December 2, 2013

Looking Towards 2014

If you're like me, you're asking yourself where did 2013 go, and 2012 for that matter? However, whether you're ready for the New Year or not, year-end is a great time to look back and reflect on accomplishments and challenges from the previous year, and to plan for the coming year. As a review of the year, and to chart a course for next year, I wanted to share some observations we have seen at BnBFinder.com, and predictions I have for 2014.

Sidwell Friends, Mount Vernon, IL
Mobile is the way to go. Guests are plagued with a new disease: nomophobia. It’s "the fear of being without your cell phone." Think about yourself when you walk out the door. You might check for your keys (which are often not necessary since you can start many cars with the push of a button), but more than likely, you check for your cell phone. They are practically an appendage. The number of searches done on mobile devices grows exponentially each year. If you agree with this assessment, then have you made your website mobile-friendly; and if not, why not?

Reviews are here to stay. While it may be an innkeeper's nightmare to manage reviews and to ask guests to post them, they are important and used by other guests when making a decision about which inn to pick. While you need to focus your attention on the review sites (TripAdvisor, Google and Yelp), you should also have a few reviews on any marketing site you are listed on (such as BnBFinder.com). Once we have a guest interested in your inn (our job), we don't want them to leave to look for reviews because, while on the review site, they may forget your inn or choose another one. Having just two to three current reviews makes sense on each marketing site. Attach guest comment cards to the guests' folio when they are checking out.

Thinking past Google will add to your success. Google is here to stay, but it is not the only game in town. Think of ways to spread the word about your inn and, just as importantly, your area. (Guests are not only looking for a nice hot tub and a delicious breakfast, they want things to do when they visit.) Look at the resources you already have. For example, partner with local area attractions and make sure your Chamber of Commerce, past guests and your marketing sites (such as BnBFinder.com) are all up to date on happenings so the word can spread virally. There are so many ways to promote your inn, and it's impossible to have enough resources (time and money) to go around. So please be sure to read Chapter 8 of Running a Bed and Breakfast For Dummies for some additional ideas for marketing your inn. Here’s to a successful 2014 for you and your inn. Happy Holidays!

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