Many thanks to all the associations that attended and actively contributed to our Bed and Breakfast Association Discussion Kick-Off.
Both State and Regional Associations were represented in our registration, with the State Association representation consisting of ¾ of all the State Bed and Breakfasts still in operation today.
Rob Fulton and Pat McCauley of AIHP (Association of Independent Hospitality Professionals) and Kris Ullmer and Heather Turner of PAII (Professional Association of Innkeepers International) along with myself were delighted at the turnout and the sincere desire to get to the bottom of why Associations are in a decline.
In fact, one of the participation questions was “Do you feel that your Association is struggling in today’s online environment?”
As you can see, Association leaders realize there is a problem and are diligently seeking a comprehensive solution.
There is no EASY button when it comes to solving this decline. There is no individual “game changer” that exists to increase traffic and drive increased direct bookings for all member inns.
If Regional and State Associations, who have chosen to be a marketing arm for their members, cannot re-establish their value, visibility and proven referral power in today’s online world, no amount of work or money spent to drive direct bookings using Book Direct or Book Direct Everywhere is going to help.
This statement is supported by copious amounts of analytical data and has been discussed with JackRabbit / Simpleview, who has been providing this product for many years.
The philosophy from 2013 of "Build it and they will come" no longer works today.
As the number of guests that frequent your Association site continue to decline, the number of guests that will ever get to see your Association's Book Direct option is therefore limited to those guests that find and visit your Association site.
Our mission is to help State and Regional Associations regain their previous levels of visibility and contribution to their members that they were seeing before Google My Business came on the scene. We want to see individual inns knocking on the doors of their association to re-join and become active members again.
Which is why Acorn, in conjunction with PAII, AIHP and their technical teams will continue to gather and provide accurate data and direction.
Currently there are 3 high-level areas of discussion, education and investigation:
1 – Administrative / Legislative
2 – Marketing
3 – Website and Google
Administrative / Legislative:
Additional investigation and presentations to Associations from Association members on Administrative / Legislative topics like:
- Associations with and without Administrators
- Volunteer Challenges and Rewards
- Success of Associations that Promote themselves as Advocacy and Educational Associations, NOT as Marketing Organizations.
- Gift Certificate Sales Programs and Successes
- Loyalty Programs and Successes
- Expanding B&B Associations to Non-Brand Hotels
- Advertising with number of Rooms vs. number of Properties
- Data gathering to be provided to House Committee Representatives as to the damage Google has caused to associations and their members.
AIHP and PAII supported presentations from allied partners and vendor members designed to educate Association leaders and their administrators on ways to best market in today’s online world.
- GMB Association categories now available with Google
- Blogging / Social Media Campaigns
- Successful Newsletter Campaigns and Outreach
- Marketing Synergy with other Businesses
Website and Google:
AIHP, PAII, Insideout Solutions and Acorn are working with JackRabbit / SimpleView on how to improve the loss in traffic due to Google My Business, along with examining ways to improve the Book Direct program to encourage more direct bookings for those guests that do frequent the State or Regional association website.
Step 1: If you are an association leader, or perhaps an association member who would like to get involved in this movement, please signup to receive ongoing training and information, including access to the recording of our Kick-Off Session.
Step 2: If you are an association leader, and need to provide corrections to the Membership Infographic, please contact Rob@myaihp.com or Kris@paii.org to discuss. Haven’t seen the Membership Infographic? Rob or Kris will provide you a link.
Step 3: Watch for our first educational session invitation (below) that was prioritized as a result of our kick-off discussion. The date and time will be announced via AIHP, PAII and Acorn’s Need to Know News.
Webinar: Maximizing Google My Business for Associations
Learn how Associations can establish, track and promote using Google My Business (GMB) tools that haven’t always been available in the past. This session will walk association leaders’ step by step through how to properly create a GMB listing for their Association, how to use features of GMB and how to accurately track visitors from this listing vs. Free Organic Listings.
Acorn Internet Services, Inc.
President and Co-Founder