Marketing for Bed and Breakfasts

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07/16/2014

Hello everyone,  I am wondering what are the best options for marketing a bed and breakfast such as what sites or marketing you have done that work and what to avoid.

Any help is appreciated.

Thanks!

happykeeper's picture
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12/11/2008

The best marketing for any bed and breakfast is your guest. TR adv is a close second.

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07/16/2014

I appreciate your response.  Do you pay for an enhanced listing on TA or just the free account?

happykeeper's picture
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12/11/2008

Like most things marketing, where you spend your dollars depends on a lot of variables. So what we do isn't going to help you much in figuring out what you do. Marketing is going to be a percentage of your expenses.

It will take time to put TA to work for you, but you must likely will need to find a path that includes it. That may change in the coming years, but for now, it is the way forward. Mind you, many inns can grow their business without it, because of their location or seasonal volume, but it will become part of what you do no matter what you do. So it becomes active marketing maintenance, and if your approach is pro-active from the onset, you'll be the wiser.

gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

As has been said, if you are in a city - check zoning, building, and health department codes, also fire codes and get EVERYTHING IN WRITING. If not in a city, same goes for county. Then id you are zoned to have B & B and meet all the other requirements, including insurance, start by figuring out WHO will be your guests. Are you in a city that is a destination? Near a destination? Near a major highway to be a "pass-through" stay? Near trails?

Target your market before spending money on "shotgun" directories that go who knows where. Get not a good web site, get an EXCELLENT web site with eye-popping photos and get online reservations (a lot of us use ReservationKey). I dropped bedandbdotcom years ago and never looked back because they were so expensive and never produced what they maintained they would.

What I mean by target market is this - I am a pass-through location so I use one "shotgun" - least expensive of the big ones that is owned by a former innkeeper. But I also get people traveling with horses - so I list on several horse directories. I have a rail-trail within sight of my house so I list on a biking directory. These "target" directories are affordable meaning less than $50 per year each. I have great motorcycle roads so I put my print ads in a motorcycle magazine that goes to the membership of that International group. It is also online so my ads are seen in print and online - and I often get mentioned in special focus pieces in the magazine. They published an article I wrote also.

I also squander dollars on ads that promote my city and do a sponsorship for local causes to create goodwill. I DO get a reservation once in a while from this, but am surprised when I do. I also belong to my State Association - they provide inspections (important to public), legislative issues watched, and a web site that I input the data and specials that is provided as part of my dues.

I have 3 guestrooms in a city too small to make it to most maps so I have to make every dollar count. 

 

Good luck. Just remember, before you worry about marketing, get the licenses, etc squared away first.

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07/16/2014

I really appreciate all of your insight on this.  Everything you said makes a lot of sense. I know you said you have just a small 3 guestroom b&b but do you mind me asking about how much you spend per year on advertising and marketing?  Also, with that small of a place are you able to make a good income or do you just supplement your income with that?

gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

My B & B does what I expected from it. It pays the expenses of the house - taxes, insurance, utilities, marketing... We live on very little brought in by his royal highness and I get a small salary from the /City as City Clerk (not enough per year to support 1 person for one month) for our own expenses. Last year, the B & B replaced both washer and stove. This year it paid for getting the side yard reworked. I honestly do not know how much I spend off-hand on the marketing - depends on what is in the account at the time if something comes up. I know I spend a lot more than the % of revenue that is the "recommended" since that would not buy one ad these days. I also use a LOT of free marketing - I have a good PR guy who has not sent me an invoice yet who has gotten me some excellent news coverage and thanks to building a relationship with an ad person of an International magazine, have gotten mentions in editorial content for free. THAT comes from placing ads and donating certificates over the years. When I opened, I decided I am small but I plan to run with the BIG BOYS - and I have . I did it through attending Conferences, workshops, and meetings (even when I had to scratch to find the funds for the Conference) and making myself available to the Tourism Division whenever they needed something - finding lodging for writers for example (did that once via phone when I was on a trip to New York) and partnering in ads, working with other entities (attractions) to create tours, packages, and ads...I support my City with an ad every year in the newspaper supplement that I expect no return from and give free rooms to organizations and churches in town if they need it. I really do not know how to explain what I do because I do what I do for the most part expecting nothing in return (other than the target web listings - I expect them to return guests and one room night with each of those pays for itself) BECAUSE it is what I think is the right thing to do. It is ME. I have found that ads and marketing is a crap shoot. I gave  - from year 7 thru about 10 - mini back scratchers at events and in my travels.

Did they bring guests? I have no idea - BUT I do know that years later I was still hearing, "I still have your back scratcher!" They know me and they know my inn so perhaps they tell someone about us. A high-up in a State agency saw me at a function a couple years ago and actually asked if I still had those back scratchers because his had gotten lost. I just happened to have one (I had stopped doing it a couple years earlier) and gave it to him. He remembers me and he remembers my City when things come up. Capital - just knowing someone is sometimes the best marketing.

Breakfast Diva's picture
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05/26/2009

Thanks for a little background BC1242.

A b&b is totally different than a vacation rental property. You need to be licensed by your state and county. You need b&b commercial insurance. In WA state, you will need to be inspected by your county health department and licensed before you can serve any food.

First thing to do is to contact your county to see if it's even legal for you to have a b&b in your location. Will you need a special variance, etc.

Do not just list yourself on b&b sites and call yourself a b&b without going through the proper channels.

Have you done any of this already?

TheBeachHouse's picture
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06/24/2013

Welcome!  What works for us is book ing dot com.   People look up our town and find us there.  They charge a commission, so you only pay if they are working for you.  

We also ask for T rip Adviser reviews.   I've had several people tell us they found us because they read ta reviews.   

we paid bed and brefst dot com and havn't had a ton of business through them.

also, the easy ones - chamber of commerce, tell the other businesses, fb all your 'friends', try to get an article in the local paper.

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TBH

 

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07/16/2014

Thank you!  All of the information you shared is really helpful.  Do you mind me asking what percentage booking.com charges? Have you heard about VRBO?  I have seen bed and breakfasts listed there also and was not sure if that is a good one to be on also as a Bed and Breakfast.

Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

Booking.Com is 15%. Why don't you list on airbnb?

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07/16/2014

Sorry, I have never been on a forum before so this is all new to me.  My name is Cheyenne and I have a 4 story home in Washington state.  So far I have just been renting it out as a vacation/rental property but I would like to turn it into a bed and breakfast because I have always loved the idea.  I have heard about bedandbreakfast.com but also something about that site being bought out a while ago and so now it is not as good?  Online I see monthly subscriptions to sites and also commission based so I don't know what really works and was hoping to get all of your opinion.

 

Thank you!

Breakfast Diva's picture
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05/26/2009

How about introducing yourself and telling us the kind of place you have and your general location?

Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

How about starting with what you've tried already? We might be able to give you ideas if we know what didn't work for your place. Save you some time.

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Joined:
07/16/2014

I have not tried anything yet but am planning to get a website and then was considering the sites on the first page of google eg bedandbreakfast.com etc but didnt know if they are worth it.

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