With 80% of people now booking their holiday via the Internet and nine in 10 people researching their holiday online prior to travelling, your hotel or bed and breakfast’s online presence could be one of the most powerful marketing weapons it has.
But how exactly can you boost your establishment’s visibility on the web?
Having a secure and mobile-optimised website
Even if your hotel enjoys a strong presence on TripAdvisor, for the maximum control over the messages that are perpetuated about your business online, as well as to provide your prospective guests with the most up-to-date information and give them the easiest means of booking with you, it really does pay to have your own website.
Your hotel or bed and breakfast’s official website can be handy for helping prospective guests to locate your establishment, providing contact details for the management team and everything in-between.
However, to ensure that your website makes the biggest impact, you should ensure that it loads quickly, is easy to navigate and displays well for the mobile users that are becoming increasingly dominant among those not just researching, but actually booking hotels online.
Incorporate an online reservations system like that of eviivo into your website, as well as social media links and stunning image and video content to really get people placing bookings on your site.
Maintaining a frequently updated blog
A blog could be of great interest to your potential guests, providing all manner of fascinating articles about where your hotel or bed and breakfast is located, and even perhaps a ‘behind the scenes’ look at day-to-day life at your establishment.
However, good blogs are also known to have a very real, broader impact on the growth of hotels and bed and breakfasts’ online visibility, boosting their number of indexed pages in Google, thereby heightening their prominence in the search engines and driving a greater number of visits to their pages.
Write about interesting, discussion-worthy topics and share the resultant articles on your hotel’s social media profile to encourage people to read, comment on and share them, all of which further helps to spread the word about your hotel far and wide online.
It could even aid in making your hotel a recognised online authority on the local area where it is based.
Discussing all of the incredible things about the local area
Almost irrespective of where your hotel or bed and breakfast is located, there will be attractions nearby to entice visitors – but your budding or current guests may not know about them unless you highlight them on your own social media and blog pages.
Furthermore, many people who may have never heard of your hotel will inevitably search for information about such attractions online, which creates an obvious opportunity to draw attention for your establishment from the most relevant audiences by crafting the most compelling, relevant content.
Placing a big emphasis on all things visual
Whether your guests come to you on a holiday or business trip, many of them will expect the most thrilling sensory experiences during their stay, whether in terms of the food that they eat or the local attractions that they see.
Furthermore, today’s Internet users have notoriously short attention spans or are simply too short of time to spend it reading through blocks of text on your website.
This helps to explain why the most successful hotels and bed and breakfasts online have become adept at using the most captivating image and video content that immediately tells a story, while generating plenty of views, comments and shares.
Being active on the leading social media sites
With Facebook boasting some 1.65 billion monthly active users and Twitter 310 million monthly active users, being present on social media makes a lot of sense from a numbers perspective alone.
However, the highly image-oriented nature of such platforms as Pinterest and Instagram should also be of great interest to your hotel or bed and breakfast, as should the presence on the likes of Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn of groups or communities of people dedicated to all things travel and tourism.
However, if you do join such groups, you should make sure that you engage in genuine conversations and communicate your relevant knowledge and expertise in ways that other members will find useful.
Practising search engine optimisation (SEO) with a local emphasis
With at least two trillion searches a year being handled by Google alone, there will be a lot of people out there searching for a hotel or bed and breakfast like yours – however, they may not find it if your site has been optimised for overly broad search terms.
This is where local SEO really proves its worth, targeting not a broad sweep of those two trillion or so searches, but instead the small proportion related to your type of establishment and specific local area.
You are certainly more likely to be able to rank prominently for ‘cheap hotel Peckham Road’ than for ‘cheap hotel London’, although intermediate terms like ‘budget hotels near Camberwell’ or ‘affordable hotel South London’ may also be useful for your web copy and blogging.
Investing in Pay Per Click (PPC)
Perform a Google search for a term like ‘cheap hotel London’, and certain entries in the search rankings will be designated as ‘Ads’, these being the Google AdWords ads that you may wish to adopt for your own establishment to make a more immediate online impact than ‘organic’ SEO traditionally allows.
While PPC enables you to give your hotel or bed and breakfast a front-page search ranking for certain terms pretty much immediately, they don’t tend to be trusted as much as the organic results by ordinary users, and may not bring the long-lasting impact and return on investment (ROI) that organic SEO can.
The answer for many hotels and similar businesses, then, is so often to combine the various organic and paid methods of online marketing available to them, the latter in recent times also including social media ads, to enjoy the greatest benefits of both.
While the aforementioned are some of the most familiar and reliable means by which hotels and bed and breakfasts can bolster their online presences, they are far from the only effective methods.
The owners of such businesses should always keep abreast of the latest online marketing developments, carefully considering which ones will have the greatest relevance for their establishment.
Related: Tips on running a B&B