What Do B&B Owners Want From Directory Sites?


B&B owner Rupert Richardson

“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…”

4 thoughts on “What Do B&B Owners Want From Directory Sites?

  1. This really struck a chord, this link landing in my in tray just after another request to ‘upgrade’ my free listing on a site that’s now entering its second year. I’d spent half an hour or so scanning the site and trying to find out if I felt it was worth my £50 – having had a few people linking to my site from theirs, but no clear knowledge if they had gone on to book as a result. (People rarely remember where they saw me first). I absolutely agree that that the only way to persuade people to advertise on yet another site is by proving that doing so works, and if that means giving the best service on a trial basis, surely that has to be worth their while.

  2. Oh I am so with you on that… I don’t even bother with the free listings now, as I can see no value in going there. I can tell that approx 80% of my website hits come from searches, (whether that be Google, Yahoo or Bing), so why would I entertain going with another place that might dilute my website traffic!

  3. Well said Rupert! Gone are the days when directories where the end all and be all of bookings for B&B – serious B&Bs have their own web sites and position those sites to come up for their relevant keywords. Why anyone would try to start a new one now – and CHARGE for it to get it off the ground is beyond me!

  4. Good article but why be listed on 40 websites? Do they all bring business? I look at the top ten from my google analytics and forget the rest. How to choose in the first place? We find local regional directories best as they come high in search engine rankings. Also, guests tell us that they use TripAdvisor for all their research before booking……draw your own conclusions.

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