Talking about Increasing Your Web Exposure for Online Bookings

When it comes to your accommodation & lodging business, having the right exposure is key.  You want to maximize your potential for online bookings from multiple channels.   But, you don’t want to have all the work of managing your information and updating your calendars on all those channels, right?

This is the type of discussion we have every day with hotels, bed & breakfasts, and hostels of all sizes every day.  So, what if you called and asked how we could expand your exposure and increase your business.  Here’s a hypothetical answer about how the discussion might go:

It was very nice speaking with you this afternoon. We discussed 2 optional services that, based on our discussion, will work very well for your business. These services are:

1) IWB Channel Manager

2) IWB Booking Engine for your website



First, regarding IWB Channel Manager, you mentioned that it was your goal to (a) increase exposure of your property for bookings, and (b) have just one interface to deal with for calendars, billings, commissions, etc. IWB Channel Manager can meet these goals.

Here is our proposal for how it works:

You pay a monthly cost of $14 for the basic IWB Channel Manager membership. This offers connections to a variety of booking channels, e.g., and others. This service enables you to manage your calendar just once on our website, and it simultaneously updates all your 3rd party booking channels. This eliminates any time and effort having to maintain multiple calendars on multiple systems.

For a channel that you are already signed up with, e.g., Expedia, we offer an Expedia connection. And, within 24 hours you can begin using IWB Channel Manager, and updating your Expedia calendar from IWB. There are no other costs. Whatever you Expedia commission and arrangements are would continue as before.

We discussed connecting you to our excellent Reconline channel. This channel offers a simultaneous connection to about 120 IDS booking sites, plus the GDS. Premium IDS sites include premium channels such as, Hotwire, Orbitz, Travelocity, and many other similar sites. The GDS are the reservation systems used by over 300,000 travel agents to book their air, hotel and car reservations.

To get set up with Reconline, with simultaneous connections to all 120 IDS sites, plus the GDS, we will facilitate the application process for you. There is no cost for setup. There is a 17% commission for any bookings that originate from any of these sources. The billing and commission process is handled all centrally.

So, to summarize, IWB Channel Manager will connect your IWB calendar to your external channels, so you only have to maintain one calendar. The Reconline channel will publish your property on about 120 sites plus the GDS. The total cost will be only $14 per month for the membership, and 17% commission on any bookings from any Reconline channel. There are no other costs.



The second service that we discussed is a new Booking Engine for your website. This service will enable customers to book reservations instantly on your website. And, it’s a natural complement to the Channel Manager, since bookings will be confirmed from the same calendar you’re already maintaining on our website. So, one source for all bookings and channels. And, our pricing options are very flexible.

We discussed a setup in which customers would pay a standard flat $25 deposit on each booking. Our cost for this booking engine would be $5 per reservation. There are no setup fees or other costs.

We offer alternative pricing methods, including a 35% deposit option, which would have a 5% commission cost. Or an 8% deposit option, which would have a 1.9% commission cost.

Alternatively, you can select a no-deposit option which would have a monthly fixed price of $28 (pricing available through November 2012).



1) To get started with IWB Channel Manager, please log in to your profile at our website.  Once logged in, proceed to the CHANNEL MANAGER page. Purchase your membership to get started.

2) Once you have purchased the membership, proceed to the Setup Interface. There you will select CHANNELS, and then the “Reconline” channel. Follow the instructions on your screen to request Reconline setup.

3) We will then send you the necessary Reconline application materials, and initiate the set up process.

4) For any other channels you want to setup, follow the instructions on the Setup Interface.

5) Before setting up and connecting any channels you will need to add your calendar of availability on IWB’s Calendar interface. Proceed to the CALENDAR page to do this. This will also need to be done before we can setup your Booking Engine for your website.


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Payments Systems – Why Credit Card Processing can be so Expensive

Our analysts have been searching high and low on the internet for the types of credit card processing that bed and breakfasts use.  Services like Securepay or RezOvation are touted.  RezOvation does not actually provide credit card services, but facilitates links to external merchant processing solutions.  But why are these solution so expensive?  Read on below for the answer.

Instant World Booking ( now offers IWB Payments.  This payments system is unique among all the other providers in that it requires:

  • No merchant accounts
  • No payment gateway
  • No bank or credit applications
  • No credit card processors

In short, IWB Payments handles all the complicated and otherwise costly processing for you.  All you need to do is charge your guests with convenience and confidence.  Read more about IWB Payments here:

As for the other services, merchant and credit application fees, discount fees, address verification fees, payment gateway fees, monthly reporting fees, setup fees, monthly service fees, pci compliance fees, etc. can add up quickly.  And yes, you will be charged most if not all of these fee categories for credit card processing.  This is not to mention the complex process of handling cardholder disputes, and a chargeback fee (about $30 or more) for every disputed transaction.

With external credit card processing used by services like Securepay, RezOvation, and others these fees are billed in bits and pieces, and it can be difficult to add them all up.  This is why you may be surprised to learn that these costs in some cases can add up to 10%-15% or more of your monthly charge volume.

Here’s just one example of how credit card processing costs can add up for a bed and breakfast or inn.  Consider a simplistic example.  Let’s say a bed and breakfast charges 10 credit cards per month.  The average discount rate or their charges is 4%.  This is not the total cost of processing, of course, but just one of the cost categories mentioned above.  Now, if just one of the 10 charges for a month is disputed by the guest, the amount charged is automatically returned to the guest by the credit card processor.  However, the discount fee is NOT returned to the bed and breakfast for disputed charges.  This means the overall discount rate for the month goes from (10 transactions x 4%) / (9 successful transactions) = 4.44%.  So, the average discount rate for the month increases from 4% to 4.44%.  That’s an 11% increase.  This of course does not include the non-refundable $30 chargeback fee that the bed and breakfast will be charged for the dispute.

IWB Payments is a simple to use credit card acceptance program that may be right for your bed and breakfast or inn if you want to avoid the administrative headaches and high costs of maintaining your own merchant processing account.

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Bed and Breakfasts on the Leading Edge of Innovation and Ingenuity

As many of you know, is part of the Instant World Booking organization, which includes over 100+ brands of online marketing and booking engines.  At BedBreakfastTraveler, B&Bs are our specialty, but we also have keen insights into other lodging markets.

While it may not sound fair, some other lodging sectors consider their marketing strategies to be at the leading edge of innovation and ingenuity.  But where do bed and breakfasts figure into this?  B&Bs in North America don’t have the reputation of being cutting edge in terms of marketing or technology.  This also may not be a fair assessment, since there are many inn properties that are up-and-coming into the 21st century age of internet marketing.  But there are some important lessons that our friends and partners in North America and elsewhere can learn from their counterparts in other markets.

Many online booking services know that B&Bs are behind the curve in technology, and they may sometimes take advantage of this fact by overcharging for their services.  This is perhaps the first and greatest lesson that bed and breakfasts can learn: Don’t Overpay for online marketing services!  When it comes to online booking services, many of the availability calendars out there that cater to B&Bs are vestiges of technology platforms that are 15-20 years old. Travel industry technology has undergone a revolution since the 1980’s and B&Bs should be seeking out the best technologies available for their purposes today.

So, in short, there are 2 great lessons you can learn.  1) Don’t overpay for online marketing services, and 2) Take advantage of the latest technologies. offers some leading edge services for B&Bs that we want you to compare with your current providers.  Three areas where can enhance your bottom line are by 1) offering the lowest cost for online booking services versus all the competition, 2) setting up custom booking engines to work on your very own website (again at the lowest cost versus any competitor), and 3) offering credit card acceptance for your business without costly merchant accounts, credit checks, etc.

So, if you’re a bed and breakfast looking to try something new, and start actively improving your profit margin, contact BedBreakfastTraveler and ask how we can beat your current provider’s services.

Tip:  Don’t worry about replacing or dropping any current services you use.  Evidence consistently shows that by simply adding to the list of providers you use can improve your bottom line without dropping any other services.

Join BedBreakfastTraveler

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How to Keep Occupancy Rates High – Attract more International Customers

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 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. 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 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.

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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. 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. 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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