Last month I had the opportunity to spend quality networking and professional development time with fellow Virginia Bed and Breakfast owners in Fredericksburg, VA at the annual Conference. In my 9-hour (should be 3 ½ hrs) journey back to the Eastern Shore of Virginia I had a lot of time to reflect and digest the incredible amount of content jammed into this event.
1. Content Matters: Writing content is like exercising, we know it is good for us but do we do it? The kick off conference speaker Marcus Sheridan, the “Sales Lion” engaged and invigorated the room as he gave specific take-ways for B&B owners. It’s all about trust…we trust strangers in our homes and at our breakfast tables but how do we build trust in our business? Is our website addressing a potential guests concerns about staying in a Bed and Breakfast? What are their fears? Hesitations? The take-a-way: take a look at your website, write a blog and answer the hard questions, BE HONEST, that will earn their respect.
2. The Millennial Momentum: Okay baby boomers do you know who the largest generation is? You got it, Millennials born between 1980 and 2000 make-up over 80 million people in the US (source: 2013 Why Millennials Matter). Does your B&B understand this growing group of potential guests? Rick Wolf and Peter Scherman, BB Team challenged attendees to think about how you can adapt your content and keep it relevant to the needs of this new customer base.
A few take-a-ways on how to engage with these guests:
~ These folks grew up with technology; therefore social networks are an essential part of their lives. They may love your quaint historic property but they will want their technology to work!
~They are huge supporters of the “Local” movement, therefore choosing small businesses like B&B’s; use language in your content to let them know you are engaged in the local movement (Farm to table, using local purveyors for food and supplies)
~ It’s all about the experience expose these guests to all the unique things about your town, history of your B&B, be a good story teller and engage them, they want a story to tell to friends and family and you guessed it they will do this via social networks.
Source: State of the American Traveler, July 2014. Destination Analysts, Inc.
3. Look out for the Pigeon(s)…no need to duck and run, Lisa Kolb, from Acorn Internet Services gave the latest and greatest updates on Goggles new algorithm. Pigeon developed to give users a more useful, relevant and accurate locale search results (Source: Search Engine Land). Innkeepers need to stay up to date with the ever-changing world of Google and the impact it will have on your ranking. Think about the millennial we were talking about and technology. Here are some of the featured areas (Source: Acorn Internet Services)
~Is your website responsive? Does your site adapt to whatever techy gadget some is using? How does it look on a tablet? Mobile phone? Laptop or desktop?
~Does your website pass the Mobile-Friendly test? People are on the move and they are searching for their next vacation on their lunch break, sitting in traffic or looking up a place a friend mentioned. They don’t wait until they get home they “Google-It “ immediately.
~Does your website pass the speed test? You will be surprised at what you find…checkout get the skinny on your mobile speed, mobile user experience and desktop. These results will make a difference in your bounce rate and once you have gotten a potential guest interested in your property you do not want to loose them, right?
4. Psst…I have a question for you….”To Blog or not to Blog that is the question!” M. Shannon Hernandez, the Writing Whisperer challenged B& B owners to take few minutes to write about the day-to-day things happening on their properties, in their towns or in the industry. Many of us do not blog because we think that we do not have anything exciting to share. We were politely told we were WRONG…the lives of B&Ber’s are fascinating and people want to hear about our behind the scenes happenings on our properties…in the words of the professional blogtress Ms Hernandez…JUST DO IT!
5. “Pillow talk” and we are not talking “ Fifty Shades of Gray” here…was the big topic as Select Registry CEO, Jay Karen took the keynote stage. It’s time for Bed and Breakfasts to hit the refresh button and clear their comfy beds of the excess decorative pillows, doilies and clutter. Jay made a couple salient points that made it easy for innkeepers to remember, Vertical is for US (walls) and Horizontal is for GUESTS (table tops, bed, etc.). So fellow innkeepers, join us at the Bay Haven Inn of Cape Charles and take the plunge for a winter purge. Just think of all of the stuff you can donate to your local charity!
Here we are almost a month later, it’s 75 degrees out ( yay!) and I am still thinking about the things learned at the Bed and Breakfast Association of Virginia conference…working my way through the list and making changes, still as motivated and inspired as I was on that snowy cold drive home.