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Happy Harpie

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Greetings All!
Thanks to all your suggestions and sound advice, we had a banner first year in business, which exceeded our expectations by 150%. That being said, it has slowed down considerably in the New Year and I was wondering what kind of marketing other B&Bs do to bring in the winter customers. We are amidst a Winter Paradise here, with skiing, snow shoeing, dog sledding, ice fishing, snow mobiling, etc. However, it seems people don't travel as much in the winter. Check out our website and please tell me if we are doing things wrong or where we might improve, www.tuckedinntheharbour.com
Thanks and Have a fabulous 2009.
 

Morticia

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It's hard in a lot of areas right now. Can you package any of those activies to make it a 'one stop' vacation? Contact the owners of the facilities and ask for a discounted tix for your guests, or some sort of trade. Do you have parking for snowmobilers towing trailers? That's pretty much a necessity to attract those folks who haul their own gear. If there are rentals nearby, try to work with them somehow. Do you explain to the ice fishers how to get licenses? Let them know where to get bait? Where they can set up?
There are guests who appreciate that it's all done for them and they need only show up.
Glad you had a good first season!
 

Happy Harpie

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It's hard in a lot of areas right now. Can you package any of those activies to make it a 'one stop' vacation? Contact the owners of the facilities and ask for a discounted tix for your guests, or some sort of trade. Do you have parking for snowmobilers towing trailers? That's pretty much a necessity to attract those folks who haul their own gear. If there are rentals nearby, try to work with them somehow. Do you explain to the ice fishers how to get licenses? Let them know where to get bait? Where they can set up?
There are guests who appreciate that it's all done for them and they need only show up.
Glad you had a good first season!.
Thanks Bree.
Some great ideas. I do have a deal with the local ski hills and also a dog sledding company. I will most definitely strike up a dialogue with the Ice fishing folks and the snowshoeing folks. Appreciate the feedback.
 

Copperhead

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Bree had good suggestions and to add to it you may want to search for some skiing and other winter sport sites that you could market on. Make sure your site reflects those keywords for searchers to find you.
And if I may suggest, remove those snowflakes falling on your home page. They distracted me so much I could not read your site. Hope you are not offended by this, as it was not intended to do so only to help you.
 

Happy Harpie

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Bree had good suggestions and to add to it you may want to search for some skiing and other winter sport sites that you could market on. Make sure your site reflects those keywords for searchers to find you.
And if I may suggest, remove those snowflakes falling on your home page. They distracted me so much I could not read your site. Hope you are not offended by this, as it was not intended to do so only to help you..
Thanks for the advice Copperhead;
I have already contacted several ski resorts and Snowmobile assn's in the area. I didn't know that the snowflakes were that disruptive. I will most definitely take another look and if I deem it does take away from the site, remove them immediately. Anyone else find them too much?
 

gillumhouse

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I agree with Copperhead on the snowflakes. Sorry.
I would look for interest specific web sites - google ice fishing, etc and see what web addresses come up.
 

Morticia

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Oh, yeah, snowflakes have to go, sorry...I didn't look at your site before I commented the first time. The rest of it is looking really nice! Very nice 'Break from the lake' package...you're really thinking!
Maybe if they fell slower and were all white instead of blue. And if they only fell along the outside edge, not thru the text. Not sure if you can do that, but it would help if you really want to keep the flakes falling...
 

seashanty

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since you have winter activities, change your welcome page to highlight them. it's great that you have canoeing, swimming and kayaking but RIGHT NOW you want to highlight the winter sports. highlight the SEASONAL things ... in spring, you can shift back to the warmer weather things.
what you say here: We are amidst a Winter Paradise here, with skiing, snow shoeing, dog sledding, ice fishing, snow mobiling, etc. should be right there front and center on your website. Pull in some of those great winter activity pictures you have elsewhere on the site and show them on your home page.
i prefer bigger pictures that change or scroll to smaller pictures, but that's just me.
over where you mention the winter wonderland package ... add some text with a little tease so potential guests click on that link so see what you have ... and i think it needs to be darker or bolder or inside a box so guests are pulled toward that.
do you light the outdoor camfire in winter? i'd love that, show it! show the nook where guests can do puzzles. cozy things, winter things ... steaming mugs.
good luck
 

Penelope

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I have to agree with the others about the snowflakes. Sorry...
Beautiful place you have there!!!
Congrats on a good first year.
This is my opinion:
You say: "Every imaginable winter sport is at your beckoning and within close proximity to Tucked Inn the Harbour Bed and Breakfast." LIKE WHAT????? Based on that one page alone, I have no idea what there is to do there.
I have noticed that a lot of people who call us have no idea what they are trying to ask. They might have a random, nebulous thought floating around in their head about a getaway, but they don't know exactly what that includes. It is up to us to sell it to them. If they don't call, they need to be able to find what they are looking for on the website, even though they might not know exactly what they are looking for.
Maybe a sample itinerary. I would love to be able to see a possibility of what I could do around your area all tied in with a two night stay with you.
 

EmptyNest

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Get rid of those snowflakes. They may be cute at first but they get real tiring.
 

hawley

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I too couldn't get the first page read because the snow flakes kept making my eyes loose my place. Also on the first page I couldn't figure out where you were. I had to go to the directions page to figure it out. I think you should have your town or something other than a bay to locate you on the first page.
Beautiful web pages and pictures. Heed the advice of the people here, they give good advice.
 

happyjacks

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Hi Harry, glad to hear you had a good first year!
I have many of the same winter activities around my area as you have, and I consider winter one of my High Seasons. But that said, it's still mostly weekend business in the winter. Mid-week stays drop dramatically. There are a number of reasons: fewer international travellers compared to summer/fall, fewer people in our domestic market (GTA) take holidays in the winter months but will still do weekends away, many people don't realize how much there is to do on a winter getaway.
Continue to promote the winter activities on your website. There's been great advice already on how to enhance it further (I also had to leave your homepage quickly because of the snowflakes; is there a way to stop them after the first 15 seconds??).
Find other websites or directories to list on. Are you on BBCanada? If so, change your main photo and tagline to be winter-specific. Are there ski associations you can list with or market to? Are you a member of a local chamber or tourist info place? The tourist info centre in Barrie will display your rack cards at no cost.
If you want to go after the snowmobile market, you can buy an advertising package with Ontario Snowmobiler Magazine (OSM). I do say IF you want to go after that market. In my experience, snowmobilers spend TONS of money on equipment/permits/insurance/etc but then cheap out on accommodations. They tend to want just one night stays as they are driving a loop. And sometimes they smell so strongly of gasoline that it gets into the room, the linens, the curtains. Blech. I know a B&B that will only take snowmobilers driving the new engines (I think they're called 2-stroke instead of 4-stroke) because of the smell lingering for days in the rooms.
I advertised with OSM our first winter because the previous owner said that snowmobilers were her winter bread & butter. The OSM listings did get us a lot of enquiries, but they didn't usually translate into bookings because they wanted cheap. They wanted to cram everybody into one room. One call that sticks out in my mind was a guy looking to put 2 grown men and their 4 teenage sons in a room with one queen bed. "The boys can sleep on the floor." I don't think so. Or I would get calls from snowmobilers just asking what the trail conditions were like. Not even pretending to try to book a room. It may have worked for the previous owner because her rates were $25 less than mine, and she would let people cram into a room. Not for me. My apologies to any snowmobilers out there -- this is simply my experience with them.
The snowshoeing and dogsledding crowd has been a better fit for us. I also think with the current economy and all the weather-related air travel headaches in the news that this winter can be good for us. Many people will not choose to fly south for a holiday this year but will still want to treat themselves to a getaway. Good luck!
 

Copperhead

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Someone pointed out the lack of location information on your home page...I agree. I did finally find it at the very bottom of the page...very small print. This needs to have a more 'in your face' location on your site for SEO as well as viewers.
What has worked for us and where we get a lot of clicks to is our 'what to do in Xville' page. My list is broken down monthly due to the many events that take place within 30 - 40 minutes from here in any given direction, as well as attractions, and activities. It makes my place seem like an oasis in the middle of things. If any of the activities or events have their own website, I place a link (opening a new window of course) to their site. This page is very high in google & yahoo due to the contents and has been the source of many visitors finding our site and deciding to stay with us.
I am not disagreeing with the others that say you should put this info on your home page, I am just saying that you could list in more detail on the other page, and us a link within your homepage hipe to bring them to that page. You may also want to link to your packages from the 'what to do' page as this page may end up being one of your best sources of drawing people to your site.
Good luck!
 

happyjacks

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I forgot to mention a great way to build winter business is with your summer/fall guests. Of course this won't help you much this winter, but start building for next. Find ways to let your guests know about the things to do and reasons to visit in other seasons.
A lot of our repeat business is spread throughout the year as people want to experience different seasons here. We remind them about us by email (here in Canada you must get the recipient to opt in to emails -- DO NOT just start emailing past guests unless you have proof they agreed to receive them).
We also talk up the seasons when guests are here. They very often ask us if we're open year round and we use that opportunity to tell them yes and what the draws are for people to the area.
Your proximity to the GTA should be good for repeat weekend warriors.
 

happykeeper

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I forgot to mention a great way to build winter business is with your summer/fall guests. Of course this won't help you much this winter, but start building for next. Find ways to let your guests know about the things to do and reasons to visit in other seasons.
A lot of our repeat business is spread throughout the year as people want to experience different seasons here. We remind them about us by email (here in Canada you must get the recipient to opt in to emails -- DO NOT just start emailing past guests unless you have proof they agreed to receive them).
We also talk up the seasons when guests are here. They very often ask us if we're open year round and we use that opportunity to tell them yes and what the draws are for people to the area.
Your proximity to the GTA should be good for repeat weekend warriors..
On the Snowflakes
I would think they could stay if they stopped after about 3-5 seconds.
That would do two things- It would catch their attention and it would (and this seems odd) give them a reason to show someone else the site later. Since they would stop quickly, it would be seen as cute but not disruptive as they begin to read about your place.
 

Penelope

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I forgot to mention a great way to build winter business is with your summer/fall guests. Of course this won't help you much this winter, but start building for next. Find ways to let your guests know about the things to do and reasons to visit in other seasons.
A lot of our repeat business is spread throughout the year as people want to experience different seasons here. We remind them about us by email (here in Canada you must get the recipient to opt in to emails -- DO NOT just start emailing past guests unless you have proof they agreed to receive them).
We also talk up the seasons when guests are here. They very often ask us if we're open year round and we use that opportunity to tell them yes and what the draws are for people to the area.
Your proximity to the GTA should be good for repeat weekend warriors..
happyjacks said:
the GTA .
What is the GTA?
 

happyjacks

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I forgot to mention a great way to build winter business is with your summer/fall guests. Of course this won't help you much this winter, but start building for next. Find ways to let your guests know about the things to do and reasons to visit in other seasons.
A lot of our repeat business is spread throughout the year as people want to experience different seasons here. We remind them about us by email (here in Canada you must get the recipient to opt in to emails -- DO NOT just start emailing past guests unless you have proof they agreed to receive them).
We also talk up the seasons when guests are here. They very often ask us if we're open year round and we use that opportunity to tell them yes and what the draws are for people to the area.
Your proximity to the GTA should be good for repeat weekend warriors..
happyjacks said:
the GTA .
What is the GTA?
.
penelope said:
happyjacks said:
the GTA .
What is the GTA?
Greater Toronto Area.
For TuckedInnTheHarbour, it's his biggest pond to fish for guests, especially for repeats and for off-season weekenders.
 

Samster

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Welcome Back, Harry! Glad to hear that another newbie here is doing well!
I hate to say it but those snowflakes bug the bejeezus out of me too though.
But I'm not a fan of any of those animated things or music. I've always got a bunch of windows open & it's too distracting. If I can't turn that stuff off, I close the window. sorry....
 

Happy Harpie

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I have to agree with the others about the snowflakes. Sorry...
Beautiful place you have there!!!
Congrats on a good first year.
This is my opinion:
You say: "Every imaginable winter sport is at your beckoning and within close proximity to Tucked Inn the Harbour Bed and Breakfast." LIKE WHAT????? Based on that one page alone, I have no idea what there is to do there.
I have noticed that a lot of people who call us have no idea what they are trying to ask. They might have a random, nebulous thought floating around in their head about a getaway, but they don't know exactly what that includes. It is up to us to sell it to them. If they don't call, they need to be able to find what they are looking for on the website, even though they might not know exactly what they are looking for.
Maybe a sample itinerary. I would love to be able to see a possibility of what I could do around your area all tied in with a two night stay with you..
Thanks for the input Penelope.
I tried to show the things to do in a pictorial format with a timeline of how long it takes to get to these venues. So far I have had some positive feedback on this format. I am not sure what you were asking when you mentioned "Like What"
Cheers, Harry
 

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