This will be first in the series of Inns and Lodging using social media to help their businesses. For future interviews visit Marketing For Lodging (towards the bottom) (updated Aug 6, we now have 4 posted)
It occurred to me, that while I can help and try to convince innkeepers I work with, that using social media can help their businesses, it’s even more helpful and relevant as well if information and examples of how lodging is using it and how its helping their businesses, comes straight from the horse’s mouth so to speak.
I forget exactly when I first connected with Karen Thorne from Hopton House on twitter, but I was quickly impressed by how she was using it, not to mention how much of an absolute riot she can be online. I hope to someday meet her in person because if her tweets are any indication, we’ll have an absolute ball. Cheers to Karen!
Address or Location: Hopton Heath, Craven Arms, Shropshire, SY7 0QD UK
Website Address: http://www.shropshirebreakfast.co.uk
Other social media addresses: http://hoptonhouse.posterous.com/
How long have you been using social media?
I’ve had a blog on my B&B website for several years now.
I started using Twitter in Jan 2009 and Facebook in about July 2009
Of the social media venues out there, which do you like the most?
It’s quite & simple to use. You can quickly get a message out there. Where else can you market to customers in just 140 chars and instantly?
You can post when you’re out & about from a Blackberry if things catch your eye that might appeal to guests or if you’re stuck in a line at the supermarket checkout
Great for creating relationships with potential customers and also journalists, other tourism businesses.
Also I use posterous as a way of posting photos but haven’t really explored or exploited its full potential as a blogging tool
Of the social media venues out there, which do you use the most?
Twitter & Posterous – reasons above
Of the social media venues out there, which do you feel you get the most from in terms in terms of SEO (search engine optimization)?
My blog is hosted on my website and is a great way of adding regular fresh content to the site. Though I also optimise the rest of the site to make the most out of tv programmes that show Shropshire & the local area in a great light. For example Time Team, countryfile & Victorian Farm
Of the social media venues out there, which do you feel you get the most from in terms of business and personal branding?
Twitter & my Blog.
My Blog adds much more depth to my website. Potential guests tell me they find the website then spend ages on the blog, looking at photos and reading the stories. That the feel they know me and Hopton House from reading it. Especially as I’m 5 star gold – there is a perception over in the UK that top rated B&Bs can be stuffy – all swags and curtain pelmets- but both my blog & Twitter allow me to dispel any hint of stuffiness.
Twitter allows me to portray an image of the B&B and me. Someone told me that other day that I create a very vivid picture of what it is like to be here and they really want to experience the Hopton House brand.
I’ve heard that I’m often quoted in local social media workshops. The presenter will ask them to name a B&B in Shropshire and everyone says “Hopton House” – that has to be a success story!
Of the social media venues out there, which do you feel you get the most from in terms of actual ROTI (return on time investment) business?
Twitter – I get 2 or 3 bookings a month from Twitter but, for me, the most important aspect is the relationships I’m building. I’ve had several newspaper articles and magazine articles that I can attribute directly to Twitter. These have sent me a huge number of bookings this year and I’ve been fuller than I ever have been before.
It’s a slow burn. It takes time to get known, build up your followers, build a brand. You have to be consistent.
How long did it take you to feel comfortable using social media?
I’ve always been comfortable writing the blog – I like to write and I’m happy being me.
Twitter took me 6 months or so to work out the best way to use it. I have my own set of rules for using social media, which I regularly break. But to start with I was probably doing too much of the socialising and gossiping. I still do that now but I’m more careful about the type of chat I get involved with.
Do you market your property on social media channels? and if so which ones? if not, why not?
Not sure I get this question – do you mean stuff like facebook advertising? If so – no.
If you use social media for things besides advertising, which ones do you use for other aims, i.e. twitter for making connections rather then advertising or a blog to be informative to guests and future guests.
Connections are really important. We’ve got a great network of B&Bs on twitter – we share ideas, help out in a crisis, provide an ear to moan to when needed ( always by DM ). I also follow online stores, news channels etc. We’ve had 2 Twitter holidays now – both have worked really well.
I’ve actually made more connections and new friends in real life. Funnily enough the local aspect of Twitter is really important in Shropshire – making friends and business contacts.
When you live in a rural area and tied to the house because of the business – it’s an essential lifeline.
How many hours on average a day do you spend using social media (or per week or per month)?
Probably about 2 hours a day. It’s something I can do when waiting for guests to come down from breakfast, or finish breakfast, or check in.
Do you feel the time you have spent using social media has been worth it? And why?
Definitely – for all the above reasons!
If you’re an inn using social media and you have felt that social media has helped your business positively, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll pop you over the questions. I’ll be doing at least one feature a week for the I can forsee ongoing future. Cheers!