by Pamela Lanier
1. Work Your Guest List. Send all of your past guests a compelling special or two in postcard or letter format to entice them to come back. If you already have a print newsletter, bring it up to the moment and include that, too.
2. Send an email or e-newsletter to your guest list (for whom you have emails) to get the word out to your best customers about your delightful upcoming specials and other newsy goings-on around your inn.
3. Keep working your guest list – create specials and packages and email them to your guest list every month. Make sure that they are seasonal and timely, and key them to local events.
4. Online reservations and availability are amazing if you want quick results. Consider signing up for room-filling programs such as the Full House partnership with Hotels.com. Just call 1-800-565-2820 for more information.
5. Contact fellow innkeepers to send you overflow. See what you can do to help each other with mutual referrals when overbooking occurs.
6. Contact resorts and hotels in nearby urban areas, especially those catering to conferences and speak with the concierge staff and reservation departments regarding guests who might be interested in a getaway after their conference. Developing a rapport can materially improve your occupancy rate.
7. Attend as many local business gatherings as possible and pass out cards stapled to a special offer for a 25% discount for guests sent by a local resident or business.
8. Make an all out effort to get at least one newspaper or travel oriented magazine in your area to run a feature about you. If necessary, hire a local PR expert to help you. Articles will serve you two ways: they will impress prospective buyers and add to your immediate occupancy.
9. Pay per click. Carefully consider using this methodology and discuss it with your web master or research it yourself using the below links:
10. Send us, and every other directory to which you belong, compelling specials.
Bed and Breakfast Marketing Best Practices Study
My team and I recently mentored a graduate study at Cornell University for The School of Hospitality Management entitled “Bed and Breakfast Marketing Best Practices.” The study looked at all 3 major areas of marketing – print and other off line opportunities, online opportunities with the inn’s own web site and directories, and distribution opportunities, i.e. room filling programs such as the ones we offer our members through Cendant/Trilegant and Hotels.com. More impressive still was that the study was chosen to be further developed and presented by the Cornell Hospitality Learning Center, which means there will be a readership of over 10,000 hoteliers and suppliers to the lodging industry. All members of BBIGI will receive a detailed synopsis of this landmark study from America’s leading hotel school.
We are now working on a major article on the topic of “Bed and Breakfast Real Estate Towards a More Liquid Market.” Inns who are contemplating a sale in the near future and would like to take part in this study, please contact Shannon@travelguides.com. Participating inns will receive much additional information.
Pamela Lanier is author of The Complete Guide to Bed & Breakfasts, Inns and Guesthouses, presently in its 18th annual edition, host of TravelGuideS.com available on over 7,000 Internet sites and portals, and creator of Bed & Breakfast Club Gazette, e-mail newsletter. When not writing or speaking, Pamela loves to cook for and entertain family and friends.
Please address article comments to: Claude or Mariette Gagne ~ The B&B and Country Inn MarketPlace
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