We conducted a study to find out just how much independent hosts and hoteliers (like B&B’s, independent hotels and self-catering properties) are using social media to advertise their business. And we found out that nearly 6 out of 10 people said they use Facebook to encourage bookings.

We also discovered that a quarter of those surveyed believe that social media is very important to their business with 36% revealing that they spent over five hours a week managing their social media accounts. Additionally more than one in five property owners spend money to advertise on facebook each month.

So, what’s the big deal? Well, after analysing the data from some of the 6,350 properties we work with we discovered that social media is actually only responsible for 3.3% of visitors to a properties website and for a mere 0.75% of their online bookings. This is in stark contrast to the 74% of bookings that these properties receive from travel booking websites such as Expedia, Hotels.com, Laterooms.com, Booking.com and others.  

With this data we can see that accommodation providers need to spend less time and money on social media and re-focus it where the bookings are actually coming from. Over 10% of B&B’s in the UK are not working with any of the biggest travel booking websites out there. Which is staggering considering businesses that work with all three of the biggest travel booking sites have a year-on-year growth in online bookings of circa 80%, whereas those who don’t actually see their online bookings going down by nearly 1.5% year-on-year.

Our research also showed that 87% of B&B’s that have a Facebook page have less than 1,000 fans and the vast majority of these fans are local people who are just keen to know about cultural events happening on their doorstep. It’s important to note that while having 1,000 fans sounds like a lot, not every fan will see every update, so a post from your facebook page with 1,000 fans may only reach 20 or 30 people!

We asked holiday makers who they turn to for recommendations on where to stay and only 8% said they have booked a stay in a B&B because of its social media profile. 44% of the 2,000 people surveyed said they check review sites first while another 39% said they use friend’s recommendations.  

What do we do with this information? Maybe it’s time to shift your focus onto where the bookings really come from, spending less time on social media and more time on the big online travel websites instead. And when it comes to driving direct bookings from your own website take a look at some of these tips on how to cost effectively help potential guests find your website online.