Running a bed and breakfast is something that really appeals to many people and it’s an industry that has never been short of business – not only do you get to work for yourself, but you get to put together something that you can really put a personal stamp on. Whether you’re looking to run a modern luxury hotel or a quaint, old-fashion guesthouse you can really get creative with putting together the look and feel of your B&B. It’s also a great industry for those who really enjoy interacting with people, rather than sitting behind a desk for 8 hours a day.
However, whilst setting up a bed & breakfast might be an enticing prospect for many people, unless you’re already established in the industry it can be very difficult to get customers initially, particularly if you’re based in a competitive location such as Brighton or London. You need to build a reputation and get yourself seen by potential guests, a task that can be difficult for long-running hotels and guest-houses, let alone one that’s brand new.
One of the best ways of ensuring you stand a good chance of establishing yourself in any given location however is online marketing, whether that’s search engine optimisation, brand management and awareness, online advertising or review platforms. There days people don’t use the Yellow Pages or call tourist information offices like they used to – instead they’re far more likely to use search engines to try and find a suitable hotel and utilise review platforms to establish how good their potential choices are. To compete effectively in this industry then, you need to ensure you have a solid, easy-to-use website, that you rank well for terms related to your business on search engines and that you take advantage of online reviews. By actively engaging in these elements of online marketing you’re far more likely to make a success of your business and ensure long-term viability for your B&B.
One of the best ways of utilising online marketing is to hire a specialist marketing company who will ensure each of these areas is covered, but if you’re a new business with a limited marketing budget, how can you ensure that you’re competing in the online marketing space? Firstly, you need to ensure your website is optimised for search engines; whilst this might seem like a highly technical and difficult task for those new to SEO it can be achieved with a bit of time, patience and reading. Visit a site like SEOMOz.org and download their beginners guide to SEO to get you started.
Alternatively, consider going to beginners workshops on SEO and social media, as you can learn a phenomenal amount in a relatively short amount of time to help you effectively promote your business online.
You should also ensure that your B&B is visible on online review platforms, particularly those that are big in the hotel industry – TripAdvisor and Booking.com are two of the best places to start, but a bit of research will turn up scores of platforms for you to ensure your site is included. Encourage your guests to leave you good reviews if they’re happy – you could even incentivize them with discounts or additional extras on their next stay.
Whatever you decide to spend your time and effort on, just make sure you’re setting aside some time each week to improve your online presence and you’ll find that your bookings will gradually increase – assuming you’re running a B&B that people enjoy staying at, because if you’re not, then those who are unhappy will almost certainly leave negative reviews online.
Thinking of setting up your own bed and breakfast? Visit Teneric.co.uk and download Teneric’s bed and breakfast business plan sample to help you market your guesthouse more effectively.