Branding, Marketing and the Internet for Aspiring Innkeepers, Part One


At the recent Mid-Atlantic Innkeepers Conference in Virginia this past week I did a session for the aspiring innkeepers, and realized much of what I went over with them in terms of marketing both offline and online I’ve never really either put down on paper (so to speak) or condensed in one place for reference.

Many of the things we went over were basic marketing tools that many B&Bs either don’t take advantage of, or don’t think of, and going out of the starting gate with some additional ammunition to get your offline and online marketing in shape is never a bad thing.

I’ll start out with what was my first slide (slide two) where I talked about having consistent branding. Before even starting to develop your marketing materials, think about what fonts do you like and are planning on using. Are they easily readable in different sizes? i.e what might look great on a sign in front of the B&B may be completely squint worthy on a business card. Is the font going to be one that if you work with a designer on a project,  are they going to be able to find it easily (if it’s not a common one), will they have to purchase it (expect a markup). Is it going to print well on different surfaces like silk screen or having it done in embroidery.

What colors are you planning on using? Are they from color palettes from RGB/Hex or Pantone colors, which the codes can be translated to each other, but a color that may look terrific on print materials (Pantone) may look hideous on a computer screen. If you go to GoffGrafix (there are other conversion sites out there as well) if you are planning on using Pantone colors, test them out with their RGB color conversions down at the bottom of the linked page.

Make sure your branding is consistent from the get go. I’ve seen too many B&Bs where business cards look one way, rack cards another, website another, have three different logos floating around, etc. I know over the years things get revamped, but starting out with consistent branding in the first place gives you a leg up on when you want to change your branding at some point, (as it’s not bad to occasionally do a brand refresh) but it’s something to also put in your initial budgeting. You want to think about in advance that at some point down the road you may want to do a full website rebrand/redo, start budgeting to have any print and other materials you have already developed at that time to be redone at the same time.

Slides three and slide four were on rack cards, and a guest post/interview I did for Bedandbrunchpr pretty much sums up everything I would want to impart about rack cards. You can find it here: Media Moment: Rack Cards

Slide five was on thinking out of the box a bit on your branded amenities.  I wrote about this one (had to go find it! Back in 2010) The great debate about “branded” amenities, necessity or waste?.

Slides six, seven and eight were on advertising where your guests will find you. If you are a Select Registry Inn and have a lot of high end cars in your parking lot for example, consider doing print ads (no print is not dead if used correctly) in magazines like Roundel magazine,  which caters to BMW enthusiasts, or if you are a pet friendly inn, connect with your local vet who always has copies of the pet directed branded magazines in their office, ad space in those is very affordable. You have guests that love quilting, check out McCall’s Quilting as another example. What do your guests like to do, and more importantly what do they like to read!

Slide nine was making sure that if you did print ads, make sure they had a call to action on them, and make sure they had a referral code on them so you could track your ROI (Return on Investment) for the ad. Adding a small incentive always helps. “Use this referral code when booking for a small sampling of chocolate dipped strawberries when reserving your room, Phone reservations only.”  So you give them 3 or 4 strawberries when they come (remember it said small sampling :). Or something else (it doesn’t have to be big, a small room discount, free tickets to an area attraction that you may have gotten for free) as an incentive to save the ad itself, plus use the code so you can track your bookings.

I have 2 dozen more slides to go, so I’m going to make this a multi part post, more next week. Same bat time, same bat place.

If you are an innkeeper or aspiring innkeeper and would like a copy of the actual slide deck (for the visuals) please send me an email at and I’d be happy to send you a copy.


About Chef Forfeng

Innkeeping Tip and Tricks: Please check out some marketing ideas for Inns and B&Bs, Blogging ideas, Facebook Tips and Social Media Tutorials
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