Friday, 24 July 2015

The @ saga

As far as I'm aware, Yahoo, AOL and Microsoft have never owned, run or managed a single B&B, Guest House or Hotel. Yet if the hefty wad of business cards and leaflets I have collected are anything to go by, you'd be forgiven for thinking that each of the technology giants has a thriving hospitality division. tomsbandb@yahoo.com, dicksguesthouse@aol.com and harryshotel@msn.com. 

Signing up your establishment for an email address with one of the main players is quick fix: you are in safe hands with the likes of Outlook and Gmail, both cost and proficiency wise. Nonetheless, if you have a jazzy website and marketing literature, then surely you would want a complete set with an @ that is followed by your business name ? info@metcalfsbandb.com, rooms@metcalfsguesthouse.com or bookings@metcalfshotel.com

A pamphlet poll

Out of the 66 bits of accommodation marketing bumf I have collected over the pass year and a bit, 32 did not (at time of going to press) have a professional email suffix. The breakdown of which consumer products they use is as follows:

  1. Yahoo 9
  2. AOL  6
  3. MSN/Outlook/Hotmail 5
  4. Tiscali 3
  5. Google 2
  6. TalkTalk 2
  7. BT 2
  8. FsMail 1
  9. Tesco 1
  10. TinyWorld 1

6 out of 66 establishments were crafty in not listing any email address at all, likely fearing spam and instead forcing potential Guests to fill out an enquiry form on their website. However, the most surprising discovery was that TWO of the 32 using consumer email products as business email addresses were TOP 5 B&Bs in a certain resort on TripAdvisor. Between them they have every award under the sun: Four in a Bed and four star national ratings, breakfast awards and exquisite details throughout at every turn, but still an email address remains which does not fit digitally, systematically and wholly with the rest of their high-end proposition. 

Congratulations to the 28 that did have a professional email address on their marketing literature and as a reward below I showcase your information with my first foray into the world of Slideshare. Amongst the 28 you will find our TRIPLE C member Norfolk House and our GOLD member Queen Victoria Guest House, who are doing things right digitally. 

The online veneer

When this blog first started, I persevered with ltouches.blogspot.com for a short while, knowing full well that masking it with littletouchesblog.com was the only way forward if I wanted to project "I mean business" and drive more people to the blog. When it came to email, almost from day one of the business I made a beeline for tom@littletouches.net etc, to be replaced by tom@littletouches.com etc when I snapped up the littletouches.com domain. 

For me, it was never an option to openly use the free services out there, as I just would not have felt comfortable with a business called Little Touches cutting corners on the public communication face of the company. I firmly believe that whatever back-end systems your business is using should be put behind a metaphorical veil wherever possible. For ease of getting yourself up and running with a professional email address, have a look at GoDaddy, 1And1 and 123-reg.

Don't shine light on magic

The old backstage/onstage theatrical service metaphor does not just belong in the realm of the physical, as it has equal merit in the virtual world. Swapping free "quick and dirty" signups for professional email addresses dedicated to your own nomenclature is like going from a kid at Disney seeing Mickey without his head on, to the "how it should be" of the classic head, shoulders, knees and toes ears image of our favourite American rodent. 


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