Advertising your Bed and Breakfast on the Internet

Advertising was a so much simpler before the Internet. Right?  ...Well maybe.  Because of the Internet, market intelligence is much more accurate and real-time but, on the other hand, audiences are more fragmented. That means you have to be found in more places to attract the same number of prospective guests.  If you are a new innkeeper, an aspiring innkeeper or just want to rethink your approach, here are some basic tips.

Frequency (How often your ad appears)

Companies have always been willing to pay big money for repetitive TV ads because advertisers know that the more often prospective customers see their ads, the more likely they were make a purchase. This basic shopping behavior is also true on the Web. Research shows that prospective guests are more likely to click through to your Website if they see your message early and often in their travel research process. That's why it is important for your bed and breakfast to be listed in several places like in pay per click ads, B&B directories, B&B associations, social networking sites, twitter and in organic search results.  Even print material with your Web address is important to your Internet marketing effort.

Reach (number of Guests that find you)

Internet analytics tools can really help you to determine which B&B directories are helping to attract more guests and which are not. Make sure the bed and breakfast directories you are considering rank well in the search engine results page for your keywords.

Many guests click on your Website because they have seen your Ad in more than one place. Pay per click ads can help even if no one clicks on them directly. That's because your name will appear twice on the page in an organic search and provide instant additional frequency.  Consider not only where the prospective guests actually click, but determine if the level of organic clicks increase when you run pay per click. You can also do simple and inexpensive test marketing of new packages by using pay per click ads.

Organic search engine optimization is a good alternative as long as your property is large enough to justify the expense.  Please see our article "Is Internet Marketing Right for Your B&B" to determine if organic search marketing is a good alternative.

Your Message

In today's Internet driven travel climate, obtaining "frequency" and "reach" when advertising your bed and breakfast takes more than just a single message. As with TV, print and radio, various Internet venues require a different flavor of message.  For example:

  • Your Website is "message central" where you have the best possible chance to present your B&B. You need to provide great pictures, write text to convey warmth, comfort and adventure.  Provide a convenient online booking experience.
  • Social networking can be less direct.  Allow your friends and happy customers to speak for you (sometimes with a little gentle reminder from you).  Other people's recommedations boost your credibility.Social networking can also increase your Web site traffic.
  • Pay per click ads must be short and to the point. You have about 100 characters to state your case. You need to know your best keywords and use them as often as possible in your ad.
  • B&B directories focus on location, price and dates of travel, and sometimes amenities and interests. There isn't much opportunity for warm and fuzzy interaction to encourage travelers to select your B&B from among your competition on a bed and breakfast directory listing.  Make sure your listing can compete before you sign up.

Innkeeper's have less control than ever about what is being published about their B&B.  Rather than one travel reviewer writing an article, anyone can relay their travel experience (real or imagined) via the Internet.  Any experienced innkeeper knows that Trip Advisor is a powerful review site that can be your friend or your enemy depending on what your guests are saying there. If you get a bad review, you need to promptly go into damage control mode. Monitor everything that is being said about you on the Internet by using Google Alerts.