Bed and breakfast website marketing, when done effectively, has the potential to dramatically increase your hospitality business growth. Kristi Dement, the Marketing Director of B&B Marketing, shares tips to help your inn's website improve its results.
Responsive Website Design
Responsive website design simply means that your bed and breakfast website is designed to respond to the size of the device it is being viewed from. For example, this website has settings for mobile, tablet, and desktop/laptop.
Being able to make changes, depending on the type of device your website is being viewed from, enables your website visitors to have a better experience. This also means your pages can load faster (thus decreasing the number of times people impatiently click away).
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimination (better known as SEO) simply means enhancing your website for the purposes of making it more visible in search engines. There are techniques that allow Google (and other search engines) to look more favorably on your content.
- Headlines: you can use free headline tools like Sharethrough Headline Analyzer which rates the strength of your headline for its predicted ability to capture attention online (which is based on neuroscience and advertising research)
- Title tags: adding title tags (which appear in the search engine results below link and above the description), plays a key role in helping search engines finding your content online
- Rich content: not only should your content include your keywords, it should also answer the questions people are seeking information about
- Internal website links: should highlight specific keywords (not generic phrases like "click here") and lead to other places with relevant, high-quality content (which can be another place on your website or to another authoritative source)
- Expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T): in its algorithm, Google takes into account the strength of the content based on the writer/organization, their specific knowledge, & their credibility as a source on the topic
- Content that answers questions people search for: by answering questions to topics people type into search engines (and ask in other places online), you are increasing the chances that people will find your content
- Descriptive image alt text: people who use e-readers rely on images to have descriptive "alt text" (so the seeing impaired person knows what it is an image of; if the image is abstract art, for example, then that needs to be specified)
- Valid schema markup: words and code added to structure data to receive higher click through rates (it helps search engines understand the meaning of your pages (e.g., ratings, recipes, reviews, etc.)
Consistently Blogging Using Relevant Keywords
Blogging is a great way to improve the search engine optimization of your website. Blogging about content using specific keywords can make you more visible in search engines.
First, brainstorm ideas for keywords. Second, search online for a free keyword tool (there are many good tools to choose from). Third, select long tail keyword search terms on your bed and breakfast website.
For example, instead of the shorter phrase "bed and breakfast" use "bed and breakfast in [your city, your state]" so you have a greater chance of showing up in the search engines when people search those terms.
The more specific you become, the less competition there will be. Thus, you can actually stand out more by being more specific in your choice of specific keywords. This applies to keywords use on website pages and in adverting as well as blog posts.
Showing Professional Images
Bed and breakfast inns can show images like the following:
- Amenities & packages
- Inn rooms, cabins, cottages
- Common areas including restaurant and spa (if applicable)
- Gorgeous gardens
- Gourmet food
- Views (of and from) the property
This photography may be displayed not only on your website, but in your email newsletter, advertising, and when selling your property. It is essential that your photography reflects the most up-to-date versions. Thus, after any renovations, have a professional photographer take new photos.
Detailed Room Descriptions
Details make such a difference. This is a detailed way to describe the picture below:
"Guests can relax in the comfort, luxury, and style of this oceanfront view room. This ultraplush queen size bed is accented with several pillows. The board and batten backwall provides a consistent geometric background that adds character to the room with matching lamps and nightstands on either side of the bed. The wooden-orbed chandelier provides a unique focal point in the room. In front of the bed are two luxurious chairs with matching ottomons. Guests can relax in the chairs while viewing outside or the large screen television in the room with streaming service."
Amenities Comparison Checklist
Another valuable hospitality website feature is to have an easy-to-scan amenities comparison checklist for each of the places to stay on the property. Amenities like guest fireplaces, private hot tubs, private entry/exit, etc. may only apply in specific areas.
The Yellow House Bed and Breakfast in Waynesville, North Carolina not only features an overall room comparison chart for each of their 10 places to stay, but then shares specific details about each accommodation. Pictured below are the first three guest rooms in the Main House.
The Pond House is behind the main building at Yellow House Bed and Breakfast. When you click on "More Info & Photos for The Sunrise Suite, it has a unique description of the luxurious accommodations as well as a list of its features. There are two ponds on the property as well as plenty of paved walkways. Guests are free to explore!
This Room Would Go Great With...
At the bottom of each of their room and suite descriptions, The Yellow House Bed and Breakfast gives a unique idea of what it would go great with. For example, some of their options are:
- Bottle of House or Premium Wine
- Chocolate Dipped Strawberries and Sparkling Wine
- Chocolate Truffles
- Picnic Lunch Basket for Two
This is an excellent way to serve your guests even more. It also makes it more convenient for them to arrange an even better experience during their stay with you. This leads to long-term repeat guests.
Website Accessibility Menu
Provide Detail For E-Reader Using Website Visitors
Describing images is necessary for those who use e-readers to help them know what is on a website. Thus, by providing a brief, yet detailed, visual description of each image on your website is important to their user experience.
The Yellow House Accessibility Menu Located in the Bottom Left Corner of Their Website Footer
Clicking on the wheelchair (in the bottom left of their footer) is what opens up the accessibility window (as displayed on the left. Website visitors can click on the oversized widget to make a variety of adjustments to view their website easier.
Innkeeping is about accommodating guests. We applaud innkeepers that make it easier for more people to experience their website. Great job, Chad & Josh!
Attractive Special Packages & Appealing Extras
Attract more guests with customized special packages. You can offer seasonal specific packages to encourage returning guests (clearly note the start and end dates if something is not offered year round).
Extras are items that are available outside of packages and added to the cost of their overnight stay. For example, this could be wine and dessert brought to the room in the evening. Alternatively, this offering can also be part of a romance package.
You can have a web page devoted to sharing your inn's special packages and appealing extras. Include details like the cost and how much advance notice is needed (prior to guests' visits).
Host Elegant Weddings and Private Parties
Your bed and breakfast website is an excellent place to share images of your wedding venue. Include details including:
- Number of guests you can accommodate at the wedding/reception/rehearsal dinner
- The available spaces for guests to use (include the dimensions of each and maximum number of guests)
- Number of guests that can stay overnight
- Any requirements regarding overnight bookings (some innkeepers require you book the entire inn to ensure this is a private event for you and your wedding guests)
Include the testimonials of those who attended the weddings and private parties your inn hosted. Consider partnering with preferred vendors (for flowers, catering, photography, bakery, etc.).
Invite Small Groups & Retreats
Consider having a website page dedicated to providing information about the small groups and/or retreats your inn is available to host. Small groups can include hobbyists (such as scrapbookers). Retreats could include hosting corporate leadership retreats.
In addition, you can include this on your blog. For guest privacy and to protect hospitality business, always get written permission from guests before you share any of their event images.
Choose The Right Online Reservation System
Not all online reservation systems are created equal. Many online reservation systems offer a free webinar to learn more information before making such a big commitemtn. To stand out to guests, it's a good idea to highlight your "Book Now" button with a bold branded color. Always make sure your online reservation system integrates well with your bed and breakfast website. Moreover, make sure it is mobile responsive (it adjusts to the size of the device it is viewed from).
Google makes it relatively simple to embed a Google map onto your bed and breakfast website by copying a short bit of html code into your website. Most website designers are experienced in adding Google maps to websites. This is a free service provided by Google. Guests can simply click on your map get driving directions on their device to find your location.
Online Property Map
Because some bed and breakfast inns also have cabins, cottages, or other buildings on the grounds, this proves to be very useful. This allows guests to know ahead of time what to expect (and saves them from having to call). Make it easy for guests to find their way around your property if there are multiple buildings. Consider putting the map on your bed and breakfast website.
Emphasize Your Unique Differences
The key to being chosen (instead of your competition) is to stand out by being uniquely different. Be sure to articulate why this difference matters on your bed and breakfast website.
Perhaps your location allows you to stand out. For example, if you are close a professional golf course or are in a beautiful area for hiking, be sure to show that on your website. Perhaps offer a golf package or an outdoor adventure package.
Maybe your unique on-site amenities attract guests to you. Perhaps you have an indoor pool or private in-room hot tubs for guests. Alternatively, you could have a game room and/or entertainment viewing room available to your guests.
There are many ways to stand out to guests. It is by highlighting how you are different that you can speak to your ideal target market. The guests that will most appreciate your accommodations.
Promote Your Restaurant & Bar, Spa, Gift Shop, & More
The more your B&B inn offers, the easier it is to promote what you offer. You can have a space on your website for your restaurant and bar, your spa, your gift shop, and any other area that makes what you offer so special. For example, if you are located on a farm, you can feature your animals on your website. Perhaps you offer horseback riding to your guests.
Share Guest Testimonials & Reviews
Generously share your guest testimonials and reviews on your bed and breakfast website. Be sure that you have permission to quote the review from the guest(s). This can be done in a variety of ways including (any or all of the following):
- A dedicated page for your testimonials and reviews (be sure to include the first name and first initial of the last name as well as the general location, ex: (Kristi D. from Raleigh, NC)
- Testimonial quotes throughout your website (if you have enough glowing reviews, website visitors can read them on as many pages as you like)
- Testimonials located on relevant pages (e.g., beneath a specific B&B package, you can quote--with permission from that guest--their words about their experience)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Consider adding a FAQ (frequently asked questions) section to your bed and breakfast website. This can clear up potential confusion before guests book their stay. Be sure to clearly state your policies and rules (especially refund policies and pet policies). You may also want to address relevant topics like how you respond if there are special dietary needs (such as reminding guests to let you know at the time of booking).
Coordinate Your Marketing Across All Mediums
Your marketing messages should be consistent across platforms. This includes your bed and breakfast website, email marketing, social media marketing, and any advertising you do. Consider having different content themes throughout the year. For example, January can be "New Year, New You" and focus on making positive life changes (like enjoying more relaxation time or attending the yoga retreat you offer).
"About Us" Pages
Meet The Innkeeper & Staff
We look forward to welcoming and serving you as our guests.
Owner & Innkeeper
Owner/Innkeeper descriptions can tell where they are from, what they love about the local area, & why they love hosting guests. Mention any guest activities or events they host.
The Professional Chef description can mention their culinary training and previous hospitality and restaurant experience. Share the title and a description ot their favorite dish to make guests.
Front Desk, Housekeeping, Landscaping, & other staff members can each have their picture and a description of their contributions to making your inn a pleasureable guest experience.
"About The Inn" Pages
Add plenty of detail to your About The Inn page. This can include the history of the inn, especially if your property is a registered National Historic Property. What is your area known for? Why do your guests like to visit?
State your mission clearly (e.g., "Providing Elegant Accommodations & Exceptional Guest Service"). You can share heartwarming quotes from guests who recall stories about their treasured memories at your inn (with guest permission). Perhaps your inn was where they were married.
"Contact Us" Pages
Have a separate "Contact Us" page on your website. Be sure to include your inn's full address, directions and/or Google Map, and complete contact information (including phone number and email address). You can also include a contact form that potential guests can fill out.
B&B Consulting uniquely serves bed and breakfast inn owners and aspiring innkeepers. Rob Sales, who alongside his wife Jane, owned and operated several B&B inns. Moreover, Rob has decades of experience in the B&B real estate market.
Rob's mission is to "Make Your Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina B&B Real Estate Dreams Come True!" Contact Rob today for a free consultation if you're thinking about buying or selling a B&B inn.