March 1, 2017

Get Inn Focus with Top Photography

A picture is worth a thousand words – and more importantly, it can mean thousands of dollars in increased reservations! Even a gorgeous, spacious, luxurious property can look like a fleabag hotel on the web without professional photographs. If just one guest has told you, “the inn is so much nicer than it looks in the pictures” – STOP and figure out when you can arrange for professional photos. Very rarely will you find an expenditure that will result in a direct return on investment, and this one will.

Whether it’s on or your own website, having professional photographs will benefit your business. Here are some tips to make sure you make the most of this investment:

1.    Photographers are not created equal. A tripod is essential and not all photographers use them. 
2.    Quality not quantity rules. Click and pray for a great shot is a waste. A talented photographer will spend time staging each shot. This means tucking away chords, removing clutter, arranging pillows, knowing how to use tasteful props, and so on.
3.    A few good photos are better than none. If you’re a new innkeeper and have made some changes at the inn, don’t rush to change your website until you have professional photos taken.
4.    Share. See if you can arrange for the photographer to shoot several inns in your area to help share travel costs.
5.    Be ready and be flexible. If the weather is bad, the photographer may be able to change their arrival date. 
6.    Clean windows and remove screens. Photographers are expensive window washers.
7.    Have the photographer stay in your best view room. You never know what time of day they will snap that “signature” view shot.
8.    Invite an attractive repeat guest as a model. People in photos add a great deal.
9.    Be ready for long days. You need to give the photographer access when they feel the lighting is best, be it the crack of dawn or late at night.
10.  Know the difference between high versus low-resolution photos. You must have good-quality, high-resolution photographs handy for print material and media requests.

Many of these tips come from Jumping Rocks Photography, a group of talented industry photographers. I also discuss professional photography in my book, Running a Bed & Breakfast For Dummies, in Chapter 8. I myself enjoy and learn from reading the Jumping Rocks blog and recommend it for all new and seasoned innkeepers.

I have been helping innkeepers promote their properties for nearly 20 years, and I enjoy speaking about all aspects of your marketing plan. I am looking forward to the Innkeeping Conference and Trade Show March 26 – March 29 in St. Louis, MO, and I hope to see and meet many of you there. While I hope we visit in person soon, feel free to email me at I am always excited to hear your thoughts!

February 3, 2017

Making Sense of Marketing Dollars

Whether you're an aspiring, new or seasoned innkeeper I know that you are constantly bombarded with advertising options. Marketing dollars are essential yet VERY precious, so whether it's on BnBFinder or any other site, I've compiled an important checklist to help you get the most out of your budget.
Here are some critical questions to keep in mind when deciding where to allocate your advertising dollars:
  1. Begin with the end in mind. Does your advertising express the guest experience?
  2. You don't get a second chance to make a first impression. Each place your inn is listed should be equally enticing…is it?
  3. Photographs dominate. Guests are looking for an experience, so your goal is for them to envision the wonderful experience they will have at your property. Does every advertising portal have your best images? If not, your precious time will be well-spent updating them.
  4. Are you painting a picture of the guest experience? Every word is vital. Gone are the days when you need to "keyword stuff." Guests of all generations are visual, so make every image and word count.
  5. Forget demographics. Are you looking at the psychographics of your guests? Simply put, this means catering to niche markets that will enjoy your inn and guests who will refer others to it. You can't be everything to everyone so make sure your message and brand are clear.
  6. Do you utilize the features of what you’re already paying for? On, this means many things. For example, it means taking advantage of our strong PR team. We send out Daily Media Requests giving you a chance to be included in our constant and very successful media pitches. Every company and site has a lot to offer. Scour these offerings (or call them and ask them for an evaluation of your listing) to take advantage of everything that is appropriate and included.
  7. Lastly…. Start with #1. Make sure you are marketing the guest experience to the guest you want to attract, EVERYWHERE you can.

I have been promoting bed & breakfast inns for nearly 20 years, and I look forward to discussing these topics further with you. Conferences are a great place to do this. They enhance your professional development by providing a wonderful opportunity to learn and network. I discuss their merits in great detail in Chapter 16 of my book. I personally am looking forward to the Innkeeping Conference and Trade Show March 26 – March 29 in St. Louis, MO, and I hope to see and meet many of you there. While I hope we visit in person soon, feel free to email me at any time. I am excited to hear your thoughts!