Check In When You Check Inn “The Pool” is on Foursquare


It’s official, The Pool at Comfort Inn Middletown-Red Bank has it’s ow venue on Foursquare. The idea dawned on me at the beginning of the month when the Phish concert go-ers were in town at the beginning of the month and saying they were at the pool.

I’ve saved this little project for a really nice day so I could create the venue using my iPhone.  I took one for the team and went outside to keep the pool company whilst I added it on Foursquare.  It seemed Foursquare was not cooperating on my phone because it thought it was a duplicate venue. I came back inside and added it using my “real computer”.  As I walked back to my office I subtitled my position with the hotel as the “Creative Director for Excuses to go Outside” and snickered. I was able to add The Pool in my office so we’re live and waiting for our first check in and mayor.  Will it be you?

Which leads me to ponder: What should I offer as a check in special? What tips should I add? (Besides the standard no running, no glass containers, no dogs…)  If you have any ideas drop me a line in the comments below, I’d love to hear them and to talk about summer, the sun and pool. Happy summer everyone!!

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Easter at the Jersey Shore


Easter is coming!  It’s so hard to believe it’s this weekend.  Even though it’s late this year, it seems to have crept up on me. The good news is that it also means there’s about 5 weeks until Memorial Day which is the unofficial start of summer here at the Jersey Shore.  Easter weekend is usually a pretty slow for us so we’ve decided to offer a special rate to  everyone who is connected with us on social media one way or another to come check us out.

Book your accommodations by calling 732-671-3400 request the Easter Special for a stay between April 22 and April 25th, 2011. The rate is $89.00* regardless of room type. Comfort Inn Middletown-Red Bank offers rooms with one queen bed, two queen beds and one king bed. All rooms have a hotel sized microwave and refrigerator. The entire hotel has free wireless internet. Our deluxe continental breakfast is available and free from 6:00am to 9:30am daily. Downtown Red Bank is 2.5 miles south on Route 35.

Looking for things to do to entertain the kiddies?  There are some fun Jersey Shore events scheduled for the holiday weekend:

April 23rd meet at Lot B on Sandy Hook at 8:45am  for the Sandy Hook Birding Program. Search for hawks and songbirds with Scott Barnes. Bring a lunch, binoculars and weather appropriate clothing.

April 23 & 24 See a demonstration of an old-fashioned sheep shearer at Longstreet Farm in Holmdel for Sheep Shearing and Wool Days.

April 23rd Easter Egg Hunt in Ocean Grove at the Main Avenue Beach.

April 24th will be the Easter Parade in Asbury Park.

For more information on these events visit the Monmouth County Tourism Calendar of Events

We have an added secret bonus too! Check in on Foursquare and if it’s your first time checking in with us (and even if it isn’t…) you’ll receive a voucher for a FREE Bloomin’ Onion at Outback Steakhouse.  It’s located 10 feet from the hotel.  Outback Steakhouse is finishing up their restaurant renovation and I’m hoping to make it over there to see it this afternoon. I’ll bring the camera and share so be sure to check back!!  Happy Easter, we hope to welcome you to the Inn!

*Applicable taxes are not included in that rate.

In Case You Missed It: EMACC Super Expo Boot Camp Re-Cap


The Eastern Monmouth Chamber of Commerce Super Expo 2011 Committee (disclosure: I am a member of the Chamber and Expo Committee) arranged for Eric Taylor, author of Mastering the World of Selling to come and present on best business expo practices yesterday morning at the Staybridge Suites in Eatontown. Eric brought his high energy, savvy sales and engagement practices to the group after a masterful introduction by Tom Fraim, Chair of the Expo Committee.

I took notes (because I am kind of nerd like that) and I figured I’d share some of the important touch points on preparing for and presenting at a business expo.

BEFOREHAND

Micro Marketing: Now is the time to be thinking about and ordering your promotional products and giveaways.  A good amount of lead time is 3-5 weeks. Donna and Dale Szakats from Initial Impact recommend giving out a useful tool that will keep your business top of mind with your customer.

Pre-Marketing: Let your contacts know that you are exhibiting at/sponsoring the event and make use of the “Golden Ticket” above to invite them to attend. Don’t forget to include contacts in your social networking platforms on-line, email marketing programs and your phone lists. Be sure that your are not sending emails to people who have not “opted in” to receive your emails. Without the opt-in, you are sending spam and people really don’t like that.

Business Description: Each exhibitor will receive a 30 word blurb in which to describe their business in the event program that will be handed to each guest at the door. Put some thought into what you want to say and the 30 words that best describe your business to a potential customer.

Prepare Your Follow-Up Pieces: Believe it or not you will be doing yourself a great disservice if you don’t have your follow up ready to go before the event.  There is the “Law of Diminishing Intent” that comes into play after 48 hours. If you can get requested information into the hands of potential customers as soon as possible, it’s puts you at least one step ahead of your competition.  Remember – No follow-up, no sale.

Strategize: One of my favorite sayings is “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” This is true with a business expo and fail may be the equivalent of fumbling through your interactions awkwardly and looking more buffoonish than professional.  Make a plan.  What are your goals? When setting them a good rule of thumb is to use the SMART goals system whereby goals are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.  Write AND practice your elevator pitch or 30 second commercial so you are comfortable with it.  Be sure to sell your benefits and value to a potential customer.

What To Bring: Make your booth visually pleasing. Be sure to have plenty of business cards, colorful and attractive collateral (no one wants to carry around a photocopy) and anything you feel best represents your product or service. Be sure to also bring an “Expo Survival Kit” that includes Altoids or other breath mints and hand sanitizer.

Door Prize: Donating a door prize will earn you extra exposure at the event as well as create an opportunity for a potential customer to try your product or service.   If you don’t work in an industry that necessarily can giveaway something, consider purchasing a restaurant gift card, iTunes gift card or the like to give away. I remember last year I won a $25 gift card to Applebee’s from Lowy’s Moving Service. Yes, a year later I still remember.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Networking: Arrive at the event early and plan to stay late. Make the most of the time you will have in front of a captive audience that are as eager to learn about your business as you are to talk about it.  Be sure to listen as well.  One of the biggest values that comes out of an expo is the opportunity for your new contacts to refer business to you.

Attitude: Engagement is key to success and connecting with people. Smiling; looking inviting will make people feel more comfortable talking to you.  Be approachable, put the cell phone away for a few hours. You’ll live.

How To Handle A “Hawk”: If you have exhibited at a business expo before, you’ll recognize the “Hawk” right away.  He/she is the one who took full advantage of the free entrance and walks around to every booth to hard sell their product or service. You stand as a captive audience stuck at your table with no escape. Well, never fear, here’s how to handle the hawk gracefully.  Allow them to get through their elevator pitch, (hey you never know) but if it goes on beyond that offer out a handshake thank them for stopping by and offer to connect online through Linked, Facebook or Twitter.

AT SUPER EXPO

Have Fun: This is most important so I decided to put it first. There is a lot of energy and people at Super Expo, enjoy the experience.

Don’t Judge A Book By It’s Cover: Treat everyone equally.  You never know who might be your next biggest customer or referral source.

Go First: Be the first one to speak and introduce yourself. This way you have control of the direction of the conversation.

Time is $$$: Be brief and upfront with what you have to offer. Quickly qualify and disqualify potential buyers. Don’t let someone who is a dead-end block you from speaking to someone who looks interested.  Like the “hawk” offer a handshake, thank them and move on.

Booth Time: If you are exhibiting alone, it is a good idea to remain stationed at your booth to answer questions and talk with attendees.  If the booth is staffed with more than person, take the opportunity to walk and work the floor. Get to know the other exhibitors. Don’t stand or sit behind the booth be out front and approachable.

What To Wear: Look as professional and presentable as possible not only are you selling your product or service, in a way you are selling yourself as well. If you have attire with your logo on it, by all means wear that.

Super Expo will be on Wednesday, April 27th, 2011 from  4:00pm to 7:30pm at Branches Catering in West Long Branch.  All exhibitors and sponsors will have a 3:00-4:00pm networking hour to meet and greet. Comfort Inn Middletown-Red Bank is a proud sponsor for the second year in a row. Lou Russo will be hosting from 94.3 The Point Lou & Liz in the Morning and Eric Taylor will be our emcee. There will be close to 100 exhibitors and we are expecting between four and five hundred attendees. There are no bad exhibit spots at Super Expo.  Food and drink are spread throughout the event rooms.

You can see photos taken by Lewis Sasaki of Sasaki Photography LLC on Facebook. He will also be the official event photographer. Eric Taylor will also be presenting at the Eastern Monmouth Area Chamber of Commerce Business Networking Breakfast on “Building Your Personal Brand”. The date is set for  Wednesday, April 13, 2011 from 7:45am to 10:00am at Bamm Hollow Country Club located at 215 Sunnyside Road Lincroft, NJ. The cost is $20 for members and $30 for non-members.

What are your best practices when exhibiting at a business expo? Please share your tips and advice in the comments below.

Jersey Shore Restaurant Week Starts Friday!


We at Comfort Inn Middletown love Jersey Shore Restaurant Week as it gives us the extra excuse to recommend our favorite restaurants to our guests at a great deal.  The kick off party is actually planned for this Thursday evening at the Dauphin Grille in the Berkeley Hotel in Asbury Park. The area’s top chefs will be preparing their favorite appetizers. Personally, I love making a meal out of appetizers.   Additionally, there will be a wine bar, pate station, cheese booth and a dessert room.

There are nearly 70 restaurants at the Jersey Shore that will offer three course meals on a prix fixe menu for either $20.11 or $30.11. There are a number of special events that will happen throughout restaurant week at the shore.  Saturday, April 2nd, Harpoon Willy’s in Manasquan will host “Burgers, Bloodies and Brews” and Sunday, April 3rd  The Mill, Spring Lake Heights, will present “The Great Jersey Shore Martini Contest” where area bartenders compete for the “Best Martini at the Shore”.

On Monday, April 4th, The Barclay Hotel in Belmar hosts “The Dream Dinner”.  Executive Chefs from Brandl, David Burke Fromagerie, Doris & Ed’s and Shipwreck Grill each prepare a course and pair them with wines.  Enjoy “Shellfish and Chardonnay” all day Wednesday, the 6th at Rooney’s Oceanfront Restaurant in Long Branch. $5 chardonnay, $1 shrimp and oysters, .50 clams.

Get to the Point” on Saturday, April 9th at The Elks in Point Pleasant. Beat the winter blues with BBQ and Microbrews. Food courtesy of Prime Market. Live music by RetroJunk.  Restaurant Week ends with “Sunday Soiree-A Taste of St. Tropez” on the ocean in Long Branch at Avenue. Sample delicious Mediterranean foods and wines. Live music  Participating restaurants, Special Event details and ticket purchase available at www.jerseyshorerestaurantweek.com.  Contact Jim Flynn via email or at 732-859-5643. Some of the special events will require ticket purchase be sure to check out the site for more information.

There are a lot of restaurants very close to the hotel participating so I made a Jersey Shore Restaurant Week map in Google Maps so you can easily locate the nearby restaurants and get directions.  The list includes:

David Burke Fromagerie

Doris and Ed’s Restaurant

Gaetano’s Red Bank

Raven & the Peach

Buona Sera Ristorante & Bar

Nauvoo Grill Club

Bahrs landing Seafood Restaurant and Marina

Basil T’s Brewery and Italian Restaurant

Danny’s Steakhouse, Seafood and Sushi Bar

Via 45

Murray MacGregor’s Publik House

Salt Creek Grille

Undici

Dockside

Jersey Shore Restaurant Week is a great reason to get out and try a new place, re-visit an old hangout or just plain have a night on the town. If you’ve been to a restaurant week event of have had any experiences to share, please fo in the comments section.  I’d appreciate it.  Happy feasting!

*Header Photo Credit

What To Do and See This Valentine’s Day Weekend


Comfort Inn Middletown, hotels, Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day

At a loss as to what to and see in and around the Middletown-Red Bank area this Valentine’s Day Weekend?   Allow me to first remind you that Comfort Inn Middletown and Outback Steakhouse both have great specials going on starting on Friday. Here are some other fun things to do and see while you’re here.

Count Basie Theatre has teamed up with Pazzo to offer a very cool dinner and a show package The Pazzo Dinner Ticket and a Show“. There are several shows in the coming days to take advantage of this package starting with:  Tomorrow evening, February 10, 2011  the Count Basie Theatre welcomes No Reservations: An Evening with Anthony Bourdain at 8:00pm. From Count Basie website:

Anthony Bourdain, the internationally acclaimed chef, author, and host of Travel Channel’s “No Reservations,” has been dubbed “the bad boy of cuisine” for his rock star looks and blunt observations about the world of restaurants, chefs, and cooking.

The following evening Michael Amante will be doing his annual Valentine’s Day Concert on the Count Basie Stage at 8:00pm on Friday, February 11th. From Count Basie Website:

Join the Italian-American tenor who can sing it all, from the heroic volleys of Puccini’s “Nessun dorma,” to the tender phrases of “O Sole Mio,” for his full orchestra tribute to love! Blessed with movie-star looks, charm, and a classic Italian tenor voice, The New York Times declared that this, “Swashbuckling Italian tenor exhibits both the voice and charisma of a crossover star”.

Looking for some family fun?

Pile on the winter gear and head out to Sandy Hook and join Linda Mack and the Monmouth County Audubon Society on a winter birding tour. Meet Saturday, February 12th at 10:00am in the Visitor’s Center Parking Lot. Don’t forget your binoculars. Not into being outside in the cold? There’s a Valentine’s Day Bake Sale and Cookie Decorating at the Sandy Hook Child Care Center on Saturday, February 12, 10 :00am to 12 noon. Pre-register for cookie decoration by calling SHCCC Director Jessica Long at 732-291-2368.

Thomas and Friends LIVE are coming to the The MAC at Monmouth University for two shows at 3:00pm and 6:00pm.  The show will be Thomas saves the Day. For more Information visit The Mac at Monmouth University Event Schedule for more information.

On Saturday evening February 12th Count Basie will have  A Valentine’s Doo Wop featuring Jimmy Beaumont & the Skyliners, Frankie Lymon’s Legendary Teenagers, The Heartbeats, Cleveland Still & the Dubs, and Special Guest Star Johnny Tillotson.

No matter what you decide to do this weekend, I hope you enjoy.

Check Out What’s New On Our Website!


Sometimes a little techie thing totally makes my day. Today was that sometimes. This little “media bar” you see above with the red arrow pointing to it (click the pic to enlarge) is the reason. L.E.T. Group is our website host and I’ve worked with them for years (through my previous employer too) and I just love what they offer. I wrote a post back in April when they were designing our then new website.

This morning I saw a L.E.T. Group (@letgroup) tweet about the new media bar with a link to a hotel that had activated it.  It was love at “first site” and I had to have it. L.E.T. made it so easy, it took all of about 5 minutes to set up. Feel free to visit our website and check it out.

I sent an email to support asking for a blogging link and a Foursquare link, so we’ll have to wait and see if they add them to the next release. I’m glad my friends on Twitter shared my excitement this morning, everyone around here  thinks I’m a little bit crazy. It might have been the happy dance.

Let us know what you think of our new media bar in the comments below. Are there media bars you use and really like? Leave that too!

Red Bank Wedding Walk This Weekend


The second annual Red Bank Wedding Walk will take place this weekend. Starting at 9:00am Saturday, November 13th Red Bank RiverCenter and the town of Red Bank will promoting downtown as a one stop shop for all things wedding related.  A wide array of services and vendors are represented in the over 30 businesses and sponsors that are participating is this successful event. Registration takes place at the Oyster Point Hotel starting at 9:00am. Brides will receive a Wedding Walk map and tote bag.

Take advantage of the different transportation options including limousine, wedding trolley or shuttle.  Weather permitting, you are able to walk from location to location.  The concluding reception will be at Molly Pitcher Inn.  For more information call Margaret Mass at Red Bank RiverCenter at 732.842.4244 or Rainey Alwell at the Oyster Point Hotel at 732.530.8200 x155.

Comfort Inn Middletown-Red Bank is just 2.5 miles north of Red Bank and a great location for your wedding guests to spend the night.  We hope everyone enjoys the walk, it’s a great way to see all that Red bank has to offer.