Spring is finally here and your potential guests are starting to think about vacation get-aways. Social media is a great platform to reach existing fans and followers of your business page but how do you capture the attention of new people who may not be aware of your property? Photos are one of the best ways to do that and inspirational photos are even better because they’re more likely to be shared.
Take a look at Samantha Brown’s latest blog post 10 Inspirational Travel Quotes. Right off the bat, this post appeals to travelers as well as those people who are dreaming about traveling. But look closer. Not only does Samantha provide some wonderful quotes overlaid onto beautiful photos, the photos all feature her travel adventures. This serves to reinforce her as an authority on travel. Notice her website address tastefully displayed at the bottom of each picture. When the photo is shared with someone who is unfamiliar with Samantha Brown, they can easily hop over to her website and check it out.
You can absolutely use this same technique to get more eyes on your Bed and Breakfast property and your town and it’s easier than you think. There are lots of photo manipulation tools available on the web and many apps available for smart phones. In this post I’ll share one of the tools that I use: Canva.com which is available as a desktop/laptop program as well as an iPad app. It’s free to sign-up and use the basic functions. Advanced functions can be purchased. Next I’ll walk you through ten quick and easy steps to create a Facebook Post photo.
1). This is the screen you’ll see when you sign in to Canva:
2). Click on Facebook Post which will take you to a compose screen. The white space is already set at the perfect size for a Facebook post.
3). Click on Uploads. If you’ve previously uploaded photos they will show here as well. Click the upload button and navigate to the photo you want to use on your computer. Pick a photo that showcases your inn, your guests or your town. You’ll need a photo that has some space that could be used to place the quote.
4). For this example, I’m going to use a photo of a cherry tree that I previously uploaded. Notice that the bottom of the photo is grass which creates a perfect spot to add a quote without detracting from the tree.
5). You can see that the photo doesn’t fill the entire frame. I can drag the little circles and crop to make it fit, fill the background with a color, or leave it white. I’m going to make the photo fill the entire frame.
6). Next I’ll add my quote using one of the free fonts available. Click on the Text icon to see what’s available.
7). Click on ADD HEADING and type the quote you selected. I picked one of the quotes from Samantha’s post but you can find hundreds of travel quotes easily by searching for them on the web. Highlight the text and Click the color wheel to change the text color. I’m going to choose white. I also changed the font size to make it fit the space better.
8). I decided that the white didn’t stand out enough on the green grass background so I added a box behind the quote. Click on the rectangle. It will be added to your design. Click the work BACK to move it behind the quote and click the color wheel to change the color.
9). Finally, add your inn’s website and change the size so that it’s readable but doesn’t detract from the photo.
10). Click the download button. Select Jpeg and save to your computer. Now you can upload a shareable photo to your Facebook page!
It comes around every four years and 2016 is bringing us the gift of one extra day. Why do we have Leap Years? They keep our calendar in sync with the the earth’s revolution around the sun. It actually takes a little more than 365 days for the earth to completely circle the sun so we use a Leap Year to catch up. Cool!
My question for you is what do you plan to do with the extra 24 hours in February? I love the idea of catching up. Have you lost some traction on the goals or resolutions that you made in January? Now is a perfect time to take stock, re-evaluate, and re-commit to those goals.
Interestingly enough, February is also National Time Management Month so here are two tips to help you tighten up your productivity:
This by far has had the biggest impact on my personal productivity. My to do list never seems to get any shorter and looking at it can be both depressing and paralyzing. The way that I tackle it is to first, acknowledge that everything won’t get done and that’s OK. The second thing I do is to take a couple of hours each week to plan out the tasks that absolutely must get done in order to move my business forward. I then block time out on my calendar to work on them.
Fully Booked Inn is focused on helping you with your marketing efforts so think about some times that you can carve out a couple of hours to get more marketing done. Do you typically sit at your computer at check in time? While you’re waiting for guests, you could start or finish a blog article, or post to your business Facebook page. Are there certain weekdays that are typically less hectic? Block out your calendar for a couple of hours to to work on a new booking promotion. Even if you don’t finish in one sitting, you’re much further along than if you hadn’t spent that time.
I love papercrafting and if you’re a crafter, you can relate to having several unfinished projects laying around. This happens with projects all the time. We get about ninety percent finished, something happens to distract us and all of a sudden, that project goes on the back burner. When you finish something, you get a sense of satisfaction as well as gaining momentum to tackle something else. Pull out a project that’s at least 50% done and muscle your way through to finish it.
Now for three specific tasks that you can complete with those extra 24 hours:
If you haven’t updated that page since your website was installed, it’s definitely time to refresh it. The best About Us pages tell a story, have pictures, and let your prospective guests feel as if they already know and like the innkeepers. For an example, look no further than the Claiborne House About Us Page.
Find the Big Spenders in your B&B house list
Every inn has certain guests who want the best amenities and are willing to pay for them. They’re the ones who love the items in your gift shop, reserve your most lavish room, or who always book the spa treatment when they visit. Why not send out a special mailing to those VIP guests and offer them a special booking promotion that’s not offered to anyone else. They will feel special and you will bring in a reservation that is guaranteed to increase your profit.
February is the month of love after all. Show your guests some love by writing and mailing personal thank-you notes. What a way to make them feel loved and appreciated! You can either stick with a Valentine’s theme telling them how much you love and appreciate their business, or you can go with a more general Thank You card. In fact, I recommend that you send a few Thank You cards each month so that all of your past guests receive at least one from you before the year ends.
If you implement any of these ideas, I’d love to hear from you in the comments or at the Fully Booked Inn Facebook Page.
We’re now in mid-January and I’m sure you’ve set goals for your innkeeping business this year. I’m hoping that one of them is to plan out your booking promotions. I recommend creating a quarterly booking promotion plan so that you can see at a glance when your major booking promotions will be implemented. Then you can back track to determine when to send out announcements and reminders and you’re not scrambling to get an email out at the last minute.
Before you send any emails, purchase any ads, or post to social media, you first must determine what you want to accomplish with your booking promotion. Of course you want to put heads in beds, but the financial goals of the promotion could change based on the time of year that you’re running it.
For example, if you’re open all year and you’re planning a promotion for the slow season in the winter, you’re already incurring the costs of keeping the lights on and paying for staff so you only need to build in the incremental costs of the promotion itself to determine your profit.
If you’re not open all year, and you’re thinking of extending your season into the winter months, now you have to add the costs of keeping the inn open to your promotion calcualations in order to decide what room rate to charge to make it profitable. That will impact the type of promotion you decide to offer as well as the price point for the room rate. It means you will probably need to generate more revenue than the inn that is already open all year round in order to be profitable.
Where do you start?
If you’ve been in business for a while, you should be keeping track of some key measurements: Annual Revenue, Occupancy Rate, Average Daily Rate (ADR), and Revenue per available room (RevPar).
For each booking promotion you decide to offer, you will want to have a goal for how the promotion will impact each of those key measurements. Every promotion should have a revenue goal, that is, how much incremental revenue you plan to bring in from the promotion. Depending on the promotion type and time of year, you will probably have a goal to increase your annual or seasonal occupancy rate, ADR, and RevPAr.
If you haven’t been keeping track of your key measurements and you need a place to start, I like to use industry benchmarks. It’s a great way to see how your inn stacks up to other B&B’s. The Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII) periodically publishes the results of a member survey which asks innkeepers to share their financials. I’ve put together the chart below using the statistics from the latest PAII survey from 2013.
The chart shows industry medians. For example, median total revenue for a small inn of four rooms or less was $42,000. That means that half of the inns surveyed had more than $42K in revenue and half of the inns surveyed had revenue of less than $42K. I like looking at the medians rather than a simple average because if you have an inn with unusually high revenue or unusually low revenue, they will skew the average so that it doesn’t show a realistic picture.
Here’s a handy calculator to determine your Average Daily Rate(ADR)
The next chart shows how to calculate the annual RevPar.
Note that the RevPar calculation uses 365 as the number of days your rooms are available so it doesn’t take into account if your inn is only open seasonally.
Thinking about your booking promotion goals ahead of time does require some work, however it will pay off in peace of mind and comfort that your booking promotion will actually make you money rather than cost you.
Have you seen our new service the Fast Track to Bookings Program? It’s designed to make creating your quarterly booking promotion plan easier and faster to implement. We do most of the heavy lifting for you! Click here to find out all of the details.
As I’m writing this post, those of us in the DC metro area are anxiously awaiting our Washington football team’s first playoff game since January 2006! Over the years, our home team has tried lots of tactics, changed coaches and players, and given us fans a roller coaster ride of high hopes and dashed dreams.
One of the things the team has never done is give up. Every year, they come up with a new game plan and execute it to the best of their ability. I’m hoping that this year, all of their hard work pays off!
I’m also very optimistic about 2016 for Fully Booked Inn. We want to help even more innkeepers take action this year to increase their revenue and profits. One of the marketing gurus I follow – Dan Kennedy -always says to ‘make your own economy’. I’ve declared 2016 a year of increased success for Fully Booked Inn and I hope that you’ve declared 2016 to be equally as successful for your innkeeping business. We have 12 months ahead of us to implement our game plan. Resolve to keep what’s working but to eliminate or replace those things that didn’t work so well in 2015.
If you haven’t already, now is the time to take a checkpoint of your innkeeping business. Is your revenue is growing at the speed that you want it to and are you on the right track to achieve this year’s business objectives or are you stuck at your current level of achievement? Maybe the problem isn’t the business, the economy, or the lack of opportunity. You may be unconsciously sabotaging your success with a lack of focus , going it alone, or not playing to your strengths. Perhaps it’s time to come up with a new game plan.
Three Mistakes that will limit your Bed and Breakfast bookings 2016
Mistake #1 – Lack of focus.
You don’t have a business plan or marketing plan and accept each guest as they come to you. This gives you an excuse to complain about the quality of guests that are booking your inn. You know the ones. They’re focused on room rates and don’t appreciate all of the hard work you’ve put into your B&B. To conquer this mistake, take ownership of your business plan and marketing plan. Benchmark your 2015 revenue results against the industry standards. See the chart above for the latest results from the Professional Association of Innkeepers International. Write your business goals down and create a marketing plan which identifies who your ideal guests are and what booking promotions you plan to run each quarter.
Mistake #2 – Going it alone.
Also known as having false confidence. You think you know everything that’s required to achieve your booking goals so you don’t ask for help, you’re embarrassed to ask for help, or you don’t want to invest in additional training and tools. This can lead to missed opportunities because you’re not taking advantage of time savers or new industry information. Don’t re-invent the wheel. Build a support team that includes trusted business advisors and trained specialists.
Mistake #3 – Not playing to your strengths.
There are aspects of your B&B business that you absolutely love and are an expert. There are other areas that you don’t like or have average skills. It’s a mistake to apply energy to areas where you have less than average skills and where you have no desire to become an expert. Rather, focus on what you’re really good at and hire someone else to do those things that you have less interest in.
If any of the above mistakes resonate with you and your innkeeping business, resolve now to find a way to correct them and put yourself on a path to more B&B bookings in 2016!
Fully Booked Inn is committed to helping innkeepers get more bookings in 2016. We’re launching a new service called the Fast Track to Bookings Program that will make creating your quarterly booking promotion plan easier and faster to implement. We do most of the heavy lifting for you! Click here to find out all of the details.
It seems like just a moment ago that we were celebrating Memorial Day, the unofficial start of the Summer. Now we’re only weeks away from Labor Day. Some say it’s the last weekend of Summer but it could also be viewed as the first weekend of the Fall Season. Either way, now is a perfect time to reach out to your Bed and Breakfast mailing list to help them plan a visit to your locale.
Destination DC put together an article entitled Ten Ways to Spend Labor Day Weekend in Washington DC. This is a great title that you can ‘swipe’ by simply substituting your town/city.
I like it for the following reasons:
The Call to Action is subtly embedded in the title.
The assumption is that the reader wants to spend Labor Day in DC and here’s multiple activities that will help you enjoy the visit.
A number is used in the title.
They use the number ten which implies that there is a wide variety of things to do and see, not just a few.
The city/location is used in the title.
When travelers are searching for vacation and get-away information, they will frequently search on the location name. Having it prominently in the title gives it a better chance of being presented in search results.
Speaking of search results, there are a couple of ways that I would recommend you use this type of article. Certainly it should be sent to your mailing list, but beyond that, it can be viewed as one of the evergreen articles on your web site or Blog.
Chances are the activities you describe are typically annual events. In the Destination DC article they mention a Labor Day Concert and the Annual Shakespeare Festival. Other activities, such as a canoe ride on the Potomac River or bike riding in Rock Creek Park are available year round, but are especially inviting during the Summer and Fall seasons. Having this type of article on your blog/website can give readers ideas whether they are planning six months out or a few weeks out.
Here’s some tips to optimize your Ten Ways article:
- Sprinkle in photos of the events and activities to add visual interest and give guests a sense of what they can expect.
- If you have guests who visited during that period last year, include their photo (with permission) and perhaps a quote from them on what a wonderful time they had.
- Include links to the festivals, activities, and venues that you describe to make it easy for guests to access more information.
Unlike some articles, this one should be very easy for you to pull together quickly in one afternoon. Even if you’re fully booked right now, take an hour or two to get a head start on the end of summer when bookings may slow down without proactive tactics from you.