This week and next week, we’re delighted to be publishing a 2-part guest blog in theBandBer by Yvonne Halling, owner of “Les Molyneux”, a luxury B&B in France’s Champagne region. In Part 1, Yvonne talks about the importance of online marketing and the new success she has enjoyed since focusing on it.
“What’s the difference between a B&B that is succeeding and a B&B that is failing? Some owners believe it’s about the furnishings, the position, the bed linen, the food, but although all these things are important, I don’t believe it’s about any of them. I believe it’s about marketing. In Part 1 of this article, I’m going to show you how I quadrupled my B&B revenue in less than a year, when I embraced online marketing principles and technology. I’m going to share with you how to set yourself up to succeed online. And in Part 2 I’m going to show you how to use online technology to do your marketing for you, while adding huge value to your guests’ experience. It’s not difficult, but few people do it. Will you be one of them? I hope so.
Let’s get started…
- Choose who you want to serve
You’ve probably heard the saying, you can’t please everyone, and we shouldn’t try to. Choose the market where you feel most comfortable and then set out your stall (website) to attract those guests. For example, if you love welcoming children or pets, then make sure there are lots of pictures of children and pets on your site. Add some stories too about them. Choose your keywords carefully, so that when families travelling with their furry friends are searching on Google (which is where everyone searches, by the way) you will automatically come up on the first page.
You could also think about why people come to your area. What to do they love to do when they come? Position yourself as the “go-to” person in your local area for knowledge and insider information and people will automatically book with you, and tell their friends.
- Set up a website designed to attract your ideal guest
Getting technically savvy is an absolute must these days, if you don’t want to get left behind. Many B&B owners tell me that their market (usually older people) is not online, but they are mistaken. According to recent research by Comscore, the fastest growing group online is 55-65 year old females.
Your website is your shop window, your first impression, and you only have 7 seconds to make an impression. Make sure that your potential guests can easily see whether you are the right B&B for them, or not. Don’t waste their time, making them wade through too much text before they can make their minds up. They’ll just get bored and leave.
Your home page must entice them in to find out more. Your navigation bar should have between 5 and 7 tabs only. Don’t bombard them. They want to quickly find out what they want and book – or not, so don’t make them work
And some B&B owners don’t even have a website! Shocking, I know, but true.
- Online Booking Systems
Install an Online Booking System and allow your guests to choose which way THEY want to book. I know that a lot of B&B owners resist this.
Take the other day for example. I phoned a fellow B&B in my local area to find out if he had rooms available for some guests whom I could not accommodate. I asked him how his season was going and if he needed more guests. He started to complain a little that although he’d spent a small fortune on renovations and accessorising, the weather was preventing guests from booking and that his business was not doing as well as last year, presumably because of the weather.
I enquired as to whether he had installed an online booking system, which makes it much easier for potential guests to book, and he was adamant in his reply. He hadn’t got an online booking system because none of his guests had asked for it, and he felt that the personal touch would be lost if he used one. This is fairly typical of most B&B owners responses in my experience, especially with those who have been running their B&B before the internet.
Times have changed, people. An online booking system, and one that sits on YOUR site, not a third party booking agent who takes a hefty commission, is one of the first steps I took to quadruple my B&B revenue just a few short years ago. Yes, quadruple. None of my guests had asked for it either, but the effect it had on my business was frankly, nothing short of amazing.
Make it easy for potential guests to find you, and then easier still for them to book with you. Those are the first two principles I learned and implemented, and the results speak for themselves. In Part 2 of this article, I will show you how I use more online tools and technology to do the work for me. Stay tuned…”
(You can read Part 2 here.)
Yvonne Halling owns and runs “Les Molyneux” Luxury B&B in the heart of the Champagne region of France. She also coaches other B&B owners who are serious about building a sustainable and profitable businesses. You can find her at http://bedandbreakfastcoach.com