New Owner Needs Advice

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03/21/2012

 Hi All!  So we're very close to opening (April 22nd) our new bed and breakfast in Boise, Idaho.  This is where I lean on your assistance.  I built our website and am tapped into facebook, twitter (all the usual social medias).  I really need to know what are some of the creative marketing ideas I'm not thinking of.  Here is what I've done so far (online mostly):

- Listed on Yelp
- Listed on bedandbreakfast.com
- Listed on bbonline.com
- Signed up for Google Places
- Created a facebook presence"
- Create twitter
- Blog frequently
- Signed up for TripAdvisor - waiting for reply - should I call?
- Did all the SEO tricks
- Working on getting the local paper to do a story
 

I don't want to get overly spendy on marketing, but I do realize in order to establish an initial base you have to spend to make.  Are there obvious (I'm sure there are) things that I'm missing?

Your help is greatly appreciated.

 

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Joined:
05/30/2008

Have you contacted your local convention and visitors bureau or your State association?  At least they are a presence whose link love will help you. 

Best of luck!

__________________

People don't notice whether it's winter or summer when they're happy.
~ Anton Chekhov

 

Proud Texan's picture
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05/30/2008

My 2 cents.

It might be my connection,  but your website seems to load incredibly slow.  

I'm not sure what you're using for your slide show,  but you might switch to javascript.   If you are using Flash,  remember that Adobe Flash is not compatible with iPad and other widely used devices.

fsconsult's picture
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03/19/2012

 Apart from the local newspapers, can you join a local chamber of commerce or business group that may put out a newsletter or After Business Hours meeting? Any local bloggers that could put the word out and do a sneak peek review (plus their link to your site would help your search rankings)? 

Besides a Facebook page, you can create a Facebook Places listing so people can "check in" to your property via the Facebook website/app. You can do the same thing for Foursquare. 

I would investigate Airbnb.com to see if it would be worthwhile to list your property there, and I may consider doing a Groupon special to give your business a jumpstart, especially during a slower period. 

You could also partner with some local businesses for an opening day/weekend special- maybe you can get a discount on for spa services somewhere, or flowers in the rooms from a local shower shop (who could promote the B&B at their business). 

Just a few ideas to help you out. 

__________________

James McCullough, Hospitality Consultant
Four Sides Hospitality Consulting

 

gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

One thing you have never mentioned - have you joined the Idaho B & B Association? If you have not, you should. THEY are also the ones who can best advise you of what is and is not allowed in Idaho.

Proud Texan's picture
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05/30/2008

One important factor that is good on multiple levels is to network and trade links with area attractions.   Google looks at this for SEO ranking and we have noticed a marked increase in reservations since doing so.   A lot of people find us that didn't even know they were looking for us.

By networking, you increase web exposure and business for yourself AND your networking partners.

Happy Keeper's picture
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10/24/2011

Absolutely! So often overlooked and so very important. It still amazes me that I find a strange resistance from other innkeepers about building partnerships. It has made a huge difference in page ranking.

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10/07/2008

I was trying to stay out of this as there are so many diff comments, but listen DON'T POST YOUR WEBSITE on this advice "There are tons of free sites you can get listed on."  Don't do it, unless it is a state tourism website that you are able to list your URL as a part of a business in the state, don't jump on all the TONS OF FREE SITES as this guy mentions, you will be sorry later. NOTHING IS FREE. READ MY LIPS. NOTHING IS FREE. 

Take it slow, be smart in your approach. Remember anyone can comment on this forum after given a user id, no matter what sort of links and expertise they toss on their signature line, don't think all advice here is the best, take it with a grain of salt.

On that note, go to your neighboring inns listing, do a google search, see the top 10 listing for that inn and then consider if you should a) fork over the dough for those, or b) choose the top three or four and test the water a bit.

In the past we have said "If you are in a highly touristy area" ie many B&B's to choose from., then you need to be on all the same directories and listings the other inns are. Now a guest will choose you from just one, which one? We don't always know, they may follow a rabbit trail to get to you.

If you are not in a touristy area, you may be able to stand on your own two feet, get blogging, get info out there about your inn, please don't post on every tom dick and harry free website (you will NEVER be able to change the info, have any control over the info and they might in fact HURT you in the long run).

All the best.

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08/18/2011

There are plenty of legitimitely free sites and some of them are important to get listed on.  Some of the free sites do try to sell advertising, but you don't need to buy it (and shouldn't, none of it is worth it). 

Of course there are lots of trash sites out there where I would not sign up.  I think most problem sites I have seen are bed and breakfast directories.  If you haven't heard of them, do your research before signing up.  Or you can just avoid any bed and breakfast directories you aren't familiar with since they are usually junk sites.

I have had no issues whatsover with our 30+ free listings.  We have had calls occasionally from some trying to sell adverstising, but only a minor annoyance.  None of them have any rates or really any information that could change.  It is usually just name, address, phone, website, and a description.  I suspect those who have had problems have had them with the junk bed and breakfast directories which I don't sign up for.  I do have a separate e-mail and use different passwords on any sites that are not as well established.

Getting your link out there is crucial for SEO and these free listings do help.  While SEO is the main reason we list on these sites, we do also get bookings occasionally from them (including yp.com and yellowbook.com).

You will be missing out if you do not get your website link on at least the more established free websites.

Header

I noticed you changed the header.  I am not sure if that was in response to my comments but the image linked to below shows what I meant.  It is just showing one possibility, but my main point is I think there is too much empty green space in a very valuable area of the webpage.  It would be better if it was condensed so those beautiful photos are higher up on the page.  I love the changes you made to the rest of the site since I looked earlier today though.  Lookin' good.

s15.postimage.org/5euy28hqj/boisehillsidesuites.jpg

I see you have a Facebook page now, but the link at the top left still goes to your old profile.

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04/21/2010

Joey Bloggs wrote:

I was trying to stay out of this as there are so many diff comments, but listen DON'T POST YOUR WEBSITE on this advice "There are tons of free sites you can get listed on."  Don't do it, unless it is a state tourism website that you are able to list your URL as a part of a business in the state, don't jump on all the TONS OF FREE SITES as this guy mentions, you will be sorry later. NOTHING IS FREE. READ MY LIPS. NOTHING IS FREE.

What is the downside? I did a fair amount of this, and I do not feel it has hurt us. but now i am worried.

Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

Pretty much what Joey said. There are no updates to these sites. Once on there, they go defunct and the info is out there until the domain name gets bought by some spammer who then loads up the free directory with porn and there's your lovely B&B on the same page.

I just don't like dealing with incessant telemarketers so I avoid free sites unless they are good sites like my state tourism site.

BTW, we have been getting a bill every quarter from a directory that claims they have our listing on 6 different websites. NONE of the info is correct. Almost all of the listings on the websites are wrong. We get calls for places nowhere near here because these losers listed our phone number against someone else's name. So, why not fix it? Because I have to pay them $300 to make the changes. THIS is how this particular directory makes money. Pay up and we'll fix the errors.

Another reason to avoid a website that says your listing is free.

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OnTheShore's picture
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08/28/2011

Once you've been in business for a while, you will be listed on all kinds of directory sites whether you want to be or not. Search on your phone number or mailing address and see what turns up. Most of these sites do allow businesses to "claim" their listing, and many use some sort of verification either involving a phone call to the listed number or a domain-name based e-mail, and once you've claimed it you can edit it to correct mis-information, or possibly even have the listing deleted if that's what you want. I would say it probably is better for you to go ahead and claim your own business listing on these directories than it is to ignore them (especially if they are incorrect). Note that I am talking about general business directory sites like Manta, Hotfrog, Merchant Circle, etc... and not necessarily B&B specific directories (I don't have any experience with those). As to the spam e-mail these sites generate, you can control that if you have claimed your listing -- most have a way to set e-mail preferences for what you want to get and not get. I find that Manta's small business tip of the day is often pretty good, for example, so I am subscribed to that. I have a filter on my e-mail program that routes all these e-mails out of my regular inbox into a special folder.

One place where you definitely do want to be listed is Google Places...

On the other hand, I do get a constant stream of invitations to list on various industry specific directories for a special introductory rate, or with a free one year membership, blah blah blah. Today it was Reco...Inns.com, yesterday Bn...Star.com -- These I just delete (without even looking for a "take me off your list" link, which maybe I should).

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10/07/2008

toddburme wrote:

Joey Bloggs wrote:

I was trying to stay out of this as there are so many diff comments, but listen DON'T POST YOUR WEBSITE on this advice "There are tons of free sites you can get listed on."  Don't do it, unless it is a state tourism website that you are able to list your URL as a part of a business in the state, don't jump on all the TONS OF FREE SITES as this guy mentions, you will be sorry later. NOTHING IS FREE. READ MY LIPS. NOTHING IS FREE.

What is the downside? I did a fair amount of this, and I do not feel it has hurt us. but now i am worried.

Let's see freebie websites post no room available when of course you do have them available. Also acting like they are on your behalf, when they are not. This has happened many times. Info changes, like rates and you cannot update it, or website url or phone number.  We have about a dozen out there from the PO's that are untouchable, showing $75 rooms, dogs welcome and worse.  Now how people find these OBSCURE listings I have no idea, but they do, they call and they argue.  It says right here rooms are $75 and dogs welcome!  (another reason a directory should have "rooms start at" instead of specficic rates).

I have not googled and gone from page to page in a year or so, when I do I see red and contact them and it only get us SPAMMED UP THE WAZOO.  These are always on page 3 or 4 o5 5 in google, but they are still there.

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Joined:
08/18/2011

You need to redo your Facebook presence.  It should be a "Page" and not a user profile.  It is actually against Facebooks terms of service to have a user account that is not a real person.  You will also have access to the page features and statistics. 

While signed in on your personal Facebook account. create a page at www.facebook.com/pages/create.php

I would strongly suggest reducing the height of your website header.  There is a lot of wasted space and the top of your homepage is the first thing visitors see and the most valuable space on your website.  Personally I would make the logo a little smaller and move the navigation menu up so it is next to the logo and not below it.  Cut down the size at least by half.

You should get your website link out there as much as possible.  There are tons of free sites you can get listed on.  You can get some ideas at http://www.yext.com/pl/merchantcircle4/index.html.  If you enter your business info they scan about 30 websites to see if you are listed.  Don't bother clicking the "Fix It All" button though since they will want you to pay them to create/manage your listings.  Just find the websites and get listed. 

Some important directores not listed through that link include Bing/yahoo places, www.yp.com (Yellow Pages), and primeplace.nokia.com/ (NAVTEQ GPS Maps).  This is just a start and the more places you get listed the better.

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05/22/2008

 Sorry but yellow book is a BIG WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY!

Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

I would avoid merchant circle even if just for a test run of the website. Once in their sights you will be inundated with spam emails. They are relentless. They have even hijacked my info and stated on their site that theirs is the only place to get real info about my inn. They have dozens of listings in my town for the same businesses over and over with photos of other properties, wrong addresses, wrong info.

Ditto yellow pages. They are also relentless in their spam phone calls and emails.

I would suggest an alternative- check to see where the competition is listed by using alexa.com which doesn't turn around and spam you if you enter your website. There are other sites that do the same research for you, just can't think of names right now.

Joey Camb's picture
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04/02/2010

Is there any kind of B&B referal group where you are that you could join?

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Hillbilly's picture
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10/22/2011

I know you have worked hard on your site. That said, I would redo it. It feels like I'm looking at a blog. After the first 500 words on the first page I lost interest in it. You need tabs. I person should not have to scroll and scroll to get to the bottom of the page. Don't take this the wrong way. I'm excited for your opening and hope it works great for you!

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Hillbilly

 

Offline
Joined:
05/22/2008

 Thanks bob for backing me up. that is exactly what I told her in her other post. Smiling

Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

It will take some time to get your B&B on page 1 of Google searches if you just launched the website. Make sure you have VALID backlinks to your website. ie- the link text (what the guest sees) should be 'myinn . com' and not 'see the website here' which is essentially what you get from the directories. (However, you are getting exposure on their sites, which is what you need right now.)

Also, if you hover your mouse over the directory link and it shows something along the lines of '...member_id 47...' you're not getting the link love to your website from that.

Make sure you have those same links on your own website (I didn't look at it). So, on your rooms page have a link back to your home page, etc.

Contact local businesses that have 'area links' on their websites and offer to trade links with them. Email your link with the text you want to show so they don't make something up that does you no good.

Right now, with no TA reviews possibly for awhile, focus your attention on those news articles in the local papers. If you renovated a historical home, a notorious home or you are offering something no one else is, get the story out there.

It sounds like you are doing the right social media. Someone else suggested doing a Living Social or Groupon deal. That's another way to get out there fast. You want to do a search here on those 2 topics to see what good and evil can come of that. And how to get the best deal for YOU.

Good luck!

Ice
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02/22/2010

Got my first T A review and it was only a 4 

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10/07/2008

Ice wrote:

Got my first T A review and it was only a 4 

Only a four? They wrote so many amazing things I would be jumpin' for joy! Well done Ice. 

Ice
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02/22/2010

Thanks makes me feel better.     But don't people look at the stars?  I just want to be PERFECT!

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Ice wrote:

Thanks makes me feel better.     But don't people look at the stars?  I just want to be PERFECT!

NO WAY! Who are you competing with? I read the comments and thought WOW! That is a neat place to stay. Seriousely, couldn't have been better (other than adding one star, and it is their prerogative to feel it is not the "bargain" of the year, sobeit, you don't want to be the bargain of the year, you want great guests! Not penny pinching misers who are only looking at 'value'.)  Ice I think for your first it is a really good one! In fact I hope you share it on FB and anywhere else you "share" your place. 

Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

Ice wrote:

I just want to be PERFECT!

Don't go there, you will make yourself a crazy person.

Happy Keeper's picture
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10/24/2011

You are brave to ask!

If I type in "Boise bed and breakfasts" are you on page one?

That, IMHO, is the most important thing that matters for your long term success.

NEXT, make sure you get on the dreaded Trap Ad Visitor as soon as you can with 5 star everything. Set a target goal and surpass it as soon as you can.

SET your rates for what you are worth and not to compete with others and then sell your value. VALUE VALUE VALUE LUXURY CHEAP HISTORIC BUSINESS any market- its value

Go get `em!

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04/21/2010

I got this recommendation off of here and it has been good, Craigs list. Google adwords. I would consider a groupon/livingsocial as you might be a bit slow to start.

Make a deal with other B&B's in the area to send overflow guests. Better for you at the moment but always a good idea.

 

if you get bored www.getl isted. org

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03/21/2012

 Oh, the website is http://www.boisehillsidesuites.com if you want to look at it.

Happy Keeper's picture
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10/24/2011

Okay- I remember what our first website was like and yours is much better. You have to start somewhere, and it looks like you did well for a starter.

What I noticed right off is that (probably because you are not yet open) is that it looked a little like a vacant model home in the otherwise great photos. As soon as you can get soon foodstuffs in your snack bar shot and some product in your other shots, switch them out.

How exciting to be just starting out! Congratulations! The views looked great.

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