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Country Girl

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It is time to renew our advertising memberships for the coming year. We will stick with the Big 3 as we've had great results from them but the rest are on the chopping block. As much as I want to support local and state tourism we receive very few (if any) bookings from them. According to Google Analytics actual visits to our site range from 50 down to 11 (on four sites) for the entire year! Our advertising costs range from $195 up to $570 annually. These are great tourism agencies and I know they work really hard to promote our area but they're not helping me (and probably other small B&B's) in the state. Should I keep supporting them just for the sake of tourism in general or throw in the towel and spend my advertising $$ elsewhere? As a side note, I've been keeping track and most B&B's DO renew every year. Should I risk losing ALL exposure from these sites as long as most of my business comes from the Big 3 anyway? Thanks.
 

JBloggs

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I hear you loud and clear!
I had to ax one I have been with (8 years) and before my time here. They updated their website to a chamber directory and took all focus off visitors. For a normally sold out wine festival weekend I had zero rooms booked, not one, thanks to this change. I contacted them and gave them the oppty to make it right. There is no "WHERE TO STAY" button any longer on the website, at all. They cut off their nose to spite their faces, they not only lost our $ and interest, but also visitors! (This is for a lake, so visitors are the bread and butter).
There is only so much money in the kitty, gotta roll with the punches, gotta make the most out of every dollar we spend.
I hope you can make the best decisions with the data and gut-instinct you have. The internet is a living breathing thing. We have to re-evalute where we market every single year, every single renewal time and hope to make the wisest choices.
 

Alibi Ike

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This is such a tough decision. We had to drop the city's tourist website because it was over $600 and brought us no business.Or, it merely paid for the listing.
Right now, in an amazing turnabout, 80% of the reservations we got in January were online. Where they said they found us (for those who opted to select a choice) was, also amazingly, not from the high paid directories. Doesn't mean they didn't see us there at some point and just decide to go with us. 72% 'found' us through free channels. (33% of those being repeat guests.) 20% didn't select a 'where', they left it blank. (I have the blank option to keep from annoying those people with short attention spans. Me.)
 

Breakfast Diva

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We used to belong to 2 different Chambers of Commerce because we're located inbetween the two towns. After years of banging my head to get one of them to put time and a little money on their website, I finally quit. They just didn't get it that the chamber site was not just for chamber members. A Chamber is there to promote local business and to do that there needs to be customers for those businesses. I hated to do it, but I just wasn't going to waste any more money, even local money. I do think it's important to let them know why you are leaving.
You must do what's right for your business. If a site is not performing, get rid of it. Try something new with those funds. I would suggest using that money to get a tracking program so you KNOW exactly where your bookings are coming from. I used to use Superstatz and now have gone to Intell-a-keeper which seems to be able to track more than Superstatz.
Alibi, don't believe the info your guests are telling you about how they found you. I learned that lesson very quickly once I started using a tracking program. I would say that 80% of the time they are wrong! Tracking software will allow you to make informed decisions of what directory is really worth it and you can eliminate the non producing ones which will save you more money, offsetting the cost of the tracking software.
 

JBloggs

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The one we quit is actually a visitor center, as well. ugh
Our two chambers locally never marketed toward visitors, ever, and they still don't. Our retail merchants said when her bother stayed with us "I don't know WHY you want to stay in this old place and not a hotel" That sealed the deal on joining THAT org. He was a neat man too, and really appreciated what we offered him, obv NOT staying with his old batty sister was a plus! :)
In our own town we have 4 diff orgz vying for our money, volunteerism, and business. None of them amount to squat for income for us.
 

Joey Camb

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we are joining our chamber this year as they work really hard for local business for example this year they put together the package that got us direct trains from London. If you can imagine a direct train from where you are to New York allowing all those people to get to you and all the people on route to get to you in three hours or less that is a really big deal. Also this dramatically increases our marketability as a conference destination. They are also fighting to get more flights for Leeds Bradford Airport which is our local airport which has the same effect. So although they do not do any direct marketing on our behalf they get the people here in other ways which is much more important as we have Destination Harrogate, Accommodation Harrogate and Welcome to Yorkshire doing that already.
 

white pine

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The one we quit is actually a visitor center, as well. ugh
Our two chambers locally never marketed toward visitors, ever, and they still don't. Our retail merchants said when her bother stayed with us "I don't know WHY you want to stay in this old place and not a hotel" That sealed the deal on joining THAT org. He was a neat man too, and really appreciated what we offered him, obv NOT staying with his old batty sister was a plus! :)
In our own town we have 4 diff orgz vying for our money, volunteerism, and business. None of them amount to squat for income for us..
Where I had my past business this was true also. The chamber seems to be focused on building business between members, a good 'ol boy netwoork of sorts. Never generated anything for me, always paid my dues but felt like I was paying blackmail money After being there over a decade, the head of the chamber never got my business name right, and I was on Main St., one block from the chamber!
 

Copperhead

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Good points made here... get a tracking program to verify what directories & other sites are producing for you.
I have to chime in here about local tourist and chamber type organizations. I too were members of the the local chamber and the state tourism sites. Neither produced business for me, wasted money in my opinion.
The chamber (here) only thinks local - period and it requires lots of man hours going to events to keep your name and face in front of them, but this only helps IF they are needing rooms. If you are not in there face at the right time, they will only think of the hotels - which are most likely members as well.
Our state tourism association does not produce but a dozen or so visitors to my site; so what are the odds it produces any actual guests? The book version has only produced a hand full or so guests, these last minute bookings on the road. Our local tourism org. is paid by tourism tax dollars and no out of pocket expenses for me, which is good as it also is a non producer of real business.
In my opinion the web is the #1 business producer... Put a good chunk into making your website the BEST it can be, then promote the heck out of it using the best of the best directories and other sources - whether it be Google Adwords, Facebook or other sites where sponsored ads produce for your area.
 

Alibi Ike

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We used to belong to 2 different Chambers of Commerce because we're located inbetween the two towns. After years of banging my head to get one of them to put time and a little money on their website, I finally quit. They just didn't get it that the chamber site was not just for chamber members. A Chamber is there to promote local business and to do that there needs to be customers for those businesses. I hated to do it, but I just wasn't going to waste any more money, even local money. I do think it's important to let them know why you are leaving.
You must do what's right for your business. If a site is not performing, get rid of it. Try something new with those funds. I would suggest using that money to get a tracking program so you KNOW exactly where your bookings are coming from. I used to use Superstatz and now have gone to Intell-a-keeper which seems to be able to track more than Superstatz.
Alibi, don't believe the info your guests are telling you about how they found you. I learned that lesson very quickly once I started using a tracking program. I would say that 80% of the time they are wrong! Tracking software will allow you to make informed decisions of what directory is really worth it and you can eliminate the non producing ones which will save you more money, offsetting the cost of the tracking software..
I do have tracking software. The problem is tracking through to completion of the sale. The software doesn't do that properly. It would if I had access to the code in the reservation software, which I don't. I get a fair picture of who comes from where to my site, what pages they look at and what pages they leave from. Maybe a year's worth of Intellakeeper would help, but that only shows that year. I've heard it's pretty pricey.
Later on that day-
I had to do it. I went through my tracking program and 'followed' 3 people who booked online in the past 2 days. 1 doesn't count because they're repeats, but I wanted to see what pages they looked at. 0. They got the home page, hit 'Make a reservation' and they were gone. The other 2 spent a little more time. 11 pages for one. 7 pages for the other. Then they hit the 'Make a reservation' button on the room page they liked.
One of them came from a Google search and entered 'Mobil Travel Guide' for where they found us. For this one, they may have entered the inn name in Google after finding it in the book.
The other came from a state website and that's what they selected.
I know that doesn't always hold true. With Intellakeeper I could get more info, but not perhaps any more correct. If a person searches at work but books at home, the trail is lost. Vice versa on that one. Or, one person does the search and tells the other to make the reservation. And I think the db doesn't hold information after a certain time period. So, the guest who looks now & books in June, may also just go to one site or do a Google search from notes they made in Jan.
I guess I don't want to pay. That's my whole problem right there!
 

Alibi Ike

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we are joining our chamber this year as they work really hard for local business for example this year they put together the package that got us direct trains from London. If you can imagine a direct train from where you are to New York allowing all those people to get to you and all the people on route to get to you in three hours or less that is a really big deal. Also this dramatically increases our marketability as a conference destination. They are also fighting to get more flights for Leeds Bradford Airport which is our local airport which has the same effect. So although they do not do any direct marketing on our behalf they get the people here in other ways which is much more important as we have Destination Harrogate, Accommodation Harrogate and Welcome to Yorkshire doing that already..
I wonder how much difference that makes here. How many travelers take a train to a vacation or conference destination? Remember, this is the land of the automobile! They're cheap to buy & cheap to own & drive. (At least that's what our European guests say when they see the ads in the paper. 'Do you know how much this car costs where I live???')
We have people fly in from NYC. It's an hour flight. Then they rent a car. No one takes the bus or train from the airport here, even if they take it to get to the airport in NYC.
Interesting info. I wonder if there's a way to market that here.
 

Alibi Ike

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The one we quit is actually a visitor center, as well. ugh
Our two chambers locally never marketed toward visitors, ever, and they still don't. Our retail merchants said when her bother stayed with us "I don't know WHY you want to stay in this old place and not a hotel" That sealed the deal on joining THAT org. He was a neat man too, and really appreciated what we offered him, obv NOT staying with his old batty sister was a plus! :)
In our own town we have 4 diff orgz vying for our money, volunteerism, and business. None of them amount to squat for income for us..
Where I had my past business this was true also. The chamber seems to be focused on building business between members, a good 'ol boy netwoork of sorts. Never generated anything for me, always paid my dues but felt like I was paying blackmail money After being there over a decade, the head of the chamber never got my business name right, and I was on Main St., one block from the chamber!
.
I've unfortunately seen our chamber going in that direction. I've watched the chairman glom onto MWM (members with money) and totally ignore anyone with a 'small potatoes' business. Life imitating life.
 

gillumhouse

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Good points made here... get a tracking program to verify what directories & other sites are producing for you.
I have to chime in here about local tourist and chamber type organizations. I too were members of the the local chamber and the state tourism sites. Neither produced business for me, wasted money in my opinion.
The chamber (here) only thinks local - period and it requires lots of man hours going to events to keep your name and face in front of them, but this only helps IF they are needing rooms. If you are not in there face at the right time, they will only think of the hotels - which are most likely members as well.
Our state tourism association does not produce but a dozen or so visitors to my site; so what are the odds it produces any actual guests? The book version has only produced a hand full or so guests, these last minute bookings on the road. Our local tourism org. is paid by tourism tax dollars and no out of pocket expenses for me, which is good as it also is a non producer of real business.
In my opinion the web is the #1 business producer... Put a good chunk into making your website the BEST it can be, then promote the heck out of it using the best of the best directories and other sources - whether it be Google Adwords, Facebook or other sites where sponsored ads produce for your area..
I have never joined the Chamber. Initial reason was the dues were out of my league - then they did a reduced dues for B & B - still more than I could afford PLUS most merchants in my city have the same statement re the Chamber - they do not do anything for anyone in this town. Everything is the County Seat and the snobby town next to it - the rest of the county may as well not exist.
Our tourism division loves B & Bs because we have the lodgings to keep people in State to spend money where there is not enough traffic to support a hotel. We are a rural state. My CVB is also (since last year) a no dues deal. They have a nice web site and I get hits from it. My State Association has an excellent web site and our annual dues are less than ANY of the B & B directories (only my interest specific directories are cheaper than my Assoc. dues. I have my own page with photos, specials, link to my site, availability.... I am currently listed on 2 3 of the "big" directories (sorry Paul almost forgot) - I dropped 2 of the biggest without regret.
I do print ads in interest specific publications because they are a targeted market and cost less than many other possibilities. The horse magazine is also online.
 

white pine

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we are joining our chamber this year as they work really hard for local business for example this year they put together the package that got us direct trains from London. If you can imagine a direct train from where you are to New York allowing all those people to get to you and all the people on route to get to you in three hours or less that is a really big deal. Also this dramatically increases our marketability as a conference destination. They are also fighting to get more flights for Leeds Bradford Airport which is our local airport which has the same effect. So although they do not do any direct marketing on our behalf they get the people here in other ways which is much more important as we have Destination Harrogate, Accommodation Harrogate and Welcome to Yorkshire doing that already..
I wonder how much difference that makes here. How many travelers take a train to a vacation or conference destination? Remember, this is the land of the automobile! They're cheap to buy & cheap to own & drive. (At least that's what our European guests say when they see the ads in the paper. 'Do you know how much this car costs where I live???')
We have people fly in from NYC. It's an hour flight. Then they rent a car. No one takes the bus or train from the airport here, even if they take it to get to the airport in NYC.
Interesting info. I wonder if there's a way to market that here.
.
DH was just quoting a statistic he saw online that said if a destination is 400 miles or less, the average traveler was much more likely to drive than fly. I forget the percentage, but it was very high. Land of autos, and inconvenient mass transport.
I remember another "destination" rule from somewhere, that people will travel a certain distance as a factor of four of the time they will spend there. ie: You will travel one hour if you will spend a minimum of four hours there, one day if you will spend at least four days there.
 

Joey Camb

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our chamber works on a number of employees basis with a special discount if you are a first year start up (half price I think) then it works on 1-9 then 10-30 and then above 30 I think so it is staggered.
 

Alibi Ike

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we are joining our chamber this year as they work really hard for local business for example this year they put together the package that got us direct trains from London. If you can imagine a direct train from where you are to New York allowing all those people to get to you and all the people on route to get to you in three hours or less that is a really big deal. Also this dramatically increases our marketability as a conference destination. They are also fighting to get more flights for Leeds Bradford Airport which is our local airport which has the same effect. So although they do not do any direct marketing on our behalf they get the people here in other ways which is much more important as we have Destination Harrogate, Accommodation Harrogate and Welcome to Yorkshire doing that already..
I wonder how much difference that makes here. How many travelers take a train to a vacation or conference destination? Remember, this is the land of the automobile! They're cheap to buy & cheap to own & drive. (At least that's what our European guests say when they see the ads in the paper. 'Do you know how much this car costs where I live???')
We have people fly in from NYC. It's an hour flight. Then they rent a car. No one takes the bus or train from the airport here, even if they take it to get to the airport in NYC.
Interesting info. I wonder if there's a way to market that here.
.
DH was just quoting a statistic he saw online that said if a destination is 400 miles or less, the average traveler was much more likely to drive than fly. I forget the percentage, but it was very high. Land of autos, and inconvenient mass transport.
I remember another "destination" rule from somewhere, that people will travel a certain distance as a factor of four of the time they will spend there. ie: You will travel one hour if you will spend a minimum of four hours there, one day if you will spend at least four days there.
.
I am always surprised by guests who drive 4 hours to basically sleep here and then turn aroun and drive home. 1 day. 500 miles round trip.
 

Alibi Ike

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we are joining our chamber this year as they work really hard for local business for example this year they put together the package that got us direct trains from London. If you can imagine a direct train from where you are to New York allowing all those people to get to you and all the people on route to get to you in three hours or less that is a really big deal. Also this dramatically increases our marketability as a conference destination. They are also fighting to get more flights for Leeds Bradford Airport which is our local airport which has the same effect. So although they do not do any direct marketing on our behalf they get the people here in other ways which is much more important as we have Destination Harrogate, Accommodation Harrogate and Welcome to Yorkshire doing that already..
I wonder how much difference that makes here. How many travelers take a train to a vacation or conference destination? Remember, this is the land of the automobile! They're cheap to buy & cheap to own & drive. (At least that's what our European guests say when they see the ads in the paper. 'Do you know how much this car costs where I live???')
We have people fly in from NYC. It's an hour flight. Then they rent a car. No one takes the bus or train from the airport here, even if they take it to get to the airport in NYC.
Interesting info. I wonder if there's a way to market that here.
.
DH was just quoting a statistic he saw online that said if a destination is 400 miles or less, the average traveler was much more likely to drive than fly. I forget the percentage, but it was very high. Land of autos, and inconvenient mass transport.
I remember another "destination" rule from somewhere, that people will travel a certain distance as a factor of four of the time they will spend there. ie: You will travel one hour if you will spend a minimum of four hours there, one day if you will spend at least four days there.
.
The vast majority of our guests are within 500 miles of here.
 

JBloggs

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we are joining our chamber this year as they work really hard for local business for example this year they put together the package that got us direct trains from London. If you can imagine a direct train from where you are to New York allowing all those people to get to you and all the people on route to get to you in three hours or less that is a really big deal. Also this dramatically increases our marketability as a conference destination. They are also fighting to get more flights for Leeds Bradford Airport which is our local airport which has the same effect. So although they do not do any direct marketing on our behalf they get the people here in other ways which is much more important as we have Destination Harrogate, Accommodation Harrogate and Welcome to Yorkshire doing that already..
I wonder how much difference that makes here. How many travelers take a train to a vacation or conference destination? Remember, this is the land of the automobile! They're cheap to buy & cheap to own & drive. (At least that's what our European guests say when they see the ads in the paper. 'Do you know how much this car costs where I live???')
We have people fly in from NYC. It's an hour flight. Then they rent a car. No one takes the bus or train from the airport here, even if they take it to get to the airport in NYC.
Interesting info. I wonder if there's a way to market that here.
.
DH was just quoting a statistic he saw online that said if a destination is 400 miles or less, the average traveler was much more likely to drive than fly. I forget the percentage, but it was very high. Land of autos, and inconvenient mass transport.
I remember another "destination" rule from somewhere, that people will travel a certain distance as a factor of four of the time they will spend there. ie: You will travel one hour if you will spend a minimum of four hours there, one day if you will spend at least four days there.
.
I am always surprised by guests who drive 4 hours to basically sleep here and then turn aroun and drive home. 1 day. 500 miles round trip.
.
Alibi Ike said:
I am always surprised by guests who drive 4 hours to basically sleep here and then turn aroun and drive home. 1 day. 500 miles round trip.
"And she better be thankful!" he says "I missed the game for this!"
PS along the same lines, here is another thing a husband should never do or say without body armor "Enjoy your new toy" and walk away, as I plug in the new vacuum.

 

white pine

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we are joining our chamber this year as they work really hard for local business for example this year they put together the package that got us direct trains from London. If you can imagine a direct train from where you are to New York allowing all those people to get to you and all the people on route to get to you in three hours or less that is a really big deal. Also this dramatically increases our marketability as a conference destination. They are also fighting to get more flights for Leeds Bradford Airport which is our local airport which has the same effect. So although they do not do any direct marketing on our behalf they get the people here in other ways which is much more important as we have Destination Harrogate, Accommodation Harrogate and Welcome to Yorkshire doing that already..
I wonder how much difference that makes here. How many travelers take a train to a vacation or conference destination? Remember, this is the land of the automobile! They're cheap to buy & cheap to own & drive. (At least that's what our European guests say when they see the ads in the paper. 'Do you know how much this car costs where I live???')
We have people fly in from NYC. It's an hour flight. Then they rent a car. No one takes the bus or train from the airport here, even if they take it to get to the airport in NYC.
Interesting info. I wonder if there's a way to market that here.
.
DH was just quoting a statistic he saw online that said if a destination is 400 miles or less, the average traveler was much more likely to drive than fly. I forget the percentage, but it was very high. Land of autos, and inconvenient mass transport.
I remember another "destination" rule from somewhere, that people will travel a certain distance as a factor of four of the time they will spend there. ie: You will travel one hour if you will spend a minimum of four hours there, one day if you will spend at least four days there.
.
I am always surprised by guests who drive 4 hours to basically sleep here and then turn aroun and drive home. 1 day. 500 miles round trip.
.
Let's see... 4hr drive---check in by 4, leave after 9am, That's 17hrs the rule holds!

 

Alibi Ike

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we are joining our chamber this year as they work really hard for local business for example this year they put together the package that got us direct trains from London. If you can imagine a direct train from where you are to New York allowing all those people to get to you and all the people on route to get to you in three hours or less that is a really big deal. Also this dramatically increases our marketability as a conference destination. They are also fighting to get more flights for Leeds Bradford Airport which is our local airport which has the same effect. So although they do not do any direct marketing on our behalf they get the people here in other ways which is much more important as we have Destination Harrogate, Accommodation Harrogate and Welcome to Yorkshire doing that already..
I wonder how much difference that makes here. How many travelers take a train to a vacation or conference destination? Remember, this is the land of the automobile! They're cheap to buy & cheap to own & drive. (At least that's what our European guests say when they see the ads in the paper. 'Do you know how much this car costs where I live???')
We have people fly in from NYC. It's an hour flight. Then they rent a car. No one takes the bus or train from the airport here, even if they take it to get to the airport in NYC.
Interesting info. I wonder if there's a way to market that here.
.
DH was just quoting a statistic he saw online that said if a destination is 400 miles or less, the average traveler was much more likely to drive than fly. I forget the percentage, but it was very high. Land of autos, and inconvenient mass transport.
I remember another "destination" rule from somewhere, that people will travel a certain distance as a factor of four of the time they will spend there. ie: You will travel one hour if you will spend a minimum of four hours there, one day if you will spend at least four days there.
.
I am always surprised by guests who drive 4 hours to basically sleep here and then turn aroun and drive home. 1 day. 500 miles round trip.
.
Let's see... 4hr drive---check in by 4, leave after 9am, That's 17hrs the rule holds!

.
white pine said:
Let's see... 4hr drive---check in by 4, leave after 9am, That's 17hrs the rule holds!
Work all day, drive 250 miles, check in by 9 PM, leave by 9 AM to drive home to get to someone's game in the afternoon. I just don't get it. Heck I'm not turning down $150 but I don't get it!
 

Alibi Ike

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we are joining our chamber this year as they work really hard for local business for example this year they put together the package that got us direct trains from London. If you can imagine a direct train from where you are to New York allowing all those people to get to you and all the people on route to get to you in three hours or less that is a really big deal. Also this dramatically increases our marketability as a conference destination. They are also fighting to get more flights for Leeds Bradford Airport which is our local airport which has the same effect. So although they do not do any direct marketing on our behalf they get the people here in other ways which is much more important as we have Destination Harrogate, Accommodation Harrogate and Welcome to Yorkshire doing that already..
I wonder how much difference that makes here. How many travelers take a train to a vacation or conference destination? Remember, this is the land of the automobile! They're cheap to buy & cheap to own & drive. (At least that's what our European guests say when they see the ads in the paper. 'Do you know how much this car costs where I live???')
We have people fly in from NYC. It's an hour flight. Then they rent a car. No one takes the bus or train from the airport here, even if they take it to get to the airport in NYC.
Interesting info. I wonder if there's a way to market that here.
.
DH was just quoting a statistic he saw online that said if a destination is 400 miles or less, the average traveler was much more likely to drive than fly. I forget the percentage, but it was very high. Land of autos, and inconvenient mass transport.
I remember another "destination" rule from somewhere, that people will travel a certain distance as a factor of four of the time they will spend there. ie: You will travel one hour if you will spend a minimum of four hours there, one day if you will spend at least four days there.
.
I am always surprised by guests who drive 4 hours to basically sleep here and then turn aroun and drive home. 1 day. 500 miles round trip.
.
Alibi Ike said:
I am always surprised by guests who drive 4 hours to basically sleep here and then turn aroun and drive home. 1 day. 500 miles round trip.
"And she better be thankful!" he says "I missed the game for this!"
PS along the same lines, here is another thing a husband should never do or say without body armor "Enjoy your new toy" and walk away, as I plug in the new vacuum.

.
Anyone who thinks the spouse should 'be thankful' should not even bother. Buy her a GC and let her go off and enjoy the time by herself rather than putting yourself out and expecting gratitude. (Which generally translates as sex anyway.)
 
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