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Anyone doing their own availability Blog linked to their website?

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Silverspoon

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We are dinosaurs. We do not book online. We do not accept credit cards. We do not currently have a blog or FB page.
We have a small successful B+B that is in its 23rd year so we are trying to wind down a bit...not ramp up. BUT, from time to time I would like to be able to use a blog to post our own availability calendar, last minute specials etc and have the blog available from our website menu. I am not kidding myself that I will have time to blog every day but thought I would give it a try. At the very least it will give me an opportunity to post some of DH lovely photos of the area.
I know that some of you are prolific bloggers and I applaud your energy and style.
Me? not Just the spelling will drive me crazy.
In any event.....is there a non-interactive calendar that I can pass on to my web person for this kind of blog? As you can see, I am just beginning to think about this blogging issue. I'm sure that I will be back with more silly questions.
 

Arks

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I am not kidding myself that I will have time to blog every day...Just the spelling will drive me crazy.
You certainly don't have to blog every day to be effective. Once a week will do fine.
Most blogging software has not only spell checkers, but grammar checkers that will, optionally, catch double negatives, passive voice, and lots more for you. I've tuned off the passive voice checking on mine as I apparently use passive voice a lot and don't care that I do! I also turned off complex phrase checking. It was trying to "dumb down" my writing and I won't have that!
 

EmptyNest

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Do you edit your own website? If not, you don't need a blog to post your availabilty. Just get a google account and sign up for google calendar. Have your web person put the code to the calendar on your website. It can be on a separate availabilty page, or just embed it on your home page.Then when you need to update it...do it in google calender and you don't mess with setting up a blog. This is a very simple way to do it. Here's a sample for you to see.
 

Joey Camb

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I should blog more than I do but I agree once a week is enough otherwise you run out of interesting things to say very rapidly. I have a blog box where if I see say and article or event etc I cut it out to remind me and then when I have time I write a small article. Also I can't remember iif its BandBedition or B&B coach (think its B&B coach) where you can download a blogging schedule which helps you remember what you have blogged about and ideas for the future its a good tool.
For example for my next one, one of our local restaurants does a megga steak challenge and are introducing for 2012 a burger challenge so they are going to give me some pics of it and information so its advertising for it, the restaurant and me all in the same go.
 

OnTheShore

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You could use the free http://www.dateblocker.com/ -- it's intended for vacation rental properties, but you could use it for individual rooms within one property. You can embed the calendars into your own web page, where they'll update automatically whenever you update things on the dateblocker site.
See http://www.harborfields.com/Cottages/DeckCottage.html (scroll down) for an example of a single property(/room), and see http://www.harborfields.com/Cottages/Availability.html (scroll down) for an example of how it displays the availability of multiple properties(/rooms).
 

Silverspoon

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You could use the free http://www.dateblocker.com/ -- it's intended for vacation rental properties, but you could use it for individual rooms within one property. You can embed the calendars into your own web page, where they'll update automatically whenever you update things on the dateblocker site.
See http://www.harborfields.com/Cottages/DeckCottage.html (scroll down) for an example of a single property(/room), and see http://www.harborfields.com/Cottages/Availability.html (scroll down) for an example of how it displays the availability of multiple properties(/rooms)..
Thanks, Harborfields! I'll have to spend some time thinking things through but your input will definitely be helpful in my quest to update using a blog.
 

Silverspoon

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Do you edit your own website? If not, you don't need a blog to post your availabilty. Just get a google account and sign up for google calendar. Have your web person put the code to the calendar on your website. It can be on a separate availabilty page, or just embed it on your home page.Then when you need to update it...do it in google calender and you don't mess with setting up a blog. This is a very simple way to do it. Here's a sample for you to see..
Thanks! This looks like something I could easily use. And I could use it as part of a blog if I decide to post availability.
No we do not edit our own web site, but if our site had a link to a blog, I would have added flexibilty possibly adding a calendar to the blog once we start to really fill up.
 

Madeleine

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Do you edit your own website? If not, you don't need a blog to post your availabilty. Just get a google account and sign up for google calendar. Have your web person put the code to the calendar on your website. It can be on a separate availabilty page, or just embed it on your home page.Then when you need to update it...do it in google calender and you don't mess with setting up a blog. This is a very simple way to do it. Here's a sample for you to see..
catlady said:
Do you edit your own website? If not, you don't need a blog to post your availabilty. Just get a google account and sign up for google calendar. Have your web person put the code to the calendar on your website. It can be on a separate availabilty page, or just embed it on your home page.Then when you need to update it...do it in google calender and you don't mess with setting up a blog. This is a very simple way to do it. Here's a sample for you to see.
That would be a really great way to do this.
 

EmptyNest

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Do you edit your own website? If not, you don't need a blog to post your availabilty. Just get a google account and sign up for google calendar. Have your web person put the code to the calendar on your website. It can be on a separate availabilty page, or just embed it on your home page.Then when you need to update it...do it in google calender and you don't mess with setting up a blog. This is a very simple way to do it. Here's a sample for you to see..
Thanks! This looks like something I could easily use. And I could use it as part of a blog if I decide to post availability.
No we do not edit our own web site, but if our site had a link to a blog, I would have added flexibilty possibly adding a calendar to the blog once we start to really fill up.
.
Thats fine if you want to eventually do a blog and have the calendar there. But you also need the calendar on your website because that is where the majority of people will look for your availability. The google calendar is free and so easy to use and it only requires just a short bit of code on your web site. If I were you, I would just have your webmaster create a page and call it Availability and put that code on that page... Then all you have to do is click on the Google calendar link, log into your account and update your calendar. VERY SIMPLE and from what I read..that is what you want. Good luck.
 

Silverspoon

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Do you edit your own website? If not, you don't need a blog to post your availabilty. Just get a google account and sign up for google calendar. Have your web person put the code to the calendar on your website. It can be on a separate availabilty page, or just embed it on your home page.Then when you need to update it...do it in google calender and you don't mess with setting up a blog. This is a very simple way to do it. Here's a sample for you to see..
Thanks! This looks like something I could easily use. And I could use it as part of a blog if I decide to post availability.
No we do not edit our own web site, but if our site had a link to a blog, I would have added flexibilty possibly adding a calendar to the blog once we start to really fill up.
.
Thats fine if you want to eventually do a blog and have the calendar there. But you also need the calendar on your website because that is where the majority of people will look for your availability. The google calendar is free and so easy to use and it only requires just a short bit of code on your web site. If I were you, I would just have your webmaster create a page and call it Availability and put that code on that page... Then all you have to do is click on the Google calendar link, log into your account and update your calendar. VERY SIMPLE and from what I read..that is what you want. Good luck.
.
I think you are right! Sounds easy peasy!
 

agoodman

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people need to get this, a LOT of people want to book online, a lot of people want to book at 3am, a lot of people want to know prices for specific dates for specific rooms for a specific number of people and they want to do it online AND at 3am
I have been traveling quite a bit and I (ok so it's me personally but the number of web bookers is growing every day) generally DO NOT call to ask these things if I cannot see it and book online.
So I take my business somewhere else. I know that you (and maybe you too) don't care, if you have so much business that it does not matter to you but without a DECENT and EASY TO USE online booking system, preferably web based, you ARE losing business. There is NO question about that. If you don't take it from me, take it from PAII, or from any Inn that never used to have an online booking engine and has one now.
 

Joey Camb

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people need to get this, a LOT of people want to book online, a lot of people want to book at 3am, a lot of people want to know prices for specific dates for specific rooms for a specific number of people and they want to do it online AND at 3am
I have been traveling quite a bit and I (ok so it's me personally but the number of web bookers is growing every day) generally DO NOT call to ask these things if I cannot see it and book online.
So I take my business somewhere else. I know that you (and maybe you too) don't care, if you have so much business that it does not matter to you but without a DECENT and EASY TO USE online booking system, preferably web based, you ARE losing business. There is NO question about that. If you don't take it from me, take it from PAII, or from any Inn that never used to have an online booking engine and has one now..
My online booking translates into 25 different languages which is another advantage so if you are chinese and want to read it in your own language you can and then book at 4am without waking me thats great!. We also have commission free online booking through our web site now so If I am running about I can get people to book through the web site without incurring charges if I want to.
 

JBloggs

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a blog is like a journal or diary, it is not really for availability calendars, that is what your website is for. Every inn should have a place for a guest to check availability. I have two near me which I cannot refer guests as I cannot even tell if they have rooms open or not, ever. They don't know the business they are losing. They say they are "customer service" etc and want to speak to you. 95% of our guests want to plan and book their trip, now.
 

egoodell

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a blog is like a journal or diary, it is not really for availability calendars, that is what your website is for. Every inn should have a place for a guest to check availability. I have two near me which I cannot refer guests as I cannot even tell if they have rooms open or not, ever. They don't know the business they are losing. They say they are "customer service" etc and want to speak to you. 95% of our guests want to plan and book their trip, now..
I agree. Anyone who does not have at least an availability calendar on their website is losing business. Travelers these days don't want the "customer service" of a phone call. They want to see and book online. I can't tell you the time I would lose having to take my reservations on the phone. That would be a nightmare for me. I do enjoy customer service once they have booked. And I can tell you they don't call me with their questions. They email. Often. And by the time they get here they tell me they already know me!
Innkeepers have to get with the times. The current way to give customer service is NOT on the phone, but on email or text.
I would also be dead if I didnt' take credit cards! I can't imagine the business I would lose.
RIki
 

Silverspoon

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a blog is like a journal or diary, it is not really for availability calendars, that is what your website is for. Every inn should have a place for a guest to check availability. I have two near me which I cannot refer guests as I cannot even tell if they have rooms open or not, ever. They don't know the business they are losing. They say they are "customer service" etc and want to speak to you. 95% of our guests want to plan and book their trip, now..
I get it. We are losing business because we do not have an availability calendar on our web site and because do we do not take bookings online. But, we do not want MORE business, we just want to stay even...which we have no problem doing as it as. When I say "even", I do not mean in $$$, I mean in # bookings. Prices went up $15/night in season this year. With a little luck we will work less and earn more. So far our antiquated systems have produced great results, probably because our location is in demand during the summer and competition in the immediate area is limited. The larger inns in the area all follow the PAII recommendations and have automated their reservation process. The small B+Bs..not so much.
We are trying not to kill ourselves with work during our exit years but to relax and enjoy the process. However, now and then we have last minute cancellations that I would like to fill...something I considered posting on a Blog linked to our web site...thus the availability calendar question.
So I know that we are not as successful as we could be...but on the other hand, we are as successful as we need to be.
 

gillumhouse

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a blog is like a journal or diary, it is not really for availability calendars, that is what your website is for. Every inn should have a place for a guest to check availability. I have two near me which I cannot refer guests as I cannot even tell if they have rooms open or not, ever. They don't know the business they are losing. They say they are "customer service" etc and want to speak to you. 95% of our guests want to plan and book their trip, now..
I get it. We are losing business because we do not have an availability calendar on our web site and because do we do not take bookings online. But, we do not want MORE business, we just want to stay even...which we have no problem doing as it as. When I say "even", I do not mean in $$$, I mean in # bookings. Prices went up $15/night in season this year. With a little luck we will work less and earn more. So far our antiquated systems have produced great results, probably because our location is in demand during the summer and competition in the immediate area is limited. The larger inns in the area all follow the PAII recommendations and have automated their reservation process. The small B+Bs..not so much.
We are trying not to kill ourselves with work during our exit years but to relax and enjoy the process. However, now and then we have last minute cancellations that I would like to fill...something I considered posting on a Blog linked to our web site...thus the availability calendar question.
So I know that we are not as successful as we could be...but on the other hand, we are as successful as we need to be.
.
Silverspoon said:
I get it. We are losing business because we do not have an availability calendar on our web site and because do we do not take bookings online. But, we do not want MORE business, we just want to stay even...which we have no problem doing as it as. When I say "even", I do not mean in $$$, I mean in # bookings. Prices went up $15/night in season this year. With a little luck we will work less and earn more. So far our antiquated systems have produced great results, probably because our location is in demand during the summer and competition in the immediate area is limited. The larger inns in the area all follow the PAII recommendations and have automated their reservation process. The small B+Bs..not so much.
We are trying not to kill ourselves with work during our exit years but to relax and enjoy the process. However, now and then we have last minute cancellations that I would like to fill...something I considered posting on a Blog linked to our web site...thus the availability calendar question.
So I know that we are not as successful as we could be...but on the other hand, we are as successful as we need to be.
This is why I say, May you be as busy as you want to be.
 

JBloggs

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Silverspoon you response brings me to another question. If you don't want to use online res system, and the cost involved, that is another issue to the mix as well, but consider this (if you will give me a moment): Could it be possible the quality of the guests could or would change should you offer online bookings? Just think about this for a moment. I pretty much get your set up there I think, and can visualize the clientele for the most part. But would you like more overseas visitors? Just thinking about who books online vs calls, for us, those who call are usually the pitas. Now in your instance, there is no difference, as they all need to email or call.
Just food for thought on your working harder vs working smarter thoughts. I concur and think that is the best method.
 

Madeleine

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a blog is like a journal or diary, it is not really for availability calendars, that is what your website is for. Every inn should have a place for a guest to check availability. I have two near me which I cannot refer guests as I cannot even tell if they have rooms open or not, ever. They don't know the business they are losing. They say they are "customer service" etc and want to speak to you. 95% of our guests want to plan and book their trip, now..
I get it. We are losing business because we do not have an availability calendar on our web site and because do we do not take bookings online. But, we do not want MORE business, we just want to stay even...which we have no problem doing as it as. When I say "even", I do not mean in $$$, I mean in # bookings. Prices went up $15/night in season this year. With a little luck we will work less and earn more. So far our antiquated systems have produced great results, probably because our location is in demand during the summer and competition in the immediate area is limited. The larger inns in the area all follow the PAII recommendations and have automated their reservation process. The small B+Bs..not so much.
We are trying not to kill ourselves with work during our exit years but to relax and enjoy the process. However, now and then we have last minute cancellations that I would like to fill...something I considered posting on a Blog linked to our web site...thus the availability calendar question.
So I know that we are not as successful as we could be...but on the other hand, we are as successful as we need to be.
.
When you add your calendar to your website be sure to block out anything you don't want to book well into the future. What you are doing is working for you, you are trying to make a change that allows you to advertise a recent vacancy without having to answer the telephone all the time.
It sounds like a win-win for you and your guests.
We have gradually (verrrry gradually) moved from most of our reservations being phone calls to the majority (by a hair) being online. I couldn't live without online bookings but I did for the first 18 months we were here. Can't say we suddenly got a flurry of reservations once the calendar was up, but there were a few. Would we have not gotten them if the guest had to call? Who knows. We were one of the first B&B's in town to have online booking.
 

Silverspoon

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Silverspoon you response brings me to another question. If you don't want to use online res system, and the cost involved, that is another issue to the mix as well, but consider this (if you will give me a moment): Could it be possible the quality of the guests could or would change should you offer online bookings? Just think about this for a moment. I pretty much get your set up there I think, and can visualize the clientele for the most part. But would you like more overseas visitors? Just thinking about who books online vs calls, for us, those who call are usually the pitas. Now in your instance, there is no difference, as they all need to email or call.
Just food for thought on your working harder vs working smarter thoughts. I concur and think that is the best method..
Since most of our guests tend to be in the 50-60 year-old range, I don't think the technology part is as crucial as it would be if we wanted to attract a younger crowd. We like a more mature guest who is looking for a B+B experience, not just a "hotel" to use and abuse. In general the mature crowd is calmer, wiser and does not dirty as much linen!
Of course, those who are mature PITAs have been practicing their whole life...but fortunately we don't get too many in any one year. We do get some foreign guests, mostly from England and Germany, and, although it would be nice to have more bookings from Europe it is not worth the hassle or expense of converting our systems at this point. If we were going to go full tilt another 5 years I'd say OK and bite the bullet to upgrade. But in 5 years we hope to be renting the cottage only on a weekly basis, no breakfast or housekeeping...just enough to pay a few bills and allow us to maintain the place.
I really appreciate all the time and input you all have given on this issue and have no doubt that you are all correct about our losing business opportunities because we will not get with the technology program. Our challange is to be professional innkeepers in every other way, but to be a bit old fashioned (like us
) in our reservations.
 

gillumhouse

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Silverspoon you response brings me to another question. If you don't want to use online res system, and the cost involved, that is another issue to the mix as well, but consider this (if you will give me a moment): Could it be possible the quality of the guests could or would change should you offer online bookings? Just think about this for a moment. I pretty much get your set up there I think, and can visualize the clientele for the most part. But would you like more overseas visitors? Just thinking about who books online vs calls, for us, those who call are usually the pitas. Now in your instance, there is no difference, as they all need to email or call.
Just food for thought on your working harder vs working smarter thoughts. I concur and think that is the best method..
Since most of our guests tend to be in the 50-60 year-old range, I don't think the technology part is as crucial as it would be if we wanted to attract a younger crowd. We like a more mature guest who is looking for a B+B experience, not just a "hotel" to use and abuse. In general the mature crowd is calmer, wiser and does not dirty as much linen!
Of course, those who are mature PITAs have been practicing their whole life...but fortunately we don't get too many in any one year. We do get some foreign guests, mostly from England and Germany, and, although it would be nice to have more bookings from Europe it is not worth the hassle or expense of converting our systems at this point. If we were going to go full tilt another 5 years I'd say OK and bite the bullet to upgrade. But in 5 years we hope to be renting the cottage only on a weekly basis, no breakfast or housekeeping...just enough to pay a few bills and allow us to maintain the place.
I really appreciate all the time and input you all have given on this issue and have no doubt that you are all correct about our losing business opportunities because we will not get with the technology program. Our challange is to be professional innkeepers in every other way, but to be a bit old fashioned (like us
) in our reservations.
.
Since most of our guests tend to be in the 50-60 year-old range, I don't think the technology part is as crucial as it would be if we wanted to attract a younger crowd.
OK, you answered part of this by saying in 5 years you plan to do weekly cottage, however even as weekly cottage I would suggest beginning to plumb the depths of an at least slightly younger potential guest pool. Longevity will deminish your current guest list - and many of them are already into the techie world. But your 40s group should be looked at as the next group of 50s - in 5 years or so they will be there - to replace those that will start falling off the guest list. I know you are comfortable with things as they are now and far be it from me to say you should do things differently. However, I would not be doing you any favors if I did not point out the need to replenish the guest pool as the "same time next year" crowd moves on to the retirement home (either out of State or The Home) so the same time is now an empty time for you. I think that is what we are trying to say with the online reservations.
You know you can block off online reservations when you do not want guests. I am sitting with the fence on this as with most of the rest of my life. By that I mean I was brought up with - your never say no because there will be someone else who will say yes and the old if your man goes to Timbuktu you go to Timbuktu with a smile (one foot firmly planted in the old days) and at the same time I was told "you can do anything you set your mind to do (the modern thinking). That fence gets awful rough on the crotxh! With the online reservations, I have them and will not be without them BUT I do not take credit card numbers online because I want no guff with PCI compliance - one foot in each era again. The room comes out of inventory, but is not confirmed until I get that CC number. I do take credit cards because I would lose way too much business if I did not - but I also take cash & checks.
 
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