Like most visual aspects of life, a bed and breakfast’s website is very much a personal thing. That said, there are certain practical additions that are absolutely necessary to ensure you give yourself the best chance of getting extra bookings. Here are a few strategies that – if done well – can make a real difference.
1. Great images help your customers relate to your B&B. These are so important it’s worth considering getting them done professionally. Start by identifying what customers like or love about your property and then try to capture that in images. For example, make a note if you really want to show a particular aspect of your property or area that is seasonal: it could be bluebells, a certain shrub in full flower or the autumn leaves in woodland nearby. Never underestimate the power of these images as they really speak to us on a deeper emotional level.
Fairly or unfairly, the classic image of B&B owners is of people over a certain age: usually a couple who have either retired or decided to get out of the rat race. This not only underestimates how stressful B&B ownership can be, but also ignores the growing trend for people to choose it as a career much earlier in their lives. At theBandBer.com we’re always keen to challenge outmoded views of the business, so we were delighted to hear from Marin & Allison, who own the lovely Pines of Dresden B&B in Dresden, Ohio, an hour away from the state capital, Columbus.
Having met one another in Malibu, fresh out of college, Marin & Allison spent seven years travelling across large parts of the western and southern United States along with a large part of Asia. In 2006, after four years of living in Japan, they decided to return to the USA and open their B&B. I was intrigued to find out what made them choose B&B ownership as a career and what their experience of it has been like so far.
An exclusive interview with accommodation owner Caroline Cashmore about her experience of “daily deals” site, KGB Deals
We all know that the Cold War has been over (officially anyway) for more than 20 years now. But who would ever have imagined that UK hotels would be signing up with the KGB!
Allow me to explain. Regular readers of “theBandBer” will remember that a little while back we reported on the Groupon experience of Neil & Sally Taylor, owners of the Torcroft Hotel in Torquay. Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking to Caroline Cashmore, who owns and runs the Glazebrook Country House Hotel with her husband, David. Rather than Groupon, they decided to participate in a promotion with a similar deal-of-the-day site, called KGB Deals.
We’ve had a very stimulating response, as always, to our guest post from Sally Taylor at the Torcroft Hotel in Devon, about her experience of running a Groupon Campaign. A whopping 93% of those who voted in our online poll said they wouldn’t consider selling through the flash sales site. They offered their opinions via theBandBer.com itself, as well as LinkedIn and Facebook (good to see social media bringing B&B folk together). Here’s a selection of their comments:
“We did a ‘very special’ offer last year via The Sunday Times (Sunday Nights promotion) and got a few bookings – most of these, like the guests you mentioned, just wanted as much as possible for as little as possible. We wouldn’t do that sort of offer again.”
‘Why did we decide to sign up with Groupon? To be perfectly honest, we decided that we had nothing to lose and everything to gain. One of the problems facing the owners of small hotels and B & Bs is how to attract customers during these difficult economic times. Faced with the ongoing costs of running a business – mortgages, rates, utility bills and ongoing repairs, it’s not an option to sit the recession out and hope things will get better. The obvious option is to make your customer an offer they can’t refuse, but how does the small guesthouse compete with the big boys such as Premier Inn? The real challenge is how to get your offer out to potential guests when you don’t have a huge marketing budget that allows for primetime TV ads and pay for clicks campaigns to ensure you stay on the front page of Google. Once upon a time, B & B owners could put their property on a few internet holiday sites and sit and wait for the bookings to come in. No longer. The internet has changed beyond recognition in recent years, and marketing is now a highly sophisticated operation. Most owners of small hotels have to juggle cooking breakfast and making beds, with the business side of things. The Marketing Director is also the on-call plumber and bottle-washer.’
Well, we had a great response from readers to our article on Special Offers and our online poll, where we asked the question, “Do you use Special Offers to boost sales?” 67% of respondents said “Yes”, 33% said “No”. (You can read Part 1 of this article here)
Some interesting new thoughts, via Tnooz, from Mark Hayward, who owns the Palmetto Guesthouse in Puerto Rico. As part of his marketing strategy, Mark has been particularly active in travel forums, especially TripAdvisor’s. He comments: “Over the years my forum efforts have been unquestionably rewarded with an increase in lodging inquiries and paying customers. Perhaps, even better, many arriving guests comment on the fact that, due to our online interaction, they felt like they already ‘knew’ us.”
Special Offers are a great way to increase bookings as long as they’re targeted and well thought out. You only need to visit one of the large online agencies to see the hundreds of offers across the hotels. They are there because everyone likes a bargain, but remember offers are meant to increase your revenues and profits not lower them. Here are some tips:
Some interesting new insights – via USA Today – from online travel company, Orbitz. Its CEO, Barney Hardford, says that mobile devices are becoming disproportionately important when it comes to customers booking rooms at the last moment.
So, the Torcroft Hotel’s Groupon campaign is now over. But last week, I caught up with Neil & Sally Taylor to find out how it was going. When we spoke, they were four days into their great Groupon adventure.