October 1, 2017

Are Directories An Advertising Dinosaur?

This may seem like a bold topic and a column that I am crazy to write, however, sometimes innkeepers tell me they don’t get reservations from directories, such as mine (www.BnBFinder.com), or that the traffic numbers are low. Both of these statements mean an understanding of how directories work and the value they offer is needed.
 
No Reservations from the Directory? That’s right. And that’s how it should be. Guests don’t make their reservation on BnBFinder or other directories – instead, guests are sent directly to the inn with no commissions and for a very low annual listing fee. 

Our friends at larger independent properties tell me that their revenue has been cannibalized by the OTAs (commissions) and warns of the same fate for bed & breakfast inns. The directory model (what BnBFinder is) is a dying model and even I can’t promise how long we will be able to offer it, however, for now, I’m pleased that we do and hope that innkeepers will embrace it for the tremendous value that it is.
 
Low Traffic? Clicks don’t book – quality, interested guests do. 1,000 clicks that quickly leave your site are less valuable than 10 clicks that spend time looking at several pages and exploring what you have to offer. When evaluating your advertising make sure to know the time spent on site, pages visited, and the bounce rate of your traffic. If you don’t know this, you can’t evaluate the effectiveness of your advertising dollars. Even your top referrers may be sending you low-quality traffic.  
 
The Answer. It’s easy but costly to track reservations when they are booked through a site that charges a commission or has a huge marketing budget (think Trip Advisor); however, you don’t have to pay a lot to find relative value. But how do you know? Traditional Google Analytics doesn’t do it. If this is what you have been depending on you may be making costly mistakes by letting valuable advertising lapse and by renewing with ineffective sites. Your guests have visited multiple sites before booking and it’s impossible to decipher through regular Google Analytics the path they took to find you (which is what you must know to evaluate your marketing). The good news is that the tool you need is free. It’s Universal Analytics with E-Commerce Tracking. Once you have Universal Analytics with E-Commerce Tracking reports you’ll know with confidence not only the last place the guest was when they made the reservation (and the one they may remember) but also all of the sites that assisted in this booking (which is where directories like BnBFinder usually fall). You can then make informed advertising decisions.
 
The Bonus! In addition to sending you quality, interested guests directories provide added value. The links to your website help your SEO and in the case of BnBFinder, our strong public relations and marketing efforts spread the word about the value and experience the B&B industry has to offer. Plus some directories link directly to your reservation calendar, at no additional cost, meaning the guests book directly with you.

If you want to learn more about online directories check out Chapter 8 of my book, Running a Bed & Breakfast For Dummies.


I’m proud to be a B&B marketing expert for over 18 years now and it’s a privilege and a pleasure to promote the bed & breakfast industry. I enjoy hearing from you so email me at any time!



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