For episode #11 of the Frictionless Innkeeper podcast series, we speak with Wendy Collins, co-owner of The Mission Inn in Cape May, NJ, who discusses how she takes a “high-tech, high-touch” approach to pleasing guests.
As with other corporate professionals entering the innkeeper arena, there is much to be drawn from prior work experiences that can help to differentiate a property on many levels.
For Wendy Collins and Laura Shaddock, this means fully leveraging technology for both pleasing guests, and effectively running The Mission Inn.
After acquiring the property in 2016, Wendy and Laura quickly automated pre- and post-stay emails that provide insights on their favorite events around town, and encourage guests to leave positive online reviews, respectively. They also use a new cloud-based guest booking engine that allows them to manage guest bookings from their mobile devices.
In addition, Wendy and Laura have expanded their 2,000 Facebook followers into Instagram, which allows them to appeal to younger guests. The property also has an email database of more than 5,000 people for their ongoing e-blasts, which have an open rate of 40 to 45 percent – whereas the industry email open rate is only 10 percent.
Another way The Mission Inn differentiates itself is through its in-house concert series – where they have top musical talent perform at the property. Wendy and Laura use these concerts as a great way to draw people to the property during the winter months, and it enhances overall word-of-mouth marketing – with people actually booking their stays when there is a concert.
As a result of these efforts, The Mission Inn has built a loyal following, which allows them to do 100 percent of their bookings direct – without needing to rely on OTAs.
In this podcast, Wendy shares her innkeeper story, and how they truly focus on providing specialized guest experiences:
- Insights about how Wendy and Laura became innkeepers. (1:00)
- Details about The Mission Inn and the B&B landscape in Cape May, NJ. (2:14)
- How and why they take a “high-tech, high-touch” approach. (4:30)
- Insights into their use of social media for connecting with guests and bringing in new guests. (7:11)
- How they balance the use of technology with personally interacting with their guests. (11:30)
- Putting on monthly house concerts during October through April. (12:10)
- How they built guest loyalty to the point where they don’t need to rely on OTAs. (16:30)
- How Wendy defines “guest experience,” and how they deliver on providing a great stay. (21:10)
We would like to thank Wendy for sharing her innkeeper story. You can learn more about The Mission Inn by visiting their website.