BEDANDBREAKFAST.COM AWARDS “2016 B&B MARKETER OF THE YEAR” to Bay Haven Inn- “B&Bs Turn to Social Media While Relying on Tried-and-True Relationship Building to Attract New Guests and Encourage Repeat Customers”
Full Press Release Below:
AUSTIN, TX (February 15, 2017) – BedandBreakfast.comä, the world’s largest B&B travel site, announces the third annual B&B Marketer of the Year Award recognizing bed and breakfast owners who excel at developing and implementing successful marketing programs.
BedandBreakfast.com’s 2016 award goes to Tammy Green Holloway of Bay Haven Inn of Cape Charles in Cape Charles, Va. BedandBreakfast.com also recognizes two runners-up for this year’s award: Sandy Wieber of Bayfront Marin House in St. Augustine, Fla., and Ryan Wolz of Silver Lake Bed and Breakfast in Dayton, Va.
“While they face a lot of competition for travelers choosing places to stay, B&Bs always win when it comes to personalized service and one-of-a-kind accommodations,” says Lisa Westlake Chen, general manager of BedandBreakfast.com. “Smart marketers leverage these advantages by creating programs that showcase authentic, memorable experiences; one-on-one relationships with guests; and community involvement.”
Holloway won for implementing unique, locally inspired programs such as the inn’s popular Shellfie Project.
“For this project, we wanted to select something meaningful to the region,” shares Holloway. The Bay Haven Inn of Cape Charles is located on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, a peninsula nestled in the shoals of the Chesapeake Bay, where clamshells are a natural commodity. Guests are welcome to decorate clamshells available in a community space at the inn, and to post photos of their creations on social media sites using #TheShellfieProject and #BayHavenInnShellfie hashtags. Guests may leave the shells at the inn until their next visit; this is a part of the inn’s “create, snap, post and return” marketing campaign.
The Shellfie Project is just one program that Holloway shares via blog posts, newsletters, news releases and social media to showcase the Bay Haven Inn. Holloway reports the inn has seen a significant increase in social media interactions and local, regional and national media coverage.
“In 2016, we had the strongest and longest season since we opened in Cape Charles, Va., in November 2012,” says Holloway. “In a beach town, business normally slows after Labor Day. However, that has not been the case this year – we were as busy in September and October as we were in the summer months.”
Holloway admits that marketing an inn can sometimes fall to the bottom of an already full to-do list. But she credits a year-long brand-centric marketing plan and calendar – with topics, events and creative ideas identified for each week/month of the year – for their success.
Runner-up Sandy Wieber of the Bayfront Marin House in Florida focused on three key marketing initiatives: targeting Instagram posts about local businesses to gain guest referrals, building stronger guest relationships via Facebook interactions, and getting more online reviews to support the brand. Her efforts resulted in a 92 percent occupancy rate in 2016 and an uptick in repeat guests.
As a relatively new inn, Bayfront Marin House relies on the community to facilitate referrals, so Wieber strategically features restaurants and businesses on the Bayfront Instagram account, and writes blog posts and creates guest itineraries with local recommendations. Many area businesses now provide coupons and special offers for Bayfront guests.
Bayfront’s Facebook followers include many past guests who keep up with changes at the inn, last-minute specials and weather updates. For example, when St. Augustine was hit by Hurricane Matthew, Wieber used Facebook to interact with guests and keep them informed throughout the storm and recovery period.
Runner-up Ryan Wolz faced a big challenge in getting the word out about his new B&B. Wolz focused on filling the inn, located in a college town, with visiting parents of James Madison University students. In an effort to connect with the college demographic, he hosted a two-day open house for the community, implemented targeted Facebook advertising, handed out fliers and advertised his property in the local newspaper. In addition, Wolz lowered weekday rates to match local hotel prices, helping his inn attract more last-minute and business travelers. His efforts paid off with strong weekend bookings and a 74 percent occupancy rate during the inn’s first year.
A panel of judges critiqued the entries based on the following criteria: tangible and significant business results, clearly defined marketing objectives, clearly defined target audiences, a multi-faceted marketing program, and creativity. The judges included Allison Crumpton with White Stone Marketing and Marti Mayne with Maynely Marketing.
As the B&B Marketer of the Year, Holloway wins a $1,000 Amazon Gift Card, site-wide recognition, and an award plaque to display. The two runner-up inns each win a $100 Amazon Gift Card and award plaques.