The concept of earned value

This photo of Spruce Point Inn Resort and Spa is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Preparing for opening day a month from now, we’ve been reading the TripAdvisor reviews(and photos like this one) that have brought us a Certificate of Excellence, three years in a row. As anyone with a small business like ours knows, the kudos are wonderful; but it’s the collection of details, tips and suggestions that point us in directions that will benefit our guests, our team and the overall value of Spruce Point Inn.

We learn how customers perceive the experience, every step of the way. We reinforce our best assumptions about how each of our different rooms, cottages and townhomes work for different types of guests. We reconnect in our minds with repeat guests who love Boothbay Harbor and Maine so much they can’t imagine vacationing anywhere else.

We also rehearse the challenges, like addressing an early hurricane on July 4th weekend!

In the world of marketing, we’ve come to appreciate the concept of “earned media value.” It’s an effort to quantify the effect of a positive travel story, compared to the straight-out purchase of ad space. To calculate “earned media value” we ask would it have cost if we had simply bought the space that article took up? It’s a simple matter of calculating the ad rate times the length of the story to quantify the value of a nice review.

Earned media value is weighted somewhat by the fact that media with bigger audiences command a higher price. But it does not take in the endorsement factor that makes word of mouth recommendations so highly prized. Making a DownEast “Best of” or Conde Nast Readers’ Choice list means we’ve passed the scrutineering of a distinguished judge. Instead of telling people why they should stay at Spruce Point; we’re inviting (and then celebrating) reviews. It seems it’s always opening night. And each day brings a new opportunity to entrance and engage the audience.

When you look at it another way, “earned value” means exactly what it says: the value you earn – not one you pay for, or barter, or get with “smoke and mirrors.” It’s a value encompassing the whole operation and every moment that guests trust their precious leisure to our hands. Here at Spruce Point and all along the Mid-Coast we enjoy a quality of life that comes in no small part from delivering the value we’ve dedicated our professional lives to create, playing our parts to realize the vision of Vacationland. We haven’t come to this by accident. We have come to it by choice.

I guess you could say, we got it the old-fashioned way: we earned it.