We Have Moved!

We have moved over to the “real” version of WordPress, and now we officially have our website connected to our blog 🙂 Our archives will remain here but any new posts can be found at http://forfengdesigns.com/chef-forfengs-blog/.

Thank you everyone who has followed my blog over the years, I hope the information has been useful and will continue to be so 🙂

Cheers! Heather T, Chief Logroller, Forfeng Designs.

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B&B Web Hosting Information and Choosing a Web Hosting Service Checklist

Web Hosting

One of the questions I get quite a bit from new innkeepers is “How do we get information about web hosting and who do we use? There is so much information out there, but much of it is paid reviews or paid lists.”

A website has several moving parts, a domain name like http://www.janedoeinn.com, and than hosting, which is akin to renting space on the internet for your website to live.

This is the perhaps the best analogy we could find that compares the different type of hosting platforms out there:

Credit to http://www.inmotionhosting.com/support/website/difference-between-shared-vps-dedicated-hosting for the information and analogy.

“Shared Hosting is very similar to living in an Apartment Complex. All residents are in the same location and must share the available resources with everyone. These may include such things as the pool, parking lot, and playground. In shared hosting, all accounts must share the available resources with all the other accounts on the server. These include CPU time, memory, and disk space.

VPS Hosting is similar to owning a Condo. While you still share things on the property, you are ultimately responsible for maintaining your own property and repairs inside the condo. There is also significantly fewer residents per building and assigned parking. On a Virtual Private Server, you are allotted resources that are not shared by everyone. The overall CPU time and memory are shared across all accounts on the machine, but at the same time, portions of those resources are always dedicated to each account. This allows for more power and flexibility than being on a shared account.

Dedicated Hosting can be compared to owning a house. You are allowed and have access to all resources available on the machine. No one else’s account resides on the machine (your house) and would not be capable of tapping into your resources.”

Most reputable web design companies offer dedicated hosting through providers of their choice, which can be pricey (but well worth it) per month. Unfortunately some inns can’t afford a professional web designer, and can’t afford the monthly hosting fees for having dedicated or VPS Hosting. While VPS is definitely the more affordable of the two options, it still ranges about 4-5 times higher than shared hosting plans.

We could do a side by side comparison of all of the hosting options for the multiple companies that do web hosting, but it would be like comparing apples to orangutans. Instead we will give you a list of things to look for when sourcing a hosting company for the first time, or transferring to a new one. You can always move up to another level of service and it’s quite a bit easier to upgrade an account vs downgrading one.

Note. There truly is no such thing as 100% Uptime (Uptime meaning your site will be online with no blips in service 24/7)  It is something that many hosting companies promise, but technically doesn’t cover things like system failures and DoS and DDos attacks. A Denial of Service (DoS) attack is different from a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. The DoS attack typically uses one computer and one Internet connection to flood a targeted system or resource. The DDoS attack uses multiple computers and Internet connections to flood the targeted resource. Downtime can happen from web attacks, network and power failures, Acts of God (i.e. Tornadoes and other severe weather) and maintenance.

Some tips on finding a good hosting service:

  • Check the pricing on both sign up and on renewals. They may have introductory pricing that looks good, but may get significantly higher on renewal (check the small print).
  • Read the hosting company’s ToS (Terms of Service) to find out about account suspension and server usage policies.
  • Is this an national or international recognized and reputable company, or a local provider offering server space in their living room? Stay away if possible from the small providers, while they may be inexpensive, you are not doing your business any favors.
  • What features do they offer and how much are add-ons.
  • Investigate reliability and uptime guarantees, there are a huge amount of review sites out there for comparison.
  • Find out what your upgrading options are and the associated costs involved.
  • What kind of interface do they have for the backend of administrating your hosting, Cpanel capabilities are recommended, as are “Easy Install” capabilities, this helps with ease of installing things like WordPress, or other options for website base builders.

A few questions as well for the company:

Does the hosting provider provide backup capabilities for your site, does it cost more, is it automatic and if it’s automatic how frequently is it backed up?

Know what your hosting needs are. Are you going to have a small gift shop for your inn, host large image galleries of the property, and have any additional needs, does it support WordPress?

Do you need a special version of software (ie. PHP or other)?

Do they offer SSL (this is a must) and what is the pricing for it?

Find out how easy (or hard) it will be to transfer your website to another provider if at some point you decide to switch. Do they help, do they offer paid help?

Do they offer domain name parking? Are there costs involved?

Does the company have a disaster recovery plan? Do they create backups of the backups?

Do you have easy access to all aspects of your account, can you easily edit and create or delete new email accounts, as well as offering online email login capabilities?

Do you plan on starting out a small website and then expanding it? Make sure the service can handle what you need down the road and check the pricing for what that will run. A good starter hosting service can get very expensive with additions like adding space and bandwidth.

Probably the most important questions you need to ask:

Do they have 24/7 support, not just for customer service, but for technical support and billing support.

How long on average does it take to get a hold of support, and are they responsive and helpful?

Is technical support an additional fee, and if so how much?

What mediums do they have to support and respond to a customer: Website chat, phone, 800 number, Facebook support, Twitter support, Zendesk, other trouble ticket submission options?

Reliability, customer service and support are the three keys to finding a good hosting service. If you have a good web designer, I would suggest listening to them and going with their suggestions (if you have a choice to do so), but otherwise, do your homework and cover all your bases before deciding on a web host. Your Bed and Breakfast website is one of the life lines online of bringing business to you, make sure it’s taken care of.

 

 

 

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Spa Package Ideas for Bed and Breakfasts

Thinking of adding to your specials and packages repertoire?

Consider adding some spa packages. Spa packages can be cost effective add-ons for your B&B, and give you the ability to customize offerings to appeal to a variety of guest interests.

Consider forming a partnership with an area masseuse, or spa that would be willing to have masseuses come and do in room massages, or give a discount on spa services. Being able to offer a discounted voucher to them, or to their customers, towards stays at your inn, is always a terrific incentive for both the spa, and the spa’s customers, as well as additional advertising for your inn.

Most spa packages consist of general offerings like in-room massage or couples massage, but consider expanding the offerings to make them a bit more unique.

Morning or Afternoon Yoga or Tai Chi Packages: Many Yoga and Tai Chi instructors are looking for space to hold their classes. If you have a meeting room, dining room, general space or outdoor grassy flat area that doesn’t get used early morning or afternoon, get in touch with some local instructors and offer the use of your space in exchange for letting guests attend classes.

It gives you additional advertising and branding as the instructors will be advertising your inn for you.

Check out some of the specials and packages that other inns and B&Bs are offering, as well as look at what retreats and spas are offering as well.

http://www.retreatsonline.com/site/health-wellness/fasting-retreats.html has a great list of places that you can look at for ideas.

Offering Spa breakfasts (and lunches) is a terrific, easy and cost effective way of leveraging the spa style appeal to guests. Most, if not all, of the ingredients that fall into the heart healthy spa food category are ones that innkeepers stock as part of their daily breakfast inventory.

Fresh fruits, vegetables and juices make up the primary foods that are offered as part of a spa regime, and you may find many of your regular guests opting in, if it’s also offered as an alternative to your regular breakfast items.

Smoothies and fruit soups are very popular in spa cuisine and are a terrific way to use up cut up fruit from the day before or fruit salad that is left from a prior day’s breakfast prep that is still very good but a little rough around the edges looking. Any type of melon, berries, mangoes, papayas, pineapples, apples and bananas are terrific for fruit soups and/or smoothies.

Try to stay away from adding grapes (adding grape juice is fine) as the skins sometimes don’t blend well, and you end up with odd bits in the puree. Citrus fruits should not be added as is but instead add just the juice, again you may end up with pulp if you add whole pieces. If prepping a smoothie or fruit soup that is going to be used for several days that you will be including citrus in, add the citrus in prior to service or if using the next day, hold any citrus juice seperate from the puree until service. A soup or smoothie with added citrus may taste great that day, but when added and kept overnight, the acidity in the citrus will change the flavor dramatically of the rest of the fruit.

If you are looking for some ideas for spa recipes, here are some very useful sites:

When sourcing amenities, a great place to check out for specialty soaps is http://www.soapguild.org/consumers/find-soap-cosmetics/product-type/private-label-products.php and don’t forget to check out  inSPAration, Inc and  Gilchrist & Soames.

To further enhance both the marketing aspect as well as guest appeal, offer the calorie and nutrition information that your spa recipes offer. Don’t forget both the recipes and the additional information makes terrific blog content that can then be re-posted on your other social media channels.

Here are three websites (and there are many more) that will take a recipe and give you estimated calorie and nutrition information.

Spa Baskets are also a terrific add on and can be put together quite inexpensively if you utilize overstock websites and brick and mortar stores. Here are few suggested ingredients for spa baskets. Some of these, like the bath bombs, (suggestions on the prior page), can be made inexpensively at your own inn.

  • Bath salts or Crystals
  • Relaxing or mediation music CDs
  • Mineral water
  • Aromatherapy oils
  • Loofahs and bath puffs
  • Aromatherapy soaps
  • Nail brushes and pumice stone
  • Massage Rollers
  • Herbal Teas
  • Spa Recipe Cards
  • Bath Bombs
  • Slippers
  • Skin Lotion
  • Embroidered branded Robe
  • Embroidered branded workout towel
  • Scented Soaps
  • Wooden Eco-friendly Hairbrushes
  • Moisturizing Spa Socks
  • Lip Balms

Homemade Bath Bombs/Fizzes (for Spa Baskets)

Bath bombs are a great addition to a spa basket, either individually or in small glass or ceramic containers. Some suggested sites to check out for recipes:

It’s suggested not to use food coloring in your bath bomb recipes as it may stain your tubs and whirlpools. There is a great article here about alternatives for food colors and most with the exception of beet will not leave a stain on your tubs. http://www.offthegridnews.com/how-to-2/how-to-color-homemade-soap/ When in doubt though, better to do without.

Packages sell better with a catchy title. Here are a few ideas to help get you inn-spired!

  • Spa-tacular Summer (or Fall/Winter/Spring) Special or Package
  • Total Relaxation Special or Package
  • A Place to Relax Special or Package
  • Serenity Spa Special or Package
  • The Getaway Special or Package
  • Pure Bliss Special or Package
  • Pamper Yourself Spa Special or Package
  • Head 2 Toe Spa Special or Package
  • A New You Spa Special or Package
  • Harmony Spa Special or Package
  • Just Let Go Spa Special or Package
  • All About You Spa Special or Package
  • Body and Mind Spa Special or Package
  • Escape Reality Spa Special or Package
  • A Peaceful Escape Special or Package
  • Queen for a Day Special or Package
  • Rejuvenate Spa Special or Package
  • Free Your Mind Special or Package
  • Massage Away Your Stress (or Troubles) Special or Package

 

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How to Write a Social Media Strategic Plan for Bed and Breakfasts

For many businesses, including B&Bs, writing a strategic plan for their business is not high on their priority list, but it should be! Writing a strategic plan for social media in this digital age is now an absolute must!

If you plan to be competitive in today’s world, it’s something that you should take the time to do (about 2 hours initially to really fill it out completely). Keep in mind it doesn’t have to be done all at once, break it into manageable sections and put a date on when you will finish it, and stick to it!

Using social media for your marketing without a plan and goals in mind, is like taking a open can of paint and throwing it at a wall, where ever the paint sticks, it sticks, instead of carefully and methodically painting it, and making sure the wall ends up perfectly painted.

If you were painting your house to put it up for sale, you would want to make sure all the holes were filled, the trim touched up and the cornices had every nook and cranny in perfect shape, vs showing the house that looks like a train ran through it. Oddly enough there are a lot of businesses out there that their social media is similar to a train wreck, don’t make yours one.

Once you have your strategic plan finished, stick to it and benchmark it, every three months. Without benchmarking you can’t really see if something is REALLY working or not. Be realistic when benchmarking, telling yourself you tried something, when it wasn’t really planned out, or really used, is not helping your business. There is no pass fail with this, but it effects the end game, and the end result of bringing more business to your inn and better branding and SEO for your website and other online media. The only one it’s not doing a favor to, is you, yourself, the innkeeper.

Both your website and email marketing are tied into this plan because they are both integral parts of your online marketing, and they tie into your social media marketing as well.

__________________________Bed and Breakfast Social Media Strategic Plan
_______________________Bed and Breakfast, located in ______________________

 

Initial assessment: (anything in Red is an example but could be applicable)

Online Tools:

Website URL:___________________________

 

Developed? __________ In Use? __________

 

Effective? __________Needs Work? __________

 

Facebook URL:___________________________

 

Developed? __________ In Use? __________

 

Effective? __________Needs Work? __________

 

Blog URL:___________________________ (if different from integrated blog in website)

 

Developed? __________ In Use? __________

 

Effective? __________Needs Work? __________

 

Twitter URL:___________________________

 

Developed? __________ In Use? __________

 

Effective? __________Needs Work? __________

 

Pinterest URL:___________________________

 

Developed? __________ In Use? __________

 

Effective? __________Needs Work? __________

 

Youtube URL:___________________________

 

Developed? __________ In Use? __________

 

Effective? __________Needs Work? __________

 

Instagram URL:___________________________

 

Developed? __________ In Use? __________

 

Effective? __________Needs Work? __________

Other Media URL:___________________________ (Periscope, Podcasting, Meerkat, etc.)

 

Developed? __________ In Use? __________

 

Effective? __________Needs Work? __________

 

Media Kit

You never know when you’ll need to send information to the media. (information is also useful to have as a press page on your website or blog). Plus it’s very good for SEO.

 

Developed? __________ In Use? __________

 

Effective? __________Needs Work? __________

 

Newsletter to guests/potential guests

 

Developed? __________ In Use? __________

 

Effective? __________Needs Work? __________

 

Goals-What you want to accomplish
A1. Organizational Goals: What is your B&B’s one to three main social media goals for the next 12 to 18 months?
+
A2. Marketing Goals: What is your B&B’s one to three social media marketing goals (how you’ll use marketing to reach those organizational goals)?

Organizational goals for ____________________________Bed and Breakfast

Examples:

-Forge partnerships with local businesses online to help cross promote each other and encourage tourism to your area.

-Build awareness for  ____________________________Bed and Breakfast using Facebook, Youtube and Blogging.

-Improve public image online of our B&B (i.e. doily inn, fussy, old victorian, Grandma’s house, etc.) vs Modern hotels and Airbnbs.

 

Marketing goals ____________________________Bed and Breakfast
Examples:

-Set up account for our Bed and Breakfast using Facebook, Youtube and Blogging.

-Start a email newsletter.

-Redesign key parts of website incorporating specific calls to action to visit special offers/packages on your B&B Website.

B. Calls to Action—What you want your guests/potential guests to do?
Examples:

When someone reads our newsletter, they should book a room AND/OR click through to more specials and offers on our website AND/OR buy a gift certicate AND/OR…………………

When someone likes us on Facebook, you would also like them to subscribe to your newsletter

When they open our reservation confirmation email you would like them to like and follow the B&B on Facebook

 

Part Two a.: Your Guests-Target Audiences & Segments online
•Who are they?
•How can you segment them, so you can reach them most effectively? How does each group break out into one to three segments (that share things like who books what kind of room rates, pet friendly travelers, etc.)?
 

Examples:
Target audience Guests/Potential Guests

-Couples, ages 35-65

-Couples, ages 65+

-Business travelers, singles, ages 30-62

-Couples with families, ages 30-45 with children between 8-15

 

Target audience Guests/Potential Guests  (with variables):

-Couples, ages 35-65, hikers, bikers, skiers (outdoors) etc.

-Couples, ages 65+, retired, antiques, music, etc.

-Business travelers, singles, ages 30-62, tech industry, food industry, medical industry

-Couples with families, ages 30-45 with children between 8-15, kid friendly activities/attractions

 

Set Goals for Progress for each marketing goal:

Examples:

Utilizing a Facebook page for the B&B

Goal: reach 1500 likes by the end of 2017 or an additional 300 likes by September      Done____________

Not Done________________________ Why Not?________________________

 

-Add Pinterest and Youtube tabs to the page by June     Done____________

Not Done________________________ Why Not?________________________

 

-Add Email sign-up tab to page by July      Done____________ 

Not Done________________________ Why Not?________________________

 

etc.

 

Notes: keep track of anything relevant, it does come in handy down the road.

 

Resources Available

Paid Staff (If you are the sole proprietor disregard, if you are a couple/partner or have staff this is important): How many hours are currently devoted to marketing___________________

How many additional hours can be earmarked towards additional marketing initiatives?

Name:_____________________________________Additional hours?____________________

Name:_____________________________________Additional hours?____________________

Name:_____________________________________Additional hours?____________________

 

Roles and Responsibilities/Who does what? And what does it encompass? (be specific)

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

What is your budget for social media marketing? This includes billable and unbillable time, your own time has value, put an associated $ amount to it.

Per Week__________________Per Month:_____________________Per Year:_________________

-This also includes having a designer or any outsourcing costs if you don’t if you can’t do yourself as well as any paid training needed to accomplish marketing goals.

 

Is there Training Needed?

For What:_______________________________________________________

For Who:____________________________________________

Anticipated time allotted for training_________________________________

Monetary Spend: $__________________

 

New Marketing Initiatives should be assessed at 3 and then 6 months to determine

progress and worthwhileness of time/money.
When doing an assessment, be realistic:

Examples:

-Starting a twitter account and posting 6 tweets in 2 months is not going to give you an accurate assessment of whether a social media channel works v.s. 200+ tweets in 2 months, plus proactively following people and having a few conversations with people does.

-Writing a press release and posting it on the B&B website and sending it to a couple of newspapers v.s. posting it to the website plus spending 20-30 minutes sending it to all the online press release venues, and to all the state, regional and national newspapers.

 

Benchmarking Marketing Goals (be specific and have times/dates associated with each finished goal)

A goal can be broken up into parts, but documenting each part and addressing whether it was done correctly is key.

 

Benchmark all goals every 30 days with a brief assessment, do an in depth assessment and review everything every 90 days.

 

Before you set and start on each goal, what is the aim of each of them?

Example:

Start a Youtube Account for the B&B:

-Increase SEO (search engine optimization) for the B&B’s website

-Increase awareness of the B&B to our target demographic market

-Send the video link to your local chamber and your lodging association for use for promotional use

 

At benchmark time sample assessment:

Start a Youtube Account for the B&B:

-Increase SEO (search engine optimization) for the B&Bs website

B&B’s Youtube channel is appearing high in search, from page 5 on Google search to page 2.

-Increase awareness of the B&B to our target demographic market

            Video now has 123 likes and Youtube channel has 7 followers.

-Send the video link to your local chamber and your lodging association for use for promotional use

Lodging Association has shared the video on Facebook and Google+, chamber of commerce has shared the video on Facebook and Google+, pinned it to Pinterest and sent it out in an email blast to other chamber members.

           

Who is the intended target of each goal? Where does your target market spend time?

Dog Friendly for example, a good place to post would be breed specific forums or advertise in pet related magazines. Upscale clientele like Luxury Car Facebook Pages as well as magazines like Roundel. Brides love Pinterest. Techies love Google+, Business people like twitter. Retirees may be targeted by Facebook, but Millennials by Instagram as an example.

 

Examples for Social Media of Benchmarking:

January 7th – Create an B&B Facebook page and make sure the Facebook page has all the applicable information filled out. Or evaluate your current Facebook page and make sure it’s optimized.

Done____________  Not Done________________________ Why Not?________________________

Who is assigned this task?______________________________________

What additionally can be done to enhance Facebook Marketing?

Examples:

-Add email signup tab

-Add Pinterest tab

-Share local area attraction and other local businesses posts

-Change cover photo once per week

-Use boosted posts once per week or twice per month, ad spend of $15 each

 

If Not Done: proposed revised date for finishing goal_________________________

At next benchmark date: Done____________  Not Done________________________

Why Not?________________________

Who is assigned this task?______________________________________ (if this person is you, this is a good reminder that you need to do it)

 

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.

Done____________  Not Done________________________ Why Not?________________________

Who is assigned this task?______________________________________

 

If Not Done: proposed revised date for finishing goal_________________________

At next benchmark date: Done____________  Not Done________________________

Why Not?________________________

Who is assigned this task?______________________________________

 

Or set numerical goals.

Mid April– Get 50 new pins and/or repins on Pinterest

Done____________  Not Done________________________ Why Not?________________________

Who is assigned this task?______________________________________

 

If Not Done: proposed revised date for finishing goal_________________________

At next benchmark date: Done____________  Not Done________________________

Why Not?________________________

Who is assigned this task?______________________________________

 

Mid May – Get 100 new followers on Twitter

Done____________  Not Done________________________ Why Not?________________________

Who is assigned this task?______________________________________

 

If Not Done: proposed revised date for finishing goal_________________________

At next benchmark date: Done____________  Not Done________________________

Why Not?________________________

Who is assigned this task?______________________________________

 

Mid June  – Get 50 new fans/likes on Facebook

Done____________  Not Done________________________ Why Not?________________________

Who is assigned this task?______________________________________

 

If Not Done: proposed revised date for finishing goal_________________________

At next benchmark date: Done____________  Not Done________________________

Why Not?________________________

Who is assigned this task?______________________________________

If you have finished your strategic plan, and have some questions or would like someone’s external input on it, I would be happy to take a look at it, free of charge, and give you some suggestions. Please shoot me an email. Cheers!

Realistically social media marketing for an inn can be done in less than a hour per week. Here are a couple of documents that may help with this goal a bit more:

Bed and Breakfast Strategic Marketing Plan (the above in MS word)

Suggested Weekly Marketing Schedule for a B&B

Social Media Calendar hour per week schedule

Social Media Calendar hour and half per week schedule

 

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

Chocolate Covered Strawberries: Going beyond the basics

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries, the most utilized add on package, and staple for romantic packages at a B&B. Here are a few tips and tricks (and variations) for getting those strawberries lathered in chocolate absolutely perfect.

A few variations on top of the plain dipped strawberry, best dipped or rolled when the chocolate has been applied for about 10-15 seconds but not yet “set”:

  • Fine chopped toasted nuts, pecans, almonds (peeled and unpeeled) walnuts, pistachios, cashews and peanuts. Salted nuts actually taste better then unsalted on a chocolate dipped strawberry.
  • Fine chopped spiced nuts, smoked paprika spiced walnuts are incredible for example.
  • A sprinkling of course sea salt, there are also variations, pink sea salt, smoked sea salt, etc.
  • Course sugar mixed with cinnamon
  • Demerara sugar
  • Crushed Oreos
  • Crushed Candy Canes
  • Coconut Flakes
  • Cocoa Powder (after chocolate is totally set)
  • Edible Metallic dust (available online and in stores like Michaels)
  • Edible Glitter
  • Colored sanding sugar
  • Sprinkles/Jimmies, mini sugar stars and sugar pearls, available in just about every color
  • Themed ones for the Holidays using Sprinkles/Jimmies, Orange for Halloween, Red for Valentine’s Day, Red, Green and Gold or Silver for Christmas, White and Gold for New Years.
  • There are also food decorating pens that can be used to draw designs on the chocolate dipped berries.

A few variations on top of the chocolate dipped strawberry itself:

  • Ganache filled strawberries. Hollow the berries out first, dip with a toothpick or soft tongs, let chocolate set and pipe in ganache.
  • Liquor, or fruit, or flavor infused syrup injected strawberry. Dip strawberries first and then inject.
  • Mousse filled strawberries. Follow the same procedure as ganache filled.
  • Dried fruit like papaya, mango, dried banana chips dipped in chocolate. Dried banana chips dipped in chopped pecans are fabulous.
  • Other berries, raspberries and blueberries are lovely alternated on toothpicks and dipped, end the tip with a fat blueberry to prevent slippage.

A few dipping tricks:

  • White candy melts are easier to use, then melting and tempering chocolate as well as much easier to manage then white chocolate if used for a further garnish on top of dark or milk chocolate.
  • Make sure your strawberries are room temperate before dipping, the chocolate will set better.
  • After you dip your berry into the melted chocolate as far as you can, give it a little shake to shake off extra chocolate and cover any missed spots. Then tip the berry upside down to cover more of the berry closer to the leaves, as well as tucking under the “tail” of the chocolate.
  • Use wax paper or very fine screening after dipping strawberries and letting them set.
  • Chocolate will start to pull away from a strawberry after more then 24 hours, so try not to do them too far ahead of time.
  • If you must refrigerate your chocolate dipped strawberries (not recommended if you can avoid, moisture from the refrigerator can cause a sheen or white coloration on the chocolate.) Store in an airtight dry container with several paper towels folded in the corners.
  • While Farmer’s Markets have the tastiest strawberries, there is so much residual sugar in them they don’t hold up as well to being dipped in chocolate, and mold more quickly then store bought.
  • The best temperature in which to dip strawberries is going to vary by brand and by fat content. The best way to gauge whether your chocolate is “perfect” for dipping is insert a teaspoon into the mix, if it coats it evenly, and doesn’t clot or drip off the bowl of the spoon to fast, you are at the perfect temperate for dipping.
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Questions for Interviewing an Innkeeper

interview

A common question I get asked is, “We need to hire an innkeeper or assistant innkeeper, is there a list of frequently asked questions that we can use for interviewing people?”

This is a general list of questions. We would suggest that you use the ones you think are necessarily, and applicable to your own Inn/B&B and modify questions to suit your needs.

General Questions (and these all relate to dealing with the public)

  • Tell us about a time that you had to adapt to a difficult situation?
  • Have you ever had to deal with conflicting deadlines?
  • Why did you decide to pursue this career?
  • What was the most stressful situation you have faced?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years time?
  • What would you say are your strong points?
  • Give me an example that best describes your organizational skills?
  • What do you think you can bring to this position?
  • What attracted you to this position?
  • What do you think this position involves?
  • What irritates you about other people?
  • What do you think you like and dislike about the job we are discussing?
  • Tell me about how you worked effectively under pressure at another position?
  • What kind of personality do you work best with and why?
  • How do you keep track of things you need to do?
  • Tell me of at least two reasons this job is a good match for your skills, strengths, experience and background?
  • What new skills have you learned or developed recently?
  • How do you keep track of things you need to do?
  • If offered the Bed and Breakfast Innkeeper position of ___________, how long do you plan to stay at the establishment?
  • Give me an example that best describes your organizational skills.
  • What is your strongest qualification for this job?
  • What do you think is most important when dealing with guests?
  • Describe the most difficult scheduling problem you have faced as an Innkeeper? (if they have done prior)
  • Describe the most difficult problem guest you have had to deal with as an innkeeper and how did you deal with it? (if they have done prior, have them give several examples.)

Specifics

  • What reservations software have you used before? (if any).
  • Do you know WordPress and how well? (for website updates if applicable) and if they say yes, ask them for a demo.
  • Do you have social media experience and on what platforms? (if applicable) and if they say yes, ask them for a demo.
  • What types of cooking skills do you bring to the table?
  • Are you familiar with, and able to do food costing? (the correct way).
  • Have you ever taken a ServSafe course (if yes) and/or are you currently certified?
  • Are you familiar with food inventories? (get specifics from them, how often have they done them, are they incorporating the pricing into the inventories, and adjusting recipes to reflect.)
  • Are you familiar with food allergies, gluten free and dairy free cooking and recipes, and how to cook them?
  • What is your skill level with MS Office? (if you use Publisher or advanced Excel, again you may want to ask them for a demo).
  • Are you familiar with the basics of SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?
  • Are you prepared to work 24/7?
  • Give them some examples of a problem guest and ask them how they would handle it. i.e: -Guests show up late at night at the inn and are drunk and disturbing other guests. -Guests threaten to post a bad review on Tripadvisor/Yelp  and want a refund or other Compensation.

Interviewing others is something most innkeepers, unless they came from a background in HR, or owned or ran another business previously to being an innkeeper, may not have much experience with, and asking the right questions is key to a successful interview, and finding the perfect person to fill the position you need.

I would recommend additionally, make sure you check those references, many employers ask for general references, but specifics of professional only references help separate the casual wanna-be innkeeper from the professional.

Find them on social media as well if they have it. While you are not allowed to ask for access, you can take a gander at what’s publicly posted.

Google their names as well. “Jane Doe” Flint, Michigan, as well as if they listed they worked at another inn, or hospitality business in management in the last 5 years, Googling their name plus the business may turn up additional information. “Jane Doe” Assistant Manager, Jane Doe Inn, Flint, Michigan.

If you are in doubt about a potential employee’s resume or background, please feel free to shoot me an email, I’d be happy to do a little research.

Posted in B&B, Hospitality News, How tos, Inns, Interviews, Lodging | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Innkeepers, Thinking of running a social media contest?

contest-two

Thinking of running a social media contest? Before you do make sure you check out contest guidelines, and make sure that what you want to do is legal in your state.

Each social media platform has different rules and regulations regarding contests and it’s very important to make sure that you follow them as well. Most of the platforms reserve the right to remove content that’s not following regulations, plus it’s very important to make sure you find out what rules and regulations you may have to follow by Federal law as it’s different state by state.

Some states may fine you. or you may face criminal charges if they find you are not following the laws.

The Three Types of Online Promotions:

Sweepstakes—Sweepstakes are prize giveaways where the winners are chosen predominately by chance. A sweepstakes prize can include anything from a coffee mug to an all‐expense‐paid trip to the Maine Coast.

Contests—Contests are promotions in which prizes are awarded primarily on the basis of skill or merit (for example, the best essay on an B&B stay or the winner of a weekend getaway). Entrants in a contest must be evaluated under objective, predetermined criteria by one or more judges who are qualified to apply such criteria.

Lotteries—Lotteries are random drawings for prizes wherein participants have to pay to play. A lottery has three elements: prize, chance, and consideration. Unlike sweepstakes and contests, lotteries are highly regulated and (with the exception of state‐run lotteries and authorized raffles) illegal. Further, each state has its own definition regarding what constitutes consideration. Usually, it is money, but it generally also includes anything of value given in exchange for the opportunity to enter and win, including the entrant’s expenditure of considerable time or effort.

As an example: Connecticut’s Sweepstakes laws are quite different from the State of Florida’s.

Connecticuts: http://www.ct.gov/dcp/cwp/view.asp?q=430834. Under state law, no person may advertise a sweepstakes if there are any conditions or restrictions placed on the person who wins the sweepstakes. The winner shall not be required to buy anything or pay a fee of any type. However, the winner may be required to complete publicity or liability releases or eligibility affidavits and assume liability for city, federal, state, or local taxes, and pay federal, state or local license or registration fees or other similar costs. A person advertising a sweepstakes in Connecticut shall disclose in immediate proximity to and in at least the same size and type face as the descriptions of each prize in the advertisements, the verifiable retail value of such prizes, the element of chance involved, the odds of winning such prize, and whether the receipt of the prize is restricted or qualified in any way.

Vermont: http://legislature.vermont.gov/statutes/section/13/051/02143b Notwithstanding the provisions of this chapter, a person may organize, execute, or participate in a contest or game of chance, including a sweepstakes, provided that persons who enter the contest or game of chance are not required to venture money or other valuable things. The cost of mailing an entry shall not be considered a venture of money or other valuable things. This section shall not be construed to prohibit a person from organizing, executing, or participating in a contest that is not a contest of chance. (Added 1989, No. 7; amended 2013, No. 9, § 2, eff. April 26, 2013.) Both of these states have short and sweet legislature, but compare them to Florida’s (which I won’t reprint here as it’s too long, but take a look at for comparison’s sake.

Florida: http://www.leg.state.fl.us (search for sweepstakes) You may have heard that of one of the inns that was running a “Write an Essay to Win the Inn” in the Northeast was investigated and while it since was cleared of any wrong doing, it made a huge impact in the news, and still comes up high on the first page of search for the inn (and will for many many years to come). While this is not social media, it is something to aware of if B&Bs want to run contests on the radio, TV and in print, be aware of the rules and regulations of your state.

We would also suggest checking out the FTC’s (Federal Trade Commission) commonly asked questions https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/ftcs-endorsement-guides-what-people-are-asking because it does address such concerns as disclosures and endorsements.

Social Media Platform Contest Guidelines:

Recommended Facebook Contest Apps: (Some are free, some are paid)

Contest Ideas You Can Run on Your B&B’s Facebook Business Page, & on some of the other social media platforms.

Like to Win: Like the B&B page to be entered to win

Comment to Enter: While this has a downside, i.e. it’s not getting the commenter to like the page, comments are seen by friends and have a greater reach.

Like the B&B page and comment to enter is the best combination.

Trivia! Answer Correctly to Win

Photo Comment and/or submission contest NOTE: per the Facebook promotion guidelines, it does say that the Facebook release and rules/ terms must be included or linked to in the contest post. At bottom of this first example is a sample rules and disclaimer text. Example: It’s GIVEAWAY time! Click “LIKE” for your chance to win one of our Inn’s gift certificates (or recipe book). Example: Winners will be randomly selected at 4 p.m. CST this Friday and their names will be posted on our Facebook Page! Example: Rules/Disclaimer: This promotion is open to those 18 and above in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia. Void where prohibited. By “Liking” you enter and agree that this promotion is in no way associated with, administered by, or endorsed by Facebook; and acknowledge a complete release of Facebook by your participation.

Comment to Win: Example: Comment below and complete with “Jane Doe’s B&B has the best breakfast “…………………..” to enter. 1 winner will be randomly selected at 4 p.m. CST this Friday from all comments as winner of a Free Romance Package at our B&B. We’ll post the winner on our Facebook Page! Trivia: Answer correctly to win! What is the name of our newest B&B addition? (hint we featured them on this month’s blog post) –this does double duty as it gets them to go to your B&Bs website, provide the link but not the direct link, and than find your blog. Simply comment below for your chance to win a $25 off certificate for use towards a weekend getaway! 1 Winner will be picked from correct entries and announced at 1 p.m. PST on Monday! Answer correctly to win! How many signature recipes do we have online?

–again double duty, forces them to go to your B&B website and search. Comment below with your answer! 2 Winners will be picked from correct entries and announced at 1 p.m. PST on Monday!

Photo Contests: Example: Enter our Timeline Photo Contest! Enter a photo in the comment area below that shows us your favorite meal for breakfast. Deadline to enter is this Friday at 11:59 p.m. EST! Our team of 3 judges will review all photos and announce a winner next Monday at 9 a.m. EST. Winner receives a $50 Gift Certificate for our B&B. Post a comment with a Photo of you at our B&B for a chance to win a 30% off a future stay!

AND>>>>>>

See you in St. Charles! I’ll be speaking at the PAII conference at the end of next month. If you have never attended a PAII (Professional Association of Innkeepers International) conference, make this your first one! And a whole day devoted to aspiring innkeepers! Check out more information at http://www.innkeepingshow.com

 

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