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July/August 2008

Innkeeper Updates

Summer travel survey results
How to get more reservations
BedandBreakfast.com reviews promotion

How to get more reservations
Here are some key steps that can easily, affordably, and effectively increase your reservations. Best of all, they are free or don’t cost you anything unless they put heads in your beds.
  1. Online reservations: If you don’t have online reservations on your own website, and don’t use BedandBreakfast.com Online Reservations, you are losing out on approximately half of your potential reservations. In other words, 5 of 10 potential guests simply will not call you. If you’ve been thinking about adding the RezOvation Booking Engine to your website, and/or signing up for BedandBreakfast.com Online Reservations, there’s no better time than right now.
  2. Reviews: When dollars are tight, travelers want to be extra sure that they are picking an inn they’ll love. Study after study demonstrates that the way they do this is through reviews, and traffic patterns on BedandBreakfast.com confirm it. Email past guests to thank them for staying with you, then encourage them to return and to post a review. Be sure to give them the link to your review page on BedandBreakfast.com, and to distribute the review reminder business cards and postcards; contact us if you need more at Support@BedandBreakfast.com or 800-GO-B-AND-B.
  3. Gift cards: BedandBreakfast.com Gift Cards are an incredibly popular present for weddings, anniversaries, and so much more, as you can see by reading the reviews here. If you don’t already accept them, log in to your Home Base and click the Gift Card link. You get great extra exposure, and you pay a commission only when you get a reservation, and then only on the amount of the gift card.
  4. Photos: If you can afford to hire a pro who’s an expert at shooting B&Bs, by all means do so. You’ll see the ROI almost as soon as the photos go live on your website and on your BedandBreakfast.com listing. Can’t swing the cost right now? Read our photography article for great advice on improving your own shots, then add them to your website and your BedandBreakfast.com listing ASAP. Don’t forget that your membership includes 10 photos at the Silver level, 15 at Gold, and 25 at Platinum, plus a free video!
  5. Special packages: Our Tanks a Lot free gas promotion has received enormous media coverage, as have had many of the other special packages posted on BedandBreakfast.com. If you are a Silver level member or up, make sure to post at least three specials -- one for free gas, perhaps one for girlfriends’ getaways, and another for a theme that will appeal to your guests.
  6. Recession-proof your marketing: Incorporate these themes into “affordable luxury” messaging on your website, in your emails, and in your publicity:
    Isn’t it time you were spoiled rotten? No beds to make, no dishes to wash, no laundry to fold, just kick back on a porch rocker, and we’ll bring you homemade iced tea.
    Isn’t it time you had a personal concierge? Want dinner and/or theater reservations? Advice on the best boutiques, antique shops, flea markets? Need help planning a bike ride, picnic hike, float trip, or a tour of local wineries/cheese makers/micro-breweries? Just ask your innkeeper!
    Isn’t it time you spent your limited vacation days on vacation instead in transit? A great B&B getaway may be just a one-tank trip away, so you can measure your travel time in hours, not days, and save money on airfare and car rental to boot! Use the money you save on transportation to splurge on a gorgeous guest room with a double whirlpool tub, fireplace, and more.
    Isn’t it time you spent a night, not a fortune? B&Bs offer affordable luxury, where you’re not nickel-and-dimed for every little thing, and extras like soft drinks, snacks, and Wi-Fi are included in the reasonable rates.


BedandBreakfast.com reviews promotion
Thank you to the 3,013 inns who participated in the recent reviews promotion by encouraging guests to post reviews to BedandBreakfast.com. We received thousands of the postage-paid review postcards and even had to hire additional staff to help us manually enter the reviews!

There were 604 BedandBreakfast.com member inns that had no reviews posted prior to the promotion, and now they have reviews!

We have now entered all reviews received during the promotion, and have added the funds to each participating property's Featured Property Account at the rate of $5 for each posted review, up to a maximum of $50.

To check the amount in your account, log in to your Home Base, click Featured Property Auctions in the left column of the grid, then click Account Information in the column on the left. Scroll down, and you'll see the amount under Payment History. The Total consists of the cash funds you have deposited and does not include the free bonus credit, but all amounts are available for your use.

While you're logged in, take a few minutes to place or update your bids, add or change your marketing message, and/or add new photos. If you need help placing bids or have any other questions, just contact our Support Team at 800-GO-B-AND-B (800-462-2632) or Support@BedandBreakfast.com.

Thanks again for the great response. The reviews about your property will not only help you to get more reservations, but might help you to win a Best of BedandBreakfast.com Award, to be announced in September.
 

Travel Trends

Seven strategies for marketing in a downturn: Doing the same things in an uncertain economic environment and expecting the same results is, at worst, a definition of marketing insanity. At best it is a flawed strategy. In a challenging economy, you must find new ways to make marketing work more effectively, get more out of marketing investments, and measure and account for marketing decisions.

The following strategies will help you allocate marketing investments to better performing programs that will carry your company through the economic downturn and beyond.

  • Get targeted: Invest in those specific, targeted media where you know your customers and prospects will be exposed to your message.
  • Measure performance: While it's always the right time to purge marketing programs that don't perform, it may be time to scale back any marketing plans whose results you can't measure or are unsure about. Online programs -- which are built around delivering visibility, impressions, clicks, leads and customers -- are easy to measure.
  • Think integration: Take advantage of multiple media, resources and customer touchpoints to create a whole that's greater and more effective than the sum of its parts.
  • Maintain frequency and consistency: The benefits of regular visibility in the market tend to compound over time as more prospects recognize your company. A consistent online presence where your customers and prospects are looking for information -- including websites, directories, search engines and e-newsletters -- will help your company stay visible as well as provide measurable lead generation benefits via online contact.
  • Push and pull your way to success: Most marketing can be classified as either push or pull: companies push their message out through tactics such as direct mail, advertisements and e-newsletters; and they also establish a presence in online directories, websites and search engines to pull customers in real-time when prospects are searching for information, products and services like those your company offers.
  • Focus on quality over quantity: If marketing efforts focus solely on quantity over quality, fewer leads will convert, more sales resources will be wasted, and sales people will begin to distrust marketing's lead generation programs. Commit to programs in which quality is a key attribute: programs that can deliver interested prospects, provide prospect contact information and offer reports of program performance.
  • Seek assistance from media partners: The economy is likely forcing you to make harder and smarter decisions about allocating budgets. Ask media partners to demonstrate how their marketing solutions help your company achieve the strategies mentioned above.”


BedandBreakfast.com partners rank top in customer experience:
Keynote Competitive Research announced the topline results of a series of competitive research studies examining the online travel industry, including studies of airline, lodging and rental car Web sites. Collectively, the studies provide an in-depth examination of the online customer experience and service levels (responsiveness and reliability) of leading travel sites. Each travel type had its own unique group of top performers as denoted by the 250+ customer experience metrics measured in each study. In the Online Lodging study, Marriott ranked #1, followed by Expedia and hotels.com.”

BedandBreakfast.com members who participate in BedandBreakfast.com Online Reservations are on Expedia and hotels.com.

British are traveling, booking online: “Despite the rising cost of fuel and the impending economic downturn, consumers are continuing to invest in holidays abroad, according to a survey of British travelers by a UK-based digital market research company. In its survey, eDigitalResearch found that 70% of people aren’t changing their travel plans and that the majority of people (69%) are still going abroad for a duration of a week or more. Around 63.2% of people have planned holidays months in advance. 20% of those surveyed have changed their plans due to less disposable income, the rising exchange rate of the Euro, and rising fuel costs.

“A staggering 75% of people prefer to book online, with the majority (60%) of people wanting to tailor-make their holidays directly with the operator, as opposed to through a travel agent.”  

Travelers staying closer to home, and other trends: "A new survey by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) reveals one emerging pattern: with higher gas prices and lower expectations for the economy, hotel guests are inclined to stay closer to home.

The AH&LA 2008 Lodging Survey revealed these other hotel trends:

  • Wireless Internet access is in 91% of responding properties, up 35% from just four years earlier.
  • The number of hotels that charge for in-room Internet use is on the decline. Sixteen percent of hotels charge for this service, down from 19% in 2006 and 22% in 2004.
  • More than one third of respondents offer iPod docking stations in-room.
  • Seventy-nine percent of responding properties had an exercise room and/or fitness facility, and 77% of these are complimentary for guests.
  • The number of respondents who offer vegetarian menu options rose 16% to 48%.
  • Twenty-four percent of respondents offer allergy-free hotel rooms."


More than half of travelers purchase all travel online: “According to JupiterResearch’s US Travel Consumer Survey in 2007, more than 50% of travelers purchase all their travel online, and 70% purchase at least some of their travel online. The YPB&R/Yankelovich National Leisure Travel MONITOR shows that leisure travelers rate recommendations by family and friends as their No. 1 information sources when choosing vacation options.

“These same travelers also turn to online consumer-generated content for recommendations and validation when making travel decisions online. Fifty-six percent of online travel researchers who turn to consumer-generated content use it to verify hotel choices before booking—the most common application, according to JupiterResearch.

“Online travelers who contribute to consumer reviews or recommendations are more than twice as likely to be motivated by a desire to share good experiences with other travelers (36%) as they are to want to share bad experiences (17%), according to Jupiter. And the more opinions that appear online, the more balanced views emerge.”

Survey reveals Americans are traveling this summer: “Kayak.com asked more than 3,800 users how the struggling U.S. economy has influenced their summer travel plans. Kayak.com found that while the economic downturn has caused 79% of travelers to alter their vacations, users still intend to get away this summer.

“When asked what was most influential in planning a summer vacation, 41% cited cost-conscious factors including choosing a destination with affordable airfare (18%), bunking up with friends or family rather than checking into a hotel (16%), and opting for destinations within driving distance (7%). Dozens wrote in complaining about the price of Europe this summer, and most plan to avoid the continent until the dollar improves against the euro.

“According to survey responses, economic softness is affecting both the destinations travelers are considering (for 78% of respondents) and transportation to those destinations (for 64% of respondents). Of those who altered the destination of their summer vacation -- more than a quarter (28%) said that they'll stay closer to home, 23% will drop a star from their usual standard, and 20% will choose a location where friends and family can offer room and board.

“Despite the tough times, most Americans are preserving their summer
vacation rituals. Over 90% of respondents plan to spend more than five days
on vacation this summer.”

Travelers go where the deals are: “Instead of paying top dollar for the annual getaway, emboldened consumers are looking for travel deals. In some cases it’s come down to a waiting game to see which side will flinch first, while in others it means shorter trips closer to home. Either way, people are traveling this summer, with a new savvy born from the opacity of the Internet.

“‘From the numbers we’ve seen Americans want to go on vacation. They may have to adjust their plans because of economy and gas prices, but they will still go,’ said Betsy Sell, Managing Director of Travel Products AAA, whose company’s members spend $30 billion a year on hotels. She posited that many may take fewer, shorter trips, but travel is still a priority.

“A representative for Cheapflights.com said that in the U.S. market, even six months ago people were very tied to leaving and coming back on specific dates. People are now starting to base decisions based on cost rather than time frame. People will adjust a schedule for a deal.”

Storm clouds gather over UK travel industry: “If there is one industry that feels most keenly a recent forecast of storm clouds ahead from Mervyn King, the Bank of England governor, it is the UK travel sector. Although many trips have been booked far in advance, the outlook for the travel market is decidedly uncomfortable.

“Cheapflights reports that the top 10 searches of its website include New York and Orlando, made attractive by the pound’s strength against the dollar, plus Dalaman in Turkey and Dubai.

“If it is any comfort, the Brits are not alone. TripAdvisor surveyed 4,000 people around the world, finding that almost 40 percent were taking exchange rates into account before choosing their holidays.”

This Month's Sponsor

Reviews = Reservations

No doubt about it: travelers want reviews, and they are more likely to stay somewhere that has reviews posted. The BedandBreakfast.com reviews program was developed specifically for B&Bs. An easy way to get more reviews on your listing is to add a badge, like the one below, to your website. Log in to your Home Base. Click Reviews, then click Links, Awards and Review Reminders to download the badge and other helpful review tools.


 

Summer Travel Survey Results

In late June 2008, BedandBreakfast.com polled more than 5,200 U.S. innkeepers about advanced bookings for the July 4th weekend. The 1,346 respondents reported that July 4th weekend reservations are even with or have increased over last year at more than 70 percent of B&Bs. Read more.

Online Trade Show

Visit our newest vendor members!


 Click here to view our Online Trade Show. Are you a vendor? Click here to get featured!

Gift Card Reseller Program

Could you use some extra cash? Sign up for the gift card reseller program, and make 15% on each sale! There is no cost to get started; click here for details. If you'd like to receive a free reseller kit, contact us at 800-462-2632 or Support@BedandBreakfast.com.


            

"As much as I would like to sell gift certificates that are exclusively for my inn, I realize that we are not the perfect gift for everybody. This year, I gave everyone who enquired about a gift certificate an option of a GC to be used exclusively with me or good at any B&B in the BedandBreakfast.com membership. Many liked the idea of having choices, and I sold them the BedandBreakfast.com gift card. I got the commission up front, and I don’t have to worry about the liability. I also get most of the face value back should the gift card be used at my inn. The process was quick and easy. I am very happy with the results and will continue to offer BedandBreakfast.com cards as an option." Mike Venturini, Munro House B&B Spa, Jonesville, MI

Referral Program

What’s better than three month’s free membership? How about six months? Or a whole year? Refer fellow innkeepers to BedandBreakfast.com, and if they join at the Silver level or above, your membership will be extended by three months for each B&B that signs up. If four B&Bs sign up, your membership is free for a year!  For details, log in to your Home Base and click Referral Program under Free Member Benefits, or call 800-GO-B-AND-B (800-462-2632).
 

Advertising Auctions

Featured Property and Inn of the Month auctions are easy, affordable and effective ways to drive traffic to your website.

Member Information

To update your entry, check your traffic statistics, and renew your membership, please log in with your property ID and password. Don't like your password? Once you're logged in, click "Membership," select "Change Password," and choose another that's easier to remember. More information

"I am happy to report that we have had several enquiries from your site, including one guest who is staying for five nights, so our membership cost has been covered. Thanks for your help!" Caitlin Adair, Sanctuary, Putney, VT

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