>It’s been a fantastic year for us, mainly because we learned SO MUCH! Here are our top 12.
1. Email Marketing, Vampire
Just when you think email marketing is dead–it comes back to life! Email marketing is still very effective–and the numbers bear this out. Statistically, conversion rates for marketing messages are much higher when delivered via email as compared to social media. Everyone seems to be a bit social media crazy–and with good reason–but that does not mean eliminating email marketing. True, many companies like Ben and Jerry’s have recently abandoned email marketing, BUT they have over a million Facebook fans…do you? Emails contact many people who are NOT participating in social media. This is a demographic still very important to our industry–do not leave these folks out! Read this interesting post comparing effectiveness: http://www.ironmonk.net/email-marketing-vs-social-media-marketing/
We love the easy-to-use and great reporting that Constant Contact offers, and we are happy to share what we know about effective email marketing. Click here for a free Constant Contact Trial
2. “It’s All About ME”
You know we love you and your inns, but sometimes innkeepers can be too property-focused. Be sure to visually represent things to do–at and around–your inn, especially if you are not in a “destination”! This will increase length of stay and enhance the guest experience (then they’ll come back!) Using stills converted into video or live-action videos highlighting area activities are two great ways to do this. Include the video link right on your home page with some copy like, “What do ya wanna do here?” After seeing lots of videos, we think this is the BEST use of video, rather than a property video or commercial. The nice folks at American Bed and Breakfast Inns have an affordable solution to turn your area activity stills into video.
3. Food is Big!
The big guys in lodging know the secret: marketing breakfast and food sells rooms and helps support higher rates. Holiday Inn Express uses food photos on almost every billboard and ad–have you tried their breakfast? Let’s just say we know you all can do better. (Understatement.) It is shocking how many inns tell us “we don’t need breakfast shots” even though they prepare beautiful, fresh food for their guests daily.
Food is becoming more and more important every day. Include photos of your food on your website, blog, facebook, etc. Your food photos might be just the thing to put a prospective guest over the edge! Chambered Nautilus Inn in Seattle is a great example of an inn that uses breakfast to sell rooms right on the homepage. Also if you do local or organic, let guests know that! Here are more thoughts on food from a earlier post.
4. Don’t Discount Discounts!
Contrary to conventional wisdom in years gone by, discounting became a necessary evil for many properties in 2010. We’ve been impressed with the incredible exposure and visibility that a promotion like SniqueAway offers. Think about the pure advertising benefits when considering the deep discounting you must offer to participate. Photography is KEY if you invest in promotions like these. You simply must have killer professional still photos. Here are a few other opportunities for discounting with strong brand-awareness benefits:
LivingSocial, Groupon. We also love the TripAdvisor’s Special Offer program – a benefit of their business listing program. Here is a post about this program
5. Don’t Put a Pearl Earring in a Hog’s Ear
Please don’t invest in a video when your website and still photos are TERRIBLE! We know of several properties that have spent $10,000 or more on pro video, but still showcase poor amateur photography and a terribly designed website. This is a colossal mistake! Video is a great tool, but remember–right now great photography is FUNDAMENTAL and proven successful to booking.
6. Your Best Facebook Friend: Advertising
Facebook advertising is a very powerful tool - read some case stories here. Does your inn offer something unique?? Disc Golf? Yoga Workshops? Alpacas? Find new guests using this sophisticated targeting too.
We loved Jay Karen’s blog post on this subject. It’s a must-read!
7. Show it All!
We are continually bombarded with the fact that the inn experience is just that–an EXPERIENCE! When we are on property working, we keep that in mind and it informs all that we do. Your inn is so much more than rooms–be sure to show that in your visual marketing. Be sensitive to what guests really love about being there and show it in photos! In 2010, we spent more time and effort than ever in expanding the scope of our photos of inns, to really convey what it is like to be there. This mindset dovetails very well with the fabulous “Better Way to Stay” campaign, which we believe is one of the most exciting initiatives to be undertaken ever! It is the experience that our competitors cannot match–we need to sell it! Read more about PAII’s better way to stay campaign.
8. “That’s SO 5 minutes ago…”
Internet marketing is changing faster than the speed of light! What was true 6 months ago may be totally obsolete today. If you do not have a dedicated marketing professional or organization on your team keeping up with these changes, you would be wise to do so. We get great reports from our clients on the services of White Stone Marketing and Acorn Internet Services.
9. On the Move…Better Get in the Groove!
Mobile Searches grew 130% in Google. Is your site optimized for mobile and tablet devices like the ipad? If not, you’re losing business.
10. Know What You Don’t Know!
We are repeatedly shocked soon after arriving at the annual Innkeeping Conference, thinking we knew so much, and quickly realizing that things are changing so fast, we’ve been left in the dust! There are many folks out there who say, “What could I possibly learn at the PAII conference…I already know it all!” Our advice: know what you do NOT know, and find someone who can help!
11. Oversell = TripAdvisor hell!
Overselling has always been dangerous, but it’s suicide in these days of Trip Advisor’s online reviews. Keep guests’ expectations in check, and focus on your positives, but do not sugar-coat your drawbacks…or you’ll suffer–in front of the whole world! We do our part by shying away from super-wide angle rooms shots and styling with props indigenous to your inn’s culture and theme.