Upcoming SCORE Workshops

Some of the SCORE Workshops I will be teaching this coming February: (these are free workshops, please take advantage of them!)

If you are a new business starting out or even been in business for a long time and need help, please request a SCORE mentor! SCORE, the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors, is dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals. … SCORE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). SCORE’s mission is to foster vibrant small business communities through mentoring and education. With the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors, SCORE has helped more than 11 million entrepreneurs since 1964. SCORE mentoring is FREE! My chapter in New Hampshire has over 100 mentors!

Being a SCORE mentor is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have, to give back and help people is truly an amazing experience. SCORE mentors are not paid, we volunteer our time to help other business owners. 

How to Up Your Marketing Game Using Social Media
Monday, January 4, 2021, two sessions at 10:00am EST and 2:00pm EST
With the proliferation of social media platforms, it’s essential that you identify and master the right ones to reach your potential customers. In this first in a series of workshops, we’ll provide you with an overview of many of the major platforms, followed over the next few weeks by in-depth workshops on how to use them to get the best results. In this workshop you’ll learn what social media is and how to use it, what you can and can’t do with each platform, as well as the uses for each one. Terrific for companies that want to get their feet wet in social media but don’t know which platforms to use. Includes the pros and cons of each one and which ones work best for what kind of markets, B2B and B2C. You’ll learn what’s new, what’s hot and what has changed in the past year and the importance of using and creating a content calendar.

10:00am EST
Register at https://merrimackvalley.score.org/event/how-your-marketing-game-using-social-media%C2%A0-0

2:00pm EST
Register at https://merrimackvalley.score.org/event/how-your-marketing-game-using-social-media%C2%A0

Using Twitter and YouTube for Your Business
Friday, January 8, 2021, 2:00pm EST
In this free online workshop, you’ll learn a step by step plan to get your Twitter account as maximized for marketing and how to use the free Twitter tools that can make updates less time consuming to post and easier to manage.
We’ll cover
-Twitter etiquette and the art of the DM (Direct message)
– How to find and source contacts and potential customers
-What not to do to market your business on Twitter
– Tips, tricks and techniques to leverage your posts for maximum exposure to potential clients and customers.
You’ll also learn how to customize your Youtube channel and tie it into your other marketing and social media marketing including Pinterest, Facebook, Blogs and websites: how to optimize your channel and videos and promote them; and learn about the new offerings Youtube is rolling out. We’ll l touch on some of the advertising options Youtube offers as well.
Register at https://merrimackvalley.score.org/event/using-twitter-and-youtube-your-business

Introduction to Pinterest for Your Business
Monday, January 11, 2021, 2:00pm EST
In this free online workshop you’ll learn how to use one of the fastest growing social media network to promote your business.
What is Pinterest? A Virtual Pinboard. It lets you organize and share all the things you find on the web, plus it lets you upload your own photos, and pin photos and images directly from your website and blog. You’ll learn how to use your pinboards and utilize the pinboards of others to enhance your marketing.
Some of the reasons to use Pinterest:
-It can help drive traffic to your website and other media.
– Pinterest is addictive, which is great for getting people to focus on your business or properties,
– Pinterest integrates with your website, as well as other social media channels to help push your brand further out into the world of online marketing and branding.
Register at https://merrimackvalley.score.org/event/introduction-pinterest-your-business

Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest Advertising
Friday, January 15, 2021, 2:00pm EST
Learn about the different advertising options that Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest offers. We will be covering best practices, ad options, targeting options (for Twitter and Pinterest) as well as what audiences are best reached using these channels. We will also give some statistics on business advertising and ad pricing for these channels.
Register at https://merrimackvalley.score.org/event/twitter-youtube-and-pinterest-advertising

The Basics of Blogging
Monday, January 18, 2021, 2:00pm EST
In this free online workshops, you learn blogging tactics for marketing your business and some tips, tricks and techniques to leverage your posts for maximum exposure to potential clients and customers.
We’ll cover Guest Posting and how to integrate your other social media marketing and offline marketing with your blog and help you develop a marketing plan utilizing a blog including a blogging schedule.
You’ll find out how to best integrate your blog into your overall social media strategy and why blogging is one of the best platforms out there for long term search engine optimization.
Register at https://merrimackvalley.score.org/event/basics-blogging

Content Curation For Business
Monday, January 25, 2021, 2:00pm EST
What is Content Curation and why is it important for Businesses? Content Curation is done to make life easier for businesses and their marketing, to help with SEO, and using the free tools that Facebook, Twitter and others offer, to aggregate content, posting and utilizing social media to promote their business becomes in less time.
Register at https://merrimackvalley.score.org/event/content-curation-business

Thursday, February 4, 10:00 AM
Leveraging Facebook Groups for Business
While businesses do still need to have Facebook Business Pages, learn how to leverage and optimize Facebook groups, both starting your own and taking advantage of local and targeted groups. Paying attention to group etiquette and rules as well as learn how to set that up in your own Facebook group and how best to moderate a group. If you are in need of employees, learn what groups out there that you can post help wanted on as well as business oriented networking groups where you can share your business promotions.
Registration will be up shortly at https://merrimackvalley.score.org/take-workshop-4

Tuesday February 9, 10:00 AM
The Art of the S.W.O.T.
S.W.O.T. Analysis is an approach that can be used to assess personal and business practice and progress: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It can be applied to a variety of strategic planning goals and evaluations for business, whether you are starting a business, trying to figure out a business name and more. If you are an established business owner, S.W.O.T. analysis can be used for evaluating your competitors, deciding on whether a new service or product offering is worth pursuing or whether or not now is the time to expand your business or hire more employees. S.W.O.T. Analysis is one of many strategic planning tools that businesses can use for decision making.
Registration will be up shortly at https://merrimackvalley.score.org/take-workshop-4

Friday, February 12, 10:00 AM
Questions to Ask When Evaluating Hiring a Website Developer
Are you a business owner considering hiring a website designer/developer to do or redo your business website? Do you know what questions to ask? Do you know how to research their business to evaluate if it is someone you feel comfortable hiring? Join us for this workshop where we will cover what questions you should be asking a website developer before signing a contract and what the questions mean and why they are important to your business. We will also provide you a handy RFP (Request For Proposal) that can be used and modified for your business. We will also touch on photo and image copyright, GDPR, ADA website accessibility liability and other privacy and accessibility laws that your website should be complying with and whether the website designer you hire will be liable or your business would be for non-compliance with any of these topics covered.
Registration will be up shortly at https://merrimackvalley.score.org/take-workshop-4

Thursday, February 18, 10:00 AM
Questions to Ask When Evaluating Hiring a Digital Advertising and Social Media Marketing Firm
Are you considering outsourcing your digital and social media marketing? Before you do, please join us for this informative workshop. Do you know what questions to ask when evaluating a digital marketing firm and how to evaluate their own marketing as well as their clients? It’s important to know what level of access to give to an outside firm as well as evaluate if your company even needs to outsource. We will cover what kind of reporting a digital marketing firm should be providing you as well as we will also provide you a handy RFP (Request For Proposal) that can be used and modified for your business plus we will go through the checklist to explain how and why these questions should be asked.
Registration will be up shortly at https://merrimackvalley.score.org/take-workshop-4

Friday, February 26, 10:00 AM
Google My Business and Bing Places for Business (with Robert Rustici)
Learn more on how to leverage the Google Business Listing for increasing both traffic to your website and customers to your business. Think of the Google Business Listing as a social media extension for when people are searching about what your business has to offer. This important online marketing channel can improve your SEO and expand your reach to new opportunities when used in conjunction with Google’s paid advertising. We will also review Bing Places for Business which is Bing’s version of Google My Business for the Bing Search Engine. Over 35% of web searches are using the Bing search engine.
Registration will be up shortly at https://merrimackvalley.score.org/take-workshop-4

Upcoming SCORE Workshops

Road sign saying Road to Recovery AI Next ExitThese are some of the upcoming SCORE workshops I am teaching for Merrimack SCORE. All are welcome to attend, they are free 🙂 Just be warned you will have to listen to a short shameless sales pitch about how wonderful SCORE is and how everyone should sign up and take advantage of free SCORE mentoring.  Check out some of the other workshops our Chapter is also hosting this month. The podcasting one sounds really interesting! Find more information at: https://merrimackvalley.score.org/take-workshop-4.

In all seriousness though, if you are a business owner or starting a new business, even if you are not interested in getting a business mentor, I very much encourage you to check out the SCORE content library. With hundreds of recorded webinars, articles and resources for every stage of business it is truly a wealth of information. SCORE helped start my business in 2003 and for that I am eternally grateful. I love being a SCORE counselor and giving back to the business community (hint hint we are always looking for mentors…..) and I have really enjoyed mentoring small businesses so far.

June 2, 2020, 2:00 pm EDT: Online Reputation Management
Learn how to respond (and not respond) to Google My Business, Yelp, Tripadvisor (if applicable) and other review sites comments and reviews. Reputation Management is not just about reviews, social media comments are always a part of it: learn how to respond to Facebook, Twitter and blog or forum comments. Learn which sites have management responses enabled and what methods you can use to combat reviews by competition or by people who have never used your services or bought your products. Find out how to use negative feedback constructively and how to set up review and comment alerts. We will also review good techniques for responding to reviews including proper customer service oriented keywords to include.
Register at: https://merrimackvalley.score.org/event/online-reputation-management

June 9, 2020, 2:00 pm EDT: Practical Steps to Recovery for Your Restaurant and Foodservice Establishment
Please join as we review some of the industry issues that are affecting and will continue to affect the foodservice industry for some time. We will be reviewing menus, industry shortages and projected shortages and the effect of an interrupted supply chain on the industry and what establishments can do to balance those issues. We will also address how to focus on the free and very low cost advertising venues that establishments can take advantage of and further leverage especially prior to a reopening or operating in limited capacity. Additionally we will touch on coop marketing and supply as well as further exploring food and menu re-purposing.
Register at: https://merrimackvalley.score.org/event/practical-steps-recovery-your%C2%A0restaurant%C2%A0and-foodservice-establishment

June 16, 2020, 2:00 pm EDT: Leveraging Facebook Groups for Business
While businesses do need to have Facebook Business Pages, learn how to leverage and optimize Facebook groups, both starting your own and taking advantage of local and targeted groups. Paying attention to group etiquette and rules as well as learn how to set that up in your own Facebook group and how best to moderate a group.
Register at: https://merrimackvalley.score.org/event/leveraging-facebook-groups-business

Tuesday, June 23, 2020 2:00 PM EST: Social Media for Employers and Jobseekers
For employers, find out how to use social media and Google search to research job applicants the right way without violating privacy or hiring laws. For job seekers (and this is helpful information for employers to know as well) Find out which social networks can be used to enhance your online resume and portfolio, how to clean up your online reputation/profile and how to leverage connectors and search engine optimization to find your perfect job. We will be doing some in depth focus on using and customizing Linkedin, Twitter and Blogging for networking and job hunting. We will also be talking briefly about ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) that many employers use to organize and review job applicants and applications.
Registration Coming Soon

Tuesday, June 30, 2020 2:00 PM EST: ADA Website Compliance
We will cover what we know about ADA (America with Disabilities Act) website accessibility lawsuits, what is currently required for ADA compliance, the difference between state and federal ADA rules, why it matters that your website is accessible to people with disabilities, and how to help protect yourself from so-called “drive-by” or “surf-by” lawsuits. Even if your business is not required to comply with ADA physical standards, your website should be complying. ADA Website Compliance also ties into the basics of good search engine optimization and is also important in many ways not related to ADA for marketing your business online.
Registration Coming Soon

Tuesday, July 7, 2020 2:00 PM EST: A Social Media Strategic Plan for Online Crisis. An Outline for Businesses
Many businesses large and small don’t think about creating a social media crisis strategic plan until after the fact. Your business is in the news in a negative fashion or a customer decides to have a meltdown online aimed at your company. Planning ahead on how you would approach an online crisis before it happens is key to helping your business survive an incident.
Registration Coming Soon

Tuesday, July 14, 2020 2:00 PM EST: How to Up Your Marketing Game at Tradeshows and Events
This webinar is useful for any type of business. What goes into a good trade show booth and display? Business to Business Expos and other Trade or Event Gatherings are great places to market your business, whether you are a service provider or a business with products to sell. Learn what goes into making a good trade show booth, what types of literature and other items to bring including “just in case” items to plan for every eventuality. We will also touch on virtual marketplaces and virtual events.
Registration Coming Soon

 

Resource Sites and Post Ideas for Bed and Breakfasts

Text on Paper says ResourceSo I think I’ve sent these links out including the post ideas several hundred times within the last few weeks so thought if anyone else might find them useful, have at it. 🙂

Resource Links for Social Media and other online tools I use quite a bit: 

Canva

Youtube

Pinterest

Instagram

Twitter

Facebook

Linkedin

Google Docs & Spreadsheets Tutorials

To reduce Image File Size

Remove Image Background 

CloudConvert File Converter 

Free PDF editor & form filler (use the free online version)

Stock Photo Information 

Model Releases (for adults and children) 

25 Blogging ideas for Inns and B&B’s (also useful for things to tweet about or blog about or use for other social media) plus more underneath crisis related as hard sell advertising is not recommended right now.

  • Recipes: recipes you use, recipes you’ve come across that sounded good that the inn is going to try at some point, recipes given to you by guests or friends (including other innkeepers).*caveat: No poaching of Google images, take the photos yourself or buy from a stock photo source or guests may have pictures to share with you (always credit them) Good images can be obtained for around a buck from stock photo sources. If the recipe is something you serve on a regular basis, highly recommended you take an actual photo or use stock that comes very very close to the real thing. I hope I don’t have to explain why ?
  • Recipe failures with a funny story.
  • Guest Comments.
  • Your Inn in the News.
  • Area attractions in the news.
  • A frequent and Loyal Guest in the News.
  • Specials and Packages at your inn. (wait until things are closer to opening up, but mention them as reminders)
  • Area Attractions with contact information about the attraction, a weblink, directions and why its interesting.
  • Area attractions reviews (including dining).*caveat: especially if its dining, make sure it’s a review that a recent guest or guests had and not your personal point of view, i.e. don’t piss off the locals that might refer you.
  • Trip Itineraries for Guests, make a custom Google map pined with locations (this is free by the way and easy to use)
  • Pictures of the inn: if it’s food give a title to it if it’s not accompanied by a recipe, if it’s a particular location in or around the inn, describe it.
  • Pictures of happy guests, with their permission and preferably in writing. Customizable Model Releases in MS word. (link below)
  • Area Events going on, you can also tie this into area restaurants having specialty diners or wine tastings.
  • A brief, “we get frequent questions “about” and put in answers.
  • What does your inn do to differentiate itself from the others.
  • You just found a new product you are using it and love, be it food or a new fabric softener, describe it and explain why you love it.
  • Funny guest stories. *caveat: make them funny and only funny, proof heavily to make sure they are not negative in any way. While a wife may go into the wrong room by mistake in the middle of the night may have very amusing consequences, it raises things like don’t they have locks on the doors? (even if you do and point out they didn’t lock them)  etc. etc.
  • Do some food specific reviews. You have a couple of apple orchards nearby. Do some write-ups on the apples, do some research on types of apples, link to sources.
  • Research and write about area birds that come to and hang around the inns, pictures are always a plus.
  • Research and do some write-ups about the area plants and trees in the area. You have a historic stand of black birches in the area, some history, background (and pictures) you grow opal basil in your inn garden, tie it into some recipes you use and write about the difference in taste and appearance between that and regular basil.
  • Ask for feedback, from blog readers and from prior guests. You just went from goose down pillows to memory foam pillows. Ask for some thoughts from people; don’t forget to include the link to this blog article when you do your next email blast.
  • A bio of yourselves and/or your staff.
  • A book review or commentary about a local author.
  • Suggestions for weather/time of year guests. i.e. August is prime season for ticks in New England, add tick repellent tips, wear white, use a good repellent (which we also keep extra of the at inn by the way) etc. etc. On hot muggy days our guests like to go to a cool shaded out of the way place to dip and bring a picnic (provided by the inn as an amenity of course).
  • Targeted things to do, coming with an elder relative, they might like…. Coming with young children, they might like….Bringing your dog, you and your pup might like……

Originally on: 25 Blogging Ideas for Inns and B&Bs (and other posting channels)

Some Additional ones from recent blog posts (Covid Crisis)

  • What you are doing or going to do in the community to help. 
  • Testimonials and reviews from past guests.
  • Recipes you make normally (with lots of pictures) tie some quotes from past reviews in there too.
  • If you are learning a new skill or more “about “something (highly recommended) write about it!
  • Tips on recipes substitutions and also cooking recipes or tips that people can do with limited ingredients.
  • Local news (and other news) of people reaching out and doing something nice for others. Everyone needs the positive right now.
  • Photos of things in the inn, not necessarily rooms, but closeups and write a story about them.
  • Photos of outside the inn, wide shots and closeups too, as Spring comes, flowers and other plants are going to be coming up and blooming, sharing beauty is always a positive. People need it and will continue to need it.
  • Test recipes (if you are going to or can play with new ones) ask for feedback on posts, what do people think? Or just post the link and add some text.
  • Do online cooking tutorials or demonstrations. Live stream it if you are up for it.
  • Other skills or other hobbies you can share online
  • If you have dogs or cats (or other animals) at your inn and you are not already using them for marketing, now is the time.
  • Talk about some of the things you have in the inn and WHY you like them and use them. 

Originally on Working towards future heads in beds and Restore, Engage, Aggregate, De-stress and You for Innkeepers

And ALP (Association of Lodging Professionals) will have something hopefully useful to help Innkeepers, stay tuned for an announcement on Wednesday afternoon……..

Working towards future heads in beds

A followup post to Restore, Engage, Aggregate, De-stress and You for Innkeepers.

I’ve had many innkeepers ask if I could give some additional ideas for what to post online on social media beyond the above idea, so here goes…

Well, let’s see, posting to get people to make a reservation for most inns and B&Bs is pretty much a given that it’s not going to help right now unfortunately 🙁

So….what is an innkeeper to do? Here we have a captive audience of people at home, many using social media quite a bit more than normal, what do we post…..

You can certainly post soft-sell posts, which reference your inn, people staying or coming to stay at your inn and upcoming events. But there is quite a bit more you could consider doing. The key is getting your name, your brand and your B&B in front of the eyes now.

  • What you are doing or going to do in the community to help. I know several B&Bs that have volunteered to help batch cook for soup kitchens. What can you or will you do to help. People love seeing people help the community and helping will come back in spades.
  • Testimonials and reviews from past guests.
  • Recipes you make normally (with lots of pictures) tie some quotes from past reviews in there too.
  • If you are learning a new skill or more “about “something (highly recommended) write about it!
  • Tips on recipes substitutions and also cooking recipes or tips that people can do with limited ingredients.

Local news (and other news) of people reaching out and doing something nice for others. Everyone needs the positive right now.

Example:
Image of Facebook post of a good deed

Photos of things in the inn, not necessarily rooms, but closeups and write a story about them.

Example:
Fern Image in a Frame with base of dried flowers next to it
This great fern print was given to us several years ago by an artist that stayed with us for several days, she had come to speak at our local Audubon about edible wild plants. We love the local Audubon which has some great ongoing programs for the public, so when you come to visit us next make sure you check it out! Sharon Audubon Center https://sharon.audubon.org/

  • Photos of outside the inn, wide shots and closeups too, as Spring comes, flowers and other plants are going to be coming up and blooming, sharing beauty is always a positive. People need it and will continue to need it.

Example:
Pansies in the Rain

  • Test recipes (if you are going to or can play with new ones) ask for feedback on posts, what do people think? Or just post the link and add some text.

Example:
Facebook Post

  • Do online cooking tutorials or demonstrations. Live stream it if you are up for it.

Example:
Screenshot of a Facebook Live video

  • Do you have other skills or other hobbies you can share online?

Example:
Facebook post of knitting

  • If you have dogs or cats (or other animals) at your inn and you are not already using them for marketing, now is the time.

Example:
Funny Dog Photo with Caption

  • Talk about some of the things you have in the inn and WHY you like them and use them. You use Molton Brown, do some posts about the products, give some history about it, tell people WHY you picked that line. You have a local painting company that you support, write some posts about them, help others and the return will come back when it’s time. (Don’t forget to take some pics from around the Inn)
    Molton Brown amenities

While I normally steer innkeepers away from being too personal in their posts, yes you want some personality to come through and be engaging, but not share TMI (Too much personal information, I had someone ask me yesterday what that meant), speaking from the heart is not going to hurt here. This is community time, not sales time.

I think one of the bright spots in all of this hardship and I am already starting to see it locally and across professions and groups, is more people coming together (while practicing social distancing which is ironic) and working together for common goals and the common good. I hope that when all of this is passed, that this continues.

What can you do to get ahead NOW?

  • Look through past posts on Facebook that were non-sales related or soft sale related and recycle them. Go ahead and mention it as a blast from the past post too if you would like.
  • Get ahead and write up posts for when this is over, print out some marketing calendars and pre-select when and what days and times you are going to post.

This will give you a basis for how many and what kind of posts to come up with.

This is something innkeepers should be doing anyway but practicing this now if you are not already doing it, gets you into the gear of when things are back to normal and then you will hopefully start doing it automatically.

If nothing else at least do the holidays, any big events that you are pretty sure are going to still be on, i.e. after August? September? And any posts for specials or offers you do every year.

  • So, if you do teas start getting ahead of pre-writing your posts and when we are back and busy again, you have them all set and maybe a little extra time to get ahead on future ones too at that point
  • Get photos together, date them and label them, date the posts and put them in order, in a folder or folders where you can find them again and if you use the Facebook Scheduling tool, go ahead and schedule them in.
  • Write up your posts in MS word, Notepad, Google docs or however you want to organize them, there is no bad or wrong way to do this.

Example:
Every year in the Lake Sunapee Area of New Hampshire, we have the Annual Craftsmen’s Fair. Usually, B&Bs and hotels and motels in the area are completely booked up. This year (if it happens, fingers crossed) it will be August 1st to the 9th, 2020. Hundreds of master craftsmen will showcase their one-of-a-kind arts and crafts at the Mount Sunapee Resort in Newbury, NH.

This is the kind of event that most properties will post online about at least once if not more leading up to the event. So, to use this “as an example”.

The start date is August 1st. In a normal season an inn would start posting about this mid-summer and in this particular case (depending on how things are going) we will stick with this for this example. I as an innkeeper want to get ahead of the game, I either have photos from past Craftmans fairs AND/OR I can buy them from a stock photo company AND/OR I can reach out to some of the 100s of craftsmen who will be there and request permission to use some of their photos and make sure it’s noted that you will be giving them credit and a link back to their websites.

You don’t have to follow this order or format, this is just to give you an example of pre-writing up posts to get ahead.

First post: We are so looking forward to the annual Craftman’s Fair this year. Last year we had guests from all over Etc. Etc.
Art with feathers

Second post: write about one of the artists, or do multiple posts about the artists, make sure you link to their websites and social media if they have them, Etc. Etc.
Handmade jewelry

Third post, talk about something you bought for the inn last year from the fair (with photo or photos of same) Etc. Etc.
Handmade candle holders

Fourth post, By the way we fill up fast, make your reservation soon Etc. Etc.
Bed and Breakfast Suite

Fifth post, Every year we volunteer at the chamber booth, we love doing it because we meet so many people. Etc.
Chamber of Commerce outdoor booth

I find it easiest when you are ahead of this to split your posts into topics/themes and put them in different documents. I like to use Google Docs for this https://www.google.com/docs/about/ so you can create both folders for the documents and associated folders, but you can also have one central document (ie your marketing schedule) linking to multiple sub-documents.

Screenshot of a Google Doc

I also like to keep an online document in Google Sheets that link directly to websites or online tools that I use very frequently. Yes you can bookmark things, but I gave up when I had hundreds of things bookmarked and even putting bookmarks into folders was a pain because you had to remember which folder they were in. Using the Google docs suite (hey it’s free) to help get organized can be very useful for doing your online marketing. It is pretty much just like MS Office but even a bit more simplified. 

Screenshot of a Google Sheets

I do not know which direction things will take us in, but learning more about social media, how to use the platforms, have a strategy can be useful for any type of business, so if you end up going from innkeeper to realtor or another profession at some point, these are all useful transferable skills. In Restore, Engage, Aggregate, De-stress and You for Innkeepers. I added quite a few links to other posts with resources, so if you are looking for something specific you may find it there and if you can’t find it please let me know and I will track something down for you.

Go forth and get ahead so you can get some heads in beds when the time comes. New Hampshire my home state just issued a stay at home order, so at least maybe I’ll get to catch up on some more blogs myself 🙂

And on a very personal note: I would pretty please ask, if people catch grammatical errors on anything I put out, please be kind enough to let me know by email or direct message instead of posting something in a forum. I do run these through grammarly and if time I ask someone else to proof them. I am dyslexic which quite frankly is non of most people’s damn business but getting snarky comments about a phrase “not being grammatically correct” tends to get me down especially when I am trying to help and working a bazillion hours overtime. ☹

Restore, Engage, Aggregate, De-stress and You for Innkeepers

Stone Bench by a lakeRestore, Engage, Aggregate, De-stress and You = READY

I was talking to one of my innkeeper friends this morning and she said, “It’s funny, we are very depressed because no bookings and everyone has canceled on us for the next few months, not sure how we are going to make it”, but on the bright side, and that I could relate having worked in restaurants for 20 years, this is the first time in 4 years they have had a weekend off.

We ended up talking for a while early this morning and she asked if I could come up with a list of suggestions, not just marketing, but some marketing direction as well as other thoughts, of some things innkeepers could do to be proactive in this very unexpected downtime. 

So here goes…….

Are you READY?

In popular Prepper jargon, we have reached S.H.T.F. status (S.H.T.F: Sh*t hits the fan (alternate: stuff hits the fan)) for the innkeeping industry. 

I would prefer to think of this as W.A.A.I.T.T. (We are all in this together and “wait” as in this to shall pass). 

Well, what to do in downtime? Back in 2012, I had written, Why it pays to sleep around for bed and breakfast owners,  I bring this up because I had wanted to do a follow-up article late last year about a place I had stayed at that was top notch but having the owners/innkeepers/management stay in each room would have taken it up even one more notch. 

Needless to say, it’s one of several hundred blog posts started and life (as an innkeeper you can relate) and work got in the way of writing it fully. But every property can up their game a bit.

Now: Step One, Take a vacation in your own inn, but use it to fix things, observe things, make them better…..

While your inn is either closed to the public or does not have reservations I would challenge innkeepers to pack their bags for a two-night minimum stay including incidentals, i.e. your big bottle of shampoo and can of shaving cream, go ahead and pack it so you are not using the in-room amenities, but also because it’s not like TSA is going to nab you for bringing anything over 3.4 oz. ?

Pack as if you were going on vacation and also as if you were going on a business trip, cell phones, cords, laptops, the works.

With one prerequisite, you need a notepad in the loo and a notepad in the main bedroom and any other rooms (example a suite with sitting area) with writing utensils, and no it’s not in case you run out of toilet paper. ?

Unpack or get comfortable just like you would if going to stay at another B&B. Then observe, REALLY observe. See those small ding marks on the baseboards? You’ve cleaned and dusted them a million times and noticed them but not “really” noticed them, fix it now. 

This is what the notepaper is for, make notes if you can’t fix something right at that very moment and make sure you get back to it and do it this time.

In the bathroom is there room for your makeup case and your partner’s knickknacks on the sink and or shelf? Is the lighting really “that” good? 

When you take a shower, can you reach the towel rack easily and is there a place to hang it to dry that works?

I’ve lost track of places that have hooks galore in the bathroom but oddly enough there seems to be some sort of magnetic polarity between the hook and towel as they never seem to want to stick together…… Make notes, now is the time to move that rack, etc.

Breakfast time. Go make breakfast as if you would for guests, then go BE the guest, sit at every seat and every table and eat and observe.

If you have a purse, bring it, is there a place to put it or can you hang it on a chair? If you are going to go out right after, bring your coat, is there room between chair and next chair to put it comfortably? And observe, observe, observe. 

This reminds me of a friend who had an inn up here in NH, she had glowing reviews but very occasionally an odd one, not bad just a little odd. We did the dining room flow test (i.e. how people move around and spatial distance between tables and chairs to walk as well as check sightlines, one table of two had a viewpoint from a guest’s perspective right into the little bathroom that adjoined the dining room. What do you see? Test every chair and every point of view.

Wait…..before you take a bite of the food you made, whip out your cell phone and take a slew of photos, be one of those obnoxious Instagrammers.

And make a note, is the lighting good enough for decent photos? If not, what can you do to fix? Bonus, now you have extra photos for marketing……..Food Photography Tips for Bed and Breakfasts might be helpful if you want to up the visual game a bit.

Now go clean up…….or don’t, remember you ARE supposed to be on vacation so do it later. Make it a working vacation. Go take a walk around your neighborhood. I don’t know how many innkeepers I’ve talked to that either have never actually walked to what is around them for a several mile radius or they go out and they walk, but just to walk, i.e. go out and get exercise, but don’t actually take a lot of notice of what is around them.

Take your phone with a full charge and go and take A LOT of pictures, make some notes, actually see and observe the lovely things locally to you that you probably never noticed before. The hidden springhouse covered by wisteria, the small park bench hidden behind the bushes. That great little antique shop (now closed because of the crisis but will reopen) but you never knew or noticed because they don’t have a presence online. Take MORE pictures and don’t forget to wave to your neighbors and share a smile.

Go back to the inn, rinse, repeat for a few days.

Now do a deep clean of the room, wash all linens and suggest bagging them in plastic until the next usage. Document document, document the cleaning of the room so when we get through this and reopen, A. you are all set to go and B. You have proof (take some pictures too) that the room has been deep cleaned and sanitized and that you, the innkeeper were the last person to stay in it.

Now go on vacation in another room, rinse, repeat.

And do some of these other things while you have some downtime in between having weekends off for the first time since you became an innkeeper. I say that tongue in cheek, but I reference what my friend the innkeeper said to me at the start of this post….

 

  • Work on a cookbook.

 

  • Do some videos, do A LOT of videos, small 1-2 minute clips, virtual tours are good, do a video walkthrough of your inn with commentary or some videos of the area, with commentary. Learn how to leverage Youtube. A great resource for learning Youtube is Youtube Creator Academy, it’s free and it’s super helpful. 

 

  • Test some new recipes out, take LOTS of pictures. If you don’t have the ingredients or don’t want to use up food, hey you have to eat anyway, but if you don’t want to experiment now, go research some new ones to try when you are back up and with guests again.

I love to find new recipes or at least in my case, some ideas from:

And many more, both Taste Cooking and Epicurious have great email newsletters with recipe suggestions.

  • Create a marketing plan for the rest of the year and start compiling content and pictures. We hopefully will be over this by midsummer or hopefully sooner, what holiday can you target and get pre-prepared for right now?  

One of the biggest complaints I hear from innkeepers when talking about planning their marketing and social media, is “we don’t have time”. You do now, take advantage of it!

How to Write a Social Media Strategic Plan for Bed and Breakfasts and Planning Ahead for Your Bed and Breakfast Promotions might be helpful.

 

  • While restaurants and other businesses may be closed or operating in a limited capacity, now is the time to make those good relationships and network, pick up the phone, learn a new skill and try video conferencing. Making those valuable connections and do some deals so that when everything picks back up, your inn and the businesses you and your guests engage with are all ready to rumble.

 

  • Do a deep clean of the inn, and I know some innkeepers are not able to find cleaning supplies, do some outreach to a local restaurant who may be closed or operating in a limited way, do they have some cleaning supplier (or even food if needed) they want to barter or sell?

 

  • Put a plan in place for if this happens again or something like it. While it’s too late to get business interruption insurance, for example, investigate who offers it and rates and be prepared. 

 

 

  • Take some time and educate yourself so you can better help your business and be more informed and less likely to be snowed by an unscrupulous company Google Analytics Academy for instance is free.

 

And most of all, while we are all supposed to be practicing social distancing, it doesn’t mean you have to practice social isolation. Reconnect with some old friends online, make some new. Start some virtual networking meetings. An innkeeper told me they are now doing virtual tea parties as well as virtual happy hours, sounds like fun to me!