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10/08/2013

I am opening a B&B in April, 2014 and I wonder if anyone can refer me to a good RSA for my area. Do I need to choose one near me, or does it matter where they are headquartered? Also, how close to opening do I need to choose one? Will they send someone to tour my property? Any info/advice will be appreciated.

Kate

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Kate

 

Arks's picture
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05/22/2010

Some website-related thoughts:

  • Spend some time looking at really good B&B websites to see the look and content you should aim for. For instance, spend some time studying the sample inn websites built by Whitestone Marketing. They are just beautiful.
  • Look into ReservationKey, as suggested above, and when you tie your reservation engine into your website, do it through their secure website rather than just putting it in a frame on your own website. Many people really do look for that "https" secure address before they'll enter their credit card number.
  • Realize that these days about half of reservations are made with mobile devices, so your website should be mobile-friendly. Many of us use "responsive" themes that automatically reformat the website depending on the screen in use, so it's one layout on a desktop or laptop, another layout on a tablet, and another layout on an iPhone, so it's always optimized, automatically, to give the best user experience possible.

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gillumhouse's picture
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By using a great web site, blogging, and the rest of social media, you really do not NEED an rsa to siphon off possible profits.

Breakfast Diva's picture
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05/26/2009

What's an RSA?

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10/08/2013

I'm sorry, RSA is a Reservation Service Agent. I'd like to join one for wider exposure and to use for my 800 number.

Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

I'm still confused. Do you want to sign up to be on Priceline or one of those Global Mgmt Systems? They put your inventory out for sale. Generally at a 15-30% commission.

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No, as I understand it, a reservation service agency will, for a fee,  help get your name out to prospective inn guests by connecting to various search engines through the use of tag words in your website, such as your area, "historic", "antiques", etc. And they will collect deposits, gather some background info on prospective guests and process credit cards when they book reservations for you. I'm thinking this is a good thing to have, but maybe not.

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Oh please..DO NOT WASTE your money on a service such as this. It will be a disaster for you. Spend it where it really counts. Get a great website SEO'd properly and a facebook page and market yourself!   Get Reservation Key software and handle your own bookings.

Of course, go with someone like the local Chamber of Commerce...IF and only IF they are good and do promote their members etc. etc.

Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

I guess my reply would be - why do you want a third party sticking their nose in?

You can hire a website developer to add all the pertinent info to your site to get it showing well in searches for whatever you want. Or, you can do this yourself if you want. A lot of us do our own sites. But it's not for everyone.

Alternately, you can select some well known B&B directories to put your info on. There's a yearly charge for that but you pick and choose the ones you think will work for you. Even air B&B is an option.

Sign up with the Chamber of Commerce or other local marketing organization in your area to get referrals.

What it sounds like you're thinking is a 'travel agent' or a 'property manager'. They are going to charge you handsomely for the service. And from what it appears you've heard about them, they control YOUR money. There really shouldn't be anyone between you and the guest's credit card info. You want the money flowing directly from the guest to you via a credit card processor (many, many of these out there).

Unless you don't want to do this part of it. If you're living off site you might want to be more hand's off. It really depends on your vision for how involved you're going to be.

We do use booking.com to get our name out to people who are looking for a hotel but might want to try a B&B. But they take the info and then hand it over to us to process the payments. They get 15% for doing their part of it. That's 15% per night. So if the guest books a week, booking reeled them in once but gets paid 7x.

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10/08/2013

Thank you so much for your helpful advice, Madeline. I see now that I really don't need the "middleman". I understand most RSA's take a whopping 25% per night for the booking. That can get painful. I plan on having a good website done and will probably have a business Facebook page as well. Both of those, plus local networking will, hopefully, be enough. Thanks again.

Kate

Madeleine's picture
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KatesCottage161 wrote:

Thank you so much for your helpful advice, Madeline. I see now that I really don't need the "middleman". I understand most RSA's take a whopping 25% per night for the booking. That can get painful. I plan on having a good website done and will probably have a business Facebook page as well. Both of those, plus local networking will, hopefully, be enough. Thanks again.

Kate

Because you are opening in April I hope you have it planned to have your website up and running by next month. You really need a decent lead time for all the search engines to 'find' your site, determine it's real and then start moving you up the list. You'll need to be in the top 7 properties (SEO wise) for anyone to find you doing a Google search. Most people won't go to the second page of results. They'll start calling/viewing the first ones they see.

Business FB page is great. If you are doing reno work to get ready start building your online momentum with weekly posts of what's happening. Get 'crowd sourced' info on colors (if you're up for that!) I crowd sourced a room color change last year and got some great ideas from FB fans.

If you're naming your cottages you can crowd source that, too. People love to help. You can say, 'OK peeps, here's our theme...help us come up with names!' (You may already have all of this done in your head but you can still lead the fans to your decision!)

Don't buy into a link farm. You want real links coming into your site. That's where belonging to the chamber and other local travel/tourist info sites is really helpful. Check out the attractions in the area to see if they have a page on their sites for lodging. Trade links.

I'll stop now.

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10/08/2013

Wow! Lots of good advice here. Please don't stop! smiley I spent today working on the text for my website. I didn't think I needed to get it up and running until January, but I will get a fire under myself now. I don't have photos yet, as I am still in the early stages of getting furniture together. I can see that I need to get moving on this. I like the idea of building excitment and interest, I just didn't think I would have much to report this far out from my opening date. I will get thinking about this right away.

Thanks again, and keep the advice coming. I'm learning something new every day.

 

Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

If you are creating your site in Wordpress you can download a plug in that will help you with your SEO. You tell it what you want the page to show up well for and it tells you how well you are doing in accomplishing that.

If you're not that far along yet, you can use Google Webmaster Tools to figure out what search terms are really popular and then some similar terms you might want to use.

Keep it clean and clear. You don't want to fill the text with SEO and lose the reader. (Something I have to go and fix on my site where I tried to match the exact SEO term in the text and it makes for awkward reading.)

You can take pix and then crop them way down to show a tiny detail on a bed. Maybe the paint swatches. A neat pillow you found. An interesting drawer pull or shower head. It's amazing when you crop the photos down what suddenly looks really cool.

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10/08/2013

You are brilliant! I like the idea of cropping a photo to create mystery. I used to have a personal blog (I'm an artist) through Blogger and had a large following. I've since let it go but I do still have a personal FB page (which I also have not kept up). I plan to have a professional website as I have a friend who is a professional webmaster and he will know how to link me to the SEOs, I'm sure.  I can do the FB page myself. Now I'm excited! I will get started on this right away. I'm so grateful to you for your help. I have five year's experience working in the hospitality industry but that was many years ago and technology and social media is all new now. I guess I need to make an appointment with my webmaster today!  

Joey Camb's picture
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04/02/2010

Its all about building excitement - Ive found a new chair "ie post picture on facebook and twitter" and so on, get those customers excited and on your mailing list as soon as you can.

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10/08/2013

Will do!! Thanks for all your input!

Joey Camb's picture
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04/02/2010

Trouble is guys - ive read a LOT of books based in the USA many many mention RSA's, to be frank from what I have learned they are more useful for very small operations such as 1 room where they can't advertise overtly because of local regulations or the owner doesn't really want to take the time to market.

We don't have them in the UK so if you are aiming at an international market in any way you will loose all that custom as we would never think of looking there.

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