Marketing, names, how much does it make a difference?

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TheBeachHouse

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Saw a thread on another forum (don’t be jealous, you know I love you best) anyway, the other thread was about use of marketing terms.
The question was, should I change our description from Bed and Breakfast to Boutique Hotel?

We have a guy in our town that did just that. He markets his six room inn as a boutique hotel. I confess, I thought it pretentious at first, but maybe it was forward thinking.

We call ourselves a Bed & Breakfast Inn. We describe ourselves as comfortable and casual. That way, I can do a buffet and use paper napkins. Honestly, I love a beautiful place setting, but we went for casual.

So, does the term boutique hotel make you expect a different kind of service? No breakfast? Concierge? Valet parking?
 

JimBoone

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Boutique Hotel makes me think expensive, perhaps aimed at the younger trendy guest. Perhaps I’m just labeling myself as old, tired and cheap😩.

A couple that I follow on Facebook, Heywood Hotel, Austin and Horton Hotel, Boone, both seem smaller upscale properties. A name may attract one initially but the experience will bring the guest back in the future, my thoughts anyway.
 

GoodScout

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We changed our name from "Bed & Breakfast" to "Bed & Breakfast Inn," and then last year with the addition of a spa changed it to "Inn & Spa."

I did it with regret and anger, disappointed that some Silicon Valley upstarts and their greedy minions across the world stole, bastardized, diminished, and then destroyed the great history and brand that was "B&B."
 

Morticia

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Yes, it makes a difference! If I saw ‘boutique hotel’ I’d be thinking along the same lines as Jim — pricey and trendy. But, I would also think it would be more like a hotel with less interaction. All things being the same, I’d pick the boutique hotel. (For the reasons GS gives — our unique niche has been bastardized. It now means whatever you want it to.)
 

seashanty

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I think it’s great to ‘rethink’ the bed and breakfast title since it s been co-opted by the air set and confused by many. My kids love to stay in airs and tell me some offer breakfasts delivered. They know I rail against air because I see the unfairness of regulations and taxes on traditional b&bs, but they travel in groups and love to rent whole houses … they still use v r b o

How about Boutique B&B?
 

Jay Curci

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When we took over we Added and Suites to the name. % rooms are suites with fireplaces - jetted tubs etc... Not sure if it made any difference., but it describes our Inn better??
 

KenW

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Sounds cityish...guess it depends on who you are marketing to. I think the name is the first thing that people see when searching and could be a click for more information or not.I could be wrong but when doing a google search the name you choose could be important to Google finding your location but then again everything ( search terms) you put on your website is important. My wife and I had long discussion on this and you should to. It's for the life of your business. Our name is Resurrection Lodge on the Bay. We are located on Resurrection Bay. We chose the word Lodge because we felt it might feel more like the Alaskan experience and because we are a wood facility with Alaskan decor themed rooms. We do serve a full breakfast but not a bnb or a hotel....
 

Morticia

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Sounds cityish...guess it depends on who you are marketing to. I think the name is the first thing that people see when searching and could be a click for more information or not.I could be wrong but when doing a google search the name you choose could be important to Google finding your location but then again everything ( search terms) you put on your website is important. My wife and I had long discussion on this and you should to. It's for the life of your business. Our name is Resurrection Lodge on the Bay. We are located on Resurrection Bay. We chose the word Lodge because we felt it might feel more like the Alaskan experience and because we are a wood facility with Alaskan decor themed rooms. We do serve a full breakfast but not a bnb or a hotel....
Sounds like you thought it thru and went with the name that made the most sense. I would definitely assume your place would be in the ‘log cabin’ category given the name.
 

scottcrumpton

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Excellent question. The industry has wrestled with this for the last 40+ years and while Pat Hardy and JoAnn Bell (founders of PAII) provided a guideline decades ago, it was simply that -- their opinion.

Here's essentially what they said:
  • A “home stay” is an owned-occupied private home where the business of renting rooms is secondary to its use as a private residence, with breakfast the only meal served.
  • A “bed-and-breakfast inn” is both a home for its owners and a lodging establishment, usually operated at a higher level of professionalism than a home stay.
  • “Country inns” are similar to B&Bs, but also serve an evening meal in addition to breakfast, with price generally included in the room rate.
At some point Holiday Inn and the like decided to start offering breakfast and co-opted the term "Bed and Breakfast" but nobody was fooled nor confused. Likewise, AirBnB co-opted the term "BnB" and again, nobody seems to have been fooled nor confused. So while there's a lot of anger out there about all the term co-opting, the name itself really hasn't affected everything in my experience and professional opinion. This is not to say the B&B market hasn't been affected by Holiday Inn nor the emergence of AirBnB -- just that the name isn't the main issue IMO.

Okay, back to the question at hand. Here's how I classify properties and advise them to be named.
  • Vacation Rental (you get the entire property)
  • Motel (you drive up to your door)
  • Bed and Breakfast (host generally lives at the inn, breakfast is included)
  • Inn (higher-end property, generally has a restaurant, owners don't generally live at the inn)
  • Boutique Hotel (more urban setting, has a 24-hour front desk, 10+ rooms, etc.)
  • Hotel (30+ rooms, all rooms are generally alike)
  • Cabins, Lodges, Resorts, etc. -- I'm sure you can figure these out.
Your name is not a scientific definition of your property -- it's a marketing term you use. As such, you can name your property what you like. However, if you misname your property you can expect some bad reviews. A great case in point is motels that have been upgraded to be marketed as a B&B or Inn. In our 27 years marketing small lodging properties, the only time we've had a problem where we've oversold a property is in these cases. Put simply, it's lipstick on a pig no matter how awesome the rooms are. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck... If you drive up to the door, it's a motel.

So what about a B&B rebranding as a Boutique Hotel to attract a younger audience? The younger audience is not going to be fooled into booking a place based on a name. They may visit your website but if they're thinking Boutique Hotel and they find B&B there's going to be a mismatch and that's never good.

Your marketing, including your name, should reflect exactly who and what you are. You never want to undersell nor oversell or your reviews will reflect the mismatch. Put simply, be true to who you are and sell what you are!

For what it's worth...

Scott Crumpton, White Stone Marketing
 

Morticia

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I do think Airbnb has co-opted and degraded the bed and breakfast mystique. When we were for sale a realtor told us she owned a ‘b&b.’ When I got excited and asked her which one, she back-pedaled and said she rents rooms on air. But, she wanted to pick my brain and went through all the amenities asking where she could buy the same products. (She was not the buyer.)

Multiple guests were coming through in the past couple of months telling us they were b&b owners. Many had no interaction with the guests other than to accept their reservation and send info for how to get in the building. They did not provide the guests with anything but a room. Many other guests asked about what amenities our Airbnb provided.

The b&b term is now degraded. It’s a generic term like ‘Kleenex’ meant to cover anything that is not a hotel/motel/campground.
 

GoodScout

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I had fun with the ski resort up the road about 5 years ago.
They send out an email blast promoting a "bed and breakfast" package at their hotel. It was basically some orange juice and muffins left outside your door overnight.
I had a field day with them on social media.
It included a picture of our huge home-cooked breakfast and the tagline: "Stale muffins and juice? Tell you what Jay Peak - If you won't pretend to be a B&B, we won't try to be a ski resort."
They've never run the promotion again.
 

gillumhouse

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Scott said: Likewise, AirBnB co-opted the term "BnB" and again, nobody seems to have been fooled nor confused. So while there's a lot of anger out there about all the term co-opting, the name itself really hasn't affected everything in my experience and professional opinion. This is not to say the B&B market hasn't been affected by Holiday Inn nor the emergence of AirBnB -- just that the name isn't the main issue IMO.

I beg to differ. I have heard too many people refer to AIR as a bed & breakfast. They thought they were getting the real deal. The Mayor of my City was talking about the AIR they had booked. I told him geed luck and explained about the lack of inspections, etc. Too many legal B & Bs have gone under from the corrupting of the name - it definitely has blurred our identity. It is not just another platform - the commission they collect from the legal B & Bs is helping them out-market us into oblivion, which they are already doing.

Meanwhile, they are ruining towns buying up all possible rental space so locals have no place to live and therefore cannot work locally and small businesses that rely on a stable local customer base are also SOL. Cities, Counties, and the States are losing tax revenue and licensing fees, and commercial real estate rates. Since AIR has been allowed to "protect" the identity of their "hosts" governmental agencies have to take the word of AIR that they are actually remitting what is owed. Also who knows if actual income is being reported by the "hosts". Streets do not repair themselves - lost tax money means services are not getting the money needed to provide those needed services. Until they come out from behind the curtain and admit to being the businesses they are (money exchanged for services = business) they are nothing but cheaters stealing from everyone affected by that loss of tax money.

BTW - Holiday Inn never tried to confuse the issue of what they are. Everyone knew from the get-go they were a hotel.
 

KenW

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Excellent question. The industry has wrestled with this for the last 40+ years and while Pat Hardy and JoAnn Bell (founders of PAII) provided a guideline decades ago, it was simply that -- their opinion.

Here's essentially what they said:
  • A “home stay” is an owned-occupied private home where the business of renting rooms is secondary to its use as a private residence, with breakfast the only meal served.
  • A “bed-and-breakfast inn” is both a home for its owners and a lodging establishment, usually operated at a higher level of professionalism than a home stay.
  • “Country inns” are similar to B&Bs, but also serve an evening meal in addition to breakfast, with price generally included in the room rate.
At some point Holiday Inn and the like decided to start offering breakfast and co-opted the term "Bed and Breakfast" but nobody was fooled nor confused. Likewise, AirBnB co-opted the term "BnB" and again, nobody seems to have been fooled nor confused. So while there's a lot of anger out there about all the term co-opting, the name itself really hasn't affected everything in my experience and professional opinion. This is not to say the B&B market hasn't been affected by Holiday Inn nor the emergence of AirBnB -- just that the name isn't the main issue IMO.

Okay, back to the question at hand. Here's how I classify properties and advise them to be named.
  • Vacation Rental (you get the entire property)
  • Motel (you drive up to your door)
  • Bed and Breakfast (host generally lives at the inn, breakfast is included)
  • Inn (higher-end property, generally has a restaurant, owners don't generally live at the inn)
  • Boutique Hotel (more urban setting, has a 24-hour front desk, 10+ rooms, etc.)
  • Hotel (30+ rooms, all rooms are generally alike)
  • Cabins, Lodges, Resorts, etc. -- I'm sure you can figure these out.
Your name is not a scientific definition of your property -- it's a marketing term you use. As such, you can name your property what you like. However, if you misname your property you can expect some bad reviews. A great case in point is motels that have been upgraded to be marketed as a B&B or Inn. In our 27 years marketing small lodging properties, the only time we've had a problem where we've oversold a property is in these cases. Put simply, it's lipstick on a pig no matter how awesome the rooms are. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck... If you drive up to the door, it's a motel.

So what about a B&B rebranding as a Boutique Hotel to attract a younger audience? The younger audience is not going to be fooled into booking a place based on a name. They may visit your website but if they're thinking Boutique Hotel and they find B&B there's going to be a mismatch and that's never good.

Your marketing, including your name, should reflect exactly who and what you are. You never want to undersell nor oversell or your reviews will reflect the mismatch. Put simply, be true to who you are and sell what you are!

For what it's worth...

Scott Crumpton, White Stone Marketing
That's some good stuff!
 

GoodScout

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I have heard too many people refer to AIR as a bed & breakfast. They thought they were getting the real deal. The Mayor of my City was talking about the AIR they had booked. I told him geed luck and explained about the lack of inspections, etc. Too many legal B & Bs have gone under from the corrupting of the name - it definitely has blurred our identity. It is not just another platform - the commission they collect from the legal B & Bs is helping them out-market us into oblivion, which they are already doing.

Meanwhile, they are ruining towns buying up all possible rental space so locals have no place to live and therefore cannot work locally and small businesses that rely on a stable local customer base are also SOL. Cities, Counties, and the States are losing tax revenue and licensing fees, and commercial real estate rates. Since AIR has been allowed to "protect" the identity of their "hosts" governmental agencies have to take the word of AIR that they are actually remitting what is owed. Also who knows if actual income is being reported by the "hosts". Streets do not repair themselves - lost tax money means services are not getting the money needed to provide those needed services. Until they come out from behind the curtain and admit to being the businesses they are (money exchanged for services = business) they are nothing but cheaters stealing from everyone affected by that loss of tax money.
tenor.gif
 

scottcrumpton

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I had fun with the ski resort up the road about 5 years ago.
They send out an email blast promoting a "bed and breakfast" package at their hotel. It was basically some orange juice and muffins left outside your door overnight.
I had a field day with them on social media.
It included a picture of our huge home-cooked breakfast and the tagline: "Stale muffins and juice? Tell you what Jay Peak - If you won't pretend to be a B&B, we won't try to be a ski resort."
They've never run the promotion again.
LMAO -- well played, well played indeed!!!
 
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