|by Pamela Lanier|
Appeared in our Summer 2000 issue
The goal of this study is to acquaint innkeepers, both new and old, with industry standards of marketing and advertising expenses and changes they may wish to make to reflect current wisdom. We asked several experts in the bed and breakfast industry to share their wisdom and expertise.
Two of the most important decisions innkeepers have to make are how much should they spend on advertising and where should they spend it. Let’s face it, the Internet has changed the way innkeepers advertise their inns. As seen in this example from a typical and successful (17 years) inn, they have increased their allotment for advertising on the Internet. Because of the location of this particular inn, their guests are Internet savvy.
Trent Blizzard of Blizzard Internet Marketing believes that advertising on the Internet has become an important source of business for innkeepers. The average inn receives about 35% of their business from the Internet and should plan accordingly. Many inns receive over 80% of their new business from the Internet.
The first thing an innkeeper needs to do is create a website with its own domain name (www.youmame.com) Domain names cost $60 to register for two years. After you purchase a domain name you will need to hire a professional website designer. The cost of design varies widely, but you should budget about $300. Your website will also need to be hosted and maintained; expect tospend $20 – $25 a month for this service. Make sure your website is submitted to search engines regularly — they are free! Also, tell callers your website address in your answering machine message.
Now that you have a website, prepare your marketing budget. We usually advise inns to spend $150 per room on marketing. New inns and innkeepers that want to market aggressively should plan more! It is not unusual for a four room inn to spend $1000 marketing their website. The most effective places to market your new website are in websites that are about your city/region/state and web sites that specialize in listing B&Bs (like www.travelguides.com)
Although advertising on the Internet has become a necessity, it’s not the answer to all of your advertising dreams. In the February issue of InnSights Magazine, Marie Mason of Cahners Travel Group noted that “No one medium is a magic bullet that replaces any other – including the Internet.” Although innkeepers can benefit greatly by advertising on the Internet, they should make room in their budgets for other types of advertising as well.
Determining where to spend your advertising dollar is one thing, how much to spend is another. In their aspiring innkeeper courses and with consulting clients, Helen Cook and David Caples of Inn Marketing, typically advise budgeting 10-15% of projected revenue in the pre-opening and opening year of a new property for marketing. (This would cover advertising, production of a brochure and other marketing collateral, maybe some PR, photography, etc.) As the property matures and occupancy approaches or reaches area wide/national occupancy averages, typically in year 3, owners can begin backing the budget down. 5-7% of revenue is about average.
Pamela Lanier is author of The Complete Guide to Bed & Breakfasts, Inns and Guesthouses, presently in its 17th annual edition, host of TravelGuideS.com and Bed and Breakfast Guide Online available on over 7,000 Internet sites and portals, and creator of the Bed & Breakfast Club Gazette e-mail newsletter. When not writing or speaking, Pamela loves to cook for and entertain family and friends.
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