How can a B&B get more guests?

Listener Question

Hello Timbo … We run a guesthouse providing bed and breakfast in the Highlands of Scotland our website is www.distanthillsspeanbridge.co.uk. I love your enthusiasm on the show and listen intently to try to pick up your nuggets of gold and yes I did hear the episode where you interviewed the B&B in Australia. Our issue is that visitor numbers to the Highlands are down this year so we have to work extra smartly to capture our fair share of guests. The trouble is that there are a large number of accommodation providers in the Highlands most of which are pretty good. We are located 10 miles away from the town of Fort William and Ben Nevis (the UK’s highest mountain) and sometimes it feels like we only get business when Fort William has no more rooms. My question may be similar to what many other businesses are wondering. In a sea of providers how do we get a higher profile to get more guests? Thanks for any help you can give. Peter.

Netregistry Answer

Hi Peter …

When most people shop around for accommodations, especially for an area they have never been to, the first thing they tend to search for are reviews. Although you have reviews through Tripadvisor, we would suggest utilizing your social media as another avenue for customers to review your accommodation.  If you do not already have social profiles set up like Facebook or Google +, set them up and ask past customers to post reviews. Creating social profiles would also allow you to increase your online presence without having to compete against your competitors organically within search engines.

If you are worried customers may not have any incentive to spend time to review your business, offer them discount vouchers for their efforts or other incentives. A fast and efficient way to achieve this is through email marketing campaigns targeted at your previous customers.  This may work out as a win-win situation as it provides an incentive for satisfied customers to write a review and encourages them to return to your bed and breakfast as well as works as a promotional material that they may forward to their family and friends.

As the age old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, when you search for accommodation online (besides reviews) one of the first things you look for are images of the potential place. If there are a lot of photos presenting the scenery surrounding the place, images of the cottages, beds, bathrooms etc it gives you confidence and trust in the place.  We suggest having a photo gallery of your surroundings with suggestions of activities and things to do, a photo gallery for each of the different room types, photos of current guests enjoying their time maybe even with their review or comment as the caption.  There is nothing worse than searching for accommodation and not being to find high quality images of the place you want to stay at – wouldn’t you move onto the next result?

With social profiles such as Facebook, it allows your potential customers to browse through photos, images of past happy customers, receive updates, promo vouchers etc. Thus, creating a connection to potential customers.  Even though they may not book right away, at least you will be front of mind for future references.

If you are looking at driving qualified traffic to the website and have a budget for online marketing then Pay Per Click is the way to go, either on Yahoo or Google – both have their different advantages and disadvantages. Yahoo cost per click is less expensive; however its audience is not as big as Google. While Google is the dominate search engine, it is more competitive hence having a higher cost per click.

Creating target Pay Per Click campaigns allow you to stand out from your competitors and be displayed on the first page of search engines on top of your competitors. Example, if you search “bed and breakfast Scotland highland” your ad will be displayed within the top three results – highlighted in yellow and along the right hand side of the page. With your Pay Per Click campaign you also have the ability to take them to a “landing page” where you can condense all your selling points and call to actions in the hope to simplify the decision making and allow them to book or enquire straight away. You can also track your conversions, see what keywords convert the most, perform A B testing on your ads and monitor various other important information about your target audiences’ behavior online. Remember to also add Google Analytics to your website is you have not already done so to boost your analysis.

If you plan to tackle Pay Per Click yourself, try to avoid the common mistakes people make with search engine advertising. Alternatively, for inexperience Pay Per Click users it may be a bit daunting diving straight into online marketing, usually employing an experienced company who specialise in online marketing such as Netregistry can help you set up your campaign and run through all the essential details such as how much you should spend on your campaign to retrieve maximum conversions or leads, which call to action is the best, which position converts the most etc. Depending on the competitiveness of your industry you can spend as little as $300 – $500 a month and receive returns 10x more.

We trust this helps.

For others reading this post, what additional marketing ideas would you add?

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