Updated List of Bed and Breakfast Marketing and Operations Resource Sites and Forums

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I am neither endorsing or recommending these resources but only listing them, as I have found they have provided useful and helpful, marketing and other operational advice to B&Bs and other lodging facilities.

If you have come across other blogs or sites that you think are particularly useful, please let me know and I will add them (with credit). I have not added blogs whose posts are purely promotional with the occasional “useful post” thrown in, nor have I included one company who’s business dealings I disagree with greatly (I add that because if you submit the site and I don’t post it, that would be why).

Bed and Breakfast Forums:

Innspiring Forums (these are public, so if you do jump in the conversation you may want to be cautious about what information you put in your personal profile, especially if you are discussing past/current guests.)

http://www.innspiring.com/

PAII forums (you do have to become a PAII member but especially for new/beginning innkeepers, the forums alone are worth the membership price)

http://www.innkeeping.org/forums/

Linkedin Groups

http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Bed-Breakfast-BLOGGERS-1786380

http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Innkeepers-107668

Google+ Groups

Bed and Breakfast People (open forum)*

https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/113676939343982081327

(Please see the note about the Innspiring forums, these are public as well)

Bed and Breakfast Owners Forum (B&B Owners Only) Private Forum*

https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/103240175601771879920

*If you are a B&B owner and have asked for entrance into the groups and I have not approved you, please put something on your Google+ profile that indicates who you are. I don’t approve profiles with just a name and no identifying information.

Article Directories:

Cornell, The Center for Hospitality Research

http://www.hotelschool.cornell.edu/research/chr/pubs/reports/

http://thehospitalityblog.ecornell.com/

Inn Marketing

http://www.innmarketing.com/articles.php

Lay My Hat (contributed by @latreille24)

http://www.laymyhat.com/forum/and http://www.laymyhat.com/newsletters/newsletterList.php

Sage Blossom Consulting

http://www.thebandblady.com/innfo.html

Bedandbreakfast.com: Innkeepers Resource Library

(unfortunately it seems like the PDFs in this link are still AWOL)

http://www.bedandbreakfast.com/Innkeepers/resourceLibrary.aspx

About.com B&Bs

Many (but not all) of the articles in here are written by innkeepers

http://bandb.about.com/

Bed and Breakfast Bloggers:

About the Inn

From Scott at the Brewster House B&B

http://www.abouttheinn.com

On twitter @AboutTheInn

Acorn Internet

http://blog.acorn-is.com/

On twitter @AcornInternet

Bed and Breakfast Academy

From Karen at Hopton House B&B

http://bedandbreakfastacademy.wordpress.com/

On twitter @HoptonHouseBnB

Forfeng’s Blog

http://chefforfeng.wordpress.com

On twitter @forfeng (yes that’s me )

The Innkeeping Blog (from PAII)

http://www.innkeepingblog.com/

On twitter @paiiceo

While these are primarily aimed at hotels, there is enough cross-over where the posts can be applicable to B&Bs as well and some of them Do work with B&Bs.

Hotel Bloggers:

Are Morch

http://aremorch.com/blog/

On twitter @AreMorch

Daniel Edward Craig 

http://reknown.com/

On twitter @dcraig

IvisitorGuide

http://ivisitorguide.blogspot.com/

On twitter @iVisitorGuide

Review Pro

http://www.reviewpro.com/blog

On twitter @reviewpro

Blue Magnet

http://www.bluemagnetinteractive.com/blog/

On twitter @Blue_Magnet

The B&B Team

http://bbteam.com/our-blog/

Xotels

http://www.xotels.com/en/blog

On twitter @xotels

VFM Leonardo

http://blog.vfmleonardo.com/

On twitter @VFMLeonardo

Hotel Managers Group Blog

http://hmghotelsblog.com/

On twitter @HMGHotels

Hraba Hospitality Consulting

http://www.hrabaconsulting.com/blog/

On twitter @HHotelConsult

Chocolate Pillow

http://chocolatepillow.com/

On twitter @choc_pillow

The Hospitality Blog

http://thehospitalityblog.com/

On twitter @ATHMarketing

Lodging Interactive

http://blog.lodginginteractive.com/

On twitter  @hotelmktg

Posted in B&B, Hospitality News, Inns, Lodging, marketing, Observations | Tagged , | 3 Comments

So Where Should Bed and Breakfasts spend their time on Social Media now that Facebook is indeed dying a slow and painful death?

Faceboo reach

This past week two articles came out http://marketingland.com/facebook-concedes-that-organic-page-reach-is-dwindling-ads-are-best-way-to-been-seen-67302 and http://adage.com/article/digital/facebook-admits-organic-reach-brand-posts-dipping/245530/  Pretty much validation from word on high that Facebook is indeed shriveling and dying, especially for small business use.

I’ve noticed on my own pages and the pages I admin that there has been a huge decline in reach over the past year. This past weekend after the two articles came out I went and downloaded the insights from the over 60+ Facebook pages (73 if you want to nitpick) that I am an admin of.

Collated, sorted and reviewed, it shows a steady decline in page engagement and post likes. Page likes seem to be unaffected interestingly enough. Of those pages, all except one are small businesses, 1/3 of them have over 1000 likes.  Feedback from the many B&Bs I talk to on a regular basis all say as well that Facebook is in decline for them.

All of the pages, except for https://www.facebook.com/moosemanphotos (sorry shameless plug for a good friend but ironically the only example) seem to be effected. The one thing I can conclude from this (one example) is that pretty much every single post contains a photo. Read into that what you will, and for an average small business and B&B it’s going to take a lot of work to just do photo posts.

While photos are what sell, and are encouraged on every network, I find it hard to believe that this reason alone is the sole answer as many of the other pages are doing extensive image and photo posting as well. I think it just boils down to is that Facebook wants you to pay to play.

I’ve also run a test for the past 3 months on my own timeline, do pages and friends I like and comment on posts on more, show up more often in my timeline? Yes absolutely!

Is it worth trying to game this system? Dubious, because they keep changing the rules, what worked last month apparently doesn’t work anymore.

Am I sick of Facebook playing games with businesses? Yup!

In any case, for Bed and Breakfasts, in what direction should one go?

I think A. every B&B needs to have a blog. 2 reasons:

#1 It’s fantabulistic for search engine optimization

#2 Content can be shared on Twitter, on Google+ business and personal pages, on Linkedin business and personal pages, on Pinterest (if you have photos in the post: highly encouraged), on bookmarking sites, and yes on Facebook.

I think the second would be Pinterest.

Last year, Pinterest was gaining ground for B&Bs in terms of traffic, this year, it’s becoming an even higher source of traffic for those using it and it’s still gaining ground. Pinterest is also gaining ground in organic search results, going from page 3 to page 1 in Google and Bing searches. So add search engine optimization reasons to the list.

Third would be Google+ neck in neck with Youtube

Google+ for search engine optimization reasons if nothing else, as well as being able to respond to reviews if people post them. Youtube: for search engine optimization and similar to blogs, you then have content to share across all other social networks. The new addition of being able to make videos with stills and music is a welcome (and free) addition to the marketing mix.

Fourth and last I would say twitter.

Twitter I would say is probably the hardest to learn but also one you can potentially get the most out of. Good for search engine optimization, guest sourcing, vendor sourcing and to kibitz with other B&Bs around the world.

Linkedin business pages are also worth exploring, if only for the search engine optimization value, plus updates (similar to Facebook and Google+) can be posted there.

I am not saying give up on Facebook totally and immediately, but I would recommend exploring and getting on other avenues ASAP because you shouldn’t have all your social media eggs in one basket anyway.

 

Posted in B&B, Blogging, Facebook, Hospitality News, Lodging, marketing, Observations, SEO, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Social Media Marketing, Innkeepers and Comfort Levels

comfy shoes

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Setting Some Social Media Project Goals for Bed and Breakfasts and in it I said, “And one size (or channel) doesn’t fit all when it comes to lodging. What works well for one inn may not work well for another, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not being done correctly, it may mean that the lodging’s target demographic is not using it. An inn in northern California may find high engagement using Facebook while a similar inn in South Carolina may not.”  I got a comment by email from an innkeeper in Florida asking me advice on which to use, because as she said, “She hates Facebook and doesn’t want to use it,” so I want to expand upon that a bit more.

Use the social media channels that you feel comfortable with, not the ones that marketing people TELL you, you have to use.

I look at it as it relates to food. And being food people this might help for innkeepers.

I am a former chef by trade and my specialty is as a saucier. I make wicked good soups and sauces.

But I excel at the things and sauces I like the flavor of. I make a mean Béchamel (but I’m not crazy about Béchamel) but I make a kickass, knock your socks off Marsala sauce, because I happen to love Marsala sauce.

If you look at that in terms of online marketing, the innkeepers that like to use Facebook, are generally getting return on their time investment, the innkeepers that have fallen in love with Pinterest and are using it, are generally getting a return on their time.

Just like in everything in life, if you have enthusiasm for something, it will show through. If you hate Facebook and hate using Facebook, your posts are not going to be interesting, not going to attract attention and do zero for you for marketing. So don’t use it!

If you find you are interested in something on a personal level, it can be applied for business.

Images and photos are what sell a business, and engagement can be had using any, all, or just one social network.

Find one or two you LIKE to use, not ones you are told you MUST use. Social Media, even though it’s a necessary evil for marketing shouldn’t have to be a chore.

You can post photos/images on a blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, on Google+ and Pinterest and you can engage with guests and potential guests on all of the platforms as well. It’s the same idea on all of them, just different mediums. One is not necessarily better than any other one. (With the exception that I still think Facebook is dying a slow and painful death for small business use.)

Posted in B&B, marketing, Observations, Social Media | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

TripAdvisor’s Metasearch, Bing and Bed and Breakfasts

Tripadvisor has announced a partnership with Bing, my guess is to try to compete with Google Carousel. What this does is up the ante a bit for B&Bs in terms of paying more attention to Bing and Bing listings.

More information about the partnership here: http://www.tripadvisor.com/PressCenter-i6453-c1-Press_Releases.html

It’s of interest that it’s pulling in Facebook Business page links as well when you jump to the listing, presumably because of the Bing maps integration into Facebook. Of note is that B&Bs that have Facebook Pages but don’t have the maps tab selected, the Facebook link doesn’t appear to show up in the Bing listing.

If you haven’t had the FB map enabled, in your admin panel in FB, go to “edit page”, then “edit settings”, then “page info”, then “address” and edit the info. Make sure “Show this map on your Page and enable check-ins.” is checked.

This is what the interface looks like.

Bing2

The interesting thing is most listings are pulling in Tripadvisor listings and information.

Bing 6 no paid listing

But not all of them.

Bing4

Initially I thought that the reason that some inns had listings and not all was it was dependant on a Tripadvisor paid listing, this was not the case, I also checked out number of reviews and last date of review and that didn’t appear to the case either for the difference in listings. Further digging revealed that the inns that didn’t have extended information imported from Tripadvisor it appears had not claimed their Bing Local Listings.

I don’t know this for a fact but I looked at listings for over 300 B&Bs this morning and the ones that it had appeared had not claimed their Bing Local Listings were the ones with no information drawn in from Tripadvisor. This was based on the fact the listing still had “is this your business” and no additional information.

Whether this is a temporary glitch because its so new or it’s attributable to some other factor. It’s still extremely important to claim your Bing Local Listing, it’s free and you can add quite a bit of additional information to the account. It will also help with your search engine optimization.

If you have not yet done so, or are unsure whether you are listed or not, you can go to https://www.bingplaces.com/ to check and add your business if it’s not yet listed. https://www.bingplaces.com/Home/MoreFAQ has some help documentation and information if you get stuck or need help.

Posted in B&B, Hospitality News, How tos, marketing, Observations, SEO, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pinterest Maps, Foursquare Integration and Bed and Breakfasts Take Two

henniker

This morning I was exploring the new maps option that Pinterest Rolled out. One of the downsides of the maps is not being able to add locations via Pinterest and then I thought, well there must be a way to do it. Of course there was, via Foursquare, apparently I hadn’t had enough coffee yet this morning, that should have been somewhat self evident.

If you create an account via Foursquare, you can add venues at https://foursquare.com/add_venue. It appears to take about 10 minutes to actually become “live” and searchable on Foursquare and then another 10 minutes for Pinterest to refresh the information.

So if your planning on creating some custom maps on Pinterest, start on Foursquare first and see who/what/where is listed on there, then add the ones you would like to have imported over to Pinterest, go have a cup or two of coffee (or wine depending on the time of day) stick a load of laundry in and then revisit Pinterest and start your boards.

I realize this is time consuming and innkeepers have little time to spare, but I can forsee the maps option going in an awful lot of interesting directions for marketing in the near future. Because visual is becoming more and more important in todays marketing world and this ties into it, I think the businesses that at least take a few minutes to jump on board will get ahead of the pack when more options for the maps roll out.

Posted in B&B, How tos, Inns, Lodging, marketing, Observations, Social Media | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The New Pinterest Maps and what it means to Bed and Breakfasts

Pinterest 8

Pinterest has rolled out a new mapping feature. Glutton for punishment that I am had to go play with it this morning.

My initial thoughts are it has potential, it is a far cry from a custom Google Map but if they continue to add more capability to it, it has the potential to be a very useful tool for both sending a custom board to visitors to plan stays, as well as potential marketing and search engine optimization capabilities.

Cons (so far and hopefully these will change.)

  • If it’s not on Foursquare, you can’t pin it to the map. This article http://www.pcworld.com/article/2065800/pinterest-tackles-mapping-with-new-place-pins-product.html says “With the new Place Pins, users can manually add location information to their existing pins through an integration with Foursquare, or add new pins with location information, as long as they come from partner sites like TripAdvisor, Trulia, Atlas Obscura and Jetsetter. So someone could look up a business on the new version of Pinterest’s mobile app, and if the business is indexed by Foursquare, the person can pin it to his map, and get directions from his current location.” But to make that clear, it is ONLY (at this time) pulling information from Foursquare
  • It does say it pulls information from http://www.openstreetmap.org but at this point, mapping a spot in there does not create a new map option.
  • If a pin is in the wrong place you can’t move it.

Pros (and observations):

  • You can select from photos of the place that have already been taken or have the option of uploading your own.
  • You can send a board to someone’s email address
  • Urls if included in the description are clickable
  • There is a 500 character limit to the description
  • The pin itself includes a mini map under the image

More information about the new maps option from Pinterest:

https://en.help.pinterest.com/entries/28558547#editing_location_on_place_pins

This is of interest as well for those listed on any of these below sites and directories.

From Pinterest: Note: we’ve partnered with some businesses to automatically include location info on their Pins.  For example, Pins from Airbnb, Atlas Obscura, Booking.com, Citysearch, Foursquare, Hotels.com, Jetsetter, OpenTable, Roadtrippers, StreetEasy, Trulia, UrbanSpoon, and VirtualTourist will have locations attached to their Pinterest content.

Even if a bed and breakfast is not interested in using the mapping option, I think it will be a priority for them to get a listing on Foursquare, so that if someone (a guest or potential guest) wants to include the B&B on THEIR custom map as a favorite place, at least they have the option of doing so.

Update on adding locations to Pinterest at http://chefforfeng.wordpress.com/2013/11/21/pinterest-maps-foursquare-integration-and-bed-and-breakfasts-take-two/

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Setting Some Social Media Project Goals for Bed and Breakfasts

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While I strongly believe that a small business can not do all of the social media channels and do all of them well without either help, a clone or being hit by a chunk of superpower inducing meteorite, bed and breakfasts won’t know which channels work the best for them and which ones they will feel comfortable using long-term unless they try them all.

And one size (or channel) doesn’t fit all when it comes to lodging. What works well for one inn may not work well for another, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not being done correctly, it may mean that the lodging’s target demographic is not using it. An inn in northern California may find high engagement using Facebook while a similar inn in South Carolina may not.

But an inn isn’t going to know which channels to use without first giving them a test run. And a test run is not one month with a dozen tweets or a Facebook page with 2 posts. You have to actually use them to test whether they work or not.

The top four things to remember when using social media.

1. Just because it’s not working, doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea, it may mean it’s not the right time, the right place or the right market.

2. Stalk your competition and find what’s working for them. Copy it, learn from it and expand upon it.

3. If after 6 months of using (and I mean USING) a social media channel and it’s not working for you, then drop it. With Facebook it’s better to unpublish the page (not delete because you may want to revisit it) then continue to advertise it on your website and your last post visible to anyone coming to visit it was last year. If you discontinue using a social media channel and decide to leave it up but go to concentrate on another channel, make your last post or posts telling people you are moving to another channel and give the links to where they can find you. Don’t just abandon it with no further information.

4. Rome wasn’t built in a day. In order to truly explore what works and what doesn’t work, don’t tackle everything at once, set some project goals and stick to them. Be realistic about what you can and can not achieve.

Examples of setting some goals:

January 7th – Join Facebook and create a business page and make sure the Facebook page has all the applicable information filled out. Or evaluate your Facebook business page and make sure it’s optimized. Worksheet @ http://chefforfeng.wordpress.com/2012/04/16/facebook-business-page-checklist-worksheet/

February 7th – Create a blog and make sure the blog has all the applicable information filled out. Or evaluate your blog and make sure it’s optimized. Worksheet @ http://chefforfeng.wordpress.com/2013/02/21/blog-checklist-worksheet/

March 7th  – Join Google+ (and/or claim your business page) and make sure the Google+ page has all the applicable information filled out. Or evaluate your Google profile and make sure it’s optimized.

April 7th  - Join Pinterest and make sure the Pinterest page has all the applicable information filled out. Or evaluate your Pinterest profile and make sure it’s optimized.

May 7th  – Join Twitter and make sure the Twitter page has all the applicable information filled out. Or evaluate your Twitter profile and make sure it’s optimized. Worksheet @ http://chefforfeng.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/twitter-for-business-checklist-worksheet/

June 7th  – Join Linkedin and make sure your personal profile has all the applicable information filled out. Or evaluate your Linkedin profile and make sure it’s optimized. Email me at heather@forfengdesigns.com, I can email you the worksheet

July 7th  - Create a Linkedin Business Page and make sure the page has all the applicable information filled out. Or evaluate your Linkedin Business profile and make sure it’s optimized. Worksheet @ http://chefforfeng.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/linkedin-business-pages-and-bed-and-breakfasts/ (scroll down for it to start)

Or set numerical goals.

  • Mid March – Get 10 people to circle you on Google+
  • Mid April– Get 50 new pins and/or repins on Pinterest
  • Mid May – Get 100 new followers on twitter
  • Mid June  – Get 50 new fans/likes on Facebook
  • Mid July – Make 10 new connections on Linkedin

I would suggest a combination of both actual and numerical goals and keep track of them. You started a Facebook business page, in January you got 5 fans/likes, in February you got 15 etc. If you can benchmark your goals it will give you a better estimation of whether you should and want to keep using them.

Because social media is ROTI (return on time investment) as opposed to ROI (return on investment) it’s better to benchmark actual numbers then try to benchmark what monetarily you get in return, because that is extremely hard to track. Your blog post in February may result in wedding booking in June for the following year. There is no immediate return on most social media use. But on the flip side, most of it helps with search engine optimization and it’s free, you can’t beat free and its terrific for branding.

Posted in B&B, How tos, Lodging, marketing, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments