Transferring Ownership of an Inn, B&B, or Dude Ranch?

February 28th, 2015 by

Transferring or taking ownership of a new business in any industry can be a daunting task. Handshake Demonstrating Transfer of Inn, B&B, or Dude Ranch OwnershipOn the one hand, if you’re the seller and you care anything about the business, you want it to go into good hands and you want the transition to be a smooth one. On the other hand, taking over a business as a new owner can be intimidating, and there is always much to learn and numerous responsibilities to assume. Being equipped with as much information as possible can make your new role as an owner much easier.

InsideOut Solutions has developed a service for helping incoming innkeepers during the transition process.  We also offer a handy guide for exiting owners/innkeepers to help ease the transition process for both you and the incoming owners.

Orientation Package for Incoming Owners/Innkeepers

New innkeepers have a lot of responsibilities and assuming ownership can be overwhelming. So we developed a set of services that will help a new innkeeper get started on the right foot. Our “orientation package” includes:

  • How to use your WordPress website – 1-hour training
  • How to read Google Analytics reports – 1-hour online meeting
  • How to blog and optimize your blog posts for the search engines – 1-hour training
  • Guidance for setting up business email on your mobile phone – .5 hour support
  • Availability to answer technical questions about social media – 1.5 hours support

Since your website is an important feature of internet marketing, it’s important that you have a solid awareness of how to use it and how to take part in promoting your inn, bed & breakfast, or dude ranch. Think of your website as an asset you can use to grow your business. Because we’re the experts in internet marketing, we want to help you understand how to use your website to grow your business and partner with you in your success.

Our Orientation Package is $400.

We also offer the following services:

  • Website updates – but not reservation system updates, since they often involve confidential financial information that requires you to make updates
  • Internet Marketing Services – we typically want to discuss this down the road after your familiarity with running your inn, bed & breakfast, or dude ranch has increased. Internet marketing services include:

    • Search Engine Marketing (SEM) including Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Cost-Per-Click (CPC) advertising & remarketing
    • Inbound marketing, including blog writing, Social Media Marketing (SMM), email marketing/newsletters
    • Referral marketing, including local search citations and link building.

These services are priced separately and we work with you to create a custom set of services that will best serve your needs.

Guide for Exiting Owners/Innkeepers Offers Technical Advice

Often, there is a lot of information that the former owner/innkeeper needs to provide to the new one. Providing this information can help the transition go smoothly, as well as prevent questions occurring years down the road when memory or records regarding directories, listings, and social media accounts have either been forgotten or lost.

Consult us for a list of essential information that you can gather and provide to the incoming owner/innkeeper before closing the sale.

If you’re interested in either of the above services, please contact us.

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Get Customized Monthly Google Analytics Reporting

February 27th, 2015 by

Often, our clients want to dig in a little deeper to see how their site is performing. Unfortunately most soon come to realize that they don’t have the time to learn the more complicated aspects of Google Analytics and how to find and understand the data that they need to see. Sometimes, they’re not even sure exactly what kind of data they need.

This is where InsideOut Solutions steps in.

We generate customized online marketing reports in thatSample Raven Report Showing Google Analytics Data
pulls select data from your Google Analytics account and presents to you in a report formatted to give you the information you need. The difference between our reports  and using Google Analytics on its own is clarity. While Google Analytics allows advanced users to do detailed analysis, this isn’t really necessary for innkeepers & dude ranchers, who typically only need to see specific higher level data. We take all of this complex data, consolidate what’s important to you and present it in a clear, understandable way. Further, to help you evaluate performance the reporting period we use is year-over-year, specifically comparing the month of the current year to the same month of the previous year and quarterly and annual reports are also available.

The immediate value to you is that getting this report requires nothing of your time to start receiving information that is critical to your internet marketing efforts. Once you tell us you’d like to subscribe to monthly reporting, the technician sets up a report that is delivered at the same time each month to your email inbox as a link to a downloadable PDF file. You don’t have to go looking for the login to Google Analytics or remember passwords. Unlike Google Analytics automatic email reporting, our reports never expire until you unsubscribe from them.

Currently, we offer the reporting for $25/month, or $240/year pre-pad.

Contact us to subscribe or learn more.

 

 

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Google Knowledge Graph Gets Social

January 26th, 2015 by

Ever been searching for a business in Google and wish that you could see its social profiles in the search results? If so, your wait is over. Late in 2014, Google created some template coding that enables users to add social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) into their website’s own coding. After a short time, these social media profiles become visible in the Knowledge Graph panel on a search results page.

Google Knowledge Panel Search Results

Even if the coding isn’t added to your site right away, Google assures website owners that it will still be “crawling” the internet for this information, even without users filling in the template code and adding it to their sites. However, it’s a good idea to get ahead of the game. By adding the schema.org appropriate code instead of waiting on Google to do it, the social profiles will be indexed more quickly. Also, adding the code before Google attempts to do so helps ensure that the correct social profile links are added.

If you’re an SEO, SEM or Internet Marketing services client, we’ll be rolling this out soon, but feel free to ask us to double check. If you’re none of the above, but you’re interested in having this done by us rather than waiting on Google, feel free to contact us for a quote.

Find out more in Google’s article on the recent addition to knowledge graph.

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Introducing Millennials, Your New Guests

December 16th, 2014 by

The Millennials? No, it’s not a science fiction TV show or a new, bestselling novel. It’s my age group, those born from the early 1980’s until the early 2000’s. If you’re just now hearing about them, it’s time to start doing some research because their purchasing power is estimated to be around $200 billion in 2017, and around $10 trillion in their lifetimes. Also, the consensus amongst researchers is that tried-and-true marketing strategies for previous generations (i.e. Gen X’ers, Baby Boomers, et al.) will not work with Millennials. They are notably different in their purchasing habits and methods than previous generations.

Trust, for instance, is a huge factor for Millennials in their purchasing decisions. In fact, if Millennials want to make a purchase, Erin Mulligan Nelson of AdAge writes that “they actually trust strangers with relevant information and experiences the most when it comes to making purchase decisions. Some 84% of millennials said social opinions influence their purchase decisions, and 51% said they trust ‘strangers’ more than friends, according to a report by Bazaarvoice and Kelton Research.” While they are actively engaged in social networks, they don’t consult those arenas for help in making those decisions. Nelson points out that “…millennials seek out blogs, sites, and applications where experienced travelers share tips about the best hostels, deals on train tickets, and hidden restaurants.” You can see how reviews might become an important part of destination sites that seek to market to the Millennials.

For B&B’s, boutique inns, and dude ranches, getting to know who the Millennials are and how they think is important. With their vast purchasing power, it’s important to begin considering how you might tailor your marketing efforts to reach them. To make sense of my research about the Millennials and help you learn a bit more about who they are, I created the infographic below. Infographics are useful because they take lots of information and package it into digestible parts. So instead of a reading through a lot of narratives and charts, you get to see the main points drawn out, which can help you retain them and recall them. Younger generations like infographics for those reasons, because they don’t want to spend a lot of time reading, and yet, they want to be educated, as well. Infographics are ideal tools for quickly getting the gist of information you want.

 

Information about Millennials for Marketing

View this infographic as a pdf or feel free to save it so you can read it later.

Keep these characteristics of Millennials in mind, and join us for our next post as we begin to explore some methods for how to market to the Millennials.

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Longtime Client Gets Responsive Site by InsideOut Solutions

November 19th, 2014 by

Azalea Inn Print Marketing DesignsWe’re proud of the relationship we have with Teresa and Michael at Azalea Inn. For over 5 years we have worked together to present the beauty of Azalea Inn to the visitors across the web. Ours is a successful relationship, one that has strengthened over time. Recently, Teresa explained that they needed to update the site in order to incorporate their new vacation villas. She loved the site as it was, and wanted specific branding elements to remain the same, but needed to add new content and refresh parts of the site for the new identity.

Azalea Inn & Villas (Savannah, GA)

Part of Azalea Inn & Villas’ branding is reflected in some soap labels and other print marketing that we furnish as part of our graphic design and print services. Teresa wanted the branding to remain consistent not only for this reason, but also because the B&B’s identity is already established. So our Lead Designer, Beth Edwards, went to work. She recreated the logo to no longer read “Azalea Inn & Gardens”, rather “Azalea Inn & Villas”. From there, she redesigned some of the larger site features, and changed the primary typeface to be a bit more modern. Beth did all of this with careful consideration and subtlety to preserve the recognizable identity of the bed and breakfast, while making it new enough to present the addition of the villas.

Azalea Inn Before and After Site Launch

Working with Clients to Build a Beautiful Internet

Azalea Inn & Villas knew that their website must be easy to use. A beautiful, but difficult to use website will send visitors elsewhere to choose a different hospitality venue. But being easy to use isn’t the only factor. A website must be visually appealing, as well, especially a B&B website. Our clients trust us to know our business, to know how to create a beautiful and easy-to-use website. Responsive website design means controlling the mechanics of HTML5 styled with CSS3 so that elements on the page move about freely, and scale for various screen sizes without sacrificing readability. Think of HTML5 as the vehicle and the CSS3 as the vehicle design; both of these work hand-in-hand in responsive design. To work properly and smoothly, responsive design requires a lot of planning in the design phase, as well as careful consideration and execution during the development phase. Read our June post: Responsive Web Design – Is It Time to Redesign or Upgrade Your Website? and contact us with any questions or to request a quote.

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Responsive Website Launched for New Client by InsideOut Solutions

November 6th, 2014 by


It’s always gratifying when anyone compliments our website designs. We believe we generate quality work and our clients aren’t bashful about confirming that. But even better is when a new client references site designs from our portfolio when describing what look and feel they want. This brings us to the responsive website launch for one of our new clients, The Majestic Hotel.

The Majestic Hotel (Ocean Grove, NJ)

The owner, Valerie, told us that she wanted a clean, fresh look for The Majestic Hotel’s aging website. She recognized right away that clean and fresh are important to the public “face” of a bed and breakfast website. She explained that The Majestic was Victorian in appearance on the outside, but contemporary on the inside, and that she wanted to stay away from the blue colors of her old website. She then named other websites that we had designed that had a pristine look and were easy to navigate: The Barlow, The Inn at English Meadows, and Brayton Bed and Breakfast. Taking all this into consideration, Beth Edwards, the lead designer at InsideOut Solutions, proceeded to choose a softer, toned-down blue, and then combined that with a complementary green to remind the audience of a seaside view. The layout of the site is logical and uncluttered, and the photos really accent the beauty of the Hotel and its surroundings. The result is uncluttered, clearly navigable, and visually appealing website for this boutique hotel, restaurant and event venue on the New Jersy Shore.

Before and After Shots of The Majestic Website

For a couple of years now, InsideOut Solutions has made it a standard that all the sites we design should be responsive because this increases the likelihood that site visitors will find a client’s site easier to use across various devices. Such is the case for The Majestic Hotel, which is just as usable and beautiful on a smartphone as it is in a desktop browser.

Get a New Website with InsideOut Solutions

We value good website design and functionality. We  also want our own clients’ businesses to flourish, and so we work hard to make sure the websites we design will make a lasting positive impression, entice deeper exploration and encourage conversion. Responsive website design is just one factor that contributes to having a great website for users. Read our June post: Responsive Web Design – Is It Time to Redesign or Upgrade Your Website? and contact us with any questions or to request a quote.

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Dreamy Responsive Website Launched by InsideOut Solutions

November 4th, 2014 by

We are always excited to work with our clients to design a website and to offer them a design that not only meets their needs, but that also pleasantly surprises them. From the beginning, our new clients, innkeepers Dorothy and Richard Friesen, brought great ideas and creative direction to the table for their Sweet Dreams Luxury Inn.

Sweet Dreams Luxury Inn (Abbotsford, British Columbia)

Sweet Dreams Responsive Website Launch Preview

Working primarily with Richard, our lead designer, Beth Edwards, learned that the innkeepers wanted us to employ our strengths in creative web design to come up with a design that captured the traditional luxury of their boutique hotel. While they liked the colors of their previous site, they wanted the overall site appearance to be revamped to look more upscale and polished. They did agree that a traditional floral background was preferred, and that they wanted to target more business guests and to schedule more events, as they host corporate and private banquets, and some weddings. So Beth went to work, designing and working with Richard to fine tune and really come up with a final design that inspired his and Dorothy’s confidence, something they could be quite proud of. Beth’s richer, darker background colors are contrasted by light, subtle colors that really convey a sense of luxury, refinement, and elegance. Beautiful, high quality photos transition softly on the homepage, revealing to the audience the grounds and face of the inn and event facility.

In addition to the beautiful design, the website is so flexible as to be viewed across multiple devices thanks to its fluid responsive design. Site visitors or potential guests are ensured a top-notch user experience on any device, which gives users confidence in Sweet Dreams’ website.  The responsive website design standards also ensures fast loading times, a longer useful lifespan, and gives the site a leg up in search engine visibility.

Get a New Responsive Website with InsideOut Solutions

Sweet Dreams is an excellent example of what clients are doing right. They approach us to solve their problem, and are open to our expertise. We want their businesses to succeed on the internet. Having a responsive website design means that you’re not punishing users who visit your website on a smartphone or tablet. We, as well as our clients, understand the importance of making it easy for site visitors to navigate the site. Read our June post: Responsive Web Design – Is It Time to Redesign or Upgrade Your Website? and contact us with any questions or to request a quote.

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Focus on Customer Delight to Connect

October 28th, 2014 by

At InsideOut Solutions, we want to give strong guidance to our own clients about how to consistently and carefully nurture those guests who have come and gone. Just because a guest has paid the bill and left doesn’t mean that the relationship stops there. In fact, it’s quite typical that guests who visit a bed & breakfast or a dude ranch might, in fact, be looking to return. Old-fashioned, outbound marketing focused very much on making the product sale and then leaving the customer in the cold. But inbound marketing at its very core seeks to engage in a relationship, to connect, and then foster that over time. Which is why instead of inbound marketing (which is a fine term in and of itself), InsideOut Solutions’ prefers “connection marketing.” That’s what inbound marketing is all about: connection.

Great. So what’s the point of aiming to delight? Glad you asked.

Customer Delight: Apple Does It Right

Ever heard of a company called Apple? If you have, you can probably name at least two – if not all – of the products they sell. Part of the reason for Apple’s success is that they not only market well, but that they aim for customer delight. In the recent Apple announcement on October 16th, the company shared that its iPad Mini Retina has attained a 100% customer satisfaction rating, besides the iPad product line itself consistently ranking #1 in customer satisfaction. Numbers don’t necessarily mean everything, but this is an indicator that Apple isn’t just doing something right with its product, but is doing something right for its customer. The product could be absolutely amazing in its own right. But without an aim to delight the customer, the product would be useless.

Make your primary goal to delight your guests because that’s what will draw them to you.

Customer Delight: Before, During, and After

Customer delight goes all the way back to “attract” or, for our purposes, “invite.” You start the relationship dialogue when you invite a potential guest to your site. At that moment, you should begin to delight them, even before they’ve booked a room, even before they’ve checked for availability. Now think about what will delight a guest who might choose your bed and breakfast. Is it the fact that your inn is $20/night cheaper than other nearby B&B’s in the area? Maybe. But it’s more likely that what will delight them is the experiences you offer there.

Delight Overarches Inbound Marketing PrinciplesThink about customer delight not as the “final phase” in inbound marketing. Instead, consider it the driving phase of the whole inbound marketing process. Your content, email, and social media marketing efforts should all focus on customer delight. Delight really is the overarching principle that makes inbound marketing so different from outbound marketing. In fact, you wouldn’t go wrong if you knew nothing about inbound marketing, but pursued the single goal of delighting individuals across the board. When inbound marketing is done right and the aim is to delight the customer, that you will not only have repeat and loyal customers, but you’ll also have gained a team of unpaid, word-of-mouth advocates.

Here are some ways to demonstrate how you might delight your guests:

Methods of Customer Delight

Invite them to take a look around: In the lodging industry, beautiful photographs are worth more than just a thousand words. They can be the final factor in gaining a guest. The internet has a provided a level playing field — to some degree — for individuals to engage users at a visual level. A gorgeous collection of photos that show your destination at all seasons of the year, or with beautiful sunrises or sunsets, or any other theme, could very well be the deciding factor. As a site visitor decides to book with you, demonstrate that you intend to delight them by using photos to show them the experience they could have when staying with you.

Woo them with images and rich descriptions of breakfast: I do not mean post smartphone pics of a breakfast. I mean, carefully photograph a full place-setting, capturing the steam rising from freshly prepared food, the glistening of co-mingled syrup and butter atop lightly browned pancakes, and a cold glass of milk or orange juice sitting to the side. Don’t just take a picture of a muffin and a cup of coffee, and tell your potential guests to trust you, that your breakfast is top-notch. I wouldn’t buy that. Neither would they.

And don’t get all weird and formal about your breakfast. “We serve a good breakfast that is complete with all recommended nutritional elements.” Boring. Instead, delight them with terminology that invigorates their senses. Talk about the sizzling of bacon and sausage in the pan, the light and fluffy omelette made fresh, the enticing earthy scent of a hearty, dark roast coffee, or the fresh, fruit that bursts with sugary goodness in the mouth. Enrich the breakfast before the guest has even decided that’s part of the desired experience.

Talk about events unique to your area: This should not be your sole method of delighting individuals, but it is useful to talk about distinctive events that really draw crowds and a lot of buzz to your area. Also, the flip-side of this is to talk about well-kept secrets and local attractions that give character to the area where you’re destination is located. Is there a specialty quilt shop, for instance, that is renowned for the artistry of quilt-making? You might find that you’ll draw in visitors and guests simply by offering them something apart from the “norm.”

Give them a brief, compelling history lesson: One of the interesting aspects of bed and breakfasts, for example, is their often storied history. How the houses came about, who built them, their namesakes, and their gradual expansions often make for interesting lore to individuals who seek out the classic charm associated with those types of destinations. And when you do go about describing the history, try not to make it like reading a history written on parchment in the Middle Ages. Enrich it with human narrative. Make it something interesting to read. Show your friends and ask them what you might do to improve its appeal.

 

Customer Delight: Approach with Care

All this talk about customer delight, but you might wondering how to actually make this practical.

This is where we build on tools and tactics discussed in previous posts: email marketing, content marketing, and social media marketing.

Your website is a great commonplace for prospective guests and returning guests alike. Blog posts are a solid method for generating draw and attention. But the ways I mentioned to delight your guests are best when doled out to individuals you’ve recognized as leads, or to former guests who already subscribe to what you offer.

Email Marketing: While a solid method for “closing the sale,” email marketing is also a method of sending appropriately tailored content to guests who have left your inn. Create new connections with leads, and maintain connections with former guests because it increases the chances of a return visit.

Content Marketing: Think of content marketing as the substance you’re using to invite and delight prospective and former guests.

Social Media Marketing: Put yourself out there. Social media is where a lot of conversations are now taking place. The various channels (Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc.) are places where people are exchanging ideas, talking about brands and companies, and learning from one another.

As we continue to post on topics relating to connection marketing, we’ll be digging deeper into these various types of marketing and how to use them in the hospitality industry.

Whatever form of marketing best fits your goals to delight your prospective, current, and former guests, be sure that you approach everything you do with care. If you don’t care, you’re missing out on the primary ingredient for succeeding in what you do. Gone are the days of cold sales and harsh tactics meant to bully people into buying products. We are in a new era of inbound marketing that is truly customer-centric and it is the customers themselves who have shaped this new era.

If you’d like social media alerts of when we publish our next post, join us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. Or, if you have an RSS reader, click to subscribe to our blog.

Currently, InsideOut Solutions offers blogging and email marketing services to help you improve your inbound marketing efforts. Click below to contact us and find out more about these services.

 

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Responsive Design Recently Launched by InsideOut Solutions

October 16th, 2014 by

We continue the trend of redesigning our clients’ sites to improve user experience and enhance their marketability. Part of this process also involves making their sites responsive. Such is the case with our client, Sam Hughes Inn, for whom we provided a modern and responsive design.

Sam Hughes Inn (Tuscon, AZ)

The innkeeper, Susan Banner, explained that she liked the design and color scheme of the site she’d had for nine years and wanted to retain those characteristics as much as possible. Also, as the B&B is within walking distance of the University of Arizona, so she wanted us to be cost-conscious about our approach to the new site since a large portion of her marketing is done by proximity and word-of-mouth. The redesigned site accommodates all of those needs, maintaining the “look and feel” of the former site, while refreshing it with a cutting-edge web design approach. More specifically, we adapted her previous websites to one of our Modern Theme Concept Sites to remain cost-conscious and to provide the best solution for her. The Modern Theme is clean, professional, and well-structured. It lends itself to ease of use and really focuses on accentuating the photographic beauty of the bed & breakfast and its surroundings. Additionally, the responsive design of the site strengthens the website’s versatility across devices. So whether you’re looking at your smartphone, your tablet, or on your desktop, you’ll get a clear-cut, beautiful site to navigate.

Sam Hughes Inn Responsive Design Site Launch

Do You Have a Responsive Design for Your Site?

Many businesses haven’t yet upgraded their website to a responsive design. It takes time and care to do it right. Sam Hughes Inn is now on a better track to engage users from various points of view. Read our June post: Responsive Web Design – Is It Time to Redesign or Upgrade Your Website? and contact us with any questions or to request a quote.

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Another New Responsive Website from InsideOut Solutions Launched

October 10th, 2014 by

No more is responsive website design a subject of speculation. It has become a recognized industry standard for website design that is a hallmark of successful and leading websites.  On October 6th, we launched a new responsive website for the Texas B&B Association that ushered them into a better position to be a leading resource in their industry.

Texas B&B Association Site Launch

Texas B&B Association

InsideOut Solutions has been the host, web designer, and web developer of the Texas B&B Association for over six years. Marketing Director Joe Cloud’s overall desire was to achieve a more contemporary aesthetic, as well as to improve some functional elements of the site.  So we provided a new design and code that achieved Joe’s vision for the site. Also, Designer Beth Edwards gave the Association’s logo a refresh to ensure its consistency with the site’s new look while maintaining the identity and feel of the original logo. In addition, we added social networking buttons to the header and footer, upgraded the site to a responsive design, included a new map to replace a Flash map, removed all Flash from the site, and executed various other upgrades. The result is a visually-appealing design that is well-structured, clean, and loads quickly. The 100% width imagery allows site visitors to enjoy the full beauty of the photos of Texas’ landscape. Further, the site’s responsive design, which Google prefers, provides a consistent user experience and visual quality across a variety of devices.

Texas B&B Association Logo Refresh

Is It Time for You to Get a Responsive Website Design?

The newly launched responsive website for the Texas B&B Association brings it up to speed with web standards and its improved aesthetic enhances its credibility and visual appeal to site visitors. Note that responsive website design is not a passing fad. It has emerged as a relevant technique for designing tasteful and functional websites. Read June’s post: Responsive Web Design – Is It Time to Redesign or Upgrade Your Website? and contact us with any questions or to request a quote.

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