GC's from Iloveinns

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JunieBJones (JBJ)'s picture
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Sign Up For iLoveInns' Gift Certificates--At Only 10%
Now is the time to take advantage of our gift certificate program. Innkeepers have been unhappy about another directory raising their take to 20% on their gift certificates and have suggested that we remind you that our gift certificates are at 10%. We hope you won't miss out on the eager well headerd shoppers on our Web site. They love the B&Bs on our site.
You will receive 90% of the amount of the gift certificate and we will mail it to you immediately.

 

Interesting!!  Good move iloveinns.  YOU ROCK!

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John, why must you put down others when trying to convince us that your product, service or program is 'the best'.  There is no need to put the others down, just describe what you offer.  We are not the dumb bunnies you think we are, we can compare with out name calling as you did in your post. 

Now I am sorry to burst your bubble John, but the B&B's listed on your site are the reason your GC's sell - as previously stated WE ARE THE PRODUCT - WE ARE THE GIFT.   Yes, it is nice to have nice packaging and I can appreciate the nice comments, but if my DH bought me a diamond I would not care if it were thrown in a paper bag and my card was a note written in crayon on the outside of the bag...The DIAMOND is what would make me happy - the Diamond is my gift, not the packaging!  

I am sure (not in that program) that the BandB GCs are nice and that it is costly to produce them as you do.  But if BandB.com spends hundreds of thousands of dollars each year on this promotion as you eluded to in one of your posts in this thread, someone should be shot! 

JBJ - I bow to no one but definitely not someone that is so self-richeous as John and Eric seem to be. 

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The initial post here compared the commission of the iloveinns product to the bedandbreakfast.com product.  I attempted to explain that in our opinion, they are very different products sold in very different places, hence the commission difference.  I understand that you do not agree with my point of view on this, and you may not value the differences between the two products, but there are major differences, and I posted the consumer comments to show you that at least some real people appreciate them. 

You may not appreciate our cards, but as you can see there is at least one set of grandparents who got a card with their grandkids picture on it that does, and I can assure you there are more.  There are people here who have poured their effort into these year after year to improve them and get them out in front of as many customers as possible, and we take pride in our work here just like anyone who is trying to do a good job and  who have worked hard on these for years to make them as nice as possible.

__________________

John Banczak
Owner
Inn Above Onion Creek

 

gillumhouse's picture
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John B posted in his reviews post what we have been telling them about the levels (and charges) offered - this goes directly to our gripe about ROI in case anyone is listening. Guests have no clue that we pay to be on these Directories nor what level we are required to pay to get what everyone considers the basic contact info - a web site link!!! This peron appreciates that bandb includes the web site links - they do if they are paid enough. Small inns would be happy with what most other Directories consider Basic - contact info that includes a link to web site and at least one photo.

Great site! I appreciate that you include website links for the inns,

plus price ranges and reviews. My parents will love this gift! Being

able to pay for a gift card using Paypal was a pleasant surprise.

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As this group may or may not know, we allow users to leave comments in

our gift card area.  You can see them all by going to

http://www.bedandbreakfast.com/GiftCertificatesFeedback.aspx?p=1.

Thought I would post a few from the last few weeks so you could see what some

customers say.  I'd encourage you to take a look - this is where we get

our feedback and try and find ways to make the product better.  You'll

see one comment below - on fonts and colors - another example of

something we want to add to the product.  In any case, hopefully you can

get an appreciation for how much customers like the product, and how we

stay on top of it to make sure we are continuing to develop and improve it.

 

>>>

 

Your website is phenomenal. It is very user-friendly. I love the feature

which allowed me to upload a personal photo. This made the wedding gift

card extra special. I can't wait to see their faces when they see THEIR

photo on the card! What a wonderful surprise. Thank you for creating a

great gift-giving website! Sincerely, Joanne

 

Easy to use website. The only improvement I can think of is to offer

font & color options for gift card.

 

Wonderful. We especially enjoyed being able to upload our own photo to

make the gift certificate more personal. Thank you!

 

Your site was totally easy to use. It's great to be able to use my own

photo for the gift card.

 

Great site! I appreciate that you include website links for the inns,

plus price ranges and reviews. My parents will love this gift! Being

able to pay for a gift card using Paypal was a pleasant surprise.

 

Wow, the site was so pretty and easy. I am not good with computers and

this was the easiest thing I ever did. I will be back for more gift

cards.

 

The site is great and would rather speak with someone that leave his

credit card information online. He loves the site and Andi was terrific!

 

Your website is great. Easy to navigate and clear and informative. Don't

change a thing! One of the best I've used.

 

swirt's picture
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This post was flagged as being against the terms of use of this site.  I do agree that this post is a little closer to self-promotion than I would like.  Though given that you have been taking a pretty good beating from disatisfied innkeepers recently and do need to present opinions from your secondary customers, I will allow it.  It is interesting to know of potential guest perception of the program.

But I do suggest that in the future, it would be wise to err on the OTHER side of self-promotion line you just crossed. Eye-wink

 

YellowSocks's picture
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Why did you post this flagrant self-promotion?

Of course you have good comments on your website!  Why would you post the bad ones there?

I don't feel this post belongs here.

=/
Kk.

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I posted the consumer comments because they directly related to this thread about the quality of consumer gift cards.  A couple innkeepers had questioned whether the gift card product itself was important, and I wanted you to see that consumers themselves were telling us how much they liked the photo upload. 

We are really not promoting anything here - you guys all know what our services are, you know our website, and it is clear that you are unhappy with things - my only hope is that you understood why we spent so much time, effort, and money on our gift card product - because consumers and resellers demand it - these were examples.

 

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I don't know if you guys know or not, but Iloveinns.com is running a special through Oct. 24th.   When you buy the book that contains the gift certificate they are giving you a 2nd free night certificate!    I can't seem to find out the dates the certificates are valid to.  It looks like most properties the days and dates are pretty restrictive.

JunieBJones (JBJ)'s picture
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GeorgiaGirl25 wrote:

I don't know if you guys know or not, but Iloveinns.com is running a special through Oct. 24th.   When you buy the book that contains the gift certificate they are giving you a 2nd free night certificate!    I can't seem to find out the dates the certificates are valid to.  It looks like most properties the days and dates are pretty restrictive.

GG Yes this is true, I saw this a month ago when I took my first iLoveinns BOGO guest.  DOn't know if you saw that thread on here, but I wanted to express at the time as the guests said "Mail this in and get reimbursed!"  It made me insane and I wanted them to understand, iLoveInns does not REIMBURSE US.  We pay THEM, they do not pay us.  BOGO's are good will on the side of the innkeeper, we are giving you the FREE NIGHT STAY.

Just wanted to clarify that again for anyone else reading.  The inn is the one donating the free night on any BOGO.

STASH TEA is another B&B promotion with BOGO that some participate in.  It is NO cost to the innkeeper to be listed unless it is redeemed.  I have had porbably 5 of these BOGO redeemed, and always super guests!

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JunieBJones (JBJ) wrote:

GeorgiaGirl25 wrote:

I don't know if you guys know or not, but Iloveinns.com is running a special through Oct. 24th.   When you buy the book that contains the gift certificate they are giving you a 2nd free night certificate!    I can't seem to find out the dates the certificates are valid to.  It looks like most properties the days and dates are pretty restrictive.

GG Yes this is true, I saw this a month ago when I took my first iLoveinns BOGO guest.  DOn't know if you saw that thread on here, but I wanted to express at the time as the guests said "Mail this in and get reimbursed!"  It made me insane and I wanted them to understand, iLoveInns does not REIMBURSE US.  We pay THEM, they do not pay us.  BOGO's are good will on the side of the innkeeper, we are giving you the FREE NIGHT STAY.

Just wanted to clarify that again for anyone else reading.  The inn is the one donating the free night on any BOGO.

STASH TEA is another B&B promotion with BOGO that some participate in.  It is NO cost to the innkeeper to be listed unless it is redeemed.  I have had porbably 5 of these BOGO redeemed, and always super guests!

After I posted that I saw that they also had a regular GC and realized that was the one you guys were talking about.  But it's good to also talk about the BOGO since the average person doesn't realize that the Innkeeper is the one footing the bill!

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Are you talking about the buy 1 nite get 1 free certificate book ? Cuz those are different from regular gift certificates. They have been in their book and also as a special certificate promotion like you described, and are usually good for one year. I have enjoyed using them and have had no problem with inns taking them. Understandably, innkeepers select dates so prime-time bookings aren't given away.

JunieBJones (JBJ)'s picture
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okay you are the best, we bow down at your feet.

YellowSocks's picture
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JunieBJones (JBJ) wrote:

okay you are the best, we bow down at your feet.

Yes, they are exalted... right out of my price bracket!

=)
Kk.

gillumhouse's picture
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Mine too!!

JunieBJones (JBJ)'s picture
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Bloody hell man!

"In my post I never once said the product is 2nd rate "if sold on iloveinns."  I never mentioned anything about the iloveinns directory at all - I've publicly stated before that I like the look of their directory, the layout, color scheme, etc"

You are on the iloveinns thread!  You sure as heck are talking about them!  What are you some politician running for office talking out both side of his mouth!

I give up.  You have fulfilled your mission. I will be cancelling my 5 year run on bed and breakfast.com and put my money elsewhere.

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JBJ - I did not say that just because it is sold on iloveinns it is second rate.  We used to sell a paper certificate on BedandBreakfast.com - and we felt that our own paper certificate was second rate to products in the market - that is why we changed to plastic.  If iloveinns switched to a product that had robust features, custom photo uploads, printed on plastic, etc. - then that product would be 1st rate - not 2nd rate just because it is sold on iloveinns.

A few years ago we did a deal with GiftCertificates.com to resell our certificates through them - and they wouldn't even take our printed certificates.  They did not like them - we had to work out a way to give them the secret codes so they could print a product up to their standards.  That was a wake up call to us that our old paper certificates were not being looked at by the broader market as a quality product.  No retailer - period - will take paper certificates for their shelves either.  Paper certificates for a national gift card program are not considered "best of breed."

We just changed our Inns for Sale area on BedandBreakfast.com because we felt it was becoming second rate - not offering enough search tools and easy enough navigation.  We all have products or areas of our website that are various levels of quality. 

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Well for what it is worth. Our BBAV Association Gift Certificates are redeemable at our member inns only and we reimburse at FULL PRICE. No % taken.

Just thought I would throw that out there

I don't know what other states do, but I would be interested in hearing.

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 Yep I had my first one and they paid promptly and in full. Loved it!!!

RIki

__________________

Riki Goodell
Arcady Vineyard Bed & Breakfast
Arcady Vineyard Wine Tours
www.arcadyvineyard.com
Come! Let us show you the beautiful Monticello Appellation!

 

inncogneeto's picture
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Yeah, the ones we make ourselves for our inn, we don't pay anyone for those either!

JunieBJones (JBJ)'s picture
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"we don’t believe that iLoveinns is doing anything to distinguish its B&B gift from anything

other than a very marginal quality gift. "

Okay just to clarify, you are speaking of marketing I am sure, as we are all on iLoveinns as well as BandB.com - so the SAME INNS that you are selling, they are selling.

"We would think that B&B’s – the very people that believe in distinction and quality – would understand that.  If B&B’s want this distinction and quality, it simply costs more money – just like B&B’s rates are more than the Comfort Inn, or stores like the Banana Republic, Eddie Bauer and LL Bean have more expensive clothing than Wal-Mart, a quality gift card product/program costs more than a cheap one.

Our product is of a FAR higher quality than those of our competitors, and we’ve spent FAR more time, effort, and money to make it so.  We are not going to settle for a 2nd-rate product, because we are not in a 2nd-rate industry.  B&B’s are a specialty product and we are going to start the B&B experience off with a product that does our industry proud, not a laser-printed piece of paper that might not even do a Comfort Inn proud. "

THE PRODUCT IS US!!! WE ARE THE PRODUCT!!!

I will say BULLDUST to what you wrote above.  No matter how wonderful you think your directory is, there are equal number of people who love the iLoveinns directory. The gift cerrt or card to them is JUST A PIECE OF PAPER.  The B&B is the gift.  I need one of those Barney Rubble giant hammers here to bonk over the head.  

 The product is second rate if it is sold on iloveinns?  No, WE ARE THE PRODUCT.  Whoever sells it.  My oh my the arrogance is really getting out of control now.  20% is what YOU CHARGE after the directory fee, 10% is what iLoveinns charges after the directory fee.  No sliding scale to candy-coat it.  A terd is still a terd, even covered in candy.  

Okay you might want to reiterate or delete or retype some things here.  People are discussing off forum to bail from BandB.com altogether.

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I disagree JBJ - the product that a consumer buys as a gift is the gift card itself, and the product a consumer receives is the gift card itself.  It is their first experience with the industry.  Ultimately they stay at a B&B and that is obviously the main experience, but to say that the gift card product itself doesn't matter - and that a consumer doesn't care about whether they receive a nice looking gift card with their custom photo on it, vs. a sheet of paper doesn't do it justice.

In my post I never once said the product is 2nd rate "if sold on iloveinns."  I never mentioned anything about the iloveinns directory at all - I've publicly stated before that I like the look of their directory, the layout, color scheme, etc.  I do believe that their gift product itself is 2nd rate though - take a look at the best gift products on the market, and I do not believe it compares.  If they want to highlight to innkeepers that they are cheaper in a direct mail to their membership base, then I certainly feel as a competitor that we should be highlighting that we are much better.  If you disagree, and you don't care what the consumer receives, that is your opinion, but I'm not being arrogant because I feel differently.

This is the same situation with so many products - an iPod does the same thing as half a dozen other MP3 players - but consumers love it at often twice the price, and it outsells the market 5-1.  A BMW gets you from point A to point B the same as a Hyundai, but that doesn't mean that it is the same experience.

Getting a gift card with your grandkids picture on it for your 50th wedding anniversary, along with a great directory and a letter with their photo on it as well is certainly more rewarding then receiving a stock paper certificate.  Not to mention that there have been countless surveys taken that show consumers greatly prefer plastic cards to paper certificates for durability, looks, and ease of storage in wallets.  It is why we switched to them in the first place - believe me - we LOVED paper - it was WAY cheaper and easier to maintain, but cheap is not what we are all about.

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We always hear from Innkeepers that B&B’s are unique, special, different from chain hotels – and we all agree.  We all love B&B’s here and do everything we can to promote them – for many of us, it has become our lives.  Innkeepers always comment how they like seeing the same faces at the tradeshows year-in and year-out.  We even have employees who are reaching the ten year mark in tenure. 

We had a lot of innkeepers tell us that B&B gift cards shouldn’t be sold in Wal-Mart – because those were not good customers, or at Costco, because those were bargain hunters…  that they should be only sold in “higher-end” stores.  Ultimately we all think of B&B’s as the “specialty store” and hotels as “the big box retailer.”  We also always hear from industry sources like PAII that only 3-4% of travelers even consider a B&B when they travel, and we hear from B&B’s all the time that they want to get more customers, particularly away from competing large hotels.

So I find it interesting when innkeepers point back to simple economics – like comparing BedandBreakfast.com gift cards to the certificates sold from iLoveinns because we are now doing a sliding scale 15-20% commission, and they are at 10%.  It is like comparing a specialty retailer to a Wal-Mart, or a B&B itself to a Comfort Inn.  At BedandBreakfast.com we have worked hard to make our gift cards something special – like B&B’s themselves. 

At BedandBreakfast.com, we have spent years building out our technology to allow for things like custom photo uploads, the choice of dozens of designs, and multiple orders at once.  We’ve even purchased industrial plastic card printers to deliver the richest product to consumers on the market, and we haven’t skimped on things like a full page greeting, or full-color directory – and we’ve eliminated fees and shipping for consumers.  Yet at iLoveinns, they have done virtually nothing to make their product special.  They simply print out a piece of paper and send it to a consumer – no choice of designs, no plastic card, no personal photo uploads, no directory, no distribution to tens of thousands of retail stores, no national full-page ad...  It is no wonder why the BedandBreakfast.com Gift Cards were featured by Real Simple magazine as one of their top six gift picks.   

At BedandBreakfast.com we've tried hard to increase that 3-4% number of consumers who consider B&B's as well, yet I've never seen iLoveinns do anything to extend the distribution of their certificates.  Are they spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to link to retail POS systems and produce cards to get B&B cards on retailers’ shelves?  Are they employing people to go out and get B&B gift cards into employee incentive programs with the likes of Dell, Coca Cola or Citibank?   

The answer is no to all of those questions.  Just like a Comfort Inn doesn’t do much to distinguish itself from any other cheap hotel, we don’t believe that iLoveinns is doing anything to distinguish its B&B gift from anything other than a very marginal quality gift.  We would think that B&B’s – the very people that believe in distinction and quality – would understand that.  If B&B’s want this distinction and quality, it simply costs more money – just like B&B’s rates are more than the Comfort Inn, or stores like the Banana Republic, Eddie Bauer and LL Bean have more expensive clothing than Wal-Mart, a quality gift card product/program costs more than a cheap one.

Our product is of a FAR higher quality than those of our competitors, and we’ve spent FAR more time, effort, and money to make it so.  We are not going to settle for a 2nd-rate product, because we are not in a 2nd-rate industry.  B&B’s are a specialty product and we are going to start the B&B experience off with a product that does our industry proud, not a laser-printed piece of paper that might not even do a Comfort Inn proud. 

We've heard so much praise for the quality of our product from innkeepers that we know it is appreciated, but we understand it might not be appreciated by all.  If you are a B&B that is only focused on the commission, and you are happy with a cut-rate product and possibly very little business from a gift certificate program, then 10% might seem appropriate.  Actually seems a little high when you think about it.  At 10% of an average of $150 or more to maintain a laser printer and mail out a piece of paper in an envelope, iLoveinns probably makes more money on each order than we do...  So if the commission is all you are focused on, and not the product or the expansive distribution, then we are not going to be able to convince you that this is a product/program that is right for you.

But most innkeepers think of themselves as a higher-end product, and want to differentiate themselves from the big-box discount hotel chains.  So does BedandBreakfast.com.  We’ll steal customers from the big-box guys as long as we can, but we are not going to offer a gift card product that looks worse than that you could get for a Comfort Inn…  that just makes no sense for our business or our industry. 

Sure – we see that a company like iLoveinns is cheaper for innkeepers – but “cheap” is not what B&B’s tell us they strive to be.  If you think of your property as an "alternative" to a Comfort Inn, then the iLoveinns product may be for you.  If you think of your property as an "upgrade" to a Comfort Inn, then I think we've done the right thing here by putting in the effort to make you proud.

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I haven't gotten that yet & I'm listed with them.  Never got an email from the other directory about the higher percentage on the gift cards but there is a note there on the home base page which I'm probably checking more often than some of you because I just listed with them. 

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People don't notice whether it's winter or summer when they're happy.
~ Anton Chekhov

 

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JunieBJones (JBJ) wrote:

Interesting!!  Good move iloveinns.  YOU ROCK!

I am very curious to see how this plays out. I hope you all keep us posted.

Morticia's picture
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Just read that email myself. Good marketing. Of course, it would have been better if they had proofread it first. What the heck is this "well headerd" supposed to mean?

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Bree wrote:

Just read that email myself. Good marketing. Of course, it would have been better if they had proofread it first. What the heck is this "well headerd" supposed to mean?

I reread that msyelf trying to figure it out!  Heeded?

seashanty's picture
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06/02/2008

i just got this email, too.

it's an amazingly aggressive marketing strategy mentioning 'another directory' ... could be interesting.

on the other hand, did you read the next part of their marketing email?

'There is a much higher profit on weddings than most other B&B hosted events. Best of all -- everything is over and done within a few weeks.'  

Are they serious?  There is so much work involved with weddings!!!

JunieBJones (JBJ)'s picture
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seashanty wrote:

i just got this email, too.

it's an amazingly aggressive marketing strategy mentioning 'another directory' ... could be interesting.

on the other hand, did you read the next part of their marketing email?

'There is a much higher profit on weddings than most other B&B hosted events. Best of all -- everything is over and done within a few weeks.'  

Are they serious?  There is so much work involved with weddings!!!

They must be talking about shot gun weddings.  LOL

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