Bed and breakfasts need to use all sales channels at their disposal to attract and service guests. But how?
Here are some great ways to ramp up on all levels – your point of sales bookings, third party website bookings, and direct online bookings.
Curb appeal is what will draw last-minute guests in – especially if you’re located on a busy highway. Road-tripping travelers who haven’t planned where they’ll stay that night will be tempted by your warm and inviting sign.
So invest in signage for your bed and breakfast that makes it easy to identify your location. Unique signs that promote your overall brand will help you attract customers who are already in the area.
Your small hotel would greatly benefit from brochures because it makes you look professional. There’s the perception that only the best of the best can afford this kind of marketing collateral. It’s also convenient for busy travelers who have limited access to internet.
Make sure that you give your brochures to local businesses that typically refer guests to you. For example, tour and activity operators, transport operators, and maybe even restaurants. Each existing agent should have your brochures as part of their sales kit.
Sometimes, after a traveler searches through booking sites, they arrive at your website and decide to call you for more clarification and to make a booking.
At this point, you should offer them a small discount – even 5% will do – to keep them on the phone, choosing to book direct rather than through an OTA. Otherwise, you may do the hard work of selling, while the OTA keeps a percentage of your revenue.
OTAs are still a valuable sales channel for small accommodation providers. Without them, it would be near impossible to get your name out there. In fact, OTAs are the second most used channel in terms of hotel bookings, accounting for almost 20% of all bookings online!
That’s why you should try to increase your OTA ranking. You can do this by:
Take the example of Distrikt Hotel; Review Pro reported that the hotel went from being buried in search results to being listed on page 1 because travellers were searching reviews and sorting by guest ratings.
It makes sense – hotels with no reviews will get less bookings, because travellers want to hear from each other. In fact, hotels with over 50 testimonials are 1.4% likely to get booked.
OTAs like to rank complete profiles highly because travellers are more likely to book them, so your small hotel’s profile needs to be as complete and up to date as possible.
Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that OTAs will allow travelers to filter by categories like ‘free wifi’ and ‘free parking’. Make sure you are included on the appropriate filters.
Your market managers can…
Direct bookings are great because they are commission-free, and you are in total control of the guest relationship. Your website is definitely the key to succeeding in this area.
If you still haven’t ‘gone mobile’, this year is the perfect time to start! It is probably the single most important thing you can do to improve your direct bookings.
For instructions on how to mobile-optimise your website, click here.
Photos of your property will sell your rooms much better than any text description will. Try to…
Take photos that encourage guests to imagine themselves curling up in bed, getting pampered, and receiving a hot breakfast.
For more tips on how to take better photos of your property, click here.
So if your hotel booking engine is already able to offer Extras at the time of booking, you’re already in a better place to get more revenue out of your direct bookings this year.
For up-sell ideas, click here.
If you have a modern reservation system like Little Hotelier, you will be able to offer Extras at the time of booking, and send automated emails after the booking is made, so that you can let guests know of any Extras that they may be interested in.
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