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INNSTAR.COM
Bed & Breakfast Guidebook Reviews
Information for Innkeepers
Updated April 2006

INNSTAR ratings are aimed at the guest, not at the innkeeper. If you use INNSTAR as a guide to help you select where you wish to be listed, please remember the following points:

  • INNSTAR does NOT evaluate how the guide shows up on the search engines. It presupposes that the guest has already found the guide and wants to use it to find the combination of location, amenities, price and date that meets her needs. A guide could achieve a top INNSTAR rating and still be of little value if it cannot be found by the prospective guest. On the other hand, a lower-rated guide with excellent search engine presence may actually do a better job in delivering guests to you. For a rating of guides based on search engine presence, see www.inntelligent.com's ranking report

  • INNSTAR does not evaluate the relative worth of a guide by type of location. A guide that does well for inns located in an oft-requested area may do poorly for the inn in Nowheresville. If your Inn is out-of-the-way, like mine is, you may wish to more strongly consider guides that
    • Provide a 'vicinity' feature that allows guests asking for a better known town to find you. This can be done with maps, listings or search engine criteria.
    • Seem to get a lot of traffic but don't have many listings in your state/region. Consider whether your out-of-the-way inn will be lost in a top-rated mega-site.
    • Have internal search engines that will bring up your amenities and locale.

Some additional thoughts on choosing on-line guides:

  • You should always look at the guide yourself. Never take anyone's word without personal verification.

  • Consider longevity, reliability and resources. So far, over seventy (yes, 80) guides have been deleted as no longer available, and other URLs were acquired by different guidebooks. While PAII membership is not a guarantee of ethics or longevity, it does indicate an intent to approach things professionally.

  • Join PAII (www.paii.org) and subscribe to their email group. There are other innkeeper-only email groups as well.

  • Join your state association so you can keep up with important matters that affect you locally. State association websites are often the most effective referrers to your website. For locations that are prime tourist destinations, local associations and local commercial websites can be valuable.

  • Consider your budget. An inn doing $300,000 a year has more leeway than one doing $30,000 per year (and probably has more rooms to fill). Face it, a small inn cannot afford to be on every guide or to have a top-priority listing on all of the main guides.

  • Consider industry trends. The luxury market is growing and if you're going after it, think twice about a guide that doesn't include your high-end amenities in its search or listing criteria. A trend that many in the industry would like to see develop is guests demanding some assurance that the inn meets quality standards; if your inn is inspected and approved by someone, look for the chance to include that in your listing. Another hot trend is on-line availability; consider guides that will link to major on-line availability/reservation sites; real-time on-line reservations may also be desirable depending on your clientelle. A third up-and-coming area is accessibility to wireless connections.

  • You MUST have your own domain. It's especially cost-effective if you can maintain it yourself. It's relatively easy with software available today. Links cost less than full pages, and the domain is portable, and you don't have to change e-mail addresses when you change ISPs. Some guides offer a domain version of your listing at a reasonable price.

  • Evaluate effectiveness of the guides you're on. Do this by using tracking programs, such as SuperStatZ or Extreme Tracker or one provided by your host. While many guests can't tell you exactly where they found you, Jeremy Robinson (formerly) of Hummingbird Inn in Virginia has developed a model for assigning all those "I don't know" guests to guides. See his article on evaluating web directory effectiveness. Certain on-line availability programs such as Webervations tm have the ability to tell you where the guest found you, especially when used in conjunction with the SuperStatz tracking system.

  • Do some additional research on guides in general. See my Resources Page for other places to look.

  • See what other innkeepers say about the guides at INNKEEPER REFERENCE DIRECTORY BLOG
For a slightly different presentation of this discussion, see the Article published in the August 2002 issue of PAII's "Innkeeping" newsletter. Another more recent version was presented at the Heartland Innkeepers Conference in February 2003 - it's available here in PDF format.


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