Six easy ways to market your B&B and make it stand out
As the summer seasons starts, make sure your property is marketed properly, so the maximum number of people booking their holidays are noticing it online.
1. Make social media work for you
If you aren’t already using Facebook and Instagram to promote your accommodation, do so immediately. It costs nothing and is an easily managed medium most people are familiar with. The golden rule? Post new updates fairly often, even if it is photos of a sunset view from your property, or a pretty picture of a sprig of lavender placed on pillows as a welcome gesture for guests who are checking in.
2. Take beautiful photos of your property
Make sure that you have good photos of your property. Visitors want to see what your B&B looks like from the outside, photos of the bedroom and bathroom they’ll be paying for, and any pictures of common areas like a sitting room or garden. Beautiful photos will entice people who are browsing places to book, whereas poor quality photos are a definite turn off. Hire a professional to take a few good shots for you, or, if you’re taking them yourself, read up online for tips on how to stage rooms and take great photos that will sell your property to potential customers. Consider factors like what time of day the light is the best, and how to decorate rooms to impart your B&B’s personality. There are loads of YouTube tutorials on how to style photos, addressing aspects like the best angles from which to shoot a bed or how to style a bathroom (hot tip: close the toilet lid!).
3. Create a photo-worthy scene
Use the opportunity of guests doing your marketing for you. People love taking photos of themselves in a beautiful holiday setting and sharing them with those back home or on their social media, says Tshepo Matlou, Head of Marketing and Communications for local online booking platform, Jurni. “Create an appealing photo-worthy scene in one of your main living spaces. It can be a stylish area with smart wallpaper and an ornamental mirror, a serene space in the garden or quirky corner at the entrance featuring something that resonates with the location you’re in, like a local artwork or an attractive grouping of photos of local landmarks.
“Make sure that you have Facebook and Instagram pages and keep a sign up at your front desk area with your social media profiles visible. Ask guests to tag your property when they share their holiday images with friends and followers – it’s free marketing for you!”
4. Leverage the power of larger players
Marketing your property properly can be time-consuming and costly, so it’s a great idea to partner with a business that already has a large audience you want to reach and make your property visible to.
“To reach new audiences you need to create a digital profile and market your property online,” says Matlou. “It can be expensive to do this by yourself and requires a certain expertise, so it makes sense to team up with a larger online booking partner – who has already incurred digital, software and skills costs – to help you grow.” Another smart idea, he says, is to find out if there are any tourism associations in your region, and see if joining them will help you tap into a new stream of customers.
5. Form allies who will refer you
Reach out to other guesthouses in your area and form a network whereby you all promote each other. Just because they’re another B&B in the vicinity doesn’t mean you need to be competitors. Truth is, you’ll benefit more from having them as an ally who refers people to you when they are fully booked, for example. Remember, friends will send you business, enemies won’t.
You can also explore your neighbourhood for interesting shops and restaurants. Go inside, introduce yourself and your property, and ask if they’ll allow you to leave cards or brochures for their customers to notice. While you’re at it, look to form strategic partnerships – offer to promote their small business to your guests in return for a discount exclusive to your B&B, such as that guests staying with you will get a free coffee at a cafe if they have a fully paid breakfast there. If you stock a local supplier’s toiletries in your guest’s bathrooms, suggest placing a brochure about their products in guest’s rooms if they’ll give your guests a discount on certain products. Leverage the foot traffic your establishment provides to obtain benefits for your guests.
6. Leverage your area
Be clever about using everything available to you to market your property. It’s not just your B&B or guesthouse that is important to a potential visitor – there’s a reason they’ve left their home to come and stay in your area, so leverage what’s going on in your vicinity. Take or source photos of attractions, activities, or touristy sites close to you and include them in your profile to make your property even more attractive, Is there a beautiful park close by, or a vibrant weekend market, hiking trail, shopping mall, restaurant strip, or conference centre? Think of what your guests would like to visit or see, and highlight it in your marketing efforts. And, if there is any big event happening in your area, such as a marathon, concert, or big bike ride, use that event’s hashtag (or hashtags that appeal to people who will be attending that event) and use it in a social media post displaying a pic of your property, saying how excited you are that the event is going to take place.
Running your own B&B or guesthouse means your every day will be filled with things to do. While marketing your business on an ongoing basis is paramount to its success, working smartly to leverage other companies’ strengths will free you up to focus on other areas.