Reputation Management Links and Tips for Innkeepers

Reviews? I Have Reviews?

Additional Recommended Reading: The Art of Responding to review sites for restaurants and lodging.

Check to see if your business name is taken on social networks:

-Don’t sign up for the service, just use it check (and be cognizant of the fact that they don’t seem to be right 100% of the time)

Social Media Monitoring:

*****Suggested

Other

Real Time Search

Review Sites (ones marked by ** are the most likely places that a B&B will be reviewed)

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Posted in B&B, Reputation Management, Reviews, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Innkeepers, Pinning Posts? Be Careful of the Date!

I noticed something last week that should have been blindingly obvious to me and probably to everyone else out there, but I seem to see a lot of businesses doing this on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ and perhaps not even realizing it. I pinged to it myself last week, when showing someone the ins and outs of Google+ (logged in as themselves) and we visited my own personal Google+ page and my client said, “Hey, you haven’t posted anything since November, and your telling me to post frequently?” I said, “No, wait, I do post fairly often on my personal page and many times daily on my business page!” Hmm!

Google+ Pinned Post (Stays Pinned until you take it down) Snap of what the page looks like only above the fold.google+ pinned post

It took me a minute to realize that we were above the fold of my Google page and we hadn’t scrolled down so the last “actual” post, so to someone coming to my page for the first time it’s backdated several months, and looks like I haven’t posted in awhile. I started doing some searches on various platforms and came across lots of instances where posts on Google+ and Twitter were months old but much more frequent posts were made on the pages/accounts but not visible until (and more importantly IF someone scrolled down to look). I’ve also come across several inn’s and other business Facebook pages guilty of repinning once a week, a post that was months and months old.

Facebook Pinned Post (Stays Pinned for a Week and you can repin as many time as you want to, again for a week at a time) Snap of what the page looks like only above the fold.fb pinned post

While I love the ability of all three platforms to pin posts to the top, I think inns need to be cognizant of what it looks like from the external viewer, i.e. someone coming to visit your page or account for the first time. I love Twitter for example and I almost didn’t follow back an inn that recently followed me as the last time it “looked” like they posted was 4 months ago (Pinned to top tweet above the fold) and in actuality they had posted about an hour before.

 Twitter Pinned Post (Stays Pinned until you take it down) Snap of what the page looks like only above the fold.twitter pin

I think inns need to use the option wisely and if it’s an important post that they want to draw attention to, repost the original with a more recent date and time stamp. Who knows how many potential Likes/Followers or Fans you’ve lost because it doesn’t look like your accounts are active even if you are.

A nice little post on how to pin to top Tweets and Post from my favorite people at BufferApp https://blog.bufferapp.com/best-practices-how-to-pin-tweet-facebook

Posted in B&B, How tos, Inns, Observations, Social Media | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Honey, Frangelico and Marscapone Filled Crepes with Frangelico Chocolate Drizzle

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Crepe Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Milk
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 3 tsp. Sugar
  • 2 Tbs. Vegetable Oil

Preparation:

  1. Whisk Ingredients well until smooth.
  2. Heat a non-stick crepe pan on medium to high heat.
  3. Spray surface with cooking spray when pan is hot.
  4. Using a 4 oz ladle, ladle batter into the pan and swirl until batter is spread thin.
  5. Cook crepes over medium to high heat (medium if you are using gas, high if you are using electric) Once you see  a few bubbles forming on the top of the crepe, use a heat resist plastic spatula to flip the crepe over.
  6. After both sides are cooked, layer around an overturned soup bowl and let cool.

Yields 15-20 7 inch crepes.

Honey, Frangelico and Marscapone Filling Ingredients:

  • 4 Cups Marscapone
  • 1 Tbs. Honey
  • 2 Tbs. Frangelico
  • 1 tea. Kosher Salt
  • Orange zest optional

Preparation:

Whip Marscapone, Honey and Frangelico together for 3-5 minutes on medium to high speed until well incorporated, Refrigerate until needed.

Frangelico Chocolate Drizzle Ingredients:

  • 10 oz. Heavy Cream
  • 1/4 cup Firmly Packed Light Brown Sugar
  • 6.5 oz. Good Quality Dark Cooking Chocolate like Callebaut or Valrhona, finely chopped or very very small chips
  • 1/3 cup Frangelico Liqueur

Preparation:

  1. Combine the heavy cream, chocolate and sugar in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. If you prefer, you can use a double boiler.
  2. Stir in the liqueur and cook for an additional few minutes or until well combined.
  3. Remove from heat. Let cool slightly. Serve immediately or let cool to room temperate for a thicker sauce.
  4. Store covered in the refrigerator when well cooled. You may need to warm slightly if chilled to drizzle if sauce is done in advance.

For Service:

These crepes are good served hot or cold and can be rolled in advance of service. The rolled crepes are best stored on a saran wrapped sheet pan and then topped with saran to prevent crepes edges from drying out.

Lay crepe out and spoon 1/3 cup Marscapone filling and spread, roll up crepe and put on chilled plate, garnish and serve or reheat in a 350 oven for 5-8 minutes until warm. If doing crepes à la minute (to order) reduce oven time, filling tends to get too liquid otherwise.

Drizzle with Frangelico Chocolate sauce and garnish with seasonal fresh fruit to serve.

Whipped cream and toasted chopped hazelnuts are also optional.

Frangelico marinated strawberries with orange zest also makes a delicious alternative garnish (marinate strawberries overnight in liquor and zest).

*Photograph and Recipe credit Heather Turner

**Photo credit location at The Glynn House Inn, Ashland, NH

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Pros and Cons of Social Media for Innkeepers-Linkedin

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© Prykhodov | Dreamstime.com – Businessman Holding IPhone With App LinkedIn On The Screen On A Photo

This is the fourth in a series covering social media pros and cons for innkeepers, following will be Google+, Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram. Please check out the others in the series: Pros and Cons of Social Media for Innkeepers-Blogs the second, Pros and Cons of Social Media for Innkeepers-Youtube and the third, Social Media for Innkeepers-Twitter.

Linkedin

http://www.linkedin.com (for personal)

http://www.linkedin.com/company/add/show  (for a business page)

  • You need a personal account to create and maintain a business account (you must have an email that goes through a domain name associated with the business in order to register a business page, i.e. janedoe@janedoeinn.com).The email address must be registered as an additional email address in your privacy and settings tab (top right logged into Linkedin, click on your avatar/photo icon).
  • Personal accounts have contacts.
  • Business pages have followers.

Pros of Linkedin

  • Customer Service and Networking.
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
  • Ads are not expensive, but there needs to be relevance and targeted and specific ad parameters.
  • Guest Outreach.
  • A great place to source, vet and verify the legitimacy of potential vendors
  • Moderated forums can be great venues to source vendors, get ideas, get questions answered and connect with potential guests as well as if you have specific niche markets, business travelers, the wedding market, pet friendly, etc, the forums can be a great place to find specific pockets of niche guests.

Cons of Linkedin

  • Occasional Linkedin Spam and Sales Pitches
  • Non-moderated forums are fairly useless as generally overrun by sales pitches

Why Should Innkeepers Use It

For the Linkedin Business Page: Search Engine Optimization reasons only, once the page is set up and optimized. (it takes literally about 15 minutes or less to set up and optimize) it can be left “as is”. It also has the option of being able to accept updates just like Facebook/Google/Twitter. So if you have happenings going on at the inn of interest, you have a special offer running, or you are in the news, take the 5 seconds to post in the Linkedin business page. The SEO value alone is more than worth it. Don’t expect to get a huge amount of followers, comments or likes, it’s not like a Facebook business page.

The personal profile also has significant value for SEO if the profile is set to public, both for the innkeeper and for the inn/B&B. Optimizing a Linkedin profile takes less than half an hour and then you can “set it and forget it” or it can also be used to publish updates about yourself as the innkeeper and the inn. On the personal profile try to stay away from promotional posts (that’s what the business page is for) and instead use it for news, updates and helpful or pertinent information. There is so much more to Linkedin including content curation and networking if innkeepers choose to use it.

If you are a larger inn, Linkedin is a great place to source and vet potential employees and staff as well.

Why Shouldn’t Innkeepers Use It

I can’t think of any reason why innkeepers would not want to use the free (non-upgraded) version of Linkedin.

Recommendation going into  2015

Beef your Linkedin personal profile up and create a business page if you have not yet done so. Doing both for the Search Engine Optimization reason alone is more than worth the less then an hour of time to takes to do. And keep in mind, Innkeeping may not be your forever job, you may at some point return to the broader job market, and when and if you do, spiffing up your Linkedin profile now will return the effort in spades when the time comes to look for something else.

Some Fallacies about Linkedin

It’s only for job seekers and companies looking for employees.

 

Posted in B&B, How tos, Lodging, marketing, Observations, SEO | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Facebook Local, a Game Changer? or One More Nail in the Coffin?

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Several days ago Facebook announced a roll out of a new product, Facebook Places, https://www.facebook.com/places. They are touting it a combo of the much hyped but never really rolled out Graph Search, Facebook local search and a bunch of other elements creating a mish mash that as of yet hasn’t really found a direction. Whether it does or not remains to be seen.

Why is this important for innkeepers (who are still using Facebook) to know?

First and foremost is in the search options, hotels and restaurants are front and center as options for search. If your Bed & Breakfast doesn’t have “hotel” in both your category and subcategory, your inn/B&B won’t show up in search. If you don’t previously have that as options and you change them, it appears to take about 24 hours for it to show up in search, that may change as more features develop.

Some things to note about “Local”. It has effected business pages and business page layouts, The option to make your reviews tab go away has moved (it’s now Page info) this is coinciding with the redo of your Facebook business page “About” section. You no longer get to that from your settings tab (above the banner fold), you have to edit it on the “About” tab now. If you select a “featured page owner” the name and photo no longer appears in your about section, or at all, which means it will probably disappear as an option shortly.

On a side note, where you went to pre-schedule posts has also moved from the bottom left of a post to the small arrow to the right of the post button. Combined with the above changes to the about section I can foresee multiple further changes rolling out (unannounced) in the next few weeks+. Posts now have a drafts feature as well as an icon for what you are doing/feeling (similar to the option in personal profiles.)

Back to Facebook Local, reviews have become predominant and unfortunately photos in Facebook Local are not necessarily drawn from the Business’s page, but instead are a small portion of business photos and a large pool drawn from personal pages/accounts that have mentioned (in a post) or tagged the business. This is terrible from the perspective of a business owner who can’t control what images are being pulled, they seem to rotate in search, so images may come up twice or never again. The photos for the most part are photos that run the gamut from bad selfies to foodie photos and everything in between. Nor is there a way to let Facebook know of the inappropriate photo (as of now).

See example of what can happen/inappropriate photo:

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At the moment there is no way to untag a business from a personal photo and Facebook doesn’t let you know even “who” posted the photo, so there is no way to even contact the person and remove the tag. A workaround (and this is not proven as it may or may not work, and even if it does work, the image is still tagged on mobile) is to take away your map listing box which also takes away your reviews. Whether this also takes away the ability to be found in local search remains to be seen, I am currently testing the options in a bunch of B&B pages. It appears if you do take the maps option out though, your listing won’t appear at all, even with the hotel tags.

As more changes roll out I’ll try to do a follow up post.

Posted in B&B, Facebook, How tos, Lodging, Observations | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Innkeepers, have you checked your GPS listings lately?

gps

While more and more marketing people (rightly) are talking about the importance of having a mobile presence for your business, little focus is being taken on people actually finding you while driving to your inn.  Similar to a post I wrote a few years ago, Why it pays to sleep around for Bed and Breakfast owners, which focuses on the little things guests may notice at a B&B and may not mention to an innkeeper because they forgot, or it was minor irritation, being able to find your inn accurately can be extremely annoying when a guest is on route to you.

Having heard from several businesses that they know they are having a problem with having people finding them accurately, I thought it might help to put together a list of places where an inn can go to review and fix any irregularities that guests might have in finding their properties. While GPS use by itself has been in the decline with the rise of Smart Phones, it’s the same technology and the same sources that phone and GPS stand alone devices are getting their information from.

NAVTEQ: Used by Garmin, Magellan, MapQuest, Bing, Navigon, and Yahoo Maps http://mapreporter.navteq.com

Tele Atlas: Used by Mio and Tom Tom http://mapinsight.teleatlas.com

Existing Location Errors for Garmin: Garmin customers can submit errors or omissions in Garmin’s MapSource cartography or POI business listings at http://www8.garmin.com/cartography/mapSource/errorForm.jsp

InfoUSA provides business listings to all sorts of clients, including GPS manufacturers. Visit their website and click “Update my Listing” at the bottom of the home page http://www.expressupdate.com/search

Tom-Tom: http://www.tomtom.com/mapshare/tools/

Apple Maps (integrated with IPhone) recently rolled out a feature for business owners to correct and maintain their local listings. https://mapsconnect.apple.com/

For a step by step walkthrough of it, there is a great article here: http://marketingland.com/apple-maps-connect-enables-business-owners-maintain-local-indoor-listings-105021

Be sure to claim your business listing on Bing Places as well as it allows you to correct the map listing. https://www.bingplaces.com/. Fixing your location on Bing Maps will also automatically update your map listing in Facebook on business pages to the accurate place.

Now that Mapquest has been taken over by Yext (who asks you to pay to play) the best way to correct an inaccurate map listing on Mapquest (for free), is to submit a support ticket on https://support.mapquest.com/hc/en-us/requests/new?ticket_form_id=99678. There is more information here: https://support.mapquest.com/hc/en-us/articles/202630704-MapQuest-Business-Listings-FAQs#det.

Beware of sites that offer to fix your GPS listings for you (for a fee), the majority of them have had multiple complaints. There are several that say they are free, rope you into submitting your information and then saying you have to pay to actually get anything done (and then still don’t fix).

If a guest is trying to find your inn and spends 10 minutes or more driving around before they get frustrated and either call you, or stop to ask a local for directions, the odds that they are going to arrive at your inn already in a bad mood is high. Nip it in the bud and take a few minutes to check your listings. With more and more people using Smartphones to navigate to your inn, make sure your listings are accurate now, as usage will just continue to go up.

Posted in B&B, Facebook, How tos, marketing | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Taking Travel and Related Surveys with a Grain of Salt

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I’ve recently (and not so recently) seen quite a few reports from marketing companies touting “mobile accounts for 40% of all travel reservations” and “Facebook ads account for 30% of wedding sales” etc. without giving providence of where this information was coming from, and more importantly, what demographic are they actually soliciting these surveys from.

This actually refers to pretty much any report that references “X” number of people surveyed, and doesn’t actually provide a source of where those surveyed came from. I would exclude sources such as Tripadvisor, Cornell Hospitality, Hubspot, any of the Smartbriefs and Social Media Examiner, as their surveys are culled from their direct email lists and members, and I would gauge information from them is more likely to be accurate.

While I don’t doubt that mobile use is in a step incline as well as perhaps mobile bookings, and some Facebook advertising does indeed work, I would ask that companies and journalists who make these claims, and refer to statistics, provide some more information about their sources.

I recently had a client ask me about some statistics that an online article touted, and he came to me asking whether I thought they were accurate or not. It concerned click through rates and click fraud (or a claim of lack thereof) on Google Adwords. This sparked a discussion about where these so called survey statistics were coming from.

Doing quite a bit of digging turned up very few legitimate survey outlets where one could submit a survey and have a fairly large number of results returned. One of the legitimate ones being Mechanical Turk (through Amazon). Being the curious person that I am, I signed up, heaven help me.

I discovered several things very quickly. One, I really stink at transcription (which is the only thing that actually pays anything). Two, I was amazed by the number of legitimate colleges, news outlets and marketing firms posting surveys on there (I am not allowed to say who), and three, this is NOT something to make a little extra money at, unless you are unemployed, or have some other reason for being stuck at home for many many consecutive hours at a time.

In three weeks and over the course of perhaps 6+ hours (taking brief breaks from real work) I managed to make the amazing sum of $36.00 doing various and assorted surveys and tasks for anywhere from $1.00 to .50 cents. It will at least pay for a couple of bottles of wine for the sake of research. I made a whopping $2.50 filling out a yes, you guessed it, travel survey, one of three I ended up doing.

The reason I bring this up, is the people that are spending time filling out these surveys, are probably not the middle to upper class traveler who inns want to be marketing to. They are more likely to be unemployed, the bored housewife/househusband or someone with not much better to do.

So this begs the question. Are the demographics for some of these surveys skewed and are they to be trusted? I would suspect yes, they are skewed and not to be trusted entirely.

The information being garnered in these is in my eyes quite questionable. The majority ask for things like yearly income. How many people fib on their taxes? How many people do you think stretch the truth a bit here? “I am unemployed and have been for several years but oddly enough my income is over 80K………………………”. And I take 3 fabulous vacations every year in the Caribbean.

I call attention to this in order for lodging and lodging marketing companies to ask when you see articles come up with statistics, but no verifiable proof of demographic information, to question both the article/post/whitepaper writer, and to take the information with a grain of salt.

To often I am hearing innkeepers or other tourism related industries referencing information that is questionable and has a questionable providence. When information that isn’t verified is passed along, it ads to the confusion of what innkeepers should be believing, and also taking into account on where they need to spend their marketing dollars.

As an example: If an innkeeper must make the decision to pay extra on an online outlet, for the extra exposure of having a mobile special available, it would behoove inns to be operating on the correct, or at least fairly accurate estimation of how many reservations are actually made by mobile, through that outlet, instead of information perhaps gathered from people that probably had never stayed in a B&B in their life.

And as the old saying goes, anything posted on the internet, must be true. So ask for sources and providence before believing everything you read.

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