Bed and breakfasts need to use all sales channels at their disposal to attract and service guests. But how?
Here are some great ways to ramp up on all levels – your point of sales bookings, third party website bookings, and direct online bookings.
Point of sale (POS) bookings
Invest in signage
Curb appeal is what will draw last-minute guests in – especially if you’re located on a busy highway. Road-tripping travellers who haven’t planned where they’ll stay that night will be tempted by your warm and inviting sign.
So invest in signage for your bed and breakfast that makes it easy to identify your location. Unique signs that promote your overall brand will help you attract customers who are already in the area.
Your small hotel would greatly benefit from brochures because it makes you look professional. There’s the perception that only the best of the best can afford this kind of marketing collateral. It’s also convenient for busy travelers who have limited access to internet.
Make sure that you give your brochures to local businesses that typically refer guests to you. For example, tour and activity operators, transport operators, and maybe even restaurants. Each existing agent should have your brochures as part of their sales kit.
Offer discounts to walk-ins and phone bookings
Sometimes, after a traveler searches through booking sites, they arrive at your website and decide to call you for more clarification and to make a booking.
At this point, you should offer them a small discount – even 5% will do – to keep them on the phone, choosing to book direct rather than through an OTA. Otherwise, you may do the hard work of selling, while the OTA keeps a percentage of your revenue.
Online Travel Agency (OTA) bookings
OTAs are still a valuable sales channel for small accommodation providers. Without them, it would be near impossible to get your name out there. In fact, OTAs are the second most used channel in terms of hotel bookings, accounting for almost 20% of all bookings online!
That’s why you should try to increase your OTA ranking. You can do this by:
Building up reviews
Take the example of Distrikt Hotel; Review Pro reported that the hotel went from being buried in search results to being listed on page 1 because travellers were searching reviews and sorting by guest ratings.
It makes sense – hotels with no reviews will get less bookings, because travellers want to hear from each other. In fact, hotels with over 50 testimonials are 1.4% likely to get booked.
Update your content
OTAs like to rank complete profiles highly because travellers are more likely to book them, so your small hotel’s profile needs to be as complete and up to date as possible.
Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that OTAs will allow travelers to filter by categories like ‘free wifi’ and ‘free parking’. Make sure you are included on the appropriate filters.
Working with your market manager
Your market managers can…
Update you on the hottest trends in your region.
Make sure you are included in travel packages that target your preferred audiences.
Help you with your paid advertising campaigns between your hotel and the OTA (eg. advise you to increase spend during high season).
Direct online bookings
Direct bookings are great because they are commission-free, and you are in total control of the guest relationship. Your website is definitely the key to succeeding in this area.
Mobile optimize your website
If you still haven’t ‘gone mobile’, this year is the perfect time to start! It is probably the single most important thing you can do to improve your direct bookings.
Spruce up your photo gallery
Photos of your property will sell your rooms much better than any text description will. Try to…
Take photos that encourage guests to imagine themselves curling up in bed, getting pampered, and receiving a hot breakfast.
Optimize your images for the web, so that the pages load quickly. Make sure the file sizes aren’t too large, without sacrificing image quality.
Place all your best images at the top of the gallery.