The Official Redesign Project

Thanks for visiting. I’ve just finished the redesign and I’m enjoying the new look and feel. I think it reflects better what I have in mind for my business. Not only does it discuss more of the things I can do for the bed and breakfasts in Alaska, I think it’s closer to what I want to create for my clients.

This site will have a different focus. My last site was just static, essentially an online business card that rarely changed. Well, the internet today is all about change, and rapid change at that. How could I purport to be a web savvy online B&B marketing guru when my own site didn’t reflect that? Needless to say, this change has been a long time coming.

I’ve also added the blog, which I didn’t have before. Because I love to write, I love blogging (check out my travel blog, too), and I’ve also got a few ideas I’d like to share. Marketing online is a bit of a different animal than marketing for mass media or print, and I’ve been religiously following the online experts like Seth Godin, and they’ve succeeded in changing my view of what marketing is and isn’t, and how to use it for good and for profit. I’ve also got several years of experience in web and graphic design, and I’ve never been more convinced of the importance of those skills than now. I’ll be using this blog to discuss my marketing and design ideas, and to stay in touch with a broader marketing audience.

I’ve recently realized my niche. I’ve been doing design work for virtually all of my professional career, and I’d like to think that I’m pretty good at it. I know what good design is, and can apply the new and changing norms that I see every day both on the web and in print. Three seasons ago, my family expanded their B&B from one room to four—essentially the entire house, a major change—and the website needed to reflect that change. Of course, yours truly had built the original, and I was again called upon to expand and update the site and materials to reflect the changes in both the B&B and in the experiences that guests were going to have.

It was a fun project. Because it was my family (and I didn’t charge them) I got to experiment. I tried different things than I normally did. I used different keywords and targeted different online media. When something wasn’t working, I changed it. When I heard about some new offering, I jumped on it. And the result was that I came up with a well-designed website with an online reservations component, professional-grade rack cards, in-house stationery and literature that reflected the same image, and a social media campaign that served to both increase traffic to the website and to enhance the image that the B&B projected online.

That first summer, the reservations exceeded all expectations. As I monitored the site analytics, I saw a steady increase in traffic to the site, and I also saw a steady increase in online reservations. Throughout the winter, reservations continued to roll in for the next summer. And last summer, most of the reservations the B&B saw came via the website. And, the clincher: The B&B didn’t see a drop in reservations, the way some other Alaska B&Bs did. This summer, the trend is continuing.

So, it took me a while to realize it, but I found my niche. Through the freedom I had with my family’s project, and the successes I had with the different things I was able to try, I found that I came up with a great formula for marketing B&Bs, and now it’s time for me to share that knowledge.

Of course, as a web-savvy traveler myself, I feel that I have a few insights into the other side of the equation as well. I make most of my travel plans online, and I actually prefer to book my rooms online. While on the road, I’ve met other travelers, and we all say the same thing: The web has changed the way we travel. We make our plans online, we book online, we even communicate with those back home online. That’s why it’s essential for B&Bs to be online: that’s where their guests are.