Do you ever feel you oversold yourself or your area?

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We have very successful inn in the next town to us, but within the general area where we live, meaning it's a fairly well-known tourist area incorporating that town, our town and several other towns around us.  Anyway, they do a great job, but when I read their website and their social media offerings, the inn and area seem magical, seem so wonderful, relaxing, upscale, inviting, full of activities, etc.  And maybe I'm jaded because I live here, but I wonder if the advertised "aura" is what people really experience.  So, do you ever wonder if what you're highlighting is really more than what a visitor will realistically find, or do you think your promotion is very realistic??

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Just saw this!

How to lose a new customer

"I just experienced a frustrating example, of someone needlessly over promising regarding the service they provide. It was a great example of how to lose a new customer."

Follow that article with this one...it is good fodder.

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Oddly, it seems the thing that people remember the most is the thing we never come right out and mention - the helpful advice over breakfast. 2 days ago there were 3 maps spread out in the dining room and I was happily giving directions for 3 separate road trips. Guests leaving today said it was a wonderful route and spot on with the scenery, etc.

One couple stayed a second night at another B&B. THAT innkeeper emailed and said I was a fraud! She said the guests said I was a little social butterfly flitting from table to table helping everyone, asking about dinner and their plans, what did they see the day before, how did they like whatever, did they see this too, etc. She only sees me at the end of the day when I want to crawl into a hole and pull the ground over my head.

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We advertise our local areas of interest as "hidden gems" thereby conveying the idea that they may not be apparent to the casual observer.  

I've gone to great lengths to weed out the crap and highlight areas of actual interest.  It helps to provide an itinerary.  We customize these based on interests.  We have a winery trail, an antiques trail, an outdoor activities trail etc.

We've personally eaten at the various restaurants and checked out each activity location.  We have just enough to see and do on a weekend getaway.

We've also networked with many of these locations and have procured discounts for our guests. It's a win win for both businesses.

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We had a very hard time naming our suites. As we are in wine country  and have beautiful lake views and valley views .They are most surprised at one rooms breakfasts . They are amazed at the diversity of our meals and how they are presented.

 The only problem we seem to have is they are always amazed at how large the suites are. Even though we say it is xyz. sq feet. Their first reaction is my this is all ours. !  Yes it is !!!! 

Like you HJ we have guest questionnaires which  can help us in many ways.

We are most surprised at how people imagine what Canadians looks like?? I think most are surprised to see how hot it is here and telling them we get very little snow. Our winter are only a few months. Our tourist offices just don't bother to market us as a winter destination, which is too bad. Our winters are so mild with very little snow    yet with in 45 mins.drive they can be skiing.

 

 

 

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The name of our cottage is often misspoke and called the wash room. It is horrid. The name is what the building used to be, and I didn't name it that, it was a gift shop prev, so we went with the name, but are using The Love Shack predominantly, and it appeals to the younger crowd and the fun crowd.

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Names can evolve over time, too. One of our cottages used to be called the "Halfway House" (because it was halfway between the shore and the top of the hill), but that has a different connotation in recent decades than it did 60 years ago, so now it is known as the Hillside Cottage (because it is on a hillside, inventive aren't we?).

On "elbow," we have our high season, our shoulder season, and what I've taken to calling our elbow season, which is the period between the shoulder season and low season...).

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Have you ever been to a restaurant and had the best meal ever, great service, great food. You go back and have bad service and bad food? This is why we can't make any promises about anything. And attitude plays a HUGE PART in this.

Those who are happy to be there find everything delightful, those who are not, can nit-pick the ever livin' daylights out of anything...

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I never say this is a gourmet breakfast and yet guests write reviews saying it wasn't. Right. It's not. But why are you saying it wasn't when no one told you it was? Because they EXPECT gourmet at a B&B. Sorry, here it's diner food. If we did more hash browns and corned beef hash then I would actually state 'diner-style' on the website.

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I'm know that we use the word "gourmet" ..... and I shudder every time.  I am telling you, that without question, DH and I would chose a B&B that offered a diner breakfast every single time.   Trouble is - it's the most difficult option with a residential kitchen.  I used to offer a diner style option, but not any more.  Producing something local and "pretty" (read gourmet) has worked for guests and my sanity.  Of course, I always aim to have a squadron of alternatives available just in case, but I don't offer my diner-style option up front any more.  

p.s.  By diner style option I meant, if you don't want my special then choose from eggs any way you want them with sausage or bacon or a stack of pancakes.  Other wiser innkeepers thought I was insane.  They were right.

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When we refurbished our most popular room last winter I started calling it the "Deluxe" double, I wondered if I was overselling it, but it seems to have worked.

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the people before us used to call the larger doubles Executive - what does that really mean?

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Highlands John's picture
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The problem I now have is that this winter the current twin room will be refurbished and the ziplink beds are going in the back room and the twin will become a double.  So what do I call it as I'll now have two front double deluxes?

Should I adopt room names?

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Highlands John wrote:

The problem I now have is that this winter the current twin room will be refurbished and the ziplink beds are going in the back room and the twin will become a double.  So what do I call it as I'll now have two front double deluxes?

Should I adopt room names?

I have many guests who choose a room based on its name. I will tell you now that if you had a loch ee name on one make it the most priced, they will book that one every time!  I wish I knew this way back...every overseas guest wants the room with BLUE in its name, for obv reasons here. Go for it!

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Highlands John wrote:

 

Should I adopt room names?

Yes! Use local names, too! Mt something or other, Nessie, town names, whatever. Places with room numbers or odd names like 'big room' are not creating atmosphere as the guest is looking. (Altho, one place I looked at had a room called 'elbow' which I thought was funny.)

Color names are boring. So you want evocative names.

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Madeleine wrote:

Highlands John wrote:

 

Should I adopt room names?

Yes! Use local names, too! Mt something or other, Nessie, town names, whatever. Places with room numbers or odd names like 'big room' are not creating atmosphere as the guest is looking. (Altho, one place I looked at had a room called 'elbow' which I thought was funny.)

Color names are boring. So you want evocative names.

 

We renamed the rooms when we moved in.   The rooms were named for quarters in a ship - Captains, First Mates, Chart House, Wheel House, etc.   We changed them to better suit our personality and named them after the beaches in town.   Old Garden Beach, Cape Hedge Beach, Loblolly Cove, Pebble Beach, etc.  Much more casual.  But also, more about the town.

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TheBeachHouse wrote:

Madeleine wrote:

Highlands John wrote:

 

Should I adopt room names?

Yes! Use local names, too! Mt something or other, Nessie, town names, whatever. Places with room numbers or odd names like 'big room' are not creating atmosphere as the guest is looking. (Altho, one place I looked at had a room called 'elbow' which I thought was funny.)

Color names are boring. So you want evocative names.

 

We renamed the rooms when we moved in.   The rooms were named for quarters in a ship - Captains, First Mates, Chart House, Wheel House, etc.   We changed them to better suit our personality and named them after the beaches in town.   Old Garden Beach, Cape Hedge Beach, Loblolly Cove, Pebble Beach, etc.  Much more casual.  But also, more about the town.

Like those much better!

I have one room left to rename. Probably this winter when I redo it the name will change.

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TheBeachHouse wrote:

Madeleine wrote:

Highlands John wrote:

 

Should I adopt room names?

Yes! Use local names, too! Mt something or other, Nessie, town names, whatever. Places with room numbers or odd names like 'big room' are not creating atmosphere as the guest is looking. (Altho, one place I looked at had a room called 'elbow' which I thought was funny.)

Color names are boring. So you want evocative names.

 

We renamed the rooms when we moved in.   The rooms were named for quarters in a ship - Captains, First Mates, Chart House, Wheel House, etc.   We changed them to better suit our personality and named them after the beaches in town.   Old Garden Beach, Cape Hedge Beach, Loblolly Cove, Pebble Beach, etc.  Much more casual.  But also, more about the town.

I would have fun shortening your room names if I lived there or visited, or worked there

The Hedge

Pebbles

The Lob

haha!

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Smiling

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TheBeachHouse wrote:

Smiling

Your Loblolly caught my eye. They are a southern pine primarily. indecision Does this room have log furniture? Just asking, see this is what I would look at, what is it in the room that gave it that name.  I know one innkeeper here has her rooms from a foursquare house, set up via directional location, sw, nw (and named similar to that with a local name added). 

FUN STUFF!

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ukmaineiac wrote:

p.s.  By diner style option I meant, if you don't want my special then choose from eggs any way you want them with sausage or bacon or a stack of pancakes.  Other wiser innkeepers thought I was insane.  They were right.

I would LOVE to do a short menu. My kitchen is a tad smaller than yours. And, yes, I thought you were crazy with your menu doing all of it on your own!

I think we would have half the issues we have now if I could whip out an order pad and pull a pen out of my beehive hairdo and smack my gum at the guests! Even if the options were: 1. what we were planning anyway; 2. eggs however, 3. pancakes. But I know we would still get the ones who wanted all of it or none of it.

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Madeleine wrote:

ukmaineiac wrote:

p.s.  By diner style option I meant, if you don't want my special then choose from eggs any way you want them with sausage or bacon or a stack of pancakes.  Other wiser innkeepers thought I was insane.  They were right.

I would LOVE to do a short menu. My kitchen is a tad smaller than yours. And, yes, I thought you were crazy with your menu doing all of it on your own!

I think we would have half the issues we have now if I could whip out an order pad and pull a pen out of my beehive hairdo and smack my gum at the guests! Even if the options were: 1. what we were planning anyway; 2. eggs however, 3. pancakes. But I know we would still get the ones who wanted all of it or none of it.

 

Do what they did in My Cousin Vinny.  The menu at the diner read, "Breakfast - $2.00

Lunch - $4.00

Dinner - $6.00"

Vinny and Mona decided to order, "Breakfast."

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Madeleine wrote:

ukmaineiac wrote:

p.s.  By diner style option I meant, if you don't want my special then choose from eggs any way you want them with sausage or bacon or a stack of pancakes.  Other wiser innkeepers thought I was insane.  They were right.

I would LOVE to do a short menu. My kitchen is a tad smaller than yours. And, yes, I thought you were crazy with your menu doing all of it on your own!

I think we would have half the issues we have now if I could whip out an order pad and pull a pen out of my beehive hairdo and smack my gum at the guests! Even if the options were: 1. what we were planning anyway; 2. eggs however, 3. pancakes. But I know we would still get the ones who wanted all of it or none of it.

gum smacking and calling them darlin' 

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I stick to realistic because I don't want to deal with unhappy guests. BUT, many, many guests never read any info on my site and get here and are all, 'Wow! I didn't know all of this was here!' 

There was one place here that said they were 'water view'. I can imagine they got a lot of flack for that given I had guests call me and ask for a water view room and tell me the other inn has water views aren't you all located in the same place?

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One more thing, location. This is most difficult for most B&B's. We are in an historic main street community. We are in the mountains, these are mountain people who live here, in culture and attitude. But, we are not the Sierra Nevada rocky peaks and altitude sickness. So again, these don't seem like mountains to those in the West, but for those in the south we are mountains, the midwest, we are mountains. 

We have a view. Yes we do. We had a gal leave upset that she was supposed to have a view from her room. We never sell a view from that room. Ever. There is no view from that room. There is a view from the porch. But apparently our porch view doesn't count as a view to some people. I took this last year:

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If it will fit in the suitcase, please bring me this mountain when you head this way!

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Arkansawyer wrote:

If it will fit in the suitcase, please bring me this mountain when you head this way!

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Sorry, it won't fit in the car.  You need to head east.

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Joey Bloggs wrote:

We had a gal leave upset that she was supposed to have a view from her room. We never sell a view from that room. Ever. There is no view from that room.

That's something I'm very careful about as well. We overlook the lake, we're not ON the lake, I'm very clear about that (I hope).

When I showed a lady her room last year she complained that she thought we were next to the water. I was very straight with her and told her where ever she got that idea from, it wasn't us. I told her "The photos of the room view on the website were taken by me out of that window". She also insisted she'd booked a double when her confirmation clearly said twin, which considerably undermines her reliability as key witness about the view in my book (no, the view from the double is no different).  

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Highlands John wrote:

Joey Bloggs wrote:

We had a gal leave upset that she was supposed to have a view from her room. We never sell a view from that room. Ever. There is no view from that room.

That's something I'm very careful about as well. We overlook the lake, we're not ON the lake, I'm very clear about that (I hope).

When I showed a lady her room last year she complained that she thought we were next to the water. I was very straight with her and told her where ever she got that idea from, it wasn't us. I told her "The photos of the room view on the website were taken by me out of that window". She also insisted she'd booked a double when her confirmation clearly said twin, which considerably undermines her reliability as key witness about the view in my book (no, the view from the double is no different).  

I find that when people expect something that we just don't advertise, they must be confused and may have looked at too many websites adding to that confusion/delusion

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We've had people confuse B&Bs, they've booked someone else and then turned up here, so I quite believe that people can get facilities mixed up. 

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Highlands John wrote:

We've had people confuse B&Bs, they've booked someone else and then turned up here, so I quite believe that people can get facilities mixed up. 

Did I mention the folks who were in a hotel in Wyoming who thought that was where they had a rez? They had the hotel front desk call us to explain why the guests were not going to be showing up here that night. Hotel - B&B. Different state. Totally different part of the country. 2000 miles away. Town had one word in it the same as our inn name.

Oops! Easy mistake. Yeesh.

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we have had this, this week - I have marketed to Morgan car groups as we have the national Morgan car rally in my town next year and want a full house 3 nights commission free. Chap who received the letter rang said it was very good rates and was sure his people would book all the rooms, could he hold them while he got them organisased? said yes. Next day received a call said one of his ladies said she had looked us up and we had all shared bathrooms was this so as in the marketing letter it said all ensuite. Assured him we are all ensuite and wondered what it was she had looked at as I put entirely ensuite on literally everything!

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It is the same as using the word "Gourmet" which I would never use. And yet, some of our guests use this term for our breakfasts. To them it is gourmet. To me it is not.  Tomato toemah-toe

The people who live HERE have no idea what great things there are to do here. Have of them don't even know this B&B is here (which has been for 25 years)! A guest stopped for directions and was told oh the abc medical building...well that was a medical building for 10 years in the middle somewhere, not in the last 25! 

For one person coming to the area something is quite magical, to another it is just the same ol' same ol'. So, who is your market? Locals or out of state, out of country?

Perhaps staying at THAT INN is a very magical luxurious experience? It is all perception. We had overwhelmingly non B&B people this weekend, here for a 100 year homecoming at a college. They have all been blown away by the personal touches, homemade goodies, interaction, porch time, etc. Each left us with a heartfelt thank you and appreciation for the hospitality. (well nearly all are gone...two more rooms to go)

Those traveling through are never blown away, they could care less.  They want a nice clean quiet safe place to sleep and enjoy.

So do we oversell? I sure hope not. I try to be as real as it comes. If anything, our guests have said the opposite, which is a good thing. 

Guests from Britain here right now, we brought out the homemade pecan pancakes, and I told them I made them especially for them since I was sure they had never had them before. yes (No big deal, but a personal touch/interaction that cost nothing extra, everyone had the same breakfast). 

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we sort of have the reverse problem - we are a conference and event town 75% of the people staying with us are here for something that is going on - the fact that there is a town, national park, Yorkshire dales etc attached to it frankly they never consider! this does however help attract them back for holidays in the future when they say "gosh its so nice here we never realised!" drives me potty!

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Before we opened, I did a mock-up of what I planned to use as my tri-fold brochure (in 1996 I had a web site but not everyone was using them like today). I sent it to the ladies who were going to be my "shake-down cruise" asking them to read it and then, when they got here, tell me if I met expectations or not. They said I exceeded so I was happy and that is what I used.

Luxury I am not. Down-home comfy? yes. Coming back to Granny's house? yes. I have had guests who were all excited to find "this is just like my Grandmother's house!!" I do what I am comfortable with so I can make my guests comfortable. 

Now as to my area! One cannot oversell the beauty of West Virginia and we have so many things to see and do. It is impossible to over-sell it. I am not capable of writing "magical" so I think I am safe from that problem.

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And maybe I'm jaded because I live here...

That may well be, but you might talk about this with a few guests you develop a comfortable rapport with, and see what they, as outsiders, think about the hype vs. the reality.

I've had a few guests use the word luxury regarding my place, but I avoid that word like the plague. "Upscale" is as far as I go in my ads and on the website. It's very important to avoid a letdown when people arrive. You really want quite the opposite reaction!

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I always think that's a difficult balancing act, both for the area and our property. You need to make it sound fabulous so that people will book, but you don't want them to turn up and say "Huh, is that it!!".

One of the questions on my guest questionnaire is "On arrival did xxxxxxy House meet your expectations", had one or two say no thankfully most of them have said it was much better than expected, the others tend to be people who didn't do their research properly like to couple who thought we are right on the lake side. Does that mean we're getting it right, or underselling ourselves, not sure! 

I'm very aware that Lo chn ess is surrounded by mystique and legend but at the end of the day it's just a lake surrounded by mountains. Although again I'm frequently surprised by people from all over the world saying it's one of the most beautiful places they've been to, even had that from a couple from Austria a couple of weeks ago which surprised me, I have this image of Austria being snow capped mountains with scattered wooden shallets, they said here it's all very wild and remote, at home every mountain has buildings on it.

Like you say, maybe we just get jaded about where we live. 

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