This is the twelfth in an ongoing series of Inns and Lodging using social media to help their businesses. If you missed the last interview, please visit Q and A with Brook Farm at Berrington B&B on using social media marketing or for more interviews visit Marketing For Lodging (towards the bottom)
Address or Location: In the shadow of the Blue Ridge in Virginia, USA
Website Address: http://www.ClaiborneHouse.net
Twitter Address: http://www.twitter.com/InnkeeperVA
Blog Address: http://claibornehouse.blogspot.com/
Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Claiborne-House/116494558375895?sk=wall
How long have you been using social media?
I began blogging in 2007. I have not extinguished all there is to blog about in this area. It is not about me, it is not about the B&B, it is about all the cool things to see and do in our neck of the woods, Franklin County VA/Blue Ridge Mountains/Smith Mountain Lake. So on occasion I write a blog article about our pets, family vacation, renovations, ore requested recipe. So to keep it real, I toss in a bit of ourselves into the blog, personality mostly. Website lack personality in my opinion, social media allows you the opportunity to show there is a real person running this inn!
I highlight tourism in our area off the beaten track, stuff I would innjoy seeing and doing if I came to visit! Heritage, cultural, historical, musical, recreational, there is so much to see and do in this area.
Of the social media venues out there, which do you like the most?
TWITTER – I am sort of addicted to it, once I find some great twitterers to follow I thrive on all the innformation. I do not like tweeters with mostly personal comments, I like links to great blogs, news articles, photos!
Of the social media venues out there, which do you use the most?
TWITTER – sorry to say I am still not onboard with Facebook, twitter is open in a browser all day, when I take a call I see twitter, when I update the blog, there is it again! It is fun.
I do believe twitter and Facebook have swapped identities. Somehow Facebook is now just a bunch of ramblings by a bunch of people, almost like a live high school yearbook, imo. Again, disclaimer, I am not on board there, I prefer Twitter with sound bytes, concise information.
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)?
BLOG for certain. I am now adding photos to Twitter using twitpic as well for some exposure there, I have to remember to add our URL when I do it and Claiborne House B&B. I am known to say “Links are like oxygen to a scuba diver” so you will find links all over the place in my blogs and tweets and Facebook posts.
Of the social media venues out there, which do you feel you get the most from in terms of business and personal branding?
Any and all. As much as possible. I do not have a complete idea where most business comes from, other than Google of course. I run my stats program and keep an eye on the stats on our blog. I want our CLAIBORNE HOUSE B&B name to be seen everywhere, so it will become recognizable. Unfortunately there is another Claiborne House Bed and Breakfast in Jefferson Texas who competes for SEO slots in Google, and a few other Claiborne Houses out there to throw a spanner into the mix.
I need to mention something else, if you Google Claiborne House and look under IMAGES you will find pages and pages from Claiborne House Bed and Breakfast in Virginia. These are from the blog, website, twitter, Facebook, Trip Advisor, online directories such as http://www.BBONLINE.Com and other sources. Again, trying to remember to slap that B&B name onto every image. Case in point, don’t add a photo and call it “room_image1.jpg” be specific, calling “Blue_Room at The Claiborne House Bed and breakfast.jpg” Put that B&B name anywhere you can y’all!
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?
Again, unable to really answer this question. Guests are much better than when we first began 7 years ago when they would reply “We found you on the internet.” Now many of them can tell us specifically where they found us. But, was this the LAST place they found us before booking online? Could be. We want to be like Visa “Everywhere you want to be!”
How long did it take you to feel comfortable using social media?
Jumped right in with both feet and never looked back! It is fun, it beats the heck out of scrubbing loos…which I just did, ready for another two check ins today!
Do you market your property on social media channels? and if so which ones? if not, why not?
I ran some ads in Facebook and although I did have a decent click through rate, I saw no revenue come from it. How do I know? you ask. Well whenever I run ads I insert a special code for the guest to use to obtain a special discount. I had nothing from it, so discontinued it. I also ran a coupon in Google on our listing and had one person mention it, but again, chicken and eggs scenario, they probably found it from a link on OUR page to begin with to our Google map.
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.
It’s all good. Innformation, articles of interest, photos – as we say in this industry, “PEOPLE DON’T READ!” so show them, give them brilliant photos, bullet the information, make it easy to book online, easy to navigate and find the information they need.
Sometimes Twitter is a place to just share something silly. Today in fact, a lovely and sweet guest visiting from Glasgow UK CUT her grapes. I put a cluster on the plate next to the Eggs Bennie en Croissant and red skin rosemary potatoes and she cut them the grapes. I got the biggest kick out of it, isn’t it easier to just pluck them off? Nevertheless, it amused me and made me smile! That is what I find on Twitter in this business, silly simple amusements.
How many hours on average a day do you spend using social media (or per week or per month)?
No idea, when I am busy I actually spend MORE TIME here. I boomerang back to my desk all the time, waiting for check outs, waiting for check ins, taking bookings, so I am here and I have social media open. I have what I coined as “Innkeeper A.D.D.” this means, you are an excellent innkeeper when you can have all fires burning at once, multitasking, git er done mentality. I easily jump from one thing to another and back again. Must be the great coffee we serve here at The Claiborne House!
Do you feel the time you have spent using social media has been worth it? And why?
It’s a hobby, I do not follow anyone who is negative, mouthy or vulgar, that will just bring me down, I have some inspirational quotes I get daily, and recipes, and sites of interest, photos, tourism related tweets, blogs, FB and it is a good thing. I learn from it, it makes me a better innkeeper and human being.
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!