December 3, 2012

10 Features to Review for 2013

Where did 2012 go? If you’re like me it was a blur. And while I’m busy getting ready with many plans for 2013, I’ve created a quick list of Top 10 important features innkeepers may want to review in preparation for the coming year:

Gift Certificate Program. Are you part of a gift certificate program? It's simple, risk-free additional advertising. The recipients are next year's guests and they’re only considering inns in the specific program.

PR Spotlight. You can garner tremendous exposure for your inn and its unique offerings by securing placements in magazines and newspapers and on websites, blogs, radio and TV. There are some simple practices you can put in place to help you get started. “Taking Advantage of More Offline Marketing Options” in Chapter 15 of Running a Bed and Breakfast For Dummies lists a few of them.

Orris House, Mechanicsburg, PA
 Mobile Site. Smartphones are everywhere, and the number of people using them to search is on the rise. (We’ve seen a steady increase in the traffic to BnBFinder-Mobile this year). So, if your inn has a mobile site you’re ahead of the game. If you don’t have one yet, you may want to think about developing one in the coming year.

Reviews. Reviews are essentially word-of-mouth advertising; and it’s important to have them and just as important to manage them. A negative one can mean the difference between someone staying at your inn and somewhere else. In Chapter 8 of Running a Bed and Breakfast For Dummies, I discuss some methods for getting guests to leave reviews and how to deal with negative ones.

Packages & Specials. Keeping your packages and specials updated is important because it’s a way of catching a guest’s attention. While they may not necessarily book the exact package, it gets them looking at your inn first. You can read more about creating packages in the section entitled “Packages: Bundling services that sell” in Chapter 15.

Rates. Do you have your most current rates listed? You want to make sure they’re accurately reflected in all of your marketing. If you’re looking for more information on rates, you can read Chapter 7 of Running a Bed and Breakfast For Dummies.

Activities & Amenities. Keeping your activities and amenities updated is one of the best ways to sell the experience to your guests. It’s also how you can make your inn’s special qualities stand out, which I discuss in Chapter 8 under the section “Identifying what makes you unique.”
Red Elephant Inn, North Conway, NH

Keywords. It’s the who-what-where of search. While some guests may search directly for your inn (who), most will likely start with a few terms such as “pet-friendly inn” (what) or “Kennebunkport Maine bed and breakfast” (where). You can learn more about keywords in Chapter 15 under the section “Tracking your website traffic.”

Pictures. Pictures also sell the experience, so make sure guests are greeted with the best first impression of your inn. In Chapter 8 of Running a Bed and Breakfast For Dummies under the section “Working with a website,” I go over the importance of professional-grade photographs in telling the story about your inn.

Social Media. Although it may seem like there’s a new social network launching every day, there are a few sites worth investing some time if you’re not already including Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest (for innkeepers who produce videos, you can add YouTube to the list). HINT: Create a social media calendar and fill it up in advance so you save time.

I hope this Top 10 list will help you prepare for a strong 2013 and beyond! 

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