Opening a Bed and Breakfast? 4 Tips for Helping Your Guests Feel Right at Home

A bed and breakfast is one of the coziest lodging places a person can experience. As the proprietor of a bed and breakfast, you are responsible for giving your guests a place to stay that makes them feel as if they are not just a customer, but also something like a family member. These four tips will help your guests to feel right at home at your bed and breakfast. 

Cater to Requests 

When someone books a room at your bed and breakfast, you should ask them about any preferences they have. While most people will be fine with whatever default conditions you have, there will be some with special requests that need to be addressed. For instance, if you have a dog and someone is allergic to dog fur, you need to make sure they can keep their distance. Similarly, there are many who can’t or choose not to consume gluten. Ensuring you serve them gluten-free food will increase the odds they will write a positive review online and return to your establishment.

Parking 

Depending on where your bed and breakfast is located, there might be limited parking around. Make sure there is parking available in your garage or driveway. It should be cleared and roomy enough for vehicles or different sizes. When a guest books a room, make sure to ask them if they’ll need to park a vehicle and get things ready as necessary. 

Internet 

There’s likely to be people coming through on business trips. To give them the best experience possible, there should be customer Wi-Fi access. You can make this your own home network or a special one for guests. It should be password protected and from a reliable internet service provider. The last thing relaxing guests want to deal with is spotty internet service.

Cleanliness 

Few things can harm your reputation as an innkeeper more than a lack of upkeep in your bed and breakfast. You want to keep everything organized and free of dust and dirt. Don’t just do this after your guests leave for good. If your guests go out for the day, they should come home to made beds and dishes washed and put away. Your guests will greatly appreciate how much thought you’re putting into helping them feel comfortable. 

The quality of your bed and breakfast depends on how much you are willing to show your guests that you care. You’re going to meet all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds. You need to make it clear that you see them all as being equally worthy of your respect. These tips will help to make your bed and breakfast one of the top spots to stay in your town.

Guest author, Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball.  @LizzieWeakley

Celebrate Success! How to Throw the Business Party of the Year

A good party can bring everyone in your workplace together.If you’ve never organized one, however, you might be at a loss for how to get started. Here are just five suggestions for throwing an unforgettable company bash. 

Upgrade Your Internet 

If you’ll be teleconferencing with other offices or branches in a company-wide celebration, make sure that your Internet is strong enough for the task. Speed is probably the most important thing to keep your playback from lagging, but you’ll also need robust, reliable servers to prevent downtime. When everyone is toasting to the success of the company, you’ll want your sound and video quality to be crystal clear. 

Create a Flexible Schedule 

Since it’s a business party, you’ll probably need some kind of schedule for things like speeches and end-of-the-year acknowledgements.However, it’s important to have a little wiggle room with times. You don’t want to cut off a happy conga line so that the department manager can talk about stock trends. Mind the atmosphere of the party, and wave in your speakers when your audience is ready to hear them. 

Center Everything Around a Theme

Themes aren’t just fun for your guests. They’re also valuable tools for your party planners. When your drinks, games, activities and decorations all revolve around a specific idea like “casino night” or”winter wonderland,” it’s much easier to make decisions about what to buy. You might not be uncertain about your menu and music selection. However,if there’s a theme, it will all come together. For example, if you decide on a family-friendly theme, it’s only a short jump to buying Kaiser buns for burgers and fun pop songs to set the up-beat mood.

Mind Your Finances 

You don’t have to break the bank to host a great company party. You just need to be thoughtful and deliberate with your budget.One option is to break everything down by dollar amounts, and another possibility is allocating specific percentages of your budget to things like food, entertainment and venue. As long as you’re careful with your checkbook, you should be able to throw a wonderful party with cash to spare. 

Offer Freebies 

Everyone loves a freebie. You can generate a lot of goodwill towards both the company and the company party when you hand out goodie bags.You might also want to host raffles, giveaways or gift exchanges for the holidays. They can be a nice way to bond with your co-workers or raise money for a good cause. 

These are just a few tips for throwing a great business party. Whether you’re launching a new start-up or celebrating the expansion of your Fortune 500 brand, it’s always fun to let your hair down with the rest of your colleagues.

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.

Essential Skills for an Ecommerce Entrepreneur

Becoming a successful entrepreneur is not an easy task. Many have tried and failed miserably. But, don’t let this fact discourage you. The reason they failed was the lack of skill and ideas. If you are not satisfied with the skills you possess, or are not sure what to improve in order to become a successful entrepreneur, despair no more. Listed below is the list of 5 “must have” skills you should acquire in order to become a successful entrepreneur and create a name of your own.

Web basics

No one expects you to know all about the Internet and its code, but learning the basics will greatly improve your chances for success. Get familiar with web technologies, and learn how they work. Try and learn all about HTML, CSS and FTP. Read guides and tutorials and find out as much useful information as you can. These are the basic skills you need to acquire in order to run a successful eCommerce, so learn as quickly as you can.

Marketing guru

One of the highest earning professions in the world is a marketing guru, and at the moment, there is a serious demand for such skilled people. Knowing a thing or two about marketing is not enough; you have to dig deep and know all the secrets and little things that can help you promote your product tomorrow. You have to start from scratch and work your way towards perfecting this skill. Without traffic, you have no leads and no sales. It doesn’t matter how amazing the design of your website is, if you cannot generate leads by implementing a proper marketing strategy, you’re doomed.

SEO Expertise

Another skill that was proven useful almost every time is search engine optimization. If you are able to utilize Google’s infinite potential and use it at your own advantage, there is no stopping you from selling or launching your product. This is especially important for eCommerce businesses, for most of their sales will go via Internet. Work on improving your customer base, and try finding new ways of advertising your products and services. Having good connections is very important in this business, so be creative and see how you can benefit from others by creating collaborations. Mutual benefit is the best way to fast development.

Self-teaching

One of the best traits of every successful businessman is the ability to adapt to and learn new techniques and abilities. One way of doing so is by attending online courses or watching tutorials on how something is done. Another way of doing it is by reading other people’s guides and lesson notes. There are plenty of awesome guides and information online, and all you have to do is look for uq past exams notes. There you can find notes on almost any subject, thorough analysis and legal studies of cases and projects, accounting notes, as well as essays and summaries on many different topics. Use it at your advantage, and educate yourself in any field you choose to master.

The ability to solve fresh problems

Each day, you will face many different problems. Some will appear out of the blue while others will stack up and wait for you to handle them. As a future successful businessman, you have to be able to take care of these problems on the go. Use your intelligence and creativity and work on solving all your problems as soon as they appear. If you disregard them, you will get overwhelmed before you even realize what is going on. If something can be done today, don’t leave it for tomorrow.

These 5 listed skills are your most powerful weapon. Use them wisely and improve them with each passing day. Remember to apply them to your business. It is only a matter of time before you score a significant deal, one that will put you on the track to success.

Tracey Clayton is a working mom of three girls, passionate about traveling, marketing and everything tech related. Her motto is: “Live the life you love; love the life you live.”

The Evolution of Content Marketing: What We Can Learn From the Past?

Content marketing is one of the most popular long-term marketing strategies that, if done right, can significantly increase brand awareness and brand loyalty. It’s a highly effective tactic. It costs 62% less than traditional marketing, while at the same time creating 3 times more leads. Content marketing comes down to offering people relevant info related to your industry on a regular basis. You do promote your brand through content, but the emphasis is not on advertising, but instead on providing value for those who consume the content. The ultimate goal then is to slowly and spontaneously turn your audience into your customers.

This strategy has been around for a long time, although it’s gained real significance on a global scale just a decade or two ago. Let’s have a brief look at the history of content marketing and then we’ll try to point out to a few valuable lessons it can teach us.

Pre-internet era

It’s possible to trace the roots of content marketing to as early as 19th century. It was far from being as widespread as today, but a few standalone examples have showed the way to the marketers of the future and basically relied on the same principles as content marketing nowadays.

In 1895, Deere & Company started publishing The Furrow Magazine, which provided farmers with valuable pieces of advice and information on topics related to agriculture. And by 1912, it had more than 4 million readers. This was a great marketing move for a company that produces agricultural tools, machinery and equipment, and has done wonders for the image of the brand.

Other early examples of this kind include Michelin’s Guide from 1900, Jell-O’s booklets of recipes from 1904, as well as Procter & Gamble’s radio drama soap campaign from 1930s. All these were a huge success, but these content marketing attempts were still just isolated examples rather than a trend. This has all changed with the emergence of the internet.

Online opportunities: 1990s-2010

The trouble with content marketing was the lack of channels for such a long-term marketing effort. Anything more than a few inches of a printed page or a 30-second TV ad was simply too expensive for most companies. And for content marketing to be done right, you need your own channel where you can regularly publish new content that normally has to be long enough in order to be really relevant and informative.

With the emergence of internet, the circumstances have changed radically. People started using the power of blogs and social media – channels that are basically free and that you can use to publish an unlimited amount of content. This event is often referred to as “democratization” of content marketing. It has opened the door for the real expansion of this marketing strategy in the last decade.

The golden age: 2010 – ?

The explosion of online channels and opportunities has resulted in the explosion of content marketing as well, since 88% of B2B companies reportedly used it in their marketing efforts in 2015. Today, more than 2 million blog posts are published every day and this has resulted in a lot of noise and poor-quality content.

Thus, in order to stand out, it has become extremely important to deliver first-rate content, and both brands and top content marketing companies have recognized this. Moreover, Google’s algorithm updates guarantee low rankings for low-quality and short-form content, which has put additional emphasis on creating top-class, long-form articles that provide real value.

Another novelty that 2010s have brought is the way content is promoted. Companies have realized how useful influencer marketing and paid ads are. Furthermore, the amount of content produced every day is such that you have to invest in promotion in order to be noticed, no matter how good your content is. This has been reflected in the fact that companies today spend a lot more money on promoting the content than on creating it.

Lessons to be learned

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Source: burst.shopifycdn.com

When we look at the history of content marketing, one constant becomes obvious immediately. The most important condition for this type of marketing to be successful is simply providing purposeful and interesting content that answers your audience’s questions. This is becoming more essential as the amount of available content grows.

Another constant is the necessity of careful targeting and narrowing your niche. You can’t and shouldn’t let the topics become too dispersed or completely irrelevant for your products and your industry. Stick to what you do and know best and tell stories that will not only benefit your audience right away, but that will also do good things for your business on the long run.

Furthermore, you ought to take advantage of the fact that content marketing has been “democratized”. It has apparently always been effective, but it was too expensive to be done properly. Today, you have all the necessary tools at your disposal basically for free and a multitude of channels ready to be utilized. And with careful targeting and distribution of the content, the resources you’ll have to invest in promotion can also be minimized.

At the end of the day, the ultimate message is to not be afraid to employ new strategies and put innovative ideas to work. Stay in touch with the latest trends and take chances. Some particular rules and practices applied in content marketing are going to change constantly and you have to be familiar with them and put them to use. Currently, these trends include the use of videos, strong links with journalism, as well as employing latest technological tools to analyze your content and feedback. So do your homework, see what works for you and include it in your strategy starting from today.

Guest author Meaghan is a web designer who is also quite passionate about digital marketing. These days she is all about researching various IT related topics and collaborating with other bloggers. When she is not working she enjoys dancing classical ballet.

Self-Employed Game Designers: A Reality?

Game development is a lucrative business that attracts a huge range of consumers. Triple A titles like the Call of Duty series can pull in millions of dollars without much innovation at all.

Game developers – the people behind the keyboards creating these interactive blockbusters – are in huge demand. With the big developers already full of talent, however, many may be looking to develop their own products. Whilst the methods to creating a home business are well established, the question is what do modern game designers need and is it possible to be successful?

The Foundations

For most people, becoming a game designer isn’t much more than having a passion for video games (or even just creating worlds), a creative edge and dedication. Game development was once the pastime of those with creative or computer skills with little professional recognition. However, many colleges offer games design courses nowadays to provide bespoke qualifications to those looking to get into the industry.

Having the correct equipment to match your ambitions is crucial, too. Higher end titles will require a powerful computer to complete rendering tasks. The less graphically intensive ones, less so.

Success Stories

Self-employed game developers often resort to the indie – independent – games market to get their products out there. Platforms, such as Steam, allow users to upload their games and offer them to a rating system, whereby enough positive feedback will get the game onto the fully paid store. These indie games are often lauded for combining creative storytelling with friendly and accessible interfaces.

Independent games can be a huge success story. One of the most popular video games in the world, Undertale, is an indie game, and has sold 1.2 million copies.

Modifications

Games like Undertale, Minecraft and Dwarf Fortress have become incredibly popular and made their owners a lot of money. A huge part of their success has been providing the people who have purchased the game with a lot of power to modify and craft their own games from these source products, often whilst collaborating with carefully nurtured communities.

The Future

Big companies have had their heads turned by the advent of self-employed developers and indie gamers and are now trying to muscle their way in. Microsoft paid $2.5bn to acquire Minecraft and its parent company, MoJang. For the developer him or herself, the big institutions of the video industry and becoming involved in development scheme. Sony SM are nurturing developers on a no obligation basis, for example, offering skills to those promising enough.

Game development is a big business with a huge pull for programmers and creative minds everywhere. With the opportunities offered by the internet such as online publishing, would-be developers need not turn to the big publishers for their break. Self-employed game design is today.

3 Ways the Internet Can Make Your Life Easier

Are you someone who uses the Internet in some capacity or another? If so, include yourself among many people nationwide doing the exact same thing.

That being the case, the amount of Internet usage of course varies from person to person.

Someone who meets a lot of people on a regular basis can use the worldwide web to get more information on them.

In conducting a background check, you learn more about each person you meet. So, are you ready to have the Internet play a role in making your life easier?

Put the Worldwide Web to Work

Remember these three ways to put the worldwide web to work for you:

  1. Searches before meeting people

As mentioned, doing online searches can benefit you in ways you might never have known before.

For instance, are you getting back into the dating world? If so, you want to make sure that the person you agree to go out on a date with is who they claim to be.

A fair number of people behind computers are not always honest with those on the other end of online dating. As a result, the latter can be victims in more ways than one.

When you do a background search of the person you are contemplating going out with, you are more informed. By knowing their name, you can plug that into the computer and start searching away.

Another example would be if you are considering rooming with someone.

As many Americans look to save money these days, the idea of having a roommate or two has picked up.

Once you have a potential roommate’s name, do a quick online search of them to make sure they check out. In doing so, you will feel better about your decision to go with them or move on to someone else.

  1. Securing your family

When you have a family to protect, you will do anything it takes to keep them safe and sound.

With that in mind, you can use the Internet in more ways than a background search to protect them. As valuable as that search is, it can’t help your child when he or she is sick or injured (see more below).

That said medical emergencies with kids do not always come at the best times of the day. As a result, you can’t always get in touch with your family doctor.

There are online medical sites offering basic tips to care for a child with various symptoms. As such, you can make them more comfortable until they can get in to see your doctor.

Such online information can also prove quite valuable in a medical emergency. Sites provide info on dealing with everything from the flu to if your child ingests poison.

By using the Internet at a moment’s notice, you could improve your child’s condition, even save their life.

  1. Knowing your rights following a vehicle accident

Unfortunately, many American families will be in vehicle accidents this year. With that being the case, it is important to know where to turn for both medical and legal help.

When it comes to the former, those injured in your family may need long-term physical rehab to recover. Countless medical facilities offering services in the rehab business are online with informative websites waiting to assist.

Once you have done some searches of those in your area, you can whittle them down. From there, decide which one best suits the needs of the person or persons requiring them.

With your legal rights, what happens if a family member is in a serious accident where the driver leaves?

With a hit-and-run accident, you could end up footing the bill. That is unless you get their license plate and/or have an eyewitness.

In a license plate lookup following a vehicle accident, you can pin down a responsible party.

When it comes to the Internet, these examples are but a smidgen of how the web can make your life easier.

About the Author: Dave Thomas covers business and technology topics on the web.

Is Your Social Media Profile Secure?

With people spending more and more of their lives online – it can be difficult to know where to draw the line. Sharing almost every aspect of your life might have been commonplace – but you could also be putting yourself at risk.

While social media has become a great place to share and communicate with friends and family – it has also become a place where criminals target the unsuspecting. This is becoming a growing problem. People who came to the internet late in their lives might already have a sense of reluctance to share absolutely everything – but those who have grown up with it might not be aware that they could be sharing too much. We’re going to look at a few simple security tips that should make your social media profile more secure.

1. Don’t share too much

Sharing parts of your life can be great fun – but some people take things too far. Do you really want people knowing where you are all the time? Leave a bit of mystery in your life – it could actually protect you. Simply advertising when you’re not at home or even making it really obvious where you live or work are not the greatest ideas. Use some common sense. By all means, share photos and enjoy yourself – but try and keep some things private in your life.

Remember when you need to reset a password because you lost it? Oftentimes they’ll ask you when your birthday is or what your pet’s name is. This is the sort of information people freely share on social media. That means you’re giving this secure information away for free. Don’t do it.

2. Make sure you know all your “friends”

Having as long a friend list as possible has almost become a competition between some people. It makes you seem popular – but that’s not really the reality. Try and rise above this sort of behaviour. Only accept someone as a “friend” if you really know who they are. This means what you share should only be seen by people you know.

Of course, you can’t control how your friends use their accounts, so make sure you really only have people you can rely on in real life. A good question to ask yourself is – would you stop and talk to that person if you saw them in real life? If not – why are they on your friend list? You’ve got to get away from the desire to have thousands of friends and realise that some things (like your security) are more important.

3. Don’t share access of your account

Some people share their password and let their friends log in for them. This is a huge mistake and could be asking for trouble. Make sure it’s only you that has access to your account. You should also log out when you’ve finished – especially on public computers like those in libraries or at college.

4. Vary your passwords

Some people use the same password for everything. While this can make things easier to remember – it also means losing access to one account could spell disaster. Make sure you vary your passwords and change them regularly. Don’t write them down, either.

About the author

Keith has a strong background in advising people on security issues. He’s been writing about tech and social media for a number of years. In his spare time, he also writes for a private tuition service based in Singapore.