Posts Tagged ‘experience’

Will the new focus on tourism as an industry help your business?

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

Will the new focus on tourism as an industry help your business?

The Ontario government has taken a similar view – we have one year of financing under our belt, but the real infrastructure required to make tourism a great experience was ignored. Is your area ready for increased tourism in what you consider your peak season?

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.

INNKEEPERS:

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.

ASSOCIATIONS:

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.

WANT YOUR OWN CUSTOM COMMERCIAL?

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 info@maynelymarketing.com 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

It’s All About Delivering the Experience!

Monday, December 12th, 2011

It’s All About Delivering the Experience!

Customers want what they want when they want it. The idea is to bundle it all together and get them to pay for access to experiences they’d never have otherwise without your help.

Most Bed and Breakfast owners are experts in delivering that experience. Go to www.nebraskabb.com and get some advice from other B&B innkeepers and collaborate with each other!

Customization is the New Luxury

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

Customization is the New Luxury

The experience at New York’s Waldorf=Astoria begins well before check in.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Steve Pike
(2 of 4)

 

“When we had a dinner she would say, ‘Use your Waldorf manners,’” said Jorgensen, who for the past five years has been director of leisure sales at the Waldorf=Astoria and Waldorf Towers in New York City.

For Jorgensen, “Waldorf manners” means upholding the hotel’s motto “Surpassing the Legacy.” The Waldorf=Astoria’s legacy, of course, is a fabled as any hotel in the world. That legacy includes tycoons such as John Jacob Astor IV, whose dysfunctional family founded the hotel in 1893, and residents who run the gamut from President Herbert Hoover and Gen. Douglas MacArthur to Bugsy Siegel, Nikola Tesla and Marilyn Monroe.

Each of these famous (and infamous) figures are decidedly different has one thing in common:  He or she wanted the luxury and service of the Waldorf=Astoria. These days, you don’t have to rich, powerful or famous to stay at the Waldorf=Astoria or Waldorf Towers, which is where Jorgensen comes in. In her world, “luxury” means different things to different people.

“I think the biggest thing is why people are coming here,” Jorgensen said. “Is it their honeymoon? Have they been saving their whole lives and never been to New York and want to see some Broadway shows and Central Park? Everybody in the hotel is considered a VIP – it’s why they’re coming that makes the visit a singular event for them.”

That singular event – and VIP service – begins a couple of weeks before a guest arrives when he or she is contacted by one of the Waldorf’s personal concierges.

“They ask why the guest is coming, if they need transportation or assistance in setting up shows, things like that,” Jorgensen said. “When they get here, the guest has that personal concierge available to them the remainder of their stay.

“People don’t necessarily want to come to a hotel just to be in the hotel; they want it to be a true singular experience. Whether they want to come to have backstage passes to a concert or go see a Yankees batting practice, they’re looking for something. They have higher expectations. They want their experience to be unique.

“We have a lot of people come to us because they know their great-grandparents stayed here on their honeymoon. They want to feel close to that generation by sort of re-enacting that same trip.  Other people want to come to a presidential suite (the Waldorf has 26), so we put together a specific menu that was for one of the presidents while they were in house. It’s that kind of customizing that makes it extra special for guests.”

Sometimes, Jorgensen said, the experience is as unique – and simple – as the couple from Ireland that merely wanted to stay at the Waldorf.

“I was standing in the Park Avenue lobby and I saw them walk up the steps,” Jorgensen said. “Their eyes were so big. Tears came to the man’s face and he said, ‘I’ve waited my whole life to come to the Waldorf and now I’m here.’”

And like presidents, kings and generals, he’s a VIP at the Waldorf=Ast

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 www.christiangiannelli.com

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.

Socialnomics: Four Vital Social Media Tips for the Travel Industry

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

Socialnomics: Four vital social media tips for the travel industry
Posted by Special Nodes USA on 28 June 2010
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If you do things right in social media than one can capture 1.5 million loyal followers (JetBlue on Twitter).

Yet, companies can also stub their toe in the world of social media as evidenced by the YouTube success of United Breaks Guitars and Kevin Smith’s quarrel with Southwest Airlines.

Some items are beyond your control no matter how good you are at social media. However, there are a few to steps give you the best chance for success in the social media travel world and to increase sales.

social media escalator

As showcased in the diagram, the four steps are:

1. Listen – to your customer and conversations around your brand.
2. Interact – Join the conversation.
3. React – Adjust your services based on feedback.
4. Sell – If you Listen, Interact, React, this will happen with less effort.

Companies often enter the social media fray and jump straight to step four, selling. This is the worst thing you can do, and it won’t be effective.

You need to start with step one, which is listening. Without listening, the other three steps won’t achieve any degree of success. As many have said before me, there’s a reason we have two ears and one mouth.

After listening, then you have the appropriate baseline and credibility to join the conversation.

Imagine if you were at a housewarming party and walked up to a group of four people who were already engaged in a conversation and said, “I’m not sure what you are talking about, but here is what I want to talk about.”

You don’t want to be “that girl” at the housewarming party and you don’t want to be “that girl or company” in the socialsphere.

Many get the listening and interacting correct, but then they commit a terrible crime. They don’t do anything (react) based on the suggestions and information gathered?

If 90% of the people complain about a certain aspect of your hotel, airline, etc, it’s imperative that the issue is resolved, and resolved promptly.

If 90% of the conversation is centered around certain aspects of the hotel or customer service that people love, then it’s imperative that this information is placed in the appropriate hands (PR, production, sales, customer service, etc.) – let’s make sure we do more of this! Everyone loves it.

We won’t touch on selling too much, because if you do the first three steps well (Listen, Interact, React), then the selling will happen with a proper push here and a prod there.

Notice in the diagram that the steps for the customer then happen in the reverse order of the company. This is huge. It’s these steps that the customer takes within social media that give an exponential return (good or bad).

If it makes it easier to grasp, you can consider the following as steps 5, 6, 7, 8. This is where the magic can really happen.

* Listen: The customer books the reservation from the selling company. The customer’s first step is to listen for what to expect (important expectation setting here). What is the value that will be delivered? What experience can I expect?
* Interact: The customer will then travel.
* React: During or after this interaction, the customer will react according to his or her experience (good/neutral/bad).
* Sell: The consumer’s reaction to the experience will determine if they sell for or against (the company/airline/hotel/cruise line). Keep in mind if it’s a negative reaction, you still have a chance to correct the situation by interacting and reacting.

That’s the beauty of social media. As a company, if you appropriately engage in the four steps, then the stairs in the diagram act more like an escalator (pun intended) rather than a traditional stairway (ie. Social Media Escalator).

It will create a positively circular motion, which, with the appropriate greasing (effort), will continue to take your travel offerings to the top. And that is the true beauty of Socialnomics.

The best strategy in social media is a simple one. Always remind yourself of the fundamentals.

NB: This article is written by Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics. His book is available on Amazon.
as published in PAII Innfo Newsletter



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