As a small bed and breakfast owner the task of marketing your property can seem overwhelming. I’m sure that you are wondering, how can I hope to compete against the marketing power of large multi national hotel chains?
It would be impossible to match their financial resources when approaching your marketing. The good news is that you can be visible by using today’s digital marketing technology.
Here are some tips and tricks to help you play the web like a professional.
1. Optimize your website user experience
Search engines like Google look at your website and other digital marketing and can ensure that anyone using it can easily find the information they are looking for.
What keywords do you want to rank for? Are they anywhere to be found on your site? Make sure they are in your headlines and meta descriptions (the text that appears when your site is listed in search results). For example “boutique hotel Barcelona” can be one keyword to optimise for.
Is your site structured in a logical way? How many clicks does it take you to go from your home page to making a booking? Make sure your site is easy to navigate.
This type of web design means that your website automatically adapts to all kinds of screen sizes. This is very important as 52% of travellers have booked travel on a mobile device (JiWire).
Do you show off your business with a video tour, a photo gallery, and guest testimonials? 62% of travellers want to watch videos of hotel rooms and properties, as well as airlines, tours, sightseeing and cruises (Google and Ipsos MediaCT).
So it’s not just about attracting visitors to your website – it’s about their experience while they’re there. If it’s good, you have a better chance of ranking highly.
Here is a great explainer video making tool and it is free. Simply create a fun video, remember to add your room images to your video, and upload your video to your YouTube channel. This is free. You can then add the Youtube link of your video to your Facebook, Website and other pages.
2. Work on your online reputation
To travellers reviews are everything. People will always trust what a past guest says about your small hotel over what you’re saying about it on your website. This is why making sure you have a bunch of positive reviews is essential to attracting new guests to your small property.
Reviews take work – you need to actively ask for them, monitor them, and respond to them. So handpick the most essential sites (we recommend TripAdvisor, Facebook, and Google), so that you aren’t overwhelmed by the workload. As a small accommodation provider, you’re already pressed for time!
3. Partner with OTAs
Plenty of today’s travellers book accommodation online, through online travel agencies (OTAs). Online travel agencies will allow travellers to self-serve, booking flights, accommodation, and even tours and activities.
Making sure you are connected to the world’s leading OTAs is essential in competing with large hotel chains. OTAs allow travellers to apply filters and compare hotels against each other, listing your property against others.
As with all distribution partnerships, a commission cost is involved. However, it should not be an issue for several reasons:
OTAs spend a lot of money to market your small hotel – much more than you ever could. In fact, Expedia is Google’s 3rd biggest customer with almost $6M spent on search ads every month. Consider your commission part of your marketing cost.
You only pay when a customer books through the OTA. You can get more direct bookings through working with OTAs, because some people prefer to book with you directly, even though they found you through an OTA. This is called “the billboard effect”, and it’s estimated that 2 out 10 guests are reserving rooms this way.
A discounted booking is better than no booking. Your OTA partnerships put your rooms in front of your guests at the right time. Without that, your rooms may not get booked at all. Even though you’re paying commission, 75% of what the room is worth is better than no revenue at all!
Another reason to partner with OTAs is that you should not depend on any particular channel for bookings. Having a diverse split of booking channel revenue ensures that if one channel goes down, you still have other channels you can rely on.