This Mississippi B&B remains one of the best in the world
Published 1:18 pm Tuesday, February 6, 2018
NATCHEZ — Oak Hill Inn has climbed the ranks of the world’s best bed-and-breakfasts largely through learning one key lesson — the Internet is king.
The inn recently received TripAdvisor.com’s coveted 2018 Traveler’s Choice award, landing Oak Hill at No. 6 on the site’s list of the top 25 B&B’s in the United States.
In the past seven years, the B&B has garnered the recognition five times, something owner Doug Mauro believes to be unprecedented.
In 2014, BuzzFeed named Oak Hill one of the 13 most amazing B&B’s in the world.
When Mauro and Donald McGlynn bought the 1835 antebellum house in 2004 and spent two years restoring it, he initially envisioned a nice place to retire. Before long, he grew bored and decided the house’s charm along with its secluded atmosphere made for an ideal bed and breakfast setting.
“This is one of the only dead-end streets downtown,” he said of Oak Hill’s garden district location at the end of Rankin Street. “We’re two blocks to Main Street, but it’s like we’re out in the country. We have bald eagles in my neighbor’s cedar tree; we have great horned owls; we have fox; we have armadillo.”
Mauro said the establishment had done well in its first few years, but approximately 10 years ago, he had an epiphany of sorts when he asked one of his guests how she heard about the inn, as he was accustomed to doing.
“She said, ‘Oh, you have over … 100 five-star reviews.’ I said, ‘Where,’” Mauro recalled. “I had never heard of Trip Advisor.”
As the guest pulled up the site, Mauro realized his business had left a digital footprint, unbeknownst to him.
“I’m reading all these reviews, I didn’t even know they were there,” he said. “All it takes is for one person to start the ball rolling and put a review on.
Today, Oak Hill has 1,030 reviews, of which 97-percent left a rating of ‘excellent,’ the equivalent of what Mauro called a five-star review.
Many of the reviews tout the inn’s breakfast, which Mauro credits to McGlynn’s past experience working at Brennan’s Restaurant, located in New Orleans’ French Quarter.
But the recognition has done far more for the inn than give it bragging rights, Mauro said. In fact, it’s learned how to thrive in the digital age by broadening the scope of whom it attracts.
Mauro said a look at the guest registry reveals visitors from all over the world.
“Australia, Tasmania, England, Ireland,” Mauro said.
And with Trip Advisor’s worldwide presence, marketing Oak Hill Inn’s became that much easier with each award.
“It does help, because they can book right from the Internet,” Mauro said. “There’s a link to our website, and then they can send a request for a reservation … it’s really opened the world up.”
Aside from the awards, Oak Hill markets itself via FaceBook and also by sending out press releases after receiving accolades.
Mauro has increased the size of that digital footprint he noticed a decade ago to sasquatch-sized, helping the bed and breakfast to stand out from destinations all over the world, let alone the stiff competition of the at least 40 other bed and breakfasts in Natchez.