The only thing that has changed more than the way we travel to, what we expect from and how we book accommodation; are the hotels, motels and bed & breakfasts we frequent. In particular, bed & breakfasts (better known as B&Bs) have totally transformed from the little houses and boutique rooms we remember.
B&Bs have become much more than the quaint décor and home-made breakfasts of the past. The latest digital and technological advancements, occurring in almost every industry, is having a huge impact on the travel and hospitality industries too. With the growth of social media marketing, online travel agencies (OTAs) and mobile accommodation apps, finding and booking the perfect spot’s easier than ever.
B&Bs have evolved and developed so much over the past decade that they’re often competitive with much larger hotels. One of the major differences that remains is the incredible resources that hotels – and especially hotel chains – can invest into their marketing and promotion. Improving access to your B&B and growing the awareness of your brand will be critical to your growing competitiveness.
Here are 10 ways to effectively market your B&B online:
- Find your target audience
The most important step in any effective digital marketing strategy will be defining your target audience (or market). When it comes to hospitality, there’s no shortage in potential customers because there are millions of people who travel to and within South Africa every year. B&Bs are one of the top choices for a wide range of travellers. Being online means that you have access to digital marketing tools that can analyse online data and identify which travellers are most interested in your B&B.
- Build a great website
In the 21st Century, every business owner knows the value of having a great website and strong online presence. For B&B owners, having an informative, simple and beautiful website will help you market your brand, tell your story and provide access to your accommodation, as well as booking options. You can funnel potential customers through your social media, OTAs, and mobile booking apps. You want to drive traffic to your website so that you have direct access to customers. Not to mention, you can design an attractive and enticing site where you control the conversation.
- Offer an amazing and unique customer experience
The best marketing tool available to B&Bs is still word-of-mouth. However, the way that customers share their experiences today are very different. Social media, review sites and travel apps have expanded the online conversation around travel and hospitality. Potential customers want to hear about the exciting history, fun activities, incredible customer service and unique experiences that you could offer them. Create an online presence that celebrates how unique and interesting your B&B accommodations are.
- Utilise travel sites and booking apps
It’s no secret that Airbnb has become the most popular accommodation booking platform in the world, with over 60 million guests per year. In general, digital interfacing between business owners and potential customers is a lucrative market. Being listed on local and international booking apps, like Airbnb, OTAs and general travel sites can offer new and improved access to your B&B, as well as drive users to your website. Make sure that your B&B’s on every travel site and app that’s used by your target market.
- Grow your social media marketing and presence
As with any modern business, B&Bs need to be active on social media and utilise its incredible marketing potential. Social media marketing tools give you access to the end users of your product. You can gain a variety of insights into what your target market wants to see, where they are and what they’re searching for. If you’re not part of the online conversation, your competitors who always gain more interest. Actively upload content on all platforms – from Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to Pinterest and YouTube.
- Focus on email marketing and run online promotions
Driving travellers into your B&B will depend on a variety of marketing steps. Email marketing’s one of the most cost-effective and impactful advertising tools we have. Unlike social media or site visits, you always have direct access to your mailing list. You can send out information about upgrades and changes, new offerings, season’s greeting and promotional deals. In particular, online promotional deals can drive new and returning customers to your doors. Create incentives, like discounts or seasonal savings, and share them through your website, social media and mailing lists.
- Maximise your online advertising potential
Both, online and offline advertising are critical to the success of any business. B&B marketing requires you to explore all your advertising options, in order to communicate with your target market and inspire positive online sentiments. Promote your B&B’s whereabouts, offerings and opportunities in a targeted and positive manner through well-crafted online adverts. Google AdWords, remarketing tools and paid promotions, like Facebook and YouTube Ads, are the foundations for a strong online advertising strategy and creating lasting brand impressions.
- Optimise your SEO and improve your content
For B&Bs, content’s the most important tool in your business’s digital marketing arsenal. Firstly, all of your content should look and sound amazing. Make sure to use high quality cameras and equipment for all your videos and images. Try and get professional marketers to help you write, design and create an effective content and schedules. Within that, the content being shot, or written, needs to find your target audience. SEO optimisation helps potential customers find and interact with your online content more easily.
- Build Valuable Relationships
The hospitality industry’s highly competitive, but that doesn’t mean that you have to do it alone. Build valuable relationships within your community and online, in order to build a digital infrastructure that gets your B&B in front of new eyes. You need your local community to support your business by spreading the word to their visiting friends and family. Beyond this, you need to build a strong working relationship with all relevant OTAs, booking apps and review sites that’ll drive online traffic towards your website and B&B.
- Tell your story everywhere you can
The main theme throughout this list has been to focus on getting your story told. Whether it’s an email, social media post, web article or advertisement, you need to tell the story of your B&B everywhere you can. Tell a great story, and you’ll stand out from your competitors by creating content and marketing ideas that tell your story most effectively.
For more information about digital marketing strategies that can grow your online presence and digital traffic – get in touch with Cognite Marketing and book your free marketing strategy session, today.