Blogging for Blogging’s Sake

I just had to laugh when I was given this comic last week by Liza Simpson, one of PAII’s esteemed aspiring innkeepers and Advisory Council members.
When I was in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a couple of weeks ago, listening to a talk about blogging, an experienced innkeeper piped up and vented a bit of frustration. He thought it was a bit ridiculous that innkeepers had yet another responsibility to add to the list, and in this case, to appease the Google Gods. It seems that blogging (the right way) can give your web site a nice boost in the optimization game.
I’m personally a big fan of blogs and blogging, but I had to give a nod to that innkeeper. Blogs done right have to be maintained. They can’t be just a mirror of the content on your web site. If you don’t enjoy writing, then blogging will surely seem like a chore. I understand the frustration of having to spend time on another task to make sure you’re staying ahead in the SEO and marketing rat race, when in the end it’s really about the customer experience. While innkeepers can grasp a good understanding of the internet, most innkeepers don’t have the time or wherewithal to cover all the bases.
When blogs first came on the scene, my impression was that they were ways for individuals to have a voice in the world wide web. It was refreshing, and a bit unnerving, that anyone with access to the internet had a means of expression. Over time, blogs turned more into a vehicle for dialogue than just an opportunity to read someone’s diary online. When reading the editorial pages in newspapers growing up, I always wanted the ability to respond to many “letters to the editor” when I agreed, disagreed or wanted to offer a different perspective. To me, the highest and best use of blogs are just that – one person’s perspective and thoughts, followed up by comments from visitors. I visit blogs not only to read the author’s words, but to read comments. Much of the value of blogs comes in the comments.
So, I ask myself, “why should innkeepers blog”? I’m certain every innkeeper doesn’t need to have a blog for blogging’s sake. Don’t feel sucked into the world of blogging just because it may help boost your optimization results. Only do it if you feel like you have fresh and interesting content to offer your blog visitors, and if you (at minimum) somewhat enjoy writing. Avoid making your blog an extended commercial about your inn, although it doesn’t hurt to link back to your inn’s main web site in tasteful ways. Pick topics that may or may not be directly related to your inn, but make sure the topic is of interest to YOU. You will avoid writing on your blog, if you are not interested in what you’re writing about.
A visitor to your blog will immediately see if you enjoy blogging or not – so don’t dive in without a commitment to it. And, have a little fun with it. Post neat pictures. While you want to present a formal and professional image of your inn, allow the blog to be a place where your words turn towards the casual side of things. Give some information that visitors will find interesting and helpful. Ask yourself, “What can I write about or share that would have my visitors coming back for more”? I can bet you that guests who fell in love with your inn will love to visit and get updates on your blog. But remember – don’t do it solely for the purpose of putting another marketing arrow in your quiver. You will undoubetdly avoid it, and the worst of blogs are the ones ignored and abandoned.
Here are some examples of blogs (some very new, some that have been around a while) that are promising. To me, it seems there are some innkeepers behind these blogs who dig blogging.

Also, I would suggest you utilize the Feedblitztool. It’s free. This allows people to subscribe to your blog, meaning they will get emails when your blog is updated. Without a tool like this, blogs are very passive. Visitors have to think about visiting your blog to see if you’ve updated it. Most blogging programs will easily allow you to add this tool to your blog.
On a side, but related note, I use the iGoogle platform as my homepage when opening the internet. Within this platform, I use Google Reader, which is a window into all the different blogs I want to keep track of. The window displays all the recently-added posts to my favorite blogs. By using this, I don’t have to visit all the different blogs I find interesting. The newest posts come to me.
Have you come across any great blogs you want to share with this blog’s visitors?

Author: Jay Karen

Jay is the President & CEO of the Professional Association of Innkeepers International.

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