Paying Too Much for Online Marketing? Lower Your Costs

The Intelligence for Bed and Breakfasts Blog promised to bring you the most valuable online advice for B&Bs and small hotels, as well as controversial intelligence that you won’t find on other websites. Let’s talk about what matters most to your business: Value. When you shop support services for your bed and breakfast, what’s the most important factor? Price. Let’s face it, we’re all looking to keep costs down and compare for the most valuable services at the lowest price.

There are a number of big online marketing services out there, offering online booking and advertising of your property. You know who they are. In the Bed and Breakfast market, they’re charging you an annual fee to list your property. Do you really need to pay annual service fees for online listings year after year? Many B&B’s list with multiple services to maximize exposure. Costs can quickly add up. These fees are not insignificant. The biggest player in this online marketing game charges annual fees ranging from $99 to $559. Then they take up to 25% commission on any online bookings they send your way. Use their booking engine on your website and pay 30% commission. Add this to several other online services, then your membership in a professional innkeepers association, and you have a serious online budget to contend with.

Why do they charge so much? Didn’t they know that the internet is the most efficient value distribution system available today? Perhaps they’re taking advantage of the fact that the North American B&B population is by and large behind the curve with online technology. Many of these service providers do not even offer there services outside the US or Canada. How does one B&B booking engine justify a 30% commission for a booking engine on your website? To paraphrase, they claim that “70% profit on a booking is better than no booking at all”.

The good news is that you don’t have to be captive to services that charge large fees and commissions. It’s true that a correctly executed internet marketing strategy can increase your net profit by at least 20% in the first year. Don’t throw away your profits with high service fees. You internet spend should only be a fraction of what these companies are charging you.

Let’s remember that we’re in the 21st century now. Many online booking providers are offering tools adapted from 1980′s style tourism industry technology. Beware especially of services requiring you to install software on your desktop computers, and pay periodic fees for updates. None of this should be necessary with today’s online technology.

And what about the big question. What should I be paying for online bookings and marketing on the internet? The answer is you should pay nothing at all to sign up for online listings. The most advanced online booking and marketing services are offering membership for free. BedBreakfastTraveler.com is one of the services in this category. Look for firms that list properties globally, not just in the US and Canada. Global services are the ones with real experience in offering advanced booking capability. As for commissions, throw out companies charging more than 15% (including the 25% example above). The best services today are offering commission rates of only 8 – 10%, providing advanced booking technology and allowing you to increase your profit margin. Finally, what about booking engines for your own website? You should be paying no more than 15% (compared with 30% for the provider mentioned above) if the provider is collecting the entire booking amount up front. If only a small deposit is collected at booking, you can expect to pay only 2-3% commission. BedBreakfastTraveler.com offers an industry-low special price of 1.9% for this service.

Don’t be held captive by booking and marketing services with annual membership fees and commissions. They’re just not worth it, and you can get the same and better service for almost free in today’s advancing marketplace. If you’re using a service that you like today, but think you may be paying too much, post your arrangement here for comments. Or, contact Instant World Booking directly. Instant World Booking stands ready to beat any price for a competing service offering, and will offer superior technology in the process.

One final tip. If you’re using one of the several major “booking by request” engines for your bed and breakfast website, this is not real online booking. These are services that pretend to offer online calendars or rudimentary availability to guests, while requiring you to manually confirm every booking. You may only be paying a small monthly fee for the service, or no commissions at all. However, with “booking on request” services you are losing business. There are many B&B owners in North America who desperately hold on to this form of booking. But, there is no doubt that this form of booking loses you business. Many guests seeking lodging online today refuse to book with this method because there is no instant confirmation.

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