What solution do you need?

20 replies [Last post]
Offline
Joined:
09/19/2008

I am still running PillowsAndPancakes.com ; however, the vertical directory market is a losing battle.  The biggest issue is the majority of users start their journey at google.com.  With Google Places the users don't really need to go much farther than google. In the old days the top 10 results were often B&B directory websites.  Now it is a mix of Google Places, b&b websites, and some vertical directories (most often B&B.com).

I was reading a post in the 'B&B Directories and Agencies' forum about a new directory start up.  And I was thinking that people that start directories are really missing the mark... like really really missing it.  In my opinion I can almost guarantee the thought process goes like this 'If B&B.com has 10,000 listings and charges on average $300 a year... that is $3 million a year... if we could get 10% ($300K a year) of that we'd be happy.'  It is really easy to rock back and forth in ones rocking chair imagining all of the money they are going to make.

And then I thought it must really irke people to have people assume this market needs another directory.

What problems do people in this business have that they'd pay to have solved?

Thanks!

Paul

 

__________________

Pillows and Pancakes
http://www.pillowsandpancakes.com/

 

birdwatcher's picture
Offline
Joined:
02/22/2009

I am not an owner anymore-but the boss has b&b.com and hotwire-the commission these places make JUST BECAUSE YOU BOOK through them is astronomical, but it puts heads in beds-as the boss says-as for directories when Im looking for something I just put what Im looking up top-and what comes up I click on and definantely b&b.com comes up every time you search for a bed and breakfast. I think that they days are numbered and that eventually they won't be needed. I also believe that being listed in all the locations that are around the bed and breakfast gives you a little more umfph-cause if i was going to lets say Luray Caverns and I search for it would "lodging" be on their site? maybe but if it was I would be clicking away at "lodging" and the if I find something there I would be booking through that...so people are looking not just looking for B & B's but also looking at where they plan to go-as in City or whatever adventure or event they want.

I may not be an owner but when I was I thought that paying for a directory was taking alot of my $$ and not giving me much in return-but what are you gonna do? NOT be in one? I just thought trying to be in all the stuff around the Inn was the way to go.

gillumhouse's picture
Offline
Joined:
05/22/2008

Exactly! That is why you blog about the things in your area - when someone searches for that, you pop up!

Offline
Joined:
04/21/2010

Allow a text link like "Quill and Quilt Bed and Breakfast" so even if the directory traffic is weak, I can still get something for my fee. I know this is on your old business model but it is something that has always bugged me about directories.

Skamokawa's picture
Offline
Joined:
08/24/2008

Catlady, I just checked out the truethemes.net templates.  Mobile has certainly changed the game.  Have you worked with this co. to adapt a wordpress theme?   I've been wrestling with this for weeks, and need a starting point.  Is there a customizable wp theme you like?  Could we communicate in mail?  

__________________

Twin Gables Inn
On the Lower Columbia Water Trail

 

Offline
Joined:
05/22/2008

 They are supposed to becoming out with a new theme shortly. I have used the KARMA theme. I have done this site in their theme. I Customized it myself to what my client wanted. The support from this company has been outstanding!! Whenever I had a question or issue, I would email their support and they had a fix for me almost immediately. Sometimes when things got real hard, they even fixed it for me on my own server.

Skamokawa's picture
Offline
Joined:
08/24/2008

Nice neat theme. Thank you for the advice.

Offline
Joined:
10/07/2008

Paul, bless your heart, we really would embrace everything if we thought it beneficial and cost worthy.  For American Inns I would say a basic template website that caters to B&B's could be a hot seller.  But it can't be too pricey.  I think there is NONE OF THIS AVAILABLE TO US, there is either big pricey companies also hiring the hot photographers to go along with it, and those who know nothing about B&B's trying to sell to us, and they do, daily.   The issue with the big pricey companies is many inns do not feel they are luxurious inns, they are B&B's and nice, but not luxury inns, so they don't want to oversell what they have on offer. 

On the same token, holy cow bat man if you could get your foot into the UK market, overall the majority still have tiny "crappy" for lack of a better term that fits oh so well - images, tons of text and just unappealing websites.  I am not trying to put them down, just suggesting the UK websites lack luster, big time.  They are just a website, they are not visually attactive in any sense.

So that is where I would go. If it were me. Directories suck. They do, they all want our money, and they are a dime a dozen now. The number of them pleading for me to sign back up like LanierBB, Iloveinns, and Trip Advisor Paid listing who can quadruple my bookings if I only paid them to do it... People Google. Old people, young people.  Think about it. IF THEY TRAVEL nowadays they google. They really do, unless it is the AAA crowd, and they get the guidebooks and use no-tell motels or the old RV.

Whatever direction you go, I would like to know I am behind ya and wish ya all the best!

__________________

Gluten free is never free. - Joey Bloggs

 

Happy Keeper's picture
Offline
Joined:
10/24/2011

Welcome back. QUESTION

I didn't get what you were saying about who you do or don't use. Have you done away with all the directories?

__________________

Take a leap and a net will appear

 

Offline
Joined:
10/07/2008

Happy Keeper wrote:

Welcome back. QUESTION

I didn't get what you were saying about who you do or don't use. Have you done away with all the directories?

I have them on rotation. Some are rotated out on a permanent basis now.  I have used one or two here and there with no results so did not renew and they pander you to renew for the rest of your life. I did renew BBONLINE and now with the new facelift on their website they may be next to go and then I will be roaming "commando" so to speak in the directory realm.

So far they are all a bust, bedandbreakfast.com is only needful it seems for those who buy and give the gift certificates, so if you don't take that those and their redemption percentage, then really what use are these directories now?  For those who may be reading this like Mary White who is shaking her head and saying 'But the PR! Don't forget the PR!" I am just not so sure the PR is amounting to that hill of beans anymore. So many inns are doing their only press releases and getting the word out there on how great B&B's are.

If we could get a collective voice on this forum with each sharing (from the best of their knowlege) what their must have's for directories are, those who actually BRING IN PAYING GUESTS and those who are just a bunch of fluff...I would love to hear from all of you near and far.  

So for our inn we are listed with bedandbreakfast.com and bbonline.com currently (the first was another chance to prove themselves)

Not on BBfinder, not on iloveinns, and not on lanierBB, not on the newer ones who seem to follow us all on twitter and google plus etc like findbedandbreakfast.com or bedandbreakfastnetwork.com or bedandbreakfastplanner.com or Bnbchoices.com or BnBcoop.com or Bnbtravel.com or betterbedandbreakfasts.com and will never ever be on bnbstar.com. 

Happy Keeper's picture
Offline
Joined:
10/24/2011

So I am thinking of dropping bedandbreakfast.com, our last general directory, unless you count TR A.

I am wondering about NICHE directories folks may use. We have better results from our association directory and we have very very good results from tourism directory. We get some benefit from an alternative type directory, which is localized and free.

Okay- so what would make a good directory and why? Hmmm.. I have to think this through a bit.

Offline
Joined:
06/24/2008

Happy Keeper wrote:

So I am thinking of dropping bedandbreakfast.com, our last general directory, unless you count TR A.

I am wondering about NICHE directories folks may use. We have better results from our association directory and we have very very good results from tourism directory. We get some benefit from an alternative type directory, which is localized and free.

Okay- so what would make a good directory and why? Hmmm.. I have to think this through a bit.

H.K. you may be on the right track especially with this last revision, they have sunk themselves with me.  Paying for silver and being #44 in my market is just so not worth it. Of course they would say that paying for diamond or platinum would correct the problem.  LOL, it was barely worth being on the directory paying silver rates!!!  But alas I renewed just prior to their revamping so will be there through 2012. 

I have decided to give iloveinns another chance.  They are focusing on getting customers to the site, have an iphone app and will have a droid app in the next month or so.  If you go into their GC program they give you 90% (much better than the 70% of the other mentioned directory) and if you sell their GC's they give you 10%.   As stated I am giving them a chance, for just a little more than 1/2 the other directory, I will still get the link love I need.  (now that is my main need)

I am looking at bbonline but right now they do not even show (pg1-3) on a google search for my city bed and breakfast, so not looking good for them.

Find some niche directories, they may not produce the quality of link you need, but if they bring in business at a low price, hey not all bad!!!

gillumhouse's picture
Offline
Joined:
05/22/2008

Niche directories is exactly what the horse directories are. They each cost between $30 to $40 per year and if they bring me just one booking per year (some years none but other years several) they have paid for themselves. I am found because they are looking for stabling as they travel. One is $35 per year and is a print directory - but it has from time to time brought business so I continue with it. You just have to know your niche. I also know - from trying - that biking directories do not do it even though I am 50 feet from a rail-trail. Why? Who knows. For that I use a newsprint-type magazine that is given away in 6 States - the ads pay for it - at bike shops and the establishments of the advertisers..

Edited to add that by booking space early, I get 2 ads, in the issues I choose, for the price of one and also get to do an article.

gillumhouse's picture
Offline
Joined:
05/22/2008

Other than the horse directories, the only one I am still on is Mary's. I am giving it a second year to see what happens. So far BTW, PR has brought ZILCH in bookings. I am giving the PR angle a chance with using my own PR guy. I figure it is worth a shot and will cost any more than listing with several of the useless directories would - and I have been with just about all the big names at one time or another for several  (and some more than several) years over the years.

gillumhouse's picture
Offline
Joined:
05/22/2008

I echo JB. I truly wish you well and hope to keep hearing from you.

Happy Keeper's picture
Offline
Joined:
10/24/2011

Hi Paul,

This is a GREAT question. I would submit to this body that the biggest challenges are technical and technological.

TIME IS MONEY and when you don't have the later, you need to make the former.

We have found that the time we spend on making us findable organically is well spent.

We have found that time spent on getting media attention has a durable and cumulative shelf life.

IMHO- GENERAL directories are done, BUT niche directories and specifics driven localized directories can be great.

Generic's picture
Offline
Joined:
02/24/2011

The problem with the directories is simple, they all want to put their hand in my pocket but don't want to promise me any results. I think I have outlined a few times how traffic and price just don't match. And the quality is something else althogether. The numbers just don't add up, there isn't enough traffic to warrant my listing in most directories at the prices they set. Sure, maybe they have enough traffic if Peoria, but Canada is often an after thought, but they still want the same money, regardless of the traffic they get.

A particular directory (see how careful I am to not mention it by name) brought me in a lot of email requests for my most popular room at the last minute and gave me almost no bookings (because it's booked well in advance). The quality of what I was getting from the directory wasn't good. I've talked to them about it. Their solution, manually update my availability on their website to limit the email requests that I get. Sure... now even more work for no return.

A few things that I can think of that might be interesting.... a directory that listed what was really available (which likely won't ever happen unless you gave out the booking software so you had access to the availability) or a directory that let me offer rooms like hotwire. The problem is this... I won't go anywhere there are illegal businesses listed. I simply won't compete with the tax cheats, the uninsured, the uninspected, the unlicenced.

The only other thing that I think might be interesting is someone who is offering what the foreigners want to buy... the whole package, because it limits their language difficulties. For example, in the winter the Europeans come to do a tour that takes them snowmobiling from place to place, they buy this package in Europe that includes a few nights hotel, the snowmobile, the lessons, their dinner, etc all in the rural areas. I want to be where they stay on the flight in and the flight out, if it's not weekends. Suggestions for restaurants and reservations, etc. Tours of the city, etc. I'm just part of a package, when the price is right.

__________________

Permission to quote in whole or in part, other than usage on this forum, is entirely forbidden.

 

Madeleine's picture
Offline
Joined:
09/29/2011

I think you are absolutely correct that directories are dinosaurs hanging on for dear life.

The operative word in your question is 'pay'. You know this bunch here spends a lot of time figuring out how to do it ourselves. What I would like is a brand overhaul. What that would cost me, tho, is probably more than I can afford. (Like hiring someone to design a whole new website is about $5000-$10,000, if I include photography. Can I afford that? No.) So, how could I afford a brand overhaul? (That would include a new website, photos, logo AND an overhaul of the property itself.)

__________________

Everyday, for good or ill, we intersect with some else's story and become a part of it.

 

Offline
Joined:
05/22/2008

 I keep telling you to go to WORDPRESS. You can get your self a sweet template and have a great looking site up and running in a few days. I know you could do it!!!!

Madeleine's picture
Offline
Joined:
09/29/2011

I'm not planning on redoing the site, just saying that's how much it would cost if I had someone else do it. The site has grown on me. I like it. Probably next year will be when I redo it. It will be dated by then! And then I will go with a template to save myself the aggro.

Offline
Joined:
05/22/2008

 I know you could do it yourself Smiling  Templates are a great starting point...but believe me..you have to learn alot to "customize" them to suit your needs exactly. But if you pick the right company with great customer support you will be fine. I love True Theme guys!!!! They are awesome.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.