Your Reservation Process

Your reservation procedure is vital to your business success. It’s part of your marketing plan too. We’ve all had reservation experiences; some have been great, and some are outstandingly bad. You can learn more from a bad experience than a good one (though I prefer good ones). Let the personal touch that’s the hallmark of B&Bs lead the way to your business success, starting with your reservation tactics.

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Defining B&Bs

In typical “Yankee” fashion, Americans have taken the British bed and breakfast concept and grown it into a widely diversified industry. You’ll find every conceivable style of inn varying in size, architecture, business style, attitude, culture, cost, and location. There are Manhattan apartments, boats (ocean, lake and river), Kansas farm houses, mountain chalets, urban mansions and townhouses, as well as country inns. I have seen churches, schools, jails, and firehouses used for B&Bs. The house styles I’ve seen usued for B&Bs include Victorian, modern, log, adobe, plantation, farmhouse, and even beehive. B&Bs have been found underground, in high-rises, in trees, in townhouses, and underwater. Along with different styles of structure you will find different styles of environment ranging from casual to elegant, eclectic to period furnishings, garage-sale to designer decor, shared baths to luxury private baths, and low- to high-touch. These characteristics influence the B&B classifications.

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Branding Your B&B For Success

Let me share some examples of market niche, as provided by the restaurant industry which does it so well. You have Denny’s on one end of the spectrum, an establishment that provides basic food quickly. Or you have restaurants that offer specialties of seafood, steak, Greek, Chinese, Italian, or Brazilian. But if you are going to be an Italian restaurant will you be generally Italian, northern Italian, southern Italian, Tuscan, Roman, or Venetian? Focusing on one Italian cuisine will garner you a stronger, clearer brand — especially if you are thorough with the presentation by having not only the food but also ensure the wine, tablecloths, music and decorations are authentic. I have known of B&Bs with market niches of poetry, writers, cat and chocolate lovers, farm and ranch experiences, and healing.

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Entrepreneur B&B Market Niche Process

A few weeks ago I wrote about characteristics of the entrepreneur as far as the bed and breakfast world goes. By now you should know, understand, and work with your personality strengths and weaknesses. Support your weaknesses either through the systems you develop or the staff you hire -— or both. Capitalize on your strengths. Be aware of your guests’, employees’, and vendors’ personalities to help you manage your environment and strive to keep everything on even keel.

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Image Building

For those of you who have taken my seminars or read my ebooks, you have heard about West Point Market in Akron, Ohio. I learned about this grocery store from Inc. Magazine back in 1990. For those of you who haven’t read about West Point Market, it’s a wonderful example of focused and diligent marketing. This market has developed an image of the place to go to buy good food and wine, and all without advertising. That’s not to say the owner doesn’t spend money promoting his store, he just doesn’t invest in traditional advertising. And the store is wildly successful. In the day of large chain groceries that keep customers based on low prices and weekly specials, this grocer is making it on quality products and without weekly specials or discounted prices.

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Green Travel and B&Bs

There is so much going on with the greening of the hospitality these days I am both energized and overwhelmed. It’s great! Take a look at Green Lodging News this week to see me profiled — it’s always a kick to see your name in “print”. This is a great weekly ezine promoting the greening of the hotel industry. Subscribe if you have any interest in expanding your environmental or hospitality knowledge.

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Marketing Your Green Inn

Your marketing materials, which at the very least include your website and brochure, are the avenue to tell prospective guests what experience they will have while staying at your inn. Those marketing avenues also give you a way to communicate your guest amenities, rules, contact information, and other important facts about your B&B business.

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Changing Times: B&B Market Niche

The B&B industry is in transition: from young to maturing, from “build it and they will come” to targeted marketing, and from undefined to defined market niche. Defining the inn’s brand — or market niche — gives innkeepers the competitive edge they need to flourish, not just survive. Guests’ wants and needs have changed through the years; it’s important to understand those changes so the innkeeper can react and the B&B can thrive.

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Do you have advice for selling a B&B?

From “Ask Kit!”:

Q: I enjoyed your website, lots of information for people thinking about buying a B&B. We are selling our B&B and have found very little on the internet regarding selling B&B properties. We have had four showings in the past 5 months and are having a difficult time finding qualified buyers. We seem to attract those dreaming of the B&B lifestyle with little knowledge about what it takes to be successful or even if they can afford to do it. Most have unrealistic expectations regarding income and occupancy.
Any advice to those of us selling??

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B&B Marketing

Marketing 101 for Bed and Breakfasts
The basics of marketing is to build awareness of your inn so that business will follow. Do you advertise or publicize — and what’s the difference between the two activities? Advertising is a message you pay for. You control the message and thus it’s less credible. Publicity is free; it’s what someone else says about you and thus is more objective. You have minimal control because it’s the truth from the author’s point of view and thus has high credibility. How do you know what to do when? That’s what my whole marketing e-book is about: helping you know what to do.

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Your Best Marketing Secret

or… Your Best Marketing Tool

During a B&B conference session on using Press Kits for your marketing, we tossed around lots of ideas about using press kits effectively. After more than half of the session had elapsed someone asked how effective press kits were for people in the room. Essentially the answer was, not at all. One innkeeper did succeed in getting an article because of a press kit she had sent, but not the article she had been fishing for.

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