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5 Lessons I Learned As a Non-B&B Owner at the BBAV Conference

03/13/2015 05:40 pm ET | Updated May 12, 2015

It was an honor to be selected as one of the speakers at this year's annual Bed & Breakfast Association of Virginia Conference. This conference this year was called Inspiration, innovation & Rejuvenation and was held in Fredericksburg, Virginia on February 22, 2015.

Throughout the 3-day conference B&B innkeepers gathered to share their knowledge, expertise, successes, and struggles with one another. Scheduled sessions included topics ranging from blogging, social media, online reservation systems, and marketing to millennials. There was even a breakfast cook-off! If I learned one thing about this industry it's this: Innkeepers take their breakfasts seriously! (It is half of their B&B name, after all).

Despite moderating a panel about blogging, as well as a speaking at a session about blogging and content marketing specific to B&B owners, I had time to laugh, learn, eat, and above all, network. I sat in on many sessions and learned some things that I could apply to my own business. I'd like to share the top five of them with you here.

The Top 5 Lessons I Learned As a Non-B&B Owner at the BBAV Conference

Arrive early and stay late. Build relationships with the people at the conference. Make new friends. Laugh. Be a learner. Have fun. Ask questions and get answers.

Listen, more than talk. I spent the first night sitting at a round linen-covered table at dinner, listening to B&B owners talk of their inns. It was captivating to hear their stories of transformation from home owners to innkeepers. I learned all kinds of fascinating facts about the different types of inns, such as Pembroke Springs Retreat--an inn that is known for its Japanese baths and meals. I also heard stories of the many guests that return year after year to the inns--because they view them as a little piece of paradise away from their own homes. I really got to know the industry better, including their success and struggles, because I spent so much time listening!

Marcus Sheridan, founder of The Sales Lion, kicked off the first night with a keynote speech entitled "How to Use the Internet to Build Your Business and Brand in 2015 and Beyond". He was a phenomenal speaker whose message was one based on his own sales experience: When you answer the questions no one else in your industry is answering, sales will follow. His speech led me to sit down and brainstorm a list of questions I am constantly being asked regarding my copywriting services. Videos and blog posts addressing these questions are coming soon!

  • Why I Won't Write Your Website Copy in 24 Hours
  • Why I Chargexxx/page of Website Copy and Notxx orx (Insert Insanely Low Price)
  • How Will I Know What Stage You Are In Regarding My Website Copy Order?
  • Will You Run Off With My Money, Like the Last Copywriting Did?

Embrace the millennials--as they have the buying power. Rick Wolf and Peter Scherman, consultants for the B&B Team, gave an excellent presentation about the millennials: their wants, their needs, and their buying power. Their presentation focused on marketing to this generation and finding ways to connect with them online. One of the biggest factors millennials look for when purchasing is social proof--that is, what others have to say about the product or service-- prior to purchasing. A well thought-out testimonials page, highlighting the client experience, can be the determining factor of whether or not millennials hit the buy button.

You can't fake happiness. The final keynote speech, given by Jay Karen, Chief Executive Officer of Select Registry, urged innkeepers to find the balance between work and play. Because...a balanced, happy innkeeper makes for happy guests! He gave a plethora of tips for finding the balance as an innkeeper, but those tips also applied to any business owner. I walked away feeling invigorated and with a future blog post to write: The Life of A Happy Copywriter.

I am giving this conference a 5 out of 5 in all areas: education, fellowship, comfort, and networking. If you are a B&B owner in Virginia, or any of the surrounding states, I would highly recommend this conference next year. It will be well worth your investment of time and money--and you will most likely walk away with new friendships and strategic partners to collaborate with in the future.