It was 1986 when Dennis and I purchased a country inn in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Our goal at the time was to live the lifestyle of Bob and Joanna of "Newhart" fame. You may remember this television show which takes place in Vermont and follows the goings-on of the innkeepers, their guests, employees, neighbors, and contractors (think Larry, Darryl and Darryl). We owned and operated Cranmore Mountain Lodge for eleven years. Someday I might write a book about our experiences as innkeepers, but today I want to discuss how marketing our inn would have been easier, if only we were able to communicate instantaneously via a blog. Keep in mind when we first purchased the inn our only means of immediate communication was the telephone line (and in this small town you "dialed" four numbers to call your neighbors). We did not own a personal computer, in fact, most people in 1986 did not own personal computers. We owned a standard typewriter!!
As the years went by we did purchase a PC and a dot-matrix printer! Around 1990, I came up with the idea of creating a newsletter. It was called Inn-Ovations. I was the reporter, editor, photographer and publisher. Twice a year we would create the newsletter with the assistance of a local graphic arts company, Express Graphics (but there was nothing express about the turn around time). When the newsletters were printed and ready to mail, we would struggle to print the mailing labels, debate first-class mailing vs. bulk mailing, and then we would gather with our employees to prepare the newsletters for the post office. Our usual distribution was around 2500, with the postage cost (first class) ranging from $700-$800 and after printing and prep costs each distribution totaled about $2500. And hopefully we reached 2500 American households!
While our newsletter served us well at the time (our repeat guests loved the newsletter and would actually call us to check when they could expect the next issue), the bottom line is that this process was time consuming, expensive, and really not timely. Today I am wondering how our stint as innkeepers would have been enhanced if we were to have had a "blog", that is, a way to instantly communicate, interactively, with our guests and prospective guests. I can only imagine.
If there is any question as to the marketing efficacy of having a blog, I invite you to watch a video of the July 21, 2008, NBC Nightly News segment called "Bloggers-in-Chief."
And in the meantime, I can report that many of our clients now have blogs and the Google page rank for these blogs quickly jumps to a 3 or 4, in short order. Some clients use their blog to share news about their businesses, some for commenting on local or national news items, some to post short and timely articles about their field of expertise. I regularly read some of our innkeeper clients' blogs and I have come to learn the award winning Lodge at Moosehead Lake is "going green" by installing an outdoor wood furnace which will greatly reduce innkeepers Linda and Dennis Bortis' dependence on heating oil; Alice and Len Schiller, owners of the Inn at Stockbridge, just completed their 14th summer as innkeepers and over at Hartstone Inn their sous chef, Zeph Belanger, was named first runner up in a state-wide Maine lobster cooking competition, while innkeepers Michael and Mary Jo Salmon celebrated their 10th anniversary as innkeepers this past May. All great stuff from these innkeepers, each a blogger in chief.
Since I am Webconsuls' Saturday blogger, I like to provide you with some lighthearted humor. In preparing my blog I decided to see if Cranmore Mountain Lodge's present innkeepers have a blog. Guess what? They do. Here is a link to their blog. Enjoy!