In recent years I have tried to take a small reflective break round about this time of year. After the intensity and disruption of Christmas followed by my birthday 2 weeks after new year the year tends to unfold and unfurl more controlled with a punctuation point just before spring. I tend not to go far so the Derbyshire Peak District is a favourite retreat. So meeting Marion and John Fuller-Sessions when they approached me to ask questions and express their interest in making sense of social media for their holiday cottages business at an eBusiness talk I delivered in Chesterfield turned out to be quite fortuitous.
I don't do stuff for free anymore though on occasion the time I put in means I practically do. I like to help out friends and organisations I'm involved with out side of my business work. I'm not averse to skill exchanges but I'd never taken a part payment as time in a holiday cottage. It sounded worth considering.
Marion and John own Tom's Barn and Douglas's Barn, luxury converted barns each sleeping 2. I'd been talking to BAFA (British Arts Festival Association) about social media for festivals so I was curious to explore the potential of social media for the tourism industry and how the industry is embracing or rejecting it. Marion and John came on to the PCM 7 Roads consultation programme and the payment for phase one was partly paid for with a weekend in one of their cottages and it is from Douglas's Barn that I am writing this post.
In the 6 month I have worked with Tom's Barn www.tomsbarn.co.uk which is their website for both cottages a combination of a reworked and redeveloped website with Jeremy Brough and the social media profiling and guidence from PCM took the Tom's Barn site from this to this. Digital footprint profiling with the PCM 7 Roads analysis focused the content, social media platforms, tool and services that Marion and John use to and polish, shine and purpose to their already stunning business offering.
The guest's experience is a fundemental drive for Tom's Barn and staying here I can certainly confirm its a 5 star experience. On arrival we discovered freshly baked ginger and walnut cake, 6 fresh eggs, a pint of milk, butter, a loaf of bread and home made marmalade. We had fresh flowers, the fire was glowing, there were tea bags, ground coffee and a cupbaord of staples making us practicly self sustaining for the weekend. The page on the website "Little Extras at Tom's Barn" is a superb example of how selling your strengths in one place is essential.
Aplifying your strengths is what social media does best. Marion has been blogging, John is a keen photographer, his photos feature in a gallery on the website's homepage. Thier curiosity, passion and persiut of offering digital technology integrating into thier vistors experience is where thier jouney has bought them to. Both Tom's and Douglas's Barn has WiFi and the nice touch of a sony notebook PC. Subtle touches that make the retreat here for Dan and I complete. Oh yes their is a Jacuzzi bath too.
So what's next? A guest activity hub. The website sells the experience the vistors digital hub will provide a one stop shop for all the information, Torist Information, cottage handbook, local connections, local history, walks and much more. QR codes on Tourist brochures that have online PDF versions are going to be hunted down, Geo-location adventures and loyalty too. I have had ideas since being here for other social media connections.
I'm going to be giving a social media introduction presentation to the local Premier Cottages members and various Peak District and Derbyshire tourism associates. A case study is always valuable. One I can deliver and develop is very tangible for those attending. Social Media is about conversation, advocacy and amplification. What do you do best?
Marion Fuller-Sessions tweets as @Tomsbarn