A little while ago I stumbled upon the Instagram page of Felt Manor. Built in 1848, The Felt Manor is a stunning Second Empire mansion in Galena, Illinois. The inn features 5 spacious and comfortable guest rooms each named after the original Felt family and their staff. History and story-packed, a beautiful Instagram feed and lots of engagement: I knew I had to get in touch with the Innkeepers: Alex and Geoff. Let's see what we can learn from them in regards to inn social media marketing.
1. How would you describe The Inn at Felt Manor and why did you decide to become the innkeepers?
We are Alex & Geoff Arroyo-Karnish. We are the Innkeepers at the Inn at Felt Manor, a historic Bed and Breakfast in Galena, IL. (The 2nd most visited town in IL and home to one of the best Main Streets in America.) The home is 172 years old and the Inn has been operating since the 1980s.
Similar to the Felt Manor, we, as a couple have a lot of history together.
We met 10 years ago. We lived in NYC for a long time. (Alex moved there in 2005 after high school and Geoff moved there in 2012.) Geoff was a pastry chef in NYC. He also managed events for a hospitality group. Alex worked for a real estate company for several years and helped create their events and partnership programs. Three years ago we were married in Cancun surrounded by family and friends. It was a dream and now we are living out another dream come true: innkeeping!
We moved from NYC to Galena in July 2019. It was a big change but also a dream come true.
We fell in love with the historic home and the luxurious Coach House. We thought Felt Manor was unique because guests can choose to stay in the historic and grand manor or the renovated and modern Coach House. The food at Felt Manor is also AMAZING and we were excited to continue that tradition. The home is on top of “Quality Hill” and has a picturesque view of beautifully preserved Galena. It is like taking a vacation back in time. The entire experience enticed us and it felt like the ultimate immersion into the world of hospitality.
As innkeepers, we welcome guests during check in and walk them through a brief history of the house. We serve a daily happy hour at 4pm (typically with complimentary wine and yummy treats like lemon squares, cheese & charcuterie boards, and mini cupcakes). In the morning we serve a 3 course gourmet breakfast. Check out a few examples of our breakfast options here. We also market the manor and handle many ongoing projects. It can be exhausting, and it's a huge change from our corporate jobs. However, we get to work together through it all which makes life all that sweeter.
2. What did you do in terms of marketing or has been done in the past?
We just landed in Galena last July and started the Felt Manor Instagram. We also started working on the existing Facebook page. The Inn has been operating for around 25 years, so an online presence was just the thing needed to inform the world of its wonderful offerings.
Our new website launched in January 2020. It feels great to have our inn social media marketing platforms match our main website. Now, we have a hub for guests to obtain all the information they need in one place. We newly created a Pinterest page. The more platforms you are on, the more guests you can reach.
3. How important do you think social media is for The Inn at Felt Manor?
Social media easily displays our brand in ONE glance. It is more effective than any brochure, e-newsletter, or commercial. Guests are now able to understand the Felt Manor experience by scrolling through a few photos.
Guests are able to follow our story of newly moving to the Midwest from NYC. They can experience things to do in Galena, IL. They can enjoy foodie pics of our offerings. We often feature insights on the history of the town and the beautiful home.
It has taken TIME, but we find that we have a few followers who are converting to actual guest bookings!
4. What would you advise other BnB or inn owners to do to get more guests/bookings?
We want to ensure that our product/experience is one that we are proud of and we try to capture ALL of it.
Try to capture every moment and every experience your guests might have if they travel to your destination. The gardens when they are freshly blooming. The warm summer sunsets. The turtles on an afternoon hike at a nearby pond. The amazing food. The comfortable rest. The charming architecture. You get the picture! Once you have all of your important moments, you can talk about them on repeat in slightly different ways. That's the best way to do inn social media marketing.
5. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned when it comes to promoting the inn?
There have been times when I don’t have time to stop and capture every moment during a busy season. I am thankful to now be able to save drafts of great moments on Instagram. I am trying to get better at planning our posts. I find myself stockpiling images. That has helped me a LOT!
Finally, we’ve learned that reviews are essential. Asking guests to review us is very important. We try to do so as they check out in person, and again through a post-stay email. Promoting good reviews is important. We try to promote reviews once a month on social media and added links to reviews on our website. We are constantly working on supplementing good reviews by posting photos on TripAdvisor, My Google, and Facebook.
Are you struggling with social media marketing for your hospitality business?
- Coming up with new content for your social media
- Getting more likes, followers and engagement
- Using tools like canva.com, Hootsuite, and so on
- (paid) Advertising and promotions, turning ‘lookers' into ‘bookers'
Then the Tremento Tribe is the solution. Whether you are just starting out on Instagram with your bed and breakfast, restaurant, small hotel, inn or guest house, or if you have been around for a long time, we can help you.
We will give you templates each month to work with, so social media becomes fun instead of a struggle. Still struggling though? Then we've got your back, because as a member, you get access to our special support team and a personal success coach!
Above that, we actively check your social media each month to see if you are improving and how we can help. Yes, a personal success coach really is a personal success coach.
So, if you need help with optimizing your social media content, then join the Tremento Tribe (check out the page to see when registration is open!)