already have, or (according to our own research) staying at a B&B doesn’t even cross their minds as an option when booking travel. Whatever the reason, we all know in our industry what a fantastic product we have. With the rise of alternative lodging options and the sincere efforts of hotels to deliver an experience more like ours, we need to press forward and start getting more people to book stays at B&Bs. Our industry has to start doing something different and fresh to enter the consciousness of the traveler. We want people spreading the word about B&Bs in ways now possible that were impossible before. Enter – Better Way to Stay.

PAII wants to get more people talking, Tweeting, Re-Tweeting, status updating, sharing, linking, forwarding and emailing about B&Bs. We don’t want to build another directory. We want to get more travelers checking out what the industry already has – some great assets that have been around for years. I’m talking about the B&B directories, travel sites, state and local association web sites, your web sites, and ultimately clicking the “Book Now” button more and more. As your industry’s trade association, it’s part of our DNA to want to do this. We want to create buzz and attention for the great businesses in our marketplace.

For years innkeepers have wanted PAII to build an effective directory of our members. They figured it would be the silver bullet for membership growth and ultimate stability and success for PAII. The fact is that the horse is out of the barn on that one – several directories have been around since the mid-90s and are leagues ahead of what we could do from a search engine optimization standpoint. We don’t want to compete with them – or you, the innkeeper! Building our own directory – if we were to be effective in the search engines – would mean having us compete with you for premium placement on search result pages. There are some great B&B directories and association web sites that have been delivering value for years to innkeepers. We don’t want to compete with them – we want to bring more traffic to them!

But, we’ve been up against many elements for years. As we fight for PAII’s sustainability and success, it’s time we get on the offense rather than the defense. With the help of volunteers within the PAII ranks (our Board of Directors, Advisory Council, Campaign Committee and many others) as well as some folks who had some early blind faith in our ideas and vision (see list at bottom of this post), we are moving forward with the industry’s first ever campaign to get more people understanding that B&Bs are the “Better Way to Stay.” We have enlisted professional assistance from some fantastic resources and are currently building the basic elements of a successful campaign.

What we do with this campaign will have a lot to do with the level of support we get from all four corners of our industry – from everyone who has a stake in the game. Sure, we’re not going to get everyone to chip in, even though the intent of this campaign is to be non-discriminatory with regard to whom we want to get more business. We want all innkeepers to benefit from our efforts, but naturally we plan to promote those who support the campaign. And I hesitate to use the word “campaign,” because it can imply something temporary. The intent is for PAII to coordinate and support permanent, ongoing efforts to raise awareness and influence people to give us a look. We should only ever back off such efforts when most innkeepers are turning away business on account of being full throughout the year. With a national average occupancy somewhere near 40%, we know there’s a lot of work to be done.

So, today I’m writing this just to keep you informed about what is happening. We’ve been talking about the prospect of this campaign for at least two years. We are not ready to launch it, but we’re ready for you to start knowing about it. Visit for a few more details and to get a flavor of what we’re working on.

Stay tuned for more! We hope you are as excited as we are.

Thank you to the following folks for your early support:

* Empire State B&B Association
* New Mexico B&B Association
* British Columbia B&B Innkeepers Guild
* Illinois Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers Association
* Bed and Breakfast Inns of Missouri
* Indiana Bed and Breakfast Association
* Pennsylvania Tourism & Lodging Association
And individual innkeepers

» rss