“I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. All these directory sites with “Gold”, “Platinum”, “Silver”, “Bronze” categories – as well as a free listing – are missing a trick. As I’m sure most people have realised, a “free” listing is worth about as much as you pay for it. So, they list you for free, then point out how few bookings you’ve got, because you have a free, low-priority listing, and press you to upgrade. Inevitably, you don’t, because you have only negative experience of their site and, as Clausewitz said: “Never reinforce failure.” I’ve got “Scoot” trying to do this with me right now.
I know many sites like having lots of properties listed, even if most of them don’t get anything out of it, but starting with a free listing just isn’t going to cut it. They’d be much better off (if their site is any good, that is) by:
- Offering you a free TRIAL subscription, for three to six months, at the top rate – where (allegedly) 90% of the bookings go.
- Offering detailed statistics on the entry’s performance and using those stats to sell a renewal.
If the B&B doesn’t bite, for whatever reason, relegate them to the free entries section. It has got to be easier to sell from success than from failure, and the customer gets evidence of real value.
Another thing that really gets me is the absence of statistics. It is the work of a moment for such directory sites to:
(1) Generate numbers of referrals.
(2) Sort them by area, type of entry, type of B&B, type of enquirer and any other category you care to mention.But they don’t.
Getting data out of them is harder than getting blood out of a stone. They might say, “Oh, we had 600,000 hits last months.” I’m not that interested in hits; I’m interested in click-throughs to my website. I want to hear something along the lines of, “3,000 click-throughs, of which 80% went to our 200 Gold entries; 15% to our 500 Silver entries; 3% to our 1,000 Bronze entries, and the remaining 2% to our 10,000 free entries. That translates to:
- Each Gold entry got 15 enquiries, on average.
- Each Silver entry got 0.9 enquiries, on average.
- Each Bronze entry got 0.09 enquiries, on average.
- The free entries got virtually nil.
I’m also deeply dispirited by the concept of: “Great news! For only £9/month we’ll build a great entry for you, with lots of detail, photographs, online booking and more…”
My immediate thought is: “Oh, God, another b****y web-site to maintain.” Our B&B is listed on over 40 sites as it is and just checking them regularly to make sure they are all singing from the same hymn sheet is a serious burden.
What I really want to hear are two things:
(1) “We’ll put tools in place so that, whenever your web-site changes, we’ll make sure our entry changes to reflect it”.
And, even better…
(2) “So, you’re with Eviivo and Booking.com, and… (insert other names here!). Let us protect you from the nightmare of diary updating and the risk of double bookings. For mere millions, we’ll keep all of your availability diaries in sync; you just get the bookings.”
I don’t know if it’s too much to ask. What I DO know is that, if you don’t ask you don’t get…”