What is B&B marketing?
Marketing is such an important aspect of running your B&B.
With higher levels of competition and more savvy travellers today, you have to be active, targeted, and inventive with your marketing and sales strategies.
Marketing your B&B today can be very challenging at times, for a few reasons:
1. Ranking high on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) is incredibly difficult
It used to be that a few keywords and links back to your website would give you the rankings you needed to stay visible to the most motivated travellers on the web.
But the SEO game has changed completely, so you need to make sure that you’re keeping up with the times.
Not only that, but you may notice that OTA listings of your hotel appears higher than your website.
A few ways to improve your SEO rankings is to…
- Remember the basics and incorporate keywords into your page titles, meta descriptions and content.
- Make sure your site is optimized for mobile platforms, as this is a significant factor in the ranking algorithm.
- Make your page load quickly — a slow site speed will prevent you from earning high rankings.
2. Competing for traveller attention is nearly impossible
The online booking journey includes many steps for travellers who are planning their trips.
While they want to discover the options and destinations available to them online, they don’t want to spend a lot of time searching.
With short attention spans and little free time, it’s difficult for small hotels to compete for attention.
Creating an all-encompassing website that provides travellers with the information they need is the best way to captivate your target audience.
High-resolution photographs, videos, information about the local area and descriptions of your room will help keep travelers on your site.
3. It’s becoming harder to get repeat customers
For most people, travel is a luxury and they may only take one or two trips per year.
This means that it is difficult for small hotels – particularly those that offer authentic experiences in unique destinations – to secure repeat customers.
When travellers only get to enjoy one or two getaways each year, they may not go back to the same destination and stay in the same hotel.
So what can you do? Instead of focusing on repeat business, prioritise referrals and online feedback to use past customers to generate new guests.
What else can you do to market better? This blog will give you a complete guide to marketing your small property, including a number of helpful tips to get more guests through the door.
Bed and Breakfast marketing principles
One of the most obvious and necessary ways to market and sell your B&B is to partner with online travel agents.
It’s a guaranteed way of putting your B&B or hotel in front of more travellers than ever before, even though in most cases you will pay commission fees and commit to a rate parity agreement. You still need OTAs to promote your property on a global scale.
Here’s a few of his tips to combat rate parity challenges:
- Implement a pop-up email capture
When a new visitor arrives on your website, a pop-up email capture will instantly ask them to provide their email address and their preferred stay month.
This is valuable information for you, as it allows you to better target your products to a prospective guest. Entice them to complete the form by offering them access to a private discount page.
- Create a discount page that is private
A private discount page will be inviting to your website visitors, who are searching for the best deal for their upcoming trip. This gives them the instant satisfaction they are looking for, and will motivate them to provide you with more information.
Beyond that, since the page is private and not searchable, you don’t have to stress about rate parity and maintaining consistent rates across all channels.
- Do another email capture as visitors exit the site.
If a customer opts out of the email prompt initially, you can invite them once again to provide you with their information and preferred stay month as they are leaving the site.
With this prompt, encourage them to leave an email in order to receive exclusive discounts for their desired stay month.
- Use an autoresponder email
Your booking engine should provide your potential guests with personalised, automatic emails in a specific order.
This order encourages your guests to book with you by providing them with extra information about your property, such as a feature on your dining options or an e-mail about your amenities.
These are some of the most powerful email marketing tools available, but many hotels are not taking advantage of them.
- Target emails to potential customers based on their stay month
Targeting based on their preferred stay month will improve your chances of converting your customers. Add email tracking to these messages to see who opens them, who clicks on the links and who finalises their booking.
Avoid these marketing mistakes
As you evaluate your most recent promotional campaigns and your overall marketing plan, you will want to identify what is working well and what could use improvement.
Are you targeting the wrong audience for your hotel? Are you utilising the wrong channels?
Here are the top five hotel marketing mistakes that brands make and quick ways to avoid making them at your property:
1. Marketing only to travellers who are committed to travelling
Far too many hotel brands gear all of their promotions toward people who have already decided to visit their particular destination. This limits your reach and can prevent you from securing a completely different demographic.
Instead, target some of your promotions to people who may not be considering a vacation. Create an inspirational B&B marketing strategy that gives them motivation to book a getaway — likely at your location.
2. Creating a static hotel marketing strategy
Your essential hotel marketing strategy should not be something that you complete and set aside, like an old homework assignment from school. Rather, it should be something that is flexible — a living document of sorts. You should frequently evaluate and edit your hotel marketing strategy in order to verify that it’s both relevant and effective.
3. Using an overly-complex online booking engine
Travelers from across the globe are frequently confronted with frustrating and complex booking engines on hotel websites. It can be difficult for them to understand what the price will be for the room they want during the days of their trip.
Avoid this and increase your conversions by investing in an online booking system that offers simple forms, clear booking information, and minimal clicks. The less time it takes your guests to book their room, the more direct bookings you will earn through your hotel website.
4. Over-posting on social media with limited user engagement
People follow hotel brands on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in order to stay informed about the latest promotions and remain connected with their preferred brands. The quickest way to lose followers on social media is to spam users with excessive posts.
Your problem is only exacerbated if you refuse to engage and interact with the people who are commenting on and liking your posts. Instead, keep your posts relevant and post at powerful times of the day. Respond to all comments – both positive and negative – in order to increase engagement with your brand.
5. Prioritising web traffic rather than guest conversions
It doesn’t matter how many people visit your website if your conversions continue to decline or remain stagnant.
Bed and breakfast marketing strategy
Creating an effective hotel marketing strategy is pivotal to your success as a small brand, but it can be challenging to adopt all of the essential hotel marketing policies and make them work for your property.
There are always new marketing best practice tips that are released, specifically for hotels, but you will want to identify what works best for your own B&B marketing strategy.
Email marketing continues to be a strong driver for traffic, engagement and bookings.
Considering B&B’s don’t have the budget of larger accommodation providers email marketing is an essential part of any small business marketing plan.
Here is when you should start implementing email marketing at your B&B…
- When you need to drive more direct bookings
Email marketing is one of your strongest tools to outdo OTA’s and Metasearch. Unlike OTA websites, you have complete control over where your email campaign directs your customers. This means you can lead them to your website booking page, making it clear and simple for them to book direct.
Use headlines that offer an incentive to book with you, such as “Save 20% when you book direct” or “$10 restaurant voucher when you book on our website”.
- When you need more reviews
Email is a great way to passively remind your guests to leave you a review on review sites or on social media . If you don’t have the time to be scheduling and sending emails, use your front desk system to automate clever emails to your guests, asking them to review you.
Send a quick email to check how your guests stay was and ask if they have any feedback on how you could have improved their experience. If their response is negative then thank them for their honesty and let them know how you will try to resolve this issue in the future, this small change might mean they decide they will return to stay with you again. If they give positive feedback then ask them to leave you a review on sites like TripAdvisor.
The best way to use email to encourage a review is by offering an incentive. This includes encouraging a repeat booking such as “Tell us about your stay and next time you stay with us, we’ll take 10% of your bill”. With this you will not only encourage return visits but also convert your customer into a direct booking.
- To promote guest loyalty and build brand engagement
To make the most revenue from each guest, B&B owners need to encourage guest loyalty and repeat direct bookings from guests create special promotions from your email marketing list. Keep in touch with your guests using pre and post stay emails and after they leave ensure you offer them some incentive to return.
And here’s how you can put it to work at your B&B:
Be careful with images
Showing lovely pictures of your rooms, pool and breakfast area makes plenty of sense. Obviously you want to draw guests to you with images of the vacation they crave.
Be careful, though. Many spam filters look for image-weighty emails that don’t have the text to back them up. If you don’t want to head straight to the junk folder, make sure you also include some great copy telling readers all about those pictures.
Keep guests updated with clever prose and witty subject lines
We all know that feeling of realising someone shouldn’t be in your inbox anymore. If you don’t want to be the emailer who gets unsubscribed, it’s important to make your efforts subtle and fun. Sure, update them on the weather, the season’s activities and your current steals, but don’t hammer them over the head.
Instead, use witty banter and clever subject lines to reel them in. Want to tell them all about summer activities? Your subject line shouldn’t be “Summer Activities at Lake Washington” unless you’re hoping to help them sleep (then unsubscribe when they wake up).
Don’t be afraid to use longer subject lines, either. They’re your first line of attack and most email providers today will show them in their entirety.
Use simple software
Keeping track of your email marketing efforts is hard enough without further complicating things by requiring you go software-less. Instead of winging it, use a smart marketing program that helps you track your opens and click throughs, easily duplicate blasts and modify them without fuss.
Once you get more comfortable sending emails, you can begin to track consumer behaviour with more complicated funnels and automations. Understanding which guests book at which times, how they behave during times such as the Christmas holidays, and what deals generate the best responses will help you keep rooms full in future as well.
A strategy is always based around more than one tactic. As you develop your B&B marketing strategy, you probably have several concrete goals that you want to meet. This might include achieving a certain number of likes on your Facebook page, or increasing your unique visitors to your b&B website by specific percentages. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the overall goal of your marketing strategy needs to be raising awareness about your brand and reaching as many customers as possible.
Email marketing is a start but there is much more you can do, including using your own guests as marketing tools. Here’s a couple of ways that your guests can provide customer feedback while also promoting your brand online:
- Sharing more about their guest experience on popular online review sites
In fact, interested travelers often rely on these online reviews sites for honest and objective feedback about a particular hotel or hotel brand prior to booking their stay. An increasing number of travelers each year consult these sites prior to finalising their reservation with a hotel online.
- Providing recommendations about their stay to their family members and friends, often through social media
Social media allows people to share what they are doing, what they like and how they are feeling at any given moment. It’s not uncommon for guests to post that they are staying at a particular hotel, and you can expect them to share both positive and negative experiences as well. These word-of-mouth recommendations are valued by friends and family members, and can influence their perception of your brand.
So, you know that online reviews are a powerful force and a driving factor for potential guests who are undecided as to where to book their next stay.
Now you need to get your previous and current guests to leave feedback about their own guest experience.
Here are a few ways to encourage online reviews and customer feedback:
- Send automatic emails requesting that guests leave feedback about their stay
If you send an email within 1 to 3 days of checking out, you can include a request for guests to leave a review on your preferred review site. By offering them a direct link to your profile, you make it easy and convenient for them to provide information for fellow travelers. This proves that you value the customer experience at your property and that you are willing to accept feedback from your customers.
- Offer a reward or incentive for leaving an online review
A free promotional product or a discount toward a future stay can go a long way toward motivating your guests to provide positive feedback about your brand. Sometimes, people just need a little bit of convincing, and a reward can be the perfect option.
- Ask your guests in person to leave a review as they are checking out from your property
People are generally very responsive to in-person requests for feedback. This gives you time to quickly explain the importance of feedback, and also opens up the line of direct communication between you and your guests.
Developing a bed and breakfast marketing plan
When you find B&B marketing strategies that work, it’s easy to fall into the confines of your comfort zone and stick with what you know. While that can help you drive continuous traffic to your B&B’s website and earn regular bookings, you’ll also want to make sure to try out new plans every now and then.
However, when you’re trying to develop digital marketing strategies at your B&B, you’re also likely swamped with a big daily to-do list that comes with every small accommodation business. This can leave little time for discovering new ideas or reading about the latest marketing trends in the industry.
Here’s what you can do:
Schedule a weekly time that is specifically dedicated to researching
Make a point of winding down the week for an hour on Friday by devouring business journals and marketing blogs, or use Wednesday as an opportunity for a midweek pick me up to search for new ideas on how to reach your target markets.
Make social listening a priority
You’ve likely developed a social media presence on all of the top platforms, including YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. While it’s important to post frequently and encourage engagement, it’s perhaps more important to actively listen to your social followers.
The feedback that they provide in the comments and through direct messages can provide you with enlightening insight into how your target audience perceives your brand.
Take time every day to review comments and feedback on your social networking sites, and respond accordingly. Swift, effective responses are appreciated by those who follow brands and businesses on social media.
Check your analytics on a regular basis
You won’t really know how effective your marketing campaigns are unless you check your analytics regularly. You should review your analytics and evaluate the most important metrics at least once per week, if not once per day.
Knowing the status of your website traffic and the demographics of who is engaging with your online content will allow you to refine your marketing strategies so that they produce better results.
Start looking at “small data”
Small data is just bite-sized bits of information that you can use to quickly, easily and effectively enhance your online marketing strategy.
Kinds of small data that you can use to develop your small hotel marketing plan:
- Keyword research
- SEO Ranking
- Competitor Rankings
- Social media comments and online reviews
- Opinions of your small hotel
- Opinions of your competitors
- Channel reports
- Booking popularity based on day
- Type of traveller that books with you
When you use this “small data” to enhance your small hotel marketing strategy, you can make a big impact.
An online marketing plan that is based on facts and trends will bring an increased number of visitors to your hotel website as well as boost the conversions that you receive.
Bed and Breakfast advertising tips for social media
Social media is obviously highly saturated so one way to break through and create a little more interest is by running competitions.
Social media competitions are a useful technique to assist B&Bs in their marketing goals, improve their online presence, and drive direct bookings.
Here’s 3 important marketing aspirations for hoteliers and how you can use social media competitions to reach them:
Goal #1 Increasing followers
Use a social media competition that requires people to like and follow your account before they can participate. In addition, incorporate an incentive for the participant to share the contest on their own social media accounts. This will increase the visibility of the competition and draw more participants.
Another way to promote your contest is through paid social ads. This works best if you have a reasonable following already, then you can target people who would be most interested in the competition you are offering.
Best competition type to use: Instant Win
With instant win your customer is immediately promised something for a simple task. For example, “Free breakfast when you like and share our page.”
Goal #2 Build your email list
Similarly you can use social media competitions to ask potential customers to provide their name and email address during registration.
Then, even if they do not win, you can follow up with an email campaign offering competition related discounts such as “Thanks for participating in our competition, we want everyone to be a winner so here’s 10% off your next stay with us”.
Best competition to use: Sweepstakes
With a sweepstake contest you simple ask participants to comment their name and email before picking a winner at random to receive the prize. Hoteliers can increase bookings by positioning the prize as something the customer will receive when booking a room at your hotel: “Comment your name and email below for your chance to win a $100 bar tab when you stay at our B&B.”
Goal #3 Grow engagement and drive traffic
Customers are far more likely to engage with this type of fun and competitive content. You can even use campaigns which ask customers to create their own content and tag you, such as instagram photo competitions.
With your page traffic increasing make sure you have a way to take bookings straight from your Facebook page by integrating a commission-free booking engine.
Best competition to use: Rewards
This is where your customer is instantly rewarded for interacting with your page. For example: “Like us on Facebook to receive a $10 voucher for our B&B”.
The guidelines for a reward competition can be anything from sharing content to commenting or tagging a friend.
Best practice tips for creating a social media competition:
- Offer prizes that appeal to your target market: If you are a B&B which mainly attracts families consider offering free kids meals
- Make sure to advertise the prize clearly in the headline and that there is a time limit
- Don’t ask for complex personal information beyond name and email, customers will be less likely to give out their information if you ask for too much
- More than 70% of social media marketers use visual assets in their social media marketing so be sure to decorate your competition post with a high res image
Throughout the last decade, social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, launched as the latest innovative platforms on the web. In a matter of moments, these sites have become an integral part of our daily lives. Today, travellers use social media to discover new destinations, to connect with other globetrotters and learn more about the places they might stay on their next trip.
Here are some of the most important and current B&B social media trends that you can use at your property:
- Increase the frequency of posting videos
Social media users, and millennials in particular, are more interested in video content than photo or text posts. Your videos must be short, sweet and engaging. Aim to recapture the attention of your target audience every four seconds, and be sure that your videos offer captions so users can absorb the content without volume. Post relevant videos several times per week to stay on your prospective guests’ feeds.
- Take advantage of live streaming
Facebook Live and other live streaming social platforms are sweeping through all of the widely-used networking sites. Go live in the kitchen when you are making your latest homemade concoction, or offer a live glimpse into the peaceful patio on your property at sunset. Allow users to experience your B&B from their screens, which will convince them to head to your website and book directly with you. It’s the latest way to invite your guests to your B&B, and data shows that users are becoming increasingly reliant on this type of social content.
- Offer digital payment platforms on your social networking sites
Mobile wallet apps and social payment options are becoming increasingly prevalent, particularly in the travel industry. Rather than clicking your website link from your Facebook profile to find your online booking form, users would prefer to click a simple “Book Now” button right from your Facebook page. Integrate your online booking system with your social media profiles to take advantage of mobile payment options, and make sure that you are able to accept payments from secure mobile wallet apps.
- Utilise the popular messaging apps
Social media is not just about discovering your property, it’s about communicating with you as an innkeeper. Travelers expect that they can reach you instantly through messaging apps, like Facebook Messenger. Be ready to respond promptly, as your response time is recorded and displayed for other guests to see.
Personalise your social content
Social networking sites like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are constantly adapting their algorithms to keep the feeds relevant for their users. They prioritize personalized content as well as visual content. Learn more about your target market segments, and create customized content for those specific groups to stay at the top of their feeds.
B&B advertising: Utilising video content
Society is watching a huge amount of video content on social media each day. If you’re not using video on social media at your business then you are missing out on a huge opportunity to reach potential customers.
This form of marketing is very accessible because small businesses don’t need to hire a production company, all they need to create great social content is a mobile device with a camera. Recognising the popularity of social video content and using it effectively in your B&B advertising strategy will ensure a good return.
Social video has helped Airbnb reach more than 2.5 million people on social media
The year 2020 is upon us; the year when it’s estimated global consumer traffic will constitute for over 80% of internet traffic. Social video is a powerful method of communication because it offers a short and simple way to provide information to these consumers. This is why video is continually picking up speed and has become deeply embedded in the marketing strategies of many big brands.
Jonathan Mildenhall, CMO of Airbnb, said “Real time storytelling is where the world is headed”.
Stay ahead of the competition
91% of retail brands are using two or more channels on social media, meaning customers are being presented with a lot of content they will, eventually, just ignore. By using social video you stand out from the crowd in a creative and entertaining way.
Personalise your brand
The prevalence of Facebook videos have increased 360% across the newsfeed, and Facebook Live videos are watched three times longer than regular videos. This is a great way to tell your stories in a candid and organic way.
These videos are only visible for 24 hours, so you could broadcast how amazing it is to stay at your B&B by filming your staff performing daily tasks to improve guests experience, your amazing breakfast, or happy guests enjoying your facilities.
It is important to note that 85% of all Facebook videos are viewed without sound. This is usually because viewers are in public and being respectful of the people around them. This means brands need to consider creating content that either; a) doesn’t need sound at all, or b) offers captions.
Facebook has also found that using captions on videos increases watch time.
Tip: Keep It Short
In the new digital world our attention spans are shortening, especially online. In a recent study by Google, 53% of visitors viewing a website on a mobile device will leave the page if it takes them more than three seconds to view the fully loaded version. Hoteliers need to create interesting content that conveys the desired message quickly.
Advertising with digital marketing at your B&B
Here are our five tips for hoteliers to tactically use digital marketing…
1. Digital marketing can be free
Digital marketing builds brand awareness without the need to spend a lot of money, or even any at all.
B&Bs can generate free publicity through marketing tools such as:
- Encouraging customers to post images of your brand. For example, on arrival give your guests a small gift with a card that encourages them to post during their stay and tag your social media accounts.
- Find influencers in your area or your niche: you can then invite them to dine or stay a night for free, and in return receive a mention on their social media accounts.
- Market your B&B on free meta sites such as TripAdvisor.
2. Investing a little can help a lot
Investing in essential digital tools like Google Hotel Ads will prove beneficial because they’re a dominant presence on search engines and immediately display information like; rates, availability, reviews, descriptions, Google Street Views and images.
In addition, OTAs have their own digital marketing in place so investing in technology that generates solid reporting on which channels actually work can be invaluable information.
Just make sure your software doesn’t charge you to trial and connect to numerous sites.
3. Create content with a purpose
One of the key purposes of your content should be to optimise your SEO so you can capture organic traffic. A simple way to do this is through a website blog.
A study by HubSpot found that 53% of marketers have blog content creation as their top inbound marketing priority and 76% of people use their Facebook feed to find interesting content.
When writing content keep in mind that customers prefer content that is meaningful and adds value to their experience. So your content should be original and do at least one of the following: educate, inform, entertain, inspire, reward or help.
You could, for example, address possible questions or draw on local excitement.
4. Use social video and quality images
Considering that Facebook posts with images see 2.3x more engagement than those without. Hiring a professional photographer to build your digital image library can be a smart marketing move. Visitors to your website want to see the exterior, the rooms, ratings and reviews as well a booking button.
Creating social video (digital video that is designed to be seen and shared through social networks) is a great way to get into customers social feeds.
5. Personalise your approach
According to Sprout Social, 75% of customers purchased a product because they saw it on social media. So it is important that you post regularly, showcasing your B&B’s features, personality, and representing yourself with a polite tone when responding to customers.
Having a strategy behind your room rates is critical to your success as a small hotel. Not only is it the key to driving profits, but many guests consider hotel rates to be one of the deciding factors of where they choose to stay.
Small hotels need to get even smarter about how they market their rates online, and today’s technology allows managers and operators to do this in clever ways that also help boost revenue.
Keep reading to learn about dynamic rate marketing and how you can apply it to your small hotel.
Rate marketing at your B&B
What is dynamic rate marketing?
For nearly a century, hotels have been using the same forms of rate marketing in order to get guests to book at particular times.
Either hotels describe their rates as “beginning from $100 per night” or giving a rate range such as “ranging from $100 to $300 per night.”
While this has worked for almost 100 years, the interconnected and social travellers of today are looking for more truthful rate marketing. This is where dynamic rate marketing comes into play. Dynamic rate marketing allows hoteliers to use their real-time availability and current pricing to be broadcast into various marketing campaigns.
This is beneficial because potential guests are able to see the exact prices for the rooms they are interested in, and it allows hotel operators to develop more effective marketing strategies.
What are some dynamic rate Marketing tactics you can use at your small hotel?
You may argue that you have a limited budget, but there are definitely ways you can start to dynamically market your room rates, like…
Dynamic rate marketing is probably best implemented in the metasearch realm.
This marketing tactic allows you to incorporate your current rates and live availability on popular meta search sites, such as TripAdvisor, Kayak and Trivago.
By using dynamic rate marketing on meta search sites, you are able to shift attention away from the powerful OTAs and increase your direct bookings.
Banner advertisements that incorporate real-time rates and availability are far more powerful than those same banner ads without dynamic rate marketing.
By integrating dynamic rate marketing with retargeting efforts, you are able to provide your most interested customers with the most current rates and availability.
When they have the most reliable information on hand, they will be more likely to go back to your site and finalise their reservation.
This is a newer way to use dynamic rate marketing.
By incorporating this type of marketing tactic into your email promotions, potential guests will see the most relevant information each time they open their email.
The rates that are displayed will change based on your current availability.
Specialised promotions can be created and dynamic rate marketing techniques can be used in order to encourage guests to book a last-minute stay.
This tactic is particularly useful on mobile platforms, because last-minute bookers tend to use their mobile devices.
Advertising your bed and breakfast with storytelling
Many people who prefer to stay at B&Bs enjoy the character of the property and the authenticity of the experience. They love the fact that they get to know the person who runs the accommodation, and that they have an opportunity to connect with other guests. Telling your story should be part of your B&B marketing strategy, as it allows you to capture the attention of your target market and encourages them to book directly with you.
Here’s why you should use storytelling as part of your B&B branding strategy:
- It allows you to convey your B&B’s voice and tone
It’s up to you to decide which type of voice you want to use for your B&B. You may decide that a crisp, professional tone is the best way to reach your target market segments, or you may prefer an easygoing, relaxed voice that is indicative of the atmosphere at your B&B. No matter which tone you select, you need to keep it consistent in all of your communications and marketing efforts. While storytelling, use the established tone for your B&B to provide your prospective guests with the information they need.
- It gives you the opportunity to tell your story using visual elements
Storytelling isn’t just about the written word, it’s about giving visual insight into your property and the experience guests will enjoy. Slideshows that are posted on your social networking profiles are one option for visual storytelling, and videos are a great multimedia component to add to your website. The opportunities for visual storytelling at your B&B are virtually endless, and you should take advantage of them whenever you can.
- It lets you offer insight into the guests you have welcomed
Remember that storytelling doesn’t always have to be about the history of your property, your background as an innkeeper or the amenities that you offer. It can and should be about your guests. Tell the stories of guests who have stayed there before, and the experience that they enjoyed. Talk about interesting guests you have had stay at your property, and offer anecdotes into their own stories and backgrounds. This showcases that you have a welcoming atmosphere where travelers can connect with one another, which is something that B&B guests crave.
- It enables you to connect with your guests on a personal level
With storytelling, you go beyond describing the rooms that you have, the amenities that you offer and the great deals that are available. While these are all important to promote to encourage direct bookings, the purpose of B&B storytelling is to personalise the online booking experience. With effective storytelling, your guests will feel more like friends and family rather than random travelers looking for the next great deal online.
B&B storytelling is an integral part of your branding strategy, as it allows you to explain who you are and what you have to offer in a way that is relaxed and personal. Recognising that your guests are looking for a different experience than can be found at large chain hotels is a necessary part of the storytelling experience.
Content marketing at your B&B
Content marketing is a powerful addition to your small hotel’s overall B&B marketing strategy. Valuable, informative blog posts and website landing pages not only help enhance your SEO rankings but these elements also can attract motivated and interested travelers.
If you are looking for new hotel website ideas, consider investing in content marketing this year.
Why website blogs are useful
Blogging is beneficial for your B&B in a variety of ways. First and foremost, the overall goal of your website is to provide guests with the most important information about your property and a simple online booking process.
Your website should place priority on visual elements, such as photographs and videos, rather than lengthy descriptions and long landing pages. With a blog, you can go into greater detail about the various amenities that you have at your hotel or the different events that you have scheduled throughout the year.
In addition, it allows you to have fresh, informative content on a frequent basis, which helps boost your ranking on the search engine results page.
What should a hotel cover in its blog?
A hotel can cover a wide variety of topics on its blog, including:
- Detailed descriptions of rooms and amenities at the hotel
Do you have a room at your B&B with a particular theme? Delve into detail about the theme and why you chose it. Add some personality to your online presence through your blog.
- Guides to the local area
You can offer insight into the best local restaurants, the most invigorating hiking trails, or the wineries that guests simply have to hit while they stay at your property.
- Stories from previous guests
You can ask guests to give an account of their stay and showcase those memories on your blog. This will allow future travelers to begin dreaming of their own experience at your hotel.
What content can be included on a blog post?
A blog post doesn’t have to consist solely of written content. Your blog post also can incorporate videos, photographs and other multimedia elements into it.
This can help increase user engagement as well as maximize the amount of time that each visitor spends on your page.
Why will content marketing help sell rooms?
Content marketing can help you sell more rooms at your B&B because it will allow you to maintain high rankings on the search engine results page.
This pivotal presence on the results page ensures that travelers in your targeted segments will be able to quickly and easily find your page. By providing them with valuable, interesting content, they are going to spend more time browsing your site and interacting with your brand.
Ultimately, hotels that have blogs on their websites have a higher number of conversions as well as more direct bookings.
Your B&B marketing strategy should include many different components, including traditional marketing techniques as well as online marketing campaigns.
Content marketing should be one of those valuable components, and can be used to help enhance your brand identity amongst your target audience.
Boutique accommodation: Have you tried remarketing?
When you are developing your online hotel marketing strategy, you likely will include several different components. From your website, to SEO, social media advertising, you will want to cover your bases in order to attract the necessary attention of your target segments and increase your direct reservations.
While creating targeted advertising, you will want to consider remarketing campaign tactics that can help simultaneously increase your site traffic and your boutique hotel bookings.
What is remarketing?
Remarketing is a marketing tactic that allows you to reach out to potential guests who have visited your site without finalising their booking. Many travellers will visit a variety of different B&B websites to explore their options during the research phase of their online booking journey.
In most cases, a visitor who has stumbled upon your site for the first time will not make a booking right away. Instead, they will continue looking at other options. With remarketing strategies, you can access these customers again at different points during their online booking experience and remind them to visit your site again to book with you.
Why is remarketing a useful tool for your brand?
Remarketing is a valuable tool because it allows you to access those previously hard-to-reach visitors who disappeared into the abyss of the Internet after their first visit. Now, you can create targeted ads that are remarketed to site visitors who did not convert into customers.
When they are browsing Facebook the next time, your ad will pop up on the side of their newsfeed and will remind them about the great deals, quaint rooms, and fantastic experiences that you offer at your B&B.
3 tips to help make remarketing work at your B&B
- Begin your remarketing adventures with a campaign that is sure to drive B&B bookings
Don’t try and start five different remarketing campaigns at once, as it will be too difficult to track and too expensive to generate a significant return. Rather, create a powerful first remarketing campaign that offers a great discount or promotion to visitors who come back to your website through the ad to finalize their booking.
- Know which keywords are most valuable in a remarketing campaign
When you are choosing the search terms to purchase for your remarketing strategy, remember that you are targeting potential guests who have already discovered your brand. Rather than selecting specific keywords, opt for broader terms that will reach a higher volume of users.
- Avoid overwhelming your target audience
You don’t want to annoy people who you want to have as guests at your B&B. Rather than creating an excessively frequent remarketing campaign that lasts for a significant period of time, gently remind your site visitors that you are interested in them taking a second look at what you have to offer. Set a reasonable duration that allows your potential guests to see your remarketing ads several times yet doesn’t inundate them with information about your brand.
Remarketing is a helpful tool, but it’s only one part of your overall B&B marketing strategy.
Small property marketing: Focus on the destination
Some of the best places for travellers to visit this year after year include Paris, London, Bali, Prague and New York City.
Perhaps you operate a B&B on the beaches of Bali, or maybe you have a quaint boutique hotel that is within walking distance of New York’s Central Park.
Wherever you are, these destination marketing techniques will help you increase the number of guests visiting your region:
Work with local tourism businesses to identify a target market
A destination marketing strategy is a group effort, and you need to work with other travel leaders in your area in order to successfully launch a campaign. As you work with other business leaders and travel experts, you will want to identify the target market that will be most likely to visit your destination.
Does your destination offer plenty of adventurous activities that would appeal to young adults and solo travellers? Or does your destination offer a range of family-fun for those with young children?
Figure out who is most likely to travel to your area, and focus all of your destination marketing efforts on that powerful segment.
Create marketing materials that promote the uniqueness of your destination
Once you know to who you need to be promoting your destination, you need to start creating materials to raise awareness and generate buzz.
Whether you are launching a social campaign on Facebook and Instagram, or you are buying TV ads in specific markets around the world, you’ll want to make sure that your marketing materials motivate people to visit your destination.
This means you have to showcase what is unique about your area — you need to prove that they should come visit your region versus another that might be similar.
Track the results of the destination marketing campaign
After you have released the marketing materials and the campaign is in full swing, you need to begin collecting data and evaluating metrics in order to see if your campaign has been successful.
By tracking the results of the campaign, you can understand what works and what doesn’t. You can continue to tweak the marketing materials and work toward increasing the number of visitors who come to your destination each year.
Publish blogs providing valuable information about the destination
While you likely devote a lot of your content to describing the rooms, amenities and features of your B&B, you also know that you need to create fresh, informative content on a regular basis. Only this way will you stay relevant in the search results.
Consider devoting several blog posts a month to the destination as a whole. You could discuss historical points of interest in the area, or provide an in-depth look at the local neighborhoods that people may want to visit. These types of posts will help you establish authority while simultaneously promoting your region as a whole.
Create a local guide that guests can access from your mobile app
The local guide could provide information about nearby restaurants, attractions, tours and activities. Your guests will appreciate the fact that you offer a convenient local resource, and the entire destination will benefit from travellers getting out and exploring the area.
Offer packages allowing guests to enjoy authentic local experiences
This gives you an opportunity to form partnerships with nearby tourism businesses, such as tour guides or instructors. For instance, guests could book a stay-and-play package where they receive discount tickets to a nearby family-friendly attraction.
Ultimately, your destination marketing campaign needs to be a living entity that is constantly being improved in order to get the best results possible.
Targeting millennials with your bed and breakfast promotion
Millennials are an important generation to capture, because they began travelling at a young age and they intend to keep exploring in the years to come.
Millennials love to travel, particularly because they place value on authentic experiences versus stuff that can be purchased and collected.
For those of you who need a bit more clarification, millennials are the generation of young adults who were born between the years 1982 and 1994 — an often discussed and debated generation, and an important one for small hotels to target.
- According to Bed and Brunch PR, there are more than 77 million millennials in the United States alone, and many of them are looking to travel the globe.
- Nearly 20% of the international tourism market is made up of young adult travellers in the millennial generation.
- Millennials are traveling more frequently as time goes by
So as a small hotel operator, here’s what you need to keep in mind when marketing to millennials.
1. Millennials value access over ownership
Businesses in all industries are shifting their strategies in order to accommodate the unique needs and desires of millennials.
This is particularly true in the travel industry, as it is well known that millennials value experience over products.
They are ready to immerse themselves in the local culture, to enjoy a new adventure and to interact with new people.
As a small hotel owner, here’s what you can do to attract more millennial guests:
- Focus on personal service
- Provide an authentic experience that correlates with your destination
- Offer recommendations for local restaurants, activities and shopping destinations
2. Millennials crave convenience
Millennials don’t want to have to pick up the phone and talk to someone in order to make a reservation for a hotel room.
They expect that they can do this themselves online, and they likely won’t book a hotel who can’t accommodate this desire.
Beyond that, most millennials are even packing away their desktop and laptop computers and focusing solely on their mobile devices.
Here are some facts to keep in mind when optimising your website for mobile platforms:
- More than 52% of millennial business travelers book on a mobile device
- More than 35% of all bookings are completed on mobile platforms
- About 50% of site visits come from mobile devices
- Currently, more than 20% of bookings in the travel industry are mobile bookings
3. Millennials take advantage of loyalty programs
Millennials — who value personal attention and are likely to recommend your bed and breakfast to their friends if they have a positive experience — are the perfect fit for a loyalty program.
They enjoy being rewarded for their efforts, and they also are likely to visit you again if there is something in it for them.
However, Henry Harteveldt, of the Travel Consultancy Atmosphere Research Group, notes that less than 1 in 4 guests at hotels will join or participate in loyalty programs.
4. Millennials are craving different experiences abroad than their parents and grandparents did
Today’s millennials are highly motivated by the local experience — something B&Bs can offer them. They prefer to interact with the people who reside in their destinations (such as you, the innkeeper) rather than the tour guide at the most famous attraction in town.
While they love to get away and immerse themselves in the local culture, don’t expect Millennials to unplug during their trips. They place a high priority on staying at places that offer the amenities they need to stay connected. They will book a property with free wifi over one that doesn’t offer it. They love to complete tasks on their mobile devices, and are likely to always have their smartphone to hand.
5. Use social media marketing to promote your B&B as part of a local experience and showcase the adventures they will enjoy
In addition to promising a particular experience to millennial travellers, you can appeal to the budget-friendly nature of this group by creating discounts and deals that feel exclusive.
Millennials are willing to spend money on travel, but they prefer to take advantage of a promotion whenever possible. Create enticing marketing campaigns that will encourage millennials to book quickly to get a room at your B&B.
B&B mobile marketing
An increasing number of people are placing a higher priority on travel and experiences rather than collecting expensive items and more stuff.
As this cultural shift continues to occur, travel industry businesses are noticing an increase in weekend travelers as well as mobile bookings.
Hotels and tour operators are finding that mobile technology allows them to capture the attention of this powerful target audience, who are interested in spontaneous getaways and weekend trips.
How does mobile technology impact weekend travellers bookings?
Mobile marketing strategies often attract travellers who are interested in quick getaways or event-inspired ‘staycations’. There are many travellers who use mobile technology, such as their smartphones and tablets, in order to research upcoming trips.
However, the numbers drop for those who actually book on their devices. For example, 82% of travellers reported that they used their mobile device in order to get more information about hotels in their chosen destination. However, only 67% of travellers reported that they booked a hotel room on their mobile device. Many of the people within that group could have been weekend travelers looking to book a last-minute getaway.
Targeted mobile ads can provide travellers with the latest information available about deals and incentives at your hotel. Location or geo-targeting is a marketing tactic that can be used when creating mobile advertising campaigns.
For example, you can purchase ads that will show up on the devices of users who are in your vicinity and may be interested in a promotion that you have going on. You could create a promotion that launches on Thursday that rewards people with 30% off regular room rates if they book and visit that same weekend. This is an ideal option for a mobile ad campaign, as many mobile users are interested in booking last-minute deals that allow them to take spontaneous trips.
A website that is optimised for mobile use will encourage mobile bookings, particularly last-minute bookings made by travellers interested in a last-minute getaway. Ultimately, your hotel is not going to be able to capture last-minute travelers if your website is not optimised for mobile devices.
A responsive web design is critical, and you also must implement an online booking engine with mobile capabilities too. This allows mobile users to not only learn more about your property, but also book their rooms at the same time. This increases your conversion rates as well as your direct mobile bookings while also allowing you to generate additional revenue from a segment of the market that you may not otherwise reach.
Implementing the right mobile technology at your hotel while also launching a mobile marketing strategy aimed at specific market segments will allow you to increase your direct bookings amongst weekend travelers and even locals who are interested in booking a staycation.
B&B holiday marketing
Throughout the calendar year, people take advantage of the extra time off they have during the holidays in order to travel.
Whether it’s a long holiday weekend or week-long stretch between Christmas and New Year’s Day, you can capitalise on increased holiday travel at your own small hotel.
Here’s a few tips to help market your property, no matter what holiday is coming up next.
Create marketing campaigns that appeal to the senses
For summer holidays that are meant to be spent in the sun and on the beach, promote your proximity to the water by including high-resolution photographs of guests celebrating that particular holiday in the surf and sand.
For a cozy winter holiday, show that your hotel will be as quaint and comfortable as ever complete with perfect decorations, fresh-baked goodies and seasonal music swirling throughout.
By appealing to the senses, you will entice your guests to imagine themselves spending an idyllic holiday at your bed and breakfast.
Design holiday packages
Partner with local businesses in order to create holiday packages that will enhance the experience for any traveler.
For instance, at Christmas, you could work with a local restaurant in order to include a romantic holiday dinner as well as contact a tour company to arrange for a horse and carriage ride through the city.
Guests who are looking to celebrate the holiday while traveling will be more likely to book this type of package, which will boost your own profits and improve your brand recognition.
Plan an event to celebrate at your property
Plenty of people will be looking for a room to stay on New Year’s Eve — but it’s not always the easiest day to get around town.
Appeal to your guests by creating your own New Year’s Eve party, allowing them to enjoy your property as well as celebrate in a convenient location.
Promote your event in the months and weeks ahead of the holiday on social media and through your marketing campaigns in order to get the word out.
Before you know it, you’ll have a sold-out event and a sold-out hotel for the holiday!
Use technology to increase your brand visibility
You will likely see an increase in website traffic during the holiday season, so use technology to effectively manage those extra bookings.
Be sure to invest in a reservation system with a channel manager that automatically updates your live availability and holiday rates to all of your agents.
Market your hotel to local residents
People who live in the area want to do something special and unique to celebrate a holiday.
Create deals and promotions for local residents, and let them know about what you have to offer during their stay. This is a great chance for them to play tourist in their own town!
Any holiday is a good reason to celebrate and get away. Use these marketing techniques in order to make your guests think of your property as the perfect place to enjoy the special season.
- The SEO game has changed completely, so you need to make sure that you’re keeping up with the times.
- The online booking journey includes many steps for travellers who are planning their trips. While they want to discover the options and destinations available to them online, they don’t want to spend a lot of time searching.
- It is difficult for small hotels – particularly those that offer authentic experiences in unique destinations – to secure repeat customers.
- One of the most obvious and necessary ways to market and sell your B&B is to partner with online travel agents.
- Email marketing continues to be a strong driver for traffic, engagement and bookings.
- Small data is just bite-sized bits of information that you can use to quickly, easily and effectively enhance your online marketing strategy.
- Social media is obviously highly saturated so one way to break through and create a little more interest is by running competitions.
- If you’re not using video on social media at your business then you are missing out on a huge opportunity to reach potential customers.
- Digital marketing builds brand awareness without the need to spend a lot of money, or even any at all.
- Dynamic rate marketing allows hoteliers to use their real-time availability and current pricing to be broadcast into various marketing campaigns.
- Telling your story should be part of your B&B marketing strategy, as it allows you to capture the attention of your target market and encourages them to book directly with you.
- Blogging is beneficial for your B&B in a variety of ways.
- Remarketing is a marketing tactic that allows you to reach out to potential guests who have visited your site without finalising their booking.
- Wherever you are, destination marketing techniques will help you increase the number of guests visiting your region.
- Millennials are an important generation to capture, because they began travelling at a young age and they intend to keep exploring in the years to come.
- Mobile marketing strategies often attract travellers who are interested in quick getaways or event-inspired ‘staycations’.
- Whether it’s a long holiday weekend or week-long stretch between Christmas and New Year’s Day, you can capitalise on increased holiday travel at your own small hotel.
By Dean Elphick
Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of Little Hotelier, the all-in-one software solution purpose-built to make the lives of small accommodation providers easier. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at Little Hotelier. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance, and, ultimately, value for small accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations (and live their life).
Table of contents