The economy weighs heavily on everyone’s minds. Many of us are wondering where our businesses will be in a few years, if not in the coming months. Travel and tourism are closely linked to economic trends. Travel has grown at a declining rate, and is even down in some areas. Resort areas are showing declines in business this season. What about small hotels and bed and breakfasts? There’s strong demand still in U.S. urban areas, but other less concentrated regions are experiencing a slowdown.
Nevertheless, North American room rates are still rising, bolstered by the weak dollar, which has been attracting more overseas travelers. What does this mean for small hotels and B&Bs? Prepare to draw in more international clientele. Not only is the domestic population growing more culturally diverse, but the international travel population is where the future of tourism is at. U.S. and Canadian bed and breakfast innkeepers should be prepared to cater less to the home crowd, and attract more culturally diverse guests.
So how do we keep occupancy rates high during a downtrend in travel? How do we keep the beds filled night after night? The answer rests in your marketing strategy. Be prepared to start leveraging the internet as a more important part of your marketing gameplan. Beef up your website, and be prepared to take calls and bookings from more overseas customers. Sign up with more than just one online marketing provider.
Today’s online marketing providers for bed and breakfasts, hotels, and small lodgings of all kinds are uniquely suited to take your marketing plan to the next stage. Not only do you gain online exposure quickly, but online marketers focus on multi-national customers. If you’re online marketing is limited to the handful of U.S. bed and breakfast marketing sites that focus primarily on the North American market, be prepared to look elsewhere for marketing support. An increasing number of travelers will be coming from Europe, Central and South America, and even Asia. You want to make sure you are using one or more online marketing sites that focus on a global audience, not only in their hotel population, but also in guests.
So often I hear from innkeepers and hotel managers that they’re frustrated with one or another online booking/marketing service. They say, ‘I haven’t received a booking in several months. Why should I stick with them?’ The answer is that you want to maintain your exposure in more than one online venue. Even if you’re not getting bookings today, you’re still building web recognition. Your property’s name is being spread more rapidly with more than one service. It’s like a geometric equation. When you double the number of sites you’re exposing your bed and breakfast on, the traffic doesn’t double, it grows at much higher geometric rates.
Look for online booking sites with strong marketing campaigns on Google and Yahoo, which together cover about 80% of global online searches. Only a few sites, including BedBreakfastTraveler.com will actually advertise your unique property in pay-per-click campaigns. Also, look for sites that don’t charge you annual membership fees. Large sites that need to keep charging you for a declining return in their services are going the way of obsoletion.
If the bookings don’t come today, don’t worry. Be patient. They will come at one point, and may surface in waves. The internet is like a vast, turbulent ocean, and you need to be persistent with your online marketing. It’s the persistent presence of your property on the various sites you use that will collectively gain you the exposure you need over time. Bookings may come one month, and then disappear the next. But, little by little, you will be growing along with the best online booking sites. But, you must get in on the game early and stick with it. As far as online bookings, as they say, if you build it, they will come. But, patience is the key.
BedBreakfastTraveler.com is one of the few leading online marketing and booking services these days that are offering a free telephone consultation to bed and breakfast and hotel managers. A little intelligence goes a long way to winning the online marketing game, and BedBreakfastTraveler.com is backed by the know-how and authority of Instant World Booking, a respected global provider of online marketing solutions for B&B’s and hotels.