March 29, 2017

Inns with New Amenities: The ABCs of Bed & Breakfast Value

A is for Amenities and the over-the-top, ahead-of-the-curve, guest-centric features offered at your bed & breakfasts.

B is for Breakfast, the scrumptious (COMPLIMENTARY) morning meals that you serve every day.

C is for the Concierge personal service, local knowledge, and attention to detail that has always been a part of the bed & breakfast experience.

While this may seem elementary, I’m continuously impressed with the new amenities, breakfast selections, and concierge services innkeepers offer so that your guests always wake up someplace special, as the BnBFinder.com tagline conveys ;)  I’m excited to use my next three columns to cover some of your innovative offerings, as I know we can gain inspiration from each other!

If there were a “New Amenity Award,” innkeepers would surely be the winners. While many AirBnB hosts will make area recommendations, you take experience to a whole new level with the amenities that you offer. And, unlike hotels, you don’t have to endure lengthy planning meetings or go up the corporate hierarchy to implement them!

For example, Platinum Pebble Boutique Inn has guests floating on Air Couches that they can use at the inn or even bring to the beach; and when not relaxing on air, guests can take to the skies in a helicopter tour whisking them to a empty island for a romantic meal. And if you choose one of their adventure packages, ask them to use the GoPro HERO5 – it's complimentary!

Casa Grandview’s guests slumber on “hybrid beds,” which combine the best features of foam or gel mattresses with the benefits of traditional inner spring mattresses. It is not uncommon for their guests to come to breakfast raving about the bed and wondering what they have slept on.

Fire pits are kindling camaraderie at inns such as Hillbrook Inn & Spa, while electric car chargers are easy to find at many bed & breakfasts across North America, including Lookout Point Lakeside Inn. At The Iris Inn, the entire guest room has evolved into a separate amenity by giving couples the chance to sleep in a luxurious glass tree house.

At BnBFinder, we are using the ABCs of Bed & Breakfast Value to let guests and the media know about the ever-changing special aspects that have always been a part of the bed & breakfast experience. I welcome your thoughts and always want to know what's new at your inn. Please email me, mary@bnbfinder.com




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 BnBFinder.com 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 mary@bnbfinder.com. I am always excited to hear your thoughts!