Marketing for Masters
Here is one of Sandy Soule's most popular conference presentations,
adapted for the newsletter.
Easy as XYB: The New Marketing Alphabet for Savvy Innkeepers
Statistics: travel and the Web
Triggers for travel
Baby boomers: the anti-geezer
What you need to know about websites
So what’s the take-away?
What is Web 2.0?
The next generation in travel technology
Statistics: travel and the Web
The Internet has made the world a smaller place, and perhaps no category has
felt that impact as much as the travel industry. Some 83% of people who
travel are Web savvy, compared with 71% of the general public, and by
2010, about 9 in 10 travelers will conduct their search and trip planning
via the Internet. Source: Forrester Research
As of the end of 2006, 56 million U.S. households (74%) were connected to
the Web via high-speed lines. That's up significantly from 2005's 43.9
million households and more than double 2003's 26 million. What's more,
broadband penetration is soon expected to surpass 90%, with an estimated 81
million U.S. homes connecting via high-speed connections by 2008. Source:
This year, for the first time, online travel bookings in the U.S. will
surpass offline bookings. In 2007, eMarketer estimates that 41 million U.S.
households will book travel online, representing 53% of all U.S. online
households. Source: PhocusWright
In 2006, an estimated 37 million households booked travel online, which is
50% of the total online households in the U.S. In 2010, this figure is
expected to exceed 55% of online households in the U.S. Source: eMarketer
Are you using your reviews to improve your inn? 30% of
American travelers who do travel research online read reviews written by
other travelers. Of people who book hotels online, 30% change their hotel
plans because of travelers’ comments. 41% of U.S. online leisure travelers
use some form of online social tool in their travel research efforts.
Reviews = Revenue. Consumer generated content (CGC) influences over $10
billion a year in online travel. With consumers finding CGC more credible
than they do professional reviews or information from travel companies, CGC
has emerged as a critical source of travel information. Source: Compete,
Who are our potential guests? Gen X and Gen Y comprise approximately
150 million Americans, born 1964 and later. Baby Boomers are approximately
77 million Americans, born 1946-1964. Generations X and Y are totally wired;
they were the first tech-savvy generation. They are also totally stressed
out: many are working couples (with or without children), and some have more
money than they have time.
A 2007 study reports that people age 18-24 grew up
with everyday cell phone awareness. For those ages 25-34, cell phone usage
infiltrated their everyday life as teens and young adults. The adult
adopters, age 35+, were not exposed cell phones until adulthood; many of
them have a cell phone but have limited interest in emerging technologies.
Source: comScore Networks
One-third of Internet users, either with a laptop computer, a personal
digital assistant (PDA), or cell phone, search the Internet or checked email
using WiFi broadband or cell phone networks. Over 70% of wireless users
check email on the typical day. Source: Pew Internet & American Life
Project Survey, Dec. 2006
Triggers for travel
Women survey respondents want vacations that include relaxation from daily
routines. 96% want vacations that “create memories.” Source: Roper Public
Affairs Survey for Meredith Corporation
Nearly 50% of respondents in another study agreed that “daily housekeeping
service” was the biggest perk about being away from home. Source:
Destination Hotels & Resorts. Security is still an issue for women
Consumers lack time, not money, for travel: Consumers are negative
about having enough time to take a pleasure trip, with that index falling
almost 6%. On a more positive note, consumers reported more positive
perceptions about the affordability of pleasure travel, with that index
increasing 10%. Source: TIA Study
Lifestyle pressure equals last-minute bookings: 30% of consumers said
they can’t plan more than seven days in advance; 13% said this is because of
finances, and 27% believe they can find better travel deals by waiting. When
taking a short-notice vacation, 70% said that they stay three nights or
less. What do they buy at the last minute? 59% buy hotel rooms on short
notice, followed by airline tickets (36%) and rental cars (35%). Source:
More discretionary income for travel: Americans currently spend less
on food and other nondurable goods than they did in 1960, when half their
income went to these purchases. They're spending a smaller percentage of
their income on energy, too; the average household now spends 5.5% of its
income on energy; it was 8% in 1981. What Americans are spending more on
is services -- and that's where travel comes in.
Affluent Americans spend more time on the Internet. According to a study on
affluence and online activity by JupiterResearch, Americans with annual
household income over $100,000 spend a median of 17 hours a week online,
compared with 14 hours for everyone else.
A survey of wealthy consumers reached households with a minimum net worth of
over $1 million. Over 40% use the Internet to plan travel and make
reservations online. Younger consumers under 50, and those with higher
incomes/net worth, show a stronger tendency to buy online. Source: Luxury
Baby boomers: the anti-geezer
Boomers consist of 108 million people over the age of 45. They account for
70% of the U.S. net worth ($9 trillion). They don’t want to be labeled. For
them, it’s never too late to learn, and they like educational and
self-improvement opportunities. Multi-generational travel is also becoming
more popular. Although they’re no geezers, they require some adjustments
such as better lighting and grab-bars!
The boomer generation is here to stay: the 50-64 age group will grow by 50%
in 15 years; the 65-plus population will grow 32%. The traditionally coveted
18-40 Gen-X and Gen-Y populations will grow only 3%.
Over 70% of boomers have high-speed Internet access at home and use it to:
seek out information (92%); stay in touch with friends and family (95%);
shop online (73%). Source: ThirdAge Inc. and JWT BOOM
Baby boomer travel trends: Boomers, many of whom have been working
slavishly for a few decades, are starting to take it easy. Even those who
keep working will be logging fewer hours and taking longer vacations. These
- Spas and all-inclusive resorts: A favorite with boomer travelers no
longer willing to rough it.
- Cruises: The cruise industry continues to adapt to accommodate niche
markets, and active and inquisitive boomers will be their best
customers. Cruising combines several important elements for boomer
travel — safety, variety, affordability and a bit of pampering.
- Niche travel: American culture is anything but monolithic, and
nowhere is this clearer than in our travel preferences; after all, one
man's Six Flags is another's Indian ashram.
- Green travel: With 2007 predicted to be the warmest year in history,
green travel will become more of a real force. Travelers will be renting
hybrid cars, picking eco-friendly destinations and choosing zero-impact
- Connoisseur travel: Connoisseurship has become a new hobby for many
Americans; the perfect and most obvious example is the explosion of wine
tourism over the past 10 years. “Connoisseur travelers" prefer to spend
their vacations enjoying their chosen enthusiasm, whether it be wine,
jewelry, artwork, historical artifacts, antiques, food, language,
architecture, etc.” The Independent Traveler
Intergenerational travel has become a huge market as the baby boomers age.
According to the TIA, “30% of traveling grannies have taken at least one
trip with a grandchild.” Industry consultants show that almost 60% of kids
ages 6-17 would really like to vacation with their grandparents. Source:
Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell
Eat to live or live to eat? 27 million Americans have made culinary
activities a part of their travels within the last three years. Of the 160
million U.S. residents who travel for leisure, about 1 in 6 have recently
taken a food tour, enrolled in a cooking class, toured a winery or otherwise
participated in culinary activities as part of a vacation, according to the
study. Source: TIA & Gourmet Magazine, 2007
Eco-travel on the rise: 65% of American surveyed state it would
somewhat impact their decision to stay at a hotel if they knew the hotel was
using solar or wind energy as power supplements. 63% state they would pay a
little more to rent a hybrid vehicle or stay at a “green” hotel. 52% state
they would be willing to donate a small portion of their vacation budget to
help save the environment. 51% feel the tourism industry in the United
States is not environmentally friendly. Source: MarketTool’s Zoomerang’s
Of those surveyed, 38% have stayed at an environmentally friendly hotel, and
9% seek them out. The most important qualities in a “green” hotel, they say,
are: conserving energy, water, and using recycled paper. 34% would pay more
5%-20% more to stay at an environmentally friendly hotel. 78% decline to
have their sheets and towels changed. 66% think that traveling
environmentally friendly makes a difference. 24% believe that air travel
should be avoided, when possible, to help preserve the environment; 26%
would pay a 5%-10% premium. Only 3% have purchased carbon credits.
10 travel trends for 2007- Peter Yesawich
- Leisure travel continues to outpace business travel.
- Family travel continues to grow faster than all other
- Travel suppliers will raise fares/rates, as demand grows,
capacity is strained, and operating costs escalate.
- Internet dominates the travel-planning/booking process, while
online reservations continues its growth.
- Comparison shopping of suppliers’ fares and rates becomes
- Continued expansion of “lifestyle” hotel brands for the
Gen X & Y travelers (the Millennials).
- “Inclusive pricing” will grow to include commercial
hotels seeking to provide road warriors with good basic value:
comfortable bed, working desk, breakfast, high-speed Internet, and
- Spa-going continues growth as consumers seek to reduce
- The cruise industry will continue to enjoy remarkable
- The new “.travel” Internet domain will continue to grow in
What you need to know about
You've only got five seconds: NextStage studies show that people
respond to daily, non-critical information within 10-15 seconds of first
receiving that information.
- Attraction stage (1-5 seconds): Used to decide if the
information "catches your eye." Some studies indicate this
interval is actually at the millisecond level. People are
evaluating only if they want to explore that information
further; responses are highly subjective.
- Engagement phase (4-7 seconds): Can you understand
the material well enough to continue the effort of internalizing
the information? The website has to transition from "being
pretty" to "being useful.” If so, it has engaged your
- Action-ability phase (8-10 seconds): Here’s when you
decide your response to the website. This phase can stretch to
10 or even 15 seconds of engagement before you decide on your
next step. Do you make a reservation now? Email or call for
information? Discuss with your travel partner? You’re taking
action of some kind.
Video is the now big thing: At the end of 2006,
58% of Americans with Internet access had streamed some form of
video content online. The demographic of the typical video
streamer skews younger, and is more likely to have higher income
and be highly educated. Source: Ipsos Insight, 2007
Simplicity sells: “Your customer interface -- the service
that walks the talk of your brand -- will always be at least as
important as whatever product your company sells. This is true
no matter whether you're in ad sales or something more arcane --
service and simplicity is what keeps customers (guests!) happy.”
American Airlines' site. What do these two convey about the
relative service experience that any consumer might expect? The
point is that intuitive simplicity at the point of research and
purchase in Web design IS good customer service.
Bad Web experience impacts retail shopping: 41% of
consumers in 2006 said a frustrating online experience would
make them less likely to shop at that retailer's physical store.
Survey results also found that if the online customer experience
is improved, people will buy more. It’s the same for your
Not everyone is the same. Quicker clicker uppers:
these people want to click it, see it, book it and be done!
You’ll need strong positioning, including online reservations on
major directories like BedandBreakfast.com as well as OTAS like
Expedia and hotels.com. Click crazies: this group
loves to click through and compare a zillion sites. They take
their time but will choose based on quality Web design and
photos plus strong reviews. YOU NEED TO GET RESERVATIONS FROM
How do they search? Travelers on average visit travel
sites 35 times over 90 days before they book. Consumers actively
turn to search before buying travel; an average of 10 travel
queries occur before purchase. Destination search activity is
critical. Consumers don’t always know what they want; this is a
great opportunity to introduce your brand. Online hotel bookers
are active comparison shoppers. Source: Yahoo! Search
So what’s the take-away?
Gen X & Y: To get reservations from these travelers, we
need to be as wired as they are. Many of them are too rushed to
click through to multiple websites to check availability; they
want to visit a single travel site, enter their dates, and get a
list of places where they can make an instant, confirmed
Once these guests arrive at your inn, they want (and will pay
for): WiFi Internet access; uxury amenities and guest-oriented
pampering, like spa services; handsome, uncluttered décor.
Baby Boomers: Many are quite similar to the younger
generation. They can effectively be reached through niche
marketing trends (green travel, multi-generational travel, food
and experiential travel). They are more interested in comfort
(including good lighting, handrails, etc) than luxury.
What is Web 2.0?
Web 2.0 is about data abstraction. It takes broadband for
granted, especially video. It’s all about connections
(between people, sites, buyers and sellers). It puts people
first and is about allowing people to manipulate data, not just
retrieve it. Web 2.0 is about doing stuff on the Web that can't
done in any other medium.
What does Web 2.0 mean to us? Embrace social networking, don’t
fight it. Actively promote reviews of your inn. You’ll have more
reservations, and you’ll have a better inn! Encourage guests to
upload photos and videos of your B&B, and stay in touch with
them via email newsletters and blogs.
Web 2.0 is people power: Time Magazine selects "you" as the
Person of the Year in 2006; Ad Age selects "the consumer" as the
Agency of the Year. The ascent of consumers as controllers of
their media environment is apparent -- 30% of frequent social
networkers trust their peers' opinions when making a major
purchase decision, but only 10% trust an advertisement. Sources:
BIGresearch 2007, JupiterResearch
generation in travel technology
“Consumers have changed from just searching for the lowest
price to finding the best experience.” Philip Wolf,
Travel 1.0 was about price, which drove online adoption. Travel
2.0 is about complete transparency, peer collaboration and
speed. Consider the “long tail scenario:” embrace the sum of
your niches; your reputation is more important than marketing
budget; a good product can cut through the fog; and the customer
experience and message should be in sync.
Travel 3.0 is about sales. Travel 3.0 sites will harness the
proven capability of dynamic packaging to enrich buyer choice
and so build sales, value and margin. Powerful search tools will
let buyers comparison-shop amongst a huge variety of travel
components and products that best match their individual
preferences - and they’ll be able to select, book and pay, all
online and on one site. Source: HyperTech Solutions UK
According to PriceWaterHouseCooper’s Hospitality Division, hotel
surcharges and hidden fees have produced revenues of $1.6
billion in 2006, almost triple the number in 2003. Samples:
early check-in fee; baggage-holding fee; housekeeping fee; ice
and bottled water charges; in-room safe surcharge; Internet
service; phone/fax service. Guests receive all this and much
more without the fees at a B&B!
Conversion is the key website metric: With most inns reporting
80%-90% of reservations coming via the Internet, keep a strong
Web marketing presence via onward distribution, Internet
directories, and a good website with GREAT photography. Make
video a priority for the coming year.
Although the Internet is the 1,000-pound marketing gorilla,
don’t miss out on the other marketing opportunities that come
along every day to generate new and repeat business, from media
opportunities to community involvement to retail channels.
Your goal may be to get heads in beds—but you’re selling an
experience, the fulfillment of a dream--whether it’s a romantic
escape, a reunion of family or friends, or a safe haven for the
harried road warrior. Message the value, exceed expectations.
Points to remember
- Embrace your inner geek: High-tech is as
important as high-touch.
- Keep a sharp eye on the hotel sector: They have
learned from us and are pushing ahead rapidly.
- Maintain the high ground: The B&B star shines
most brightly in the area of personal service and
This Month's Sponsor
BedandBreakfast.com, RezOvation and Expedia, Inc.
are hitting the road to bring you current and comprehensive information
about Internet marketing, online reservations, yield management, and
property management software.
Click here to see upcoming Intensives and
Have you updated the photos in your BedandBreakfast.com listing lately?
Summer is here, so take down the winter pictures and upload images of
green trees, flowers, and chairs on the water! Remember--the bigger the
photo, the better.
Gift Card Reseller Program
"Hi! I am interested in participating in selling the
Bed and Breakfast gift cards. Thanks for the opportunity to make more
money!" -- Karen Morella, Serendipity Bed and Breakfast
The BedandBreakfast.com Gift Card Reseller Program is coming in
Click here for details. If you'd like to receive a free reseller kit, contact us at 800-462-2632 or
Online Trade Show
Visit our vendor members!
Click here to view our Online Trade Show. Are you a vendor?
Click here to get featured!
Featured Property and
Inn of the Month auctions are easy, affordable and effective ways to drive
traffic to your website.
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.
"I just wanted to express my sincere appreciation to one of your support
staff. She was very friendly, helpful, accommodating and provided EXCELLENT
customer service. I thanked her for all of her help but also wanted to thank
your company for providing a friendly voice and helpful person." --
Inns for Sale
Innkeepers' Info Center
info? You’ll find lots of educational
articles on our site for your convenience.