April 10, 2012

Creating a Timeline Full of Successes

If you’re an aspiring innkeeper, I’m sure you’ve spent some time wondering what the highs and lows of your new business venture will be. If you’re already an innkeeper, can you pick your favorite point in time of your business? Putting together the BnBFinder Facebook timeline (www.Facebook.com/BnBFinder) brought back some great memories for me, and made me think of how each chapter in my book, Running a Bed & Breakfast For Dummies, addressed them. If I were to pick my favorite time in the industry, I might pick the present because I’m so proud of the incredible media pickup we’ve been receiving for BnBFinder, our inns and the industry. The current pickup is extra exciting because it brings positive awareness to the industry by moving away from B&B stereotypes and highlighting the variety of experiences offered at B&Bs. For example, at the end of March a major TV program featured BnBFinder on their “Man Show” and their website linked to our Mancations specials page. This month, our BnBFinder Travel Gift Certificates will be “on the wheel” as a prize on one of the most popular game shows; and, in June, BnBFinder inns will be featured in a very popular women’s magazine. This wide array of high profile coverage underscores the traveling public’s interest in B&Bs. As you create and execute the plan for your business, identify the guests you want to cater to; Chapter 2 of the book can help you think about this. Then, staying the course while being open to new ideas will be key to the ongoing growth of your business; so, be sure to read Chapter 15 “Assessing Your Success and Building on It” for help.

It’s funny how history has a way of repeating itself. When I started BnBFinder in 1998, many innkeepers were wondering if they “needed” a website (at the time most innkeepers were more interested in a fax machine), and today you may be wondering if you “need” a mobile site. I recently did a presentation on “Mobile Marketing” and learned that many innkeepers don’t have a mobile website; yet, by 2013 it is predicted that mobile will overtake PCs as the most popular web access device. That’s why BnBFinder-Mobile was developed in 2011, and I recommend the same as part of your web presence. Chapter 8 will take you through the basics of building a website and, in tandem with developing your website, speak with your webmaster about creating a simple mobile site.

As I look back at the timeline, it’s interesting how much and how little the industry has changed. For instance, before mobile (way back in 2000) when Palm Pilots and other handheld devices were ubiquitous, guests wanted to be able to take information on the go so we developed an application for them. Wireless Internet has gone from a nice-to-have amenity to a must-have utility; yet, a wonderful breakfast and clean comfortable rooms are still hallmarks of the B&B experience. I suppose the take away is as it’s always been - know your guests, provide appropriate accommodations and keep an open mind. In Chapter 15, I encourage you to “Open New Doors to Sustain Success” to help you evolve and create a timeline full of successes.

Mary White is the Founder and CEO of BnBFinder.com, a top rated bed and breakfast online directory. White is also the author of Running a Bed & Breakfast For Dummies. As an authoritative voice on B&B travel, White is a go-to source in the bed & breakfast industry for opinions and advice. A noted expert on bed & breakfasts, she has been involved in promoting and marketing B&Bs on the Web for more than a decade. She has appeared in dozens of media outlets. Her site, BnBFinder.com, is hailed by professionals and consumers alike as one of the most informative B&B sites on the Web. Follow her on Twitter at @Mary_White.

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