by Dominique Lavigueur and Robert Chiasson
“Warm hospitality, cozy rooms, hearty breakfasts…” Do you use expressions like these to describe your B&B or inn? How about superlatives like, “unique… distinctive… incredible…” Unfortunately, such words no longer have the power to sway potential guests. Too many lodging establishments have abused them and, as a result, travelers look for other clues to determine whether or not an establishment is exactly as billed. Those clues include the following approaches which you should consider including in your marketing strategy.
Pictures never lie
Despite the fact that digital technology makes it easy to manipulate photographs, they are nonetheless perceived by travelers as more “truthful” that any claim made by an innkeeper. Illustrate your web site and brochure with lots of professional-quality photographs showing the grounds as well as the exterior and interior of the building. Don’t forget to include shots of details that suggest the overall ambiance of your establishment, such as a rose on a pillow or tea service on the verandah.
Make claims that you can substantiate
Employ terms that are not subject to liberal interpretation, such as, “registered historic property…winner of the 2003 award of excellence…immediately adjacent to a 15 mile cycling path…” For added impact, describe your strengths from the perspective of your guests’ experience: “… a short stroll to dozens of restaurants, shops and galleries… three-course breakfasts consisting mainly of oven-baked dishes… overlooking waves crashing on the rocks…”
Quote satisfied guests
Your guest book is a source of powerful, emotion-charged comments that ring true to potential customers because they come from guests who have nothing to gain by praising your establishment: “The best B&B I’ve ever stayed at, and I’ve been to many… How can we describe such an unforgettable experience, our home away from home, only better! … The gourmet breakfasts, the magnificent views nurtured with your hospitality have defined the meaning of vacation…” For greater credibility, include their name and city of origin but, before doing so, obtain their permission or use their initials only.
Do some name-dropping
If, on occasion, you accommodate famous people, underscore that fact in your promotional literature. If your inn has the confidence of esteemed members of society, prospective guests will automatically assume that it’s worthy of their consideration. Microsoft CEO Bill Gates stayed at a B&B in Montreal several years ago and the innkeeper proclaimed it not only to his circle of contacts but also to the media which resulted in lots of free publicity.
Extend your name-dropping to include high-profile companies and institutions. You can build an impressive client list simply by inviting your current guests to leave you their business cards.
Surprise your guests
Leave a few things unsaid in your advertising material so that guests will be pleasantly surprised when they arrive at your B&B or inn. It may be a practice of leaving a basket of goodies in the room, of offering the option of having breakfast served in bed, or of giving automatic room upgrades. As a result of receiving more than they expected, your guests will be impressed to the point of unhesitatingly using no-longer-so-outlandish terms like “unique, distinctive and incredible” when describing your establishment to others.
Dominique Lavigueur and Robert Chiasson are award-winning hosts of the 5-star Moka & Pyjama B&B in the Charlevoix region of Quebec. They also teach, write and speak about many facets of innkeeping and operating B&Bs as well as provide consulting services to educational institutions, government agencies and individuals. They can be reached toll free at 1-418-452-1132, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or through their web site at www.moka-pyjama.com.
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