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Too Many Marketing Choices
I am stunned at how overwhelmed I am with the task of marketing
my B&B. Where I am stuck is which websites to join? How many
B&B books do I have to be in? How many registries/organizations
should I associate with? Some are very costly and I feel I could
spend my days just joining one site/book/organization/registry
after another. Any suggestions?
Don't let it overwhelm you -- it's actually not as difficult
as it seems. The greatest problem is all the misinformation out
there. We try to only talk about things which are proven to work
but there are so many people touting themselves as experts and
giving false information that the message gets lost. The result
is confused and skeptical innkeepers and I personally don't blame
I understand how you feel about the hype surrounding signing
up for absolutely everything. Don't submit to it. First, read
our article on Common Sense Web Marketing and America's Most Wanted
Lodging Guides available here: http://www.moriah.com/innres.
Next, start asking other innkeepers which associations to join.
Generally your state association would be the first and a local
association a close second. These are fantastic resources and
a link from their website to yours will usually be worth at least
As for print guides, there are so few these days which still
work. The exception is any guide which is free to the public as
the internet has replaced most paid books. Generally your state
association will have a printed guide and there are often regional
guides like our own available in your region. Ask about 20 innkeepers
which they think before signing on though.
I don't mean to burst bubbles but there are a lot of wrong ways
to go in marketing and only a few right ones. My job is to direct
innkeepers to the correct choices the first time.
Frustrated with lodging guides
What frustrates me is that you have to pay more to include
a link to your site from sites like bbonline.com and bedandbreakfast.com.
So you buy a package that is more than you need, or pay an additional
fee, just to get that link to your page. I know they have to make
money, too, but it frustrates me just the same.
Mike and Beth Hettich
The William Strong House
I understand your frustration but here are a couple thoughts:
1. Nobody is getting rich off of innkeepers especially B&B
directories. As the publisher of one of the oldest B&B directories,
I know what it takes to run such a company. Bottom line, they
are charging what they need to charge in order to continue providing
a great service to you.
2. 90% (to be safe) of their clients (BBOnline and BedandBreakfast.com)
are receiving greater than ten times in revenue what they pay
annually. Once you know who the good directories are and you pay
the fees, you start reaping the benefits. Very few industries
enjoy such assured success ratios.
3. Does it cost more for a link or less if you don't want one?
We hear the argument both ways from innkeepers. Basically, you
get exactly what you pay for.
I know my arguments sound one sided but they are based on years
of speaking with and listening to innkeepers and there are plenty
on each side of the argument.
and Randy (BBOnline.com)
have worked very hard for many years for innkeepers. They represent
the industry well and are excellent resources for innkeepers.
I cannot say enough nice things about their services. They are
easily worth what they charge.
Which Sites to Choose
As a new innkeeper and new to internet/computers, I have many
questions about which sites, how many, etc. to belong to. I am
constantly bombarded with e-mails, letters from sites that would
like to include my listing. It is very confusing and can end up
being very costly if you sign up with many. How does one determine
which are the best? Which are rip offs?
On average one third of all visitors to your website will follow
a link from some other website. This makes knowing which sites
to get a link from very important. Links from web sites fall into
two categories -- 1) Local Links such as your chamber of commerece
web site and 2) Internet Lodging Guides such as BBOnline.com and
BedandBreakfast.com. Quality Local Links can be some of the best
referrers to your web site producing hundreds of visitors every
week. However, there are generally only a handful and it is impossible
for me to predict what they are for each town. Be sure to ask
other innkeepers in your area what has worked for them.
Unlike Local Links, the best Internet Lodging Guides are generally
well known. More often than not, the more focused on your region,
the better the lodging guide will perform. So a B&B guide
which covers your state or nearby group of states will usually
be a top performer. Several National Lodging Guides run a close
second in importance although they can outperform the more regional
guides. I wrote an article a while back entitled "America's
Most Wanted (Internet Lodging Guides)" which covers all the
national guides which we know to be top performers. You can read
it online at: http://www.moriah.com/articles/mostwanted.html
A final tip. Whenever you are solicited by some unknown lodging
guide or any service for that matter, ask for a free trial. I
wouldn't trust any company without a free trial unless it was
highly recommended by a professional in our industry. There are
just too many ineffective services and even scams out there to
waste your money on. Buyer beware, "Everything which glitters
is not gold" and just because the link is only $30/year doesn't
make it a good deal.
Where to spend your marketing dollars
We get bombarded all the time from different websites/search
engines to join, but which to choose? How many should we be on?
I realize that a lot of business comes from the internet these
days, but what other alternatives can we maximize?
Page House Bed and Breakfast
What do you think we should spend our marketing dollars on,
besides a webpage, etc?
We find there are just so many advertising opportunities out
there -- it's hard to decide what to do, in what publication to
go into, etc.
The Orchard Bed and Breakfast
Besides web marketing, there are very few marketing opportunities
for innkeepers which still pay off. That is not to say print is
dead, far from it. It's just the number of quality printed guides
as diminished to only those which remain effective -- a kind of
survival of the fittest.
Printed regional B&B directories, state B&B association
guides and a few national lodging guides are still a very necessary
part of every marketing budget. High quality four-color rack cards
have replaced the traditional brochure and can be extremely inexpensive
(10,000 for $750) if you shop around. Other than that, the majority
of traditional mediums and media no longer produce much bang for
That said, let's go back and discuss what you didn't ask for
-- Internet Marketing. Many innkeepers believe having a web site
is enough. However, "if you build it, they will come"
does not apply to web sites. As a matter of fact, they won't come
unless you actively promote your web site.
Your own domain name web site is the hub of all your marketing.
All of your efforts and marketing dollars should be in the design
and promotion of this single entity. After it is designed, you
will want to starting signing up for some of the national lodging
guides being sure to get a link back to your own web site.
I know there are a veritable plethora of marketing choices out
there but marketing need not be confusing and shouldn't cost a
fortune. Our articles are based on 20 years of experience marketing
Bed and Breakfast Inns and they help take the pain out of the