Optimising occupancy in autumn
By Holly Alderson, Content Marketing Assistant at Out of Eden
As the autumn season creeps in and the nights are getting darker, for a lot of B&Bs bookings can start to cool down just like the weather outside, so what can you do to optimise your bookings in the cooler climes?
It’s inevitable that particularly during the autumn season with the post-summer come-down and the pre-festivities period, B&Bs can face somewhat of a booking drought. The children are no longer off for the summer school holidays, the walker, rambler and tourist rush has quickly quietened down and the desire for a staycation has been washed away by our typical drizzly British weather. However, if you know how to digitally market yourself during this time, you could have a very successful season.
MASTER SOCIAL MEDIA
Too often when we speak to our customers about how they market their business, there seems to be a general consensus, particularly with B&B owners, of a certain uneasiness when it comes to using social media platforms. The majority of the time, B&B owners are apprehensive about the ‘type’ of guest marketing via social media can attract, and so boycott Facebook, Instagram and Twitter altogether preferring traditional word-of-mouth and walk-in bookings. Not only that, those that do have social media very rarely maintain an active business profile, which believe it or not can in fact discourage potential guests from booking in this digital age.
If you too have trepidations when it comes to social media, you’re definitely not alone. In 2016 it was reported that 62% of B&Bs have no social media presence whatsoever, while more than half of those that do very rarely post. Yet with 76% of travellers posting their holiday pictures and videos online, whether you are an advocate of digital marketing or not, your guests are very likely to still post about your property regardless, good or bad. Every great picture, post or review your guest shares about your business is essentially free publicity – and who doesn’t love a freebie!
Use Instagram as a platform to show off pictures of the smaller, finer details of your B&B and its location in the autumn; the cosy open fire, the freshly baked seasonal treats or the local autumnal walks, to create a lovely, luxury feel and feed. The more time you take to create an attractive, active profile the more people will become invested in your content. Facebook, on the other hand, is a great platform to share local events, last minute room availability, great reviews and even personal achievements.
Social media can certainly be daunting, but in this day and age it’s essential for staying ahead of the competition and taking control of your online presence. If you’re just starting out on social media, try and create a strategy, possibly posting just once or twice a week. Make the most of this free platform, especially during quieter seasons, and see the results come flooding in.
TRY BLOGGING ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS
In its most basic form, blogging is essentially a mix of articles and journal entries and, given that B&Bs are renowned for their homely feel, can really help to provide a personal side to your business. Aside from the potential set-up cost, creating a blog platform is yet another free digital marketing tool you should absolutely utilise. As a local to the area, you will undoubtedly have a wealth of information which can be priceless for future guests when it comes to planning their visit, and what your B&B has to offer.
Perhaps the best thing about having your own blog is the complete creative agency to discuss whatever you like (as long as it is somewhat related to your property!). From a weekend’s DIY session, to the top 5 must-see attractions in your area, to the recipes for your legendary Victoria sponge – whatever it may be, people love having an insight of the ins and outs of running a business and seeing all the work that has gone into decorating, running and developing as a B&B in such a competitive market.
TIME FOR SOME TLC
If you are experiencing a quieter period despite all your efforts, this can sometimes be a blessing in disguise. Rather than taking time out of your day trying to obtain those last-minute half-price bookings, really use this time to look after you and your property. Carry out the maintenance work you’ve been putting off during your peak season (and blog about it, too!), refresh your rooms with some season-appropriate soft furnishings (and then take a nice picture for Instagram) and if you are in a position to, take some time for yourself. This way both you and your B&B will be more than ready for your next guests when bookings pick back up again.
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