Bitesize ways to maximise your B&B marketing
If you’re not completely confident with the world of online marketing, it can seem quite a daunting task. However, it’s easier than you might expect, and there are a few simple tricks of the trade that can help you reach more and more people online. Whilst large companies spend millions each year marketing their brand, there are numerous inexpensive (and often free) ways you can help your business grow.
We’ve put together a list of easy-to-digest tips that will help you to get noticed online without biting off more than you can chew! You don’t have to have a marketing degree to put any of these things into action either, as they’re all really simple to implement one at a time. So, here are some suggestions to give you a leg up on the competition:
1. B&B Website
- Purchase your own .com or .co.uk – it looks so much more professional.
- Take a logical, user-friendly approach when designing your site’s layout. Pick something user-friendly like eviivo’s software to create a visually attractive site that’s easy to manage.
- Don’t forget to ensure your site is optimised to work on all platforms – smart phones and tablets are fast becoming the first point of contact for a lot of users.
- Be honest – if you are offering clean and basic accommodation, tell it like it is and use up to date images. If you sell it like the Ritz, then you are likely to end up with a pile of complaints to deal with! Keep it simple – for the purpose of a guesthouse, your site doesn’t need to be all singing and dancing just for the sake of it.
- Include a sitemap to enable users to quickly find what they want.
- Avoid duplicating information on your site –make your content unique. Google will notice if it’s not and you might get penalised in search rankings.
- Good quality photos are your best friend, helping your potential guests visualise exactly what they are getting, from the room itself to the amenities included. Use high-resolution photos, and if you feel you need help, hire a professional. You could even include a video tour on your site!
- Write everything in clear, jargon-free English.
- Optimise URLs and structure them well so that they give Google and the user a good idea as to each page’s purpose and content. For example:
- Make your business address prominent on the site (preferably in the header or footer) as it’s often one of the most-searched items on your site.
- Use Google Webmaster Tools to make sure that there are no issues with any links, pages, etc. on your site.
- Invest in paid search, and start a Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign to appear in Google’s sponsored search results.
2. Social media
- Start a Facebook page and update it on a regular basis. Post a variety of different things – be creative, use imagery and eye-catching headlines to keep your followers interested and respond to feedback quickly!
- Get on LinkedIn – it’s a great way to connect with similar businesses and keep up to date with the industry and recruit staff.
- Use Twitter to reply to customer queries and feedback– it’s also a great platform to stay in the loop with local brands and competitors. You can also follow similar businesses and brands you admire – it’s always good to see what the competition is up to!
- Use Instagram to market your business. You can share images of anything from your property, the surrounding area and even dishes from your mouth-watering new menu!
- Contribute to or start a hashtag conversation on Twitter that’s relevant to your business – this can be a great way to increase your reputation.
- Pose questions to your followers and get their feedback, whether you’re looking to improve your menu or just want to know what visitors’ favourite attractions are in your area.
- Show you care by being quick to respond to both negative and positive feedback.
- Before you post anything on any social media platform, ask yourself – does it inform, engage or entertain? Read our guide on social media for more advice.
- Check your spelling and grammar. Always create useful and interesting content for your site and make sure you get honest feedback on it before putting it out there. If you’re not a natural writer, then hire help. Poorly written and badly presented content will put people off.
- Don’t forget that no matter how small you are, you should still have a unique identity, which can be reflected in your tone of voice. Always explain everything clearly – but don’t be afraid to inject a bit of personality into it!
3. Value your clientele
- Get into the habit of asking for feedback verbally from all customers on checkout. It’s better for an issue to be resolved in person before it goes to TripAdvisor. If you suspect a guest is going to leave you a bad review, try to speak to them before they leave your guest house or contact them as soon as you can to resolve the matter.
- Make sure your visitors feel safe if they are completing a transaction on your site by using a secure server during the checkout process, such as a fully PCI compliant payment system. Ensure you have excellent internet security to protect your website and blog.
- Get into the habit of reading and responding to each and every review you receive. Your customers will love to be acknowledged and it’s this kind of service which can lead to repeat business and referrals.
- Make sure you always respond to negative feedback swiftly and always apologise (even if the customer isn’t right!). If you do need to respond to a complaint and explain yourself, be sure to bear your tone in mind and always offer your email address or phone number so the disgruntled customer can contact you directly.
- Don’t overdo it with the email marketing – if you are sending out offers every week you may appear desperate and become a nuisance.
- Add a Google Map to your ‘How to find us’ page, with clear written instructions on how to get there – users will feel reassured and well-looked after before they have even arrived!
- Ask your customers to save your email address to ensure any promotions you send are whitelisted and don’t head into their junk folders.
- Get into the habit of asking all guests for their email address as they check-out.
- Reassure all customers signing up to your email service that you will not pass on their details and will only send offers that you know may be of interest to them.
- Respond to all emails promptly and don’t forget to keep it friendly and professional – even if your customer is being rude!
4. Your local area
- Build relationships with local pubs, bars, restaurants and other attractions. You can help promote one another both online and in person. This will help you build a sense of local community, which will only benefit you but also your guests. If you only serve breakfast, for example, why not see if some of the best local restaurants will offer your guests a discount for lunch?
- If you’re new to an area, then why not host a BBQ or gathering of some sort, inviting a few friendly local faces along? This is a great way to fit into your new community and get people talking about you and your business.
- Getting involved in local festivals is another brilliant way to build lasting community relationships, whether you offer a food stall or just help out or act as a sponsor. Why not get involved in a charity event like a marathon or bake-off? You can post a sponsor form on your site or even put together an email promoting it to guests and locals.
- Once you have built up a decent reputation, see if there any awards you can put yourself forward for – this is a great way to raise your profile and increase bookings.
- Add links to reputable sites (such as local tourist boards and restaurants) that visitors to your site will find useful.
- If you’re in the process of devising a new menu, why not invite some local residents and food bloggers along to do some taste tests? You can then encourage them to leave reviews online to boost your profile – so make sure your food is good!
- Encourage local press to come along and review your guest house or food – this could result in some excellent publicity.
5. Groupon and other offers
- If you decide to do a deal using Groupon or Living Social, make sure you do it wisely. Put together an offer that is affordable to you, whilst still offering a great service.
- Give guests using a deal the same level of service you’d give anyone else to let them know their custom is just as valuable. Don’t scrimp on quality with food.
- State clearly in the terms and conditions what your deal includes and don’t hide anything.
- Choose the dates these offers are available to only cover your quietest periods.
- Boost your following by devising a tempting competition offering a free weekend stay or meal for two. Few people can turn down a free offer and you may be surprised how far your message will be spread
Remember that these deals may not make you a great deal of money but used well can be a fantastic way to build your reputation, which is worth more to you in the long run.
Armed with these simple strategies, you can make a real difference to your marketing abilities, one step at a time.
For more information on our award-winning hotel booking software, eviivo suite.