Categories : by Linda Griffin Learn Booking Strategies

If guests want penguins - give them penguins.

If guests want penguins – give them penguins.

Smart innkeepers know that the secret to booking perfect guests is to deliberately design your marketing to attract them. These innkeepers have a picture in mind of their perfect guests when they craft the look and feel of their website, write their newsletters, and when they design all of their other marketing promotions. The best marketing promotions cause people to raise their hands and say ‘That’s for me!’

Excerpt from Maximum Occupancy – How smart innkeepers put heads in beds in every season

USA Today hosted five hotel executives to discuss industry challenges.  Two of the questions centered around an area that is applicable to inns and B&B’s as well – attracting your perfect guest:

USA Today: Younger travelers who grew up customizing their cafe lattes at Starbucks now expect the same freedom to customize in hotels. How are you adapting?

Kimpton hotels CEO: It’s a very important desire of customers that they want things personalized just for them. We try to surprise and delight our customers. They fill out a profile that says what they want. We had one guy recently fill out that he wanted penguins. He’s like, “Nobody reads this thing.· I’ll put penguins.” So he shows up at our Morrison House hotel, and on the bed is a penguin doll, and in the bookshelf is a bunch of books on penguins. 

This question and answer reflects the expectations of Gen X and Gen Y guests for a personalized experience. The take-away from this would be for you to implement a process for your inn to determine which amenities are must-haves for your guests. Two ways to do this would be as part of the pre-visit checklist that you use for each guest or in a periodic survey in your guest newsletter. I also like the out of the box thinking on how to surprise and delight the guest who thought no one was reading his comments.

USA Today: Women are increasingly taking to the road. How are hotels, an industry dominated by men, addressing their needs?

Carlson hotels CEO: The industry is more and more waking up to it. We were joking this morning how much luggage a woman has vs. a male traveler. There are differences we need to recognize and embed them in our standards as a norm.

Kimpton hotels CEO: It’s amazing how we forget some of the things that are important to women. Over 50% of our customers are female — quite a bit higher than the average. Part of that is that we have hotels that are attractive to women. We have smaller hotels, average size of 200 rooms or less. Smaller denotes a safer environment. We have great restaurants next to our hotel. If you’re a woman, you might not want to get in a cab and go across town to a restaurant. In the fitness center, you’ve got to have glass doors that people can see in. You can’t have a space that people can’t see in. That’s unsafe for women. It’s little things like that, that us men don’t think about.

When I was a corporate manager, there were many times when I was the only team member traveling to a customer location or visiting a branch location.  Even now, I  frequently travel solo to conferences and other events. As mentioned in the response above, safety and convenience are paramount to me, yet I’ve never received any marketing materials that catered to me as a solo woman traveler.

One way to attract more women business travelers may be as simple as contacting your local chamber of commerce to get a list of local companies, then reaching out to each of them to get on their list of recommended lodging.  Of course security and convenience can be attractive to male travelers as well.

Give some thought to who your perfect guest would be and start incorporating their needs into the amenities you offer as well as into your marketing language.

By Linda Griffin

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[features_box_light_green width=”75%” + border=”2px”]You can find out how to define your inn’s perfect guest and learn ways to attract them in the Maximum Occupancy book. Visit to get your copy.[/features_box_light_green]

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