Friday, February 13, 2015

#Hashtags, links, photo location, mapping, labels and responding...Are you doing photo sharing right?

I was recently on vacation in California, from San Clemente up to St Helena, capturing a LOT of beautiful sights, food and drinks along the way! 

I like to use Instagram to post my photos and feed them to Facebook and Twitter using hashtags. If you aren't using hashtags, there's a good chance you're not getting your post across to as many as you'd like, or that you have the opportunity to.

Look at it this way: I enjoyed the funky look and feel of the Virgin America flight (and I'd never flown this airline before). So I posted the picture for my followers to see. But why not give props to Virgin America? So I used the hashtag #VirginAmerica in my post and I've included a link to their site in this post. If you have any type of e-commerce, you want to know who's saying what about you. It's called reputation management. And that means by way of hashtags, google alerts, tags, link backs. It's simple. 

These were the photos I posted:

And Virgin America responded back in the Twitter feed below. THEY are doing it right! It just shows appreciation. It's a simple gesture that goes a long way. Am I going to consider flying Virgin America again? You bet! I already enjoyed the feel of the flight, but taking the time to comment to me was an extra step that showed they care about their customer's experience.

Wipeout Bar & Grill in San Francisco at Pier 39. This was where we watched Superbowl while in California. I didn't use the hashtag here, rather I posted my location through Instagram. I posted a couple of pictures and the Wipeout Bar & Grill responded back! THEY are doing it right. 

There's also the occasion every now and then where someone might post something not so nice about your business on Twitter or Facebook. This is SO very important to be aware of. If you are able to respond to someone's dissatisfaction before they've posted a review on TripAdvisor, Yelp, etc., you're ahead of the game. It's all about reputation management. If you are able to respond in a way that makes the person who posted the comment feel that you truly care, they may not include the negative comments in their review, or they might tame them. They might appreciate that you're taking the time to respond. And a response in this manner is different than a response to a negative review, which often come across defensive.

If you're wondering how to follow by using the hashtag, it couldn't be simpler. Let's say your company is The Sunrise Inn. In Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, enter #thesunriseinn or #sunriseinn in the search field and see what comes up. Some might be irrelevant as there could be more than one business named Sunrise Inn.

And please, if you don't already have google alerts set up for your business name, your personal name, please look into it, STAT. I have 27 alerts set up and could probably come up with more!

A side note, all of your photos should include tags or labels so that search engines can find them. Search engine optimization doesn't work with images, it needs text. But they can detect tags or labels embedded within the photo/post. It's also important to tag the location of the photo (if you're looking for the establishment to be able to see that you were there and posted the pictures). And please, please, give some link love back to these businesses!

If you own a lodging property and you've just come back from a wonderful dinner in town, I'd suggest you post the photo on Instagram, tag the location, use hashtags, post that you had a lovely dinner at #ABCDCafe near #SunriseInn and use popular tags such as #restaurants #foodporn #Camden #Maine and that you'd recommend it to all of your guests. Then go into the post on Facebook and add a link to the restaurant. Done. That took all of 60 seconds, or should have. Do you think that business might refer dinner guests to you if the question should arise? Of course!

If you still need to be convinced of the importance of Instagram, check out these stats. Astonishing!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A record setting 2014 season for Acadia National Park tourism! Looking for a bed and breakfast nearby?

Acadia National Park reported that visitation in 2014 was the highest it's been in 15 years! Over 2.5 million visitors, and the park is only open about 6 months. To read more about the park, visit the park service's website.

I have some great listings in the Acadia area, two of which are under contract (Coach Stop Inn and Maples Inn) but Clark Point Inn and Open Hearth Inn are still available. For more pictures of Acadia and the area, check out my photo album!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Commission Splits...whose business is it anyway?

This post isn't really relevant to inn buyers reading my blog, rather the inn buyer's agent (if you, the aspiring innkeeper aren't already working with ME!). I can't tell you how frequently I am asked by Maine licensed real estate agents what our commission split is. I continually inform them that the commission we offer to cooperating brokers is posted in the MLS. If it's a listing that is not in the MLS, I inform them of the percentage we agree to pay if their client wishes to pursue my listing. The split is irrelevant. A seller agrees to pay a certain percentage to a listing agency to secure a buyer. We, as the listing agency, agree to compensate a selling agency a portion of that commission. We inform the selling agency what that percentage of the total sale will be offered either by posting in the MLS, or if not in MLS, by email or verbally. Period. End of discussion, or so it should be.

According to the Maine Association of Realtors legal counsel:

Commission Splits: Questions continue to circulate about commission splits. Please remember that it is inappropriate to speak in terms of 60/40 or 50/50 splits. The only commission that a selling agent (buyer agent, seller sub-agent or transaction broker) needs to know about is what is the percentage of the sales price which is being offered to them if they are the cooperating broker who has procured the sale. The total listing commission is immaterial. It is none of the cooperating broker's business, and it does not matter whether it is a commercial or residential property.

The available commission is contained in the MLS offering, and the buyer agent should go over that amount with their buyer client and make arrangements for the buyer to make up any difference between what is offered and what the buyer has agreed to pay in the buyer representation agreement. That difference, if any, might be made up directly by the buyer. Or it might be made up by the buyer making their offer contingent on the seller contributing a certain sum to the buyer's closing costs, out of which the buyer may then pay their agent.

It is against the Code of Ethics to condition the making of an offer on the listing agent changing their offer of compensation. If an agency feels that they want to change what they are offering as a commission to a cooperating agent in the MLS, they can do that on a case by case basis with the permission of the cooperating agent (usually happens during negotiations). Or they can do it on a blanket basis by sending a letter from the DB of one agency to the DB of another agency letting the agency know that in spite of what the MLS shows as an offer of a share to a cooperating agent, prospectively (cannot apply to properties already shown), the agency will be paying "x" to that agency. This should be done as a business decision by one agency, and never with any discussion with any other agency.