How to Grow Your Bed & Breakfast on the Internet
June 23, 2016
At Bitcookie we design websites and craft marketing campaigns for all industries. Here we'll share our best techniques for increasing reservations for B&Bs and Inns.
1. Know Your Audience
Think about setting up your website based on what your guests will want and need to know first. Typically your guests will be one of the following:
- Out of town guests who are planning a trip
- Last minute guests who need a place to stay
- Locals who want a vacation in their own town or have guests coming to visit
They will primarily want to know your location, room rates, availability, and see pictures of your rooms, so be sure to have all of this information immediately accessible.
2. Emphasize Qualities Unique to Your Establishment
What about your B&B sets you apart from the rest? Maybe it’s incredible mountain sunrises, proximity to downtown or great restaurants and breweries.
Is your breakfast absolutely delicious? Show it off and include a photo of your chef’s skills. If you have hiking trails right by your B&B, post pictures of the trailhead when flowers are in peak bloom and share trail maps on your website and social media.
3. Use High-Quality Pictures of the Individual Rooms
We cannot emphasize enough the importance of professional photography for your website. Photos convey style, quality, and ambiance for your B&B and will be one of the most powerful pieces of content on your website. Guests want to know what each room looks like before they book - making sure you have high-resolution, stunning images available can make the difference in securing a conversion.
4. Have a Seamless Online Reservation System
Interestingly, many B&Bs do not have comprehensive reservation systems even though it is a critical necessity for B&B websites. Also, because each room in most inns differ you’ll need a reservation system that specifically refers to which rooms are available on selected dates and includes pictures and features. The Foster Harris House is a great example of a reservation system that is user friendly.
Implement Google Analytics to your reservation system so you can track the Return on Investment (ROI) of paid campaigns. This way you can set and track eCommerce goals and see what parts of your campaign are the most effective and what parts can be removed to use your ad budget effectively. Analytics will help you learn whether or not your TripAdvisor listing is worth the cost, which keyword brings the most users to your website on Google Search, and which rooms are booked the most by online users.
5. CREATE original and interesting content
Providing your customers and online audience with original content is a somewhat new but successful marketing technique that is a great way to organically reach new customers. Try writing a blog where you highlight some of your location's unique attributes. If you live in the mountains, highlight some of the area's best hikes. This will encourage people to visit your website even if they are not looking for a hotel that evening, and they will remember you for your quality article and trustworthiness in the future.
6. Use Facebook Advertising
Facebook is the largest social network in the world, and how a lot of people are finding their information including reviews, photos, and location. Also, it's one of the best ad platforms to date due to its incredibly sensitive targeting: you can select people traveling nearby your business's location who spend money on leisure activities or hotel stays and turn someone browsing the internet into a new customer.
Hotel Tonight, an app that helps people book last-minute hotel stays, used Facebook ads to earn 10x the amount of app downloads they usually get without advertising. New users on the app result in more hotel bookings, so in order to recruit even more new users they also offered a discount on hotel rooms for anyone who installed the app in their ads.
If you're looking to boost awareness of your B&B but are not focused on conversions yet, read about how Goodstone Inn in Virginia was able to convert 800 real, targeted Facebook fans out of an ad that reached 20,000 people in just a few weeks by adjusting the wording and target audience of their ads.
7. Keep MOBILE users on your site With a Responsive Website
Facebook boasts 1.51 billion mobile users, meaning that many of your customers will see your posts and advertisements from their cell phones. If your website isn't mobile-friendly, you will likely lose their reservation. It is crucial that your website is responsive so you don’t miss out on customers who find your website on their cell phone and try to book a room.
8. Have Easy to Find Reviews
Have a page on your website to share customer reviews and encourage your guests to leave reviews with online submission forms. Make sure to keep an eye on review platforms such as Tripadvisor. Be sure to take the time to upload any hand written reviews on your website, too.
9. Convey Authenticity and Personality
Patrons of B&Bs are choosing your inn over a massive hotel chain because they prefer the intimacy and comfort. If you're a locally owned and operated business, guests will trust you for advice on what to do in the town while they visit. Make sure to share a staff page with pictures and biographies of yourself and your team.
10. Provide information on Local Events
Become a resource for not only your guests but also for locals: include a page on your site that recommends restaurants, bars, and historic sites. Locals will, in turn, recommend your B&B when they have visitors in town as they trust your recommendations and awareness of the best local spots.
Also, be sure to list any upcoming event or festivals. You can find much of this information with your local tourist bureau or city of commerce.
11. BE ON Social Media
Be sure to incorporate social media platforms besides Facebook in your marketing strategy. Instagram and Twitter boast 500 million and 310 million active monthly users, respectively.
Make social media upkeep easier with tools like Buffer or IFTTT. These tools allow you to easily share posts on all your social networks at once, saving you tons of time.
12. Have Representation in Online Directories
Every city has tourism offices, a chamber of commerce, and online directories. Make sure your business is listed with your current branding and best images. Offer a unique discount code in each listing so you can track how a new guest found your B&B.
13. Consider a Professional Design and Marketing Agency
We understand that running a Bed & Breakfast is a full-time job. At Bitcookie we set you up for success by incorporating modern marketing techniques in your website and implementing perfect software to streamline and grow your business. For more information, give us a call!