Making the Most of Your B&B Website - #4 Marketing Your B&BJan 26, 2024
Welcome back to this 52 weeks to taking control of your B&B marketing series!
I am aiming to deliver 52 ideas for you in how to market your Bed and Breakfast in just a short time each week. Just taking those tiny steps to take more control of your own marketing and hopefully generate more direct income.
Last week, I talked about concept of Frequently Asked Questions and how you can use them to categorise your marketing content.
If you prefer to listen to the Podcast, where I go into a bit more detail with examples, you can listen here or do a search for Bed and Breakfast Academy on Apple, or Spotify Podcasts.
The Importance of a B&B Website
In this blog post, I'm going to talk you through the importance of your Bed and Breakfast (B&B) website. Even if you have an existing website, stay with me. Over the years, I had three different websites for my B&B, and by the time I decided to focus on training and close the B&B, the fourth one was rather overdue.
It's crucial to regularly review your website and ensure that it accurately represents your B&B and meets the current needs of your guests.
A few years back, I was asked to deliver a presentation on B&B marketing at a conference for B&B owners. I realised I’d said nothing about having a B&B website until I was rehearsing the final presentation.
Assuming it was a given to have a website for my business after years of IT experience, I was surprised to find that nearly 70% of the business owners at the conference lacked a website and relied solely on a B&B directory and the tourist office for business.
Nowadays, B&B marketing has evolved dramatically, and B&B businesses without a website are rare. While some businesses solely rely on platforms like bookingdotcom or Airbnb, I would highly recommend having a website for your business as well.
I've often heard people say they'd try to find the business's website, having found a B&B on an OTA, to learn more or possibly book directly.
So even if you already have a business website, it's worth revisiting every few years to ensure it's current and accurately represents your business. As I mentioned earlier, throughout the years running my B&B, I had three different websites and it was due for a new one. The B&B Academy is also on its third website.
The primary goal of your marketing efforts - emails, social media, in-person marketing - should be to pique the interest of potential guests enough to get them to visit your website and book!
The Purpose of a Bed and Breakfast Website
The main purpose of a B&B website is to generate business by converting website visitors into guests. This can be achieved by demonstrating the whole experience of staying at your B&B, showcasing the unique selling points, such as its unique character, local attractions, the style of the rooms, what people will have for breakfast and amenities.
Clear online booking options make it easy for potential guests to make reservations.
Is Your Website Discoverable?
Before delving deeper into what makes a good B&B website, it's essential first to determine if your website is being found. A fabulous B&B website is pointless if it receives no visitors. It's a bit like having 2000 flyers printed and then leaving them in a drawer!
How to Determine Who is Visiting Your Website?
It’s important to review your website statistics to understand how customers are finding it and what they are interested in. Armed with this information will help you to continue to make changes and enhancements and create content your website visitors will be interested in.
Google Analytics 4, a free web analytics service by Google, tracks visits to your website. It tracks user numbers, where they come from (both geographically and from other websites), the website pages they visit, time spent on your website, and more!
If you haven't yet switched to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) from Universal Analytics, you'll no longer be seeing website statistics. If that's the case, speak to your web designer. If you manage it yourself, Google provides instructions for switching. Or head over to YouTube, there are lots of how to videos there.
How Do Guests Find Your Website?
Prospective customers might find your website in various ways. For example, a B&B in Mid Wales could be discovered by:
- Typing "B&B Mid Wales" into a search engine like Google
- Searching for local attractions like "5 Walks in Mid Wales" and coming across your blog post with the same title
- Entering your website domain directly into Google, having found it on a business card, a flyer, etc.
- Searching for your B&B by name, having found it on an OTA, been recommended by a friend, local business, another B&B, visited before, B&B directory book
- Linking through from social media
- Clicking on a link from a B&B directory or a local business
- Clicking on a link in your email signature
The Aesthetic and Feel of a Bed and Breakfast Website
A B&B website needs to accurately portray the entire experience of staying at the B&B. Quite often, guest dissatisfaction ( and bad reviews ) comes from a mismatch between their expectations for their stay and the actual experience.
Photographs are crucial, but so are the colours and font you choose and the words you write. The wrong font and colour can make a website appear outdated, which in turn could lead your potential customers to think your B&B will be outdated too.
If you aren't involving a graphic designer in your website design, plenty of resources offer advice. Check out Pinterest, Canva, or websites like coolors.co. Or do a Google search on font pairings or colour palettes.
Look at other B&B websites for inspiration but remember it's OK to be inspired but NEVER copy!
Is Your Website User-Friendly?
Your website should be as simple as possible for the customer to navigate. They shouldn't have to spend time looking for information that's crucial to their booking decision.
While it's important to have all the information customers will need before booking, it's also vital not to overwhelm them with information. Think carefully about your website structure and avoid having too many main pages.
Look back at the Frequently Asked Questions file we created last week, and check that the answers to all of those questions are quick and easy to find.
See the blog post on how to use frequently asked questions for effective marketing here >> How to Use FAQS for Effective B&B Marketing
Ensure your 'Book Now' button is clearly visible at the top of every page! Also, make it easy for guests to find your contact details if they need to email, call, or message you with any further questions.
Create a Blog Section
I firmly believe that a blog on your website is one of the most effective marketing tools for your B&B. Blogging is important for a B&B for several reasons:
- Engage with Potential Guests: A blog allows a B&B to connect with potential guests on a personal level. It provides a platform to share unique stories, events, and experiences that make the B&B special.
I once had a guest tell me that she wouldn’t normally choose to stay at a 5 star B&B as she was worried they would be too stuffy and formal, but reading my blog helped her to realise that whilst her stay would have a touch of luxury, it would also be relaxed and enjoyable.
- Showcase Local Attractions: Through blog posts, a B&B can highlight local attractions, activities, and events. This can be helpful for guests planning their visit, and it showcases the B&B as a knowledgeable local guide.
- Improve SEO: Regularly updated, quality content can improve the B&B's search engine rankings. This can make the website more visible to potential guests searching for accommodations in the area.
- Boost Online Presence: A blog can boost the B&B's online presence. Sharing blog posts on social media can help attract more visitors to the website.
- Encourage Direct Bookings: By providing valuable content and engaging stories, a blog can help build trust with potential guests, which is especially important in these days of scams and phishing. This can encourage them to book directly through the B&B's website, reducing dependence on third-party booking sites.
- Showcase Amenities and Services: Blog posts can be used to highlight the amenities and services of the B&B. This can help potential guests understand what sets the B&B apart from other accommodation options.
Blogging can be a bit time-consuming and overwhelming, but I've written another blog post on how to use AI / ChatGPT to help you write your blog posts faster >> How to Use ChatGPT to Write Blog Posts Faster
Have an Email Sign-up Form
I'll be talking more about emails soon, but I think it's important to have an email sign-up form on your website. Not everyone who visits your website for the first time will be ready to book, but by capturing their email address, you'll be able to start building a relationship with them so that they remember you when they are ready to book.
Always use Email Marketing Software like Mailchimp to capture email addresses. This will ensure that you are meeting all legal requirements such as requiring explicit consent, being clear on the frequency of emails you'll be sending, having an unsubscribe option, and ensuring customer data is stored and handled in compliance with applicable data protection laws.
It's also a good idea to consider how you will incentivise people to join your bed and breakfast email sign-up list. For example, offering exclusive discounts or packages to subscribers or providing a free downloadable guide to the area.
In conclusion, having a well-designed, user-friendly, and discoverable website is crucial for any Bed and Breakfast business. It not only helps generate bookings but also acts as a platform to showcase the unique offerings and experiences that the B&B provides. From utilising SEO best practices to regular blogging and having an email sign-up form, every aspect contributes to creating an online presence that fosters guest engagement and conversions. It's essential to keep your website current and reflective of your B&B to ensure it remains an effective marketing tool.
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