Stefan Drew - The Marketing Magician

FE, Education & Business Marketing: Quick, Effective, Low Cost Marketing

Stefan Drew - The Marketing Magician

How to Market a Small, Boutique Hotel; B&B or Guest House in 2019

Gidleigh Park .. perfection on a plateMarketing a Hotel, Guest House or B&B Used to be About Advertising. Today We Have Many Other Effective Methods to Promote B&Bs, Hotels, & Guest Houses That Are Free or Low Cost. Discover How to Market a Hotel, Guest House or B&B

So Think Beyond Ways to Advertise Your Property And Devise an Effective Marketing Strategy That Allows You to Control Spend Whilst Driving Up Guest Numbers and Profit For Any Boutique Hotel, Independent Hotel, Guest House or B&B .


Here’s Our Boutique  Hotel / B&B / Guest House Marketing Checklist

(PS They Also Work For The Marketing of Lodges, Lodgings, Inns, Pubs, Hostels, Guesthouses, Gasthaus, Restaurants With Rooms, Auberge, Motels, Boarding Houses, Resorts, Cabins, Taverns, Camps, Roadhouses, Bunkbarns, Retreats, Farm Accommodation, Farmhouse B&B, Yurts, Glamping and all the other words used internationally to say the same thing!)



Websites For Effectively Marketing Boutique Hotels, B&Bs and Guest Houses

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The best advertisement for your property is a good website and the good news is a website needn’t break the bank. Websites are the cornerstone of any effective hotel or Guest house marketing strategy and allows you to level the playing field against major hotel chain competitors. Where they spend £000s on advertising to get on Page One of Google you can quietly beat them without a huge advertising budget. In fact, if you follow the advice we are giving, it is relatively easy to appear on Page One of Google without spending anything on advertising. I’ll show you how further down the page .. bear with me while I explain a few more points.

Of course there are millions of websites around the world and you might think that standing out is going to be a problem. But the reality is most websites are very badly constructed and aren’t in the running. I’d go as far as to say that 95% of hotel, B&B and guest house sites are so badly designed that they will never compete with the simple website I’m going to suggest you use.


Prefer to view the above on video?

Watch the video here

The Page One of Google Secret

You see the secret to appearing on Page One of Google for your property or rooms is to be just a little bit better than your local competitors. Forget those hotels and B&Bs that are not local to you. If I want a hotel in Torquay I’m not going to be considering hotels in London. So you don’t need to compete against them. What I’m going to do is search online for something like Hotel in Torquay or B&B in Torquay. And what I’m going to find is a page that lists hundreds of places. So instead of competing with millions of guest houses, hotels and B&Bs you now only have to compete with hundreds. That’s still a tough job, but much easier than the millions we started with. So now you just need to be that little bit better than hundreds of competitors. And that is achievable.

Google has one mission in life. To show the best results to people that search (if they do that they make more money from advertising). Google calls this providing a good User Experience (UX). So you have to learn what people want to find when they search online because if Google thinks you are giving people a really good User Experience they are going to put you really high up in their search results. And if you are on Page One of Google you are going to sell a lot more rooms.

So you need to provide a good UX for potential guests and let Google know you are doing this. And you do this by writing great content to go on your site and by using Search Engine Optimisation. Neither is expensive.


If you prefer to view and read rather than read .. check out the videos.




Mobile Friendly Websites for Hotels

More searches now take place on mobile devices such as phones and tablets then on PCs. So you need to ensure your website is mobile friendly with text and images that work well on a small screen. The site also needs to be very fast as people don’t wait long if a site doesn’t load fast. They soon surf off to a your competitors.


Hotel Website or Online Directory of Rooms?

Most Guest House, B&B and Hotel Businesses produce websites that are a bit like an online directory of rooms. So they have a site that says they are a great hotel in Torquay and then lists their rooms with a book now button. Simple.

But it doesn’t work that well because saying you are a great hotel is what everyone says and actually few potential guests are going to take your word for it. And lets face it even Basil Fawlty didn’t promote Fawlty Towers by saying it was a terrible hotel!

And you have to prove you are better than Fawlty Towers and all the other hotels and guest houses in Torquay. there are lots of ways to prove you are better without leaving your reception desk.

For example most travellers today want good wifi. And most hotels mention wifi somewhere in their room listings. The problem is it is rarely good wifi. Speeds tend to be slow and often the guests get capped on a few megabits or hit a time limit. After that they are expected to pay and nobody’s happy paying for free wifi.

So why not use this opportunity to write some good content that no one else is adding to their website?

Write a page that links to every room page and explain that you offer uncapped free wifi with average speeds of 35 Mb in every room. Clearly you need to be able to supply this but it will make your guest house or hotel stand out as being something different.

There’s a bonus

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Don’t forget not only does it make your rooms stand out on your website, it also helps you stand out when people search.

So when I searched for Hotels in Torquay with good wifi the first thing I notice is that there are fewer results. And that is because fewer hotels write much about wifi on their websites. The same applies to B&Bs and guest houses.



Is Wifi The Key to Marketing a B&B?

There’s something else that’s noticeable.

Whenever you do a search the first results on the page will be adverts. People pay a lot of money for these and they can be effective if you have that sort of budget. But they work best when the search query and the advert are synchronised. So when I search for hotels with wifi I expect a result that mentions wifi. When i searched none did .. so I’m unlikely to click on them.

Below the ads were some search (free organic) results that mentioned wifi. That’s because they offered good User Experience. And what is really noticeable is that some of them have titles like The 10 Best Hotels With Free Wifi In Torquay. It’s what I was looking for and so I took notice.

In this case the website is TripAdvisor. Trip Advisor are an Online Travel Agent (OTA – more about them later), and the reason they rank highly in the search results is because they have hotel listings where people have left testimonials mentioning wifi.

So if you can get your rooms listed on OTA sites, and have brilliant wifi, you have a good chance of piggybacking the OTA site to the top of Google.


Google My Business as a Hotel, B&B or Guest House Marketing Strategy

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If you look at the website result images above you’ll notice that under the advertising there is a map. It’s a Google Map that shows the location of  premises that match the search query. The first image is of hotels in Torquay and the second one is of B&Bs. The one for Guest Houses in Torquay has a similar format. But each of them has a different map. That’s because each deals with a slightly different search. Guest Houses, Hotels and B&Bs.

But in every case the map shows a lot of premises with prices. The best part is that it only lists 3-4 premises with photographs.

This is like getting a Google recommendation for your premises without the cost of paying for an advert.

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And it gets better. When I Searched for Guest Houses in Torquay with Free Wifi the list mainly promoted those guest houses that mentioned free wifi.

This works with hotels, guest houses, B&Bs for free wifi, secure parking, or whatever you care to specify.



How to Market a Hotel: Claim Your Hotel’s GMB Account

That’s provided you claim your free Google My Business (GMB) account. The process is easy and we can help you if need be.

Then all you need to do is beat your competitors that have also claimed their free GMB accounts. This is easier than website SEO, although the basic principles are very similar. It’s relatively easy to do and doesn’t take too long. The best news is that most businesses don’t bother and they lose the competitive advantage you will get by claiming your GMB account and performing a few simple tasks.

The payback, or Return on investment (ROI) from GMB is huge. Page One Of Google domination, at nil cost, is within the grasp of anyone that keeps on top of GMB.


Advertising as a Hotel, Guest House and B&B Marketing Tactic

I started this post by saying Advertising isn’t key any longer. But that’s not sop say it will not work. It will.

But you will have to spend some money on this and you need to understand advertising. Advertising is something I learnt long before the internet was invented and over the years I’ve spent millions on advertising. I’m often interviewed on the BBC about advertising and I’ve written an Amazon best seller on Advertising Secrets. So I’m not going to go into great detail here. But here are some basics you need to know.


Three Ways to Advertise Guest Houses, Hotels and B&Bs

Firstly you can advertise the traditional way in printed newspapers or magazines, printed directories etc. and this entails paying up front. There’s no guarantee that your advert will work. there is a risk. But if you understand advertising this can also be a lucrative way to promote your guest house or hotel.

The second way to advertise is online. For example in the images above that show search results there are adverts on every results page. These are Google Ads.  They are triggered by the search terms people search for and the good news is that you only pay if someone clicks on your ad and goes to your website. That doesn’t guarantee they will buy of course. But hey will have  a look at your site and if its good are potential customers.

The other way to advertise online is on social media websites such as Facebook. These ads aren’t triggered by what the user is searching for. Often they are searching at all. For that reason we call them Intrusive Ads

Its your profile and previous activity on the site that triggers tha advert.

So if the advertiser targets 25-35 year old females that are engaged that’s who will mainly see the ads. It’s possible to target by location, age, gender, interests .. well hundreds of things.

There’s also a third type of targeting. Its called Programmatic Advertising and it uses of automation to buy advertising space in a range of media. This includes websites, social media, TV, digital billboards. etc. It balances audience with location, budget etc and explains why we see some of the millions of ads we see each year.


Three Types of Advertising for Promoting B&Bs, Hotels and Guest Houses

Above I mentioned three ways to advertise. But you also need to understand that are three types of advert.

Brand Advertising

Direct Sales Advertising

Relationship Building Advertising 

I’ve written a lot more about this on another post. Click to above link to discover more.


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Or alternatively try Googling   Three Types of Advertising.

Depending on your location and previous search history you might there’s a very high chance you will find my page about this topic on Page One of Google. There’s never a guarantee with with sort of thing but if I do appear on Page One it ought to make you think about how I’ve done this and how you could as well. And if i don’t get on Page One it will serve as a good reminder about how many pages we compete against when we try to get results like this. When I last searched for this terms there were 1,150,000,000 pages indexed by Google as answering the search. Competing against billions of other pages is never going to be easy.



Native Advertising for Guest Houses, B&Bs and Small Independent Boutique Hotels

Native Advertising is best defined as the paid ads that appear on specific online sites and appear to be “native” to the site. In other words they have the same look, feel and style as the site. They are used a lot on social media sites where the advertiser wants the ads NOT to look like an ad.

Sometimes native advertising is flagged up as recommended content. But the reason it is recommended is because it has been paid for, Some people argue that native advertising crosses the line in that it sets out to deceive.



PPC – Pay Per Click Advertising for Accommodation Providers

PPC is exactly what it says it is. It is an advertising process where you pay when someone clicks on your ad. This makes it the exact opposite to traditional ads where you pay up front with no guarantee that the ads will drive any business to you. PPC is therefore very economic as you only pay when the ad is clicked. Of course that doesn’t guarantee someone will buy. But it does guarantee they visit your website.

PPC is used in native advertising AND in non-native. An example of PPC that I’ve used with great success is Google Ads. Google Ads are triggered by the search term people use in places like the search engine. The PPC secret is to ensure you use the right keywords. And that you pay the right amount per click. It is easy to get clicks by paying more than others but these clicks might not be economic. No one wants to bid more for a click than what the sale is worth.

PPC is very effective if run correctly. My advice is to get a professional to set it up for you. I’m happy to advise on who I trust.



Location as a Marketing Strategy for Hotels, B&Bs and Guest Houses

Location isn’t easy to move once your business has been purchased or set up. But it is a vital marketing element in your business success.

Ideally your location is one that will attract a lot of guests. So it might be near an international airport where you get a lot of guests that stay one night before or after flying.

Or you might in a seaside town like Torquay where people come for a long weekend or a few weeks holiday. No doubt this is what encouraged Basil Fawlty to open Fawlty Towers .   Did you know the TV series Fawlty towers was based on a Torquay hotel?

Of you might aim for being near a nature reserve where birdwatchers are drawn to see observe rare and common birds.

Whatever you choose you need to ensure you capitalise on your location and the reason people visit. So a B&B near a birdwatchers favourite reserve needs really good page on their website about the reserve, the birds that can be seen etc. And they might advertise n a bird watching magazine  and Tweet  on Twitter about rarities and whatever excites bird watchers and twitchers.

If this is you then make sure you know what hashtags you ought to include in your social media posts so that you get seen by the maximum number of people.



Social Media for B&Bs, Guest Houses, Hotels & Accommodation Providers of All Sorts

Some hotels are extremely good at promoting their business on social media.  and what is most obvious when you research this as we have is that the social media platform they use isn’t so important as what they say. Of course there is no point in using a social media platform that your prospective guests don’t use. Like when you advertise you need to be promoting where your audience hangs out. What I mean is that given there is a potential audience of sufficient size on a social platform then your message is the most important thing.

So rather than just say things like we serve great food come to us, you need to do more to engage your audience. For example, if you tell the story about where you source your ingredients it can be more engaging than just saying you are great. And if this story is told by your gardener that grows everything in your own walled garden that is better still.



How to Market a Hotel If You Don’t Have a Walled Garden

Greenhouse in hotel walled gardenOf course we don’t all have walled gardens. But we might buy from the grower in the village who has a story to tell. Make that story part of your story and it becomes more engaging. And if it is your chef who tells the story of his search for, say,  the perfect carrot and how he found it being grown nearby by a local guy with the passion for going from soil to plate in a few hours this becomes a more compelling story.

Your stories can include the stories of your staff as well. How your pastry cook started as a plumber but at 30 retrained to indulge in his passion for pastry. Or how your sous chef loves to forage for wild food that can be incorporated into divine dishes.

And if you don’t have a sous chef and pastry chef (most of us don’t) then why not talk about the herbs and spices you use. how you grow highly flavoured herbs outside the kitchen door. Or maybe tell the story of how spices, such as cardamom, or nutmeg first came to these shores.

The secret of these compelling social media stories is to start them on your website.

It’s here that you can write longer stories, add images or video and have great content that rises to the top of the search engines. Its this copy that you can then post links to on social media. And if you put a Call to Action button such as book now on this page it can generate bookings as well.


Social Media Linking Strategies for B&Bs, Hotels and Guest Houses

One of the great benefits of social media is how easy it is to link to other people. So in the scenario above you can link to the guy that grows the carrots. You do this by posting @ and their profile name, in the post. They can then see it and repost or better still add a link from their website to yours.

And if you think laterally you can add links to the local area, local attractions, the bird watching organisation or groups I mentioned at the start of this post and much more.

You can also comment on  other people’s posts. It’s called social media for this reason .. it allows you to be sociable. So if someone is posting on a travel blog and asking where they could stay in Torquay  you can reply with a simple message saying it’s a great place for a break, name a few things they can do and mention that you’d love to quote for accommodation.


Recycling Website and Social Media Content

My maxim is to post once and recycle everywhere as often as you can. So the post on spices i mentioned previously could be posted on social media many times over a season. Don’t worry about people seeing it repeatedly. Only a small proportion of your followers see any post and the social media platforms try hard not to post the same thing into someone’s feed more than once. They effectively filter your posts for you.

Reposting needn’t be time consuming. There are website plugins and social media tools that can do it automatically for you.  Make use of them.


Using Images to Promote Accommodation and Food on Social Media

Restaurateurs tend to love or hate guests taking photos of their food. Some even ban it. But I know its an incredible opportunity to showcase your offer. So consider offering a prize for the best food image, taken at your place, posted to social media each month. Let guests post where they like and add a link to your profile. so you know when they post. The post with the most shares wins the prize. The thing with this is that the friends and followers of those posting get to see how great your food is.

And if you don’t serve lunch or dinner don’t worry. You can adapt this idea to include the best image in any category you want to include. It could be the best image from your garden or in your bar. You decide what suits you best.

Any images you use on your own website or social media need to look professional. That doesn’t always mean you need a professional photographer, though it can be a good investment for images of your building, grounds, rooms and food. But you do need to ensure the images you use are good quality. They shouldn’t be too dark or overexposed etc.


Using Local Check-ins on Social Media to Promote Your Place

Most social media platforms encourage people to check in when they visit locations. So encourage it as it means that more people get to hear about you. And we know that people take notice of where their friends visit, eat or drink. You could even offer an incentive to encourage people to check in on social media. It could be free drinks or whatever you decide.


Manage Your Social Media Reputation Online

the beauty of social media is that it offers the opportunity for two way interactions. And that is a double edged sword. People can say good things and bad things. That means you need to manage your presence online. Remember all feedback is valuable and you need to listen and take it onboard. Sometimes you may not like the comments being made but don’t respond in anger if this happens. Count to ten and respond in a clear and measured way. Apologize if people feel they’ve had a bad deal or experience and tell them how you are going to take things forward. Don’t RESPOND WITH BLOCK CAPITALS in a shouty sort of way. Don’t blame them for being bad customers and don’t blame your staff.

I’ll go into more detail about this under the section about Online Travel Agencies (OTAs).



Digital Detox Strategies for Hotels

The world seems to be taking a digital fix with phones, ipads and other devices replacing conversation at the dinner table .. and during every waking hour.

So whilst some hotels and Guest houses are encouraging us to take photos of our food and put them on social media, others are offering a digital detox. They offer the chance to hand over your device in return for perks during your stay. You might be offered free drinks, snorkelling and fishing trips in return for handing in your phone. The decision is all yours. What will you offer? A chance to get away from the stress of the phone or better wifi? There is a middle road where phones are blocked during certain hours. But you need to decide on your strategy. Find out more about Digital Detox Resorts and Techniques here.



How Accommodation Providers Can Use Email Marketing as a Promotional Tool

Email is one of the lowest cost but most effective tools in your marketing arsenal. Most guests will have access to email on their phone, tablet or PC but don’t forget those that don’t. Much of what I’m going to say here can be adapted for them if you send information through the post.

The first essential with email or snail mail campaigns is to gather the guest or prospective guests contact details. In Europe the GDPR legislation limits contacting people in certain ways so you need to establish the rules that apply in your case. But essentially it is usually OK to follow up an enquiry or previous booking if the person being contacted might reasonably expect you to. You have to allow them to opt out at any time .. and that means an unsubscribe button on every email,  And of course you need to be able to evidence that they opted in, in some way, to begin with.


How Making Your Emails Personal Builds Credibility

Think about the emails you get from friends and those that come from “corporates”, like chain hotels, big retailers, etc.  They are very different.

Corporate emails tend to use templates with headers and perfect corporate images. And although they may address you by name they feel corporate and usually lack any warmth.

Now think about emails from your friends. I bet none of them use a template with a headline image and close with footer containing their VAT number etc! Emails from friends are friendly and are written in a far more casual manner. That’s not to say they miss out on the essential details. For example if a friend invites you out to dinner they will say where, when etc. And they will expect you to reply with an Yes or No. But they don’t ask you to RSVP or Book Here.

So keep your emails to customers friendly whilst being professional. If you make an offer to book something then use the sort of language that friends use.

One regular email I get from a hotel always starts with news of things like the owner’s horses (sometimes there’s a photo of a new foal),  that the receptionist has become engaged or that the chef has been to foreign climes where they have been learning about local ingredients or dishes. It’s a chatty email like fiends share. That’s not to say they don’t ever provide news of upcoming offers or even make an offer in the email. But they integrate it into an email that lots of people want to read. The thing is the staff have been there for years, they know the guests and great them like long lost friends and they feel like family. This hotel gets lots of repeat business and rarely resorts to OTAs to get bookings.



Essential Emails Most Hotels Forget to Send


Most people that start to make a booking or buy online get distracted before completing their purchase. Even on sites like Amazon a huge percentage of people abandon their shopping cart before completion.

Cart Abandonment happens to hotels, B&Bs and Guest houses as well. It’s quite common. And when this happens you lose the booking and the profit that goes with it.

We are often told to up our profit we need more people visiting our website and booking. But what if we focus more on getting people to just complete the booking? As many as 60-70% of bookings fail to complete. It might be that the potential guest changes their mind, or the site goes down. Whatever it is we need to act fast if we are to retrieve the booking.

The way to do this is simple.

At the start of the booking process we need to ask for the name and email address of the guest. Then if they don’t complete we need to send them a simple email saying, we noticed you started to book but never completed. We don’t want you to miss this chance to stay/dine with us. Is there anything we can do to help you complete your booking? This email needs to be triggered automatically within minutes .. before they book somewhere else. We can add a phone call back service or chatline if you wish. But we need to retrieve the booking if at all possible.

On the website we can do a similar thing. If they are on the booking page and leave it or the website we can use an Intent Popup with a similar message. This is triggered automatically when someone clicks on the back button or tries to close the site.

These simple tactics can significantly reduce Cart Abandonment and increase profits at no additional cost.



Gather Email Addresses Wherever You Can

You can’t email or mail people unless you have their contact details. It’s obvious really. But so many businesses neglect to gather them as effectively as they could.

So if someone visits your website you need to get their email address asap. But no one is just going to “Sign up for our newsletter”. It offers the visitor nothing except the thought that they are going to be bombarded with sales spam. You need to offer something of value. Things like a short guide to the local area. Your short guide on Essential Indian Spices (great on your restaurant page) or the one I signed up for recently. How to Cook Five Cape Malay Classic dishes. And the Cape Malay email now sends me a different recipe each month alongside the chance to attend a cookery class with the hotel’s chef.  I’m very close to booking a long weekend that will incorporate a couple of hours small group tuition with chef. I suspect the next email offer will clinch it!



Putting Emails on Autopilot – Autoresponders for Hotels, Restaurants and Boarding Houses

One of the great things about email marketing is that you don’t need to sit down and write each email afresh. You can use an Autoresponder to send out a series of emails over days. weeks or months whenever someone signs up. These evergreen emails are timeless so it doesn’t matter when someone subscribes. And there’s nothing to stop you sending out time sensitive emails as well. today’s technology allows us to seamlessly integrate the two together. And to be GDPR compliant an automatic unsubscribe button is added to every email. If someone decides to unsubscribe it all happens automatically.

There are many hundreds of autoresponder systems from companies like Aweber, Mailchimp, Active Campaign, GetResponse and many more. Prices vary and depend on numbers of emails sent, numbers on your list of subscribers etc. Spending some time investigating the different options would be time well spent as you can reduce costs by making certain choices.


PR – Public Relations For B&Bs. Hotels and Guest Houses 

PR is wonderful. I love it. Free mentions on radio, TV or in the media at no cost.

I have to confess to this being one of my specialist subjects. For the last 40 years I’ve been making guest appearances on Radio, Satellite TV and in local and National Papers and Magazines. I’ve been interviewed in studios and by phone in the most bizarre places and places. Yes, that’s right palaces. I was once interviewed by the BBC whilst I was in the garden of a Portuguese Palace.

In my case many interviews are one-offs and are at short notice. A story breaks overnight and the radio station looks for experts to comment on it next morning, The story is a one off. But other stories “have legs”, they keep running. For example BBC Radio Scotland have interviewed me twice on the topic of Gender Stereotyping in Advertising. Once in 2017 and again a year later in 2018. 

I’ve also been interviewed and been reported in the UK in The Scotsman, The Independent, The Guardian plus many overseas newspapers.


My Big PR Secret

You might think I’ve been interviewed hundreds of times because I’m an expert. But there are hundreds of people that are as expert as me. The truth is I’ve been interviewed because I ensure the media knows I’m willing to be interviewed and where to find me at short notice. I make their job easy for them.

And that is why you could also get interviewed on a regular basis. You already have a lot of experience and expertise. The secret top getting international coverage is to now ensure the media know about you and how they can contact you at short notice.

The way to do this is to register with the websites journalists use to find experts. In the UK I use .. It is in a class of it’s own and is the undisputed King of Expert Lists. In the US you can try HARO (Help a Reporter Out). In most countries you’ll find something similar. And the good thing is that sites like ExpertSources is used by international journalists, it isn’t limited to the UK.

Once a reporter or station has used you they tend to add you to their own database and phone you more often. That’s why the BBC come back to me at least once a month.

Getting interviewed on national or even local media really establishes you as an expert in your field and can be leveraged to drive more business to your website; plus people making bookings.

But PR doesn’t start and end here. Let me Explain More techniques.


How to Write Media Releases for Hotels, B&Bs and Guest Houses

Media Releases (they used to be called Press Releases) are undoubtedly the best starting point if you want to get in the media without buying advertising space.

Writing a media release doesn’t take long and costs nothing. But I do have to warn you they are not guaranteed to work. Your story has to be compelling and match the needs of the publication.

Even some “good” stories fail to hit the headlines. For example in 2004 there was a major tsunami with millions killed. My client ran all sort of events to raise money for it and wanted me to write a media release about it. They had used several novel ideas to raise money and in some senses it was a good story. But I advised my client to save their money and not bother trying to get the story in the media. They ignored my advice and decided to go ahead with the media release and were surprised to find no paper was interested.

The reason was obvious. tens of thousands of other businesses were also raising money for this disaster and many of them also sent out media releases. The wave of media releases hitting newsrooms was like a second tsunami. Stories had to be exceptional for them to be covered. They had to have an angle no one else had covered. Few stories achieved this.

The basic structure of a media release and more is discussed in my interview with Ian Brodie .. click the link to hear it.



More PR Opportunities for Accommodation Providers

What Do NewsJacking, Little Black Books and Social Media have in common?  They are all ways to get featured on the media. The link leads to more answers.



OTAs – online Travel Agencies Boost Occupancy Rates

OTAs like TripAdvisor,,, Airbnb TopTable etc are a sure way to get more bookings. The downside is it comes at a price. They charge a commission of between 5-25%, many keep the commission even if the guests cancel and the contract usually insists you offer the OTA the best prices. In other words you can’t offer lower prices elsewhere .. even on your own website.



The Importance of Great TripAdvisor Reviews

More and more people search for accommodation online an the OTAs tend to dominate Page One of Google. So you can’t ignore OTAs like TripAdvisor.

In fact I’d go further and say you need to have a proactive policy to get guests to give you a good review  on the OTAs. Why? Because reviews influence a lot of people in their booking selection.

Even if you do not use OTAs to sell space they often impact the people that book direct. And you can use your OTA review score on your website to build credibility.



Responding to Reviews on TripAdvisor, Google My Business and Other Testimonial Sites

It’s not enough to just appear in the reviews. You need to respond to contributors as well. It doesn’t matter if they say good or bad things about you. Everyone needs a response.

And if they say negative things don’t freak out. Keep your cool and firstly thanks them for letting you know they aren’t happy. Apologise for the fact they had to contact you and then ask them to contact you with more info and/or tell them how you are going to remedy the issue.

Of course you may think their review is not fair. If so don’t shout back at them and/or blame them for being unreasonable. Think it through. Try to see if from their perspective. And even if you feel they are wrong deal with it in a positive way.

The thing is other people will read your response and will judge you as much by how you handle issues as by the fact someone has commented in  a negative way.  And if the review is positive, or even average,  respond positively, thanks them and say how you look forward to seeing them again.

Finally don’t just cut and paste your replies. Each should appear to be written with care and attention to the actual review. You don’t want to look like a machine when you answer.



Register Your Hotel, B&B or Guest House with Destination Marketing Companies (DMC)  

Local Destination marketing companies work to market an area or region so it makes sense to work with them. Ensure they have your details, have you listed on their site or whatever other appropriate method they offer to local establishments.



Register Your Hotel, B&B or Guest House with Local Businesses, Chamber of Commerce and Trade Associations 

Local businesses, trade associations and Chambers  may have events taking place and need accommodation for people visiting. So ensure you are on their lists. To ensure they know about you why not run an event where you invite them in to see your premises, sample your food or whatever fits best?



How to Market A Hotel: I’ll Add More Content to These Ideas in the Next Weeks .. Come Back to Learn More

More Accomodation Marketing Ideas for 2019

  • Use Hotel Loyalty Programmes That Effectively Market Your Business
  • Offer Free Upgrades
  • Email Follow Ups To Thank Customers For Staying
  • Get Your Audience Involved
  • Dominate Your Niche
  • Offer Complimentary Stays to Travel Journalists, Travel Agents Etc
  • Ensure its Easy to Book Online
  • Offer Customers Incentives to Refer You
  • Market Your Area, Local Amenities etc: Not Just Your Hotel
  • Don’t Forget The Other Search Engines: Bing is good for Search and PPC
  • Use Remarketing
  • Be Easy to Find Online
  • Keep Improving Your Website
  • Ensure Direct Booking
  • Personalise Guest Communication and Stays
  • Keep On Top of Your OTA Profiles
  • Manage Your OTA Usage to Maximise Direct Bookings
  • Use Video on Your Website and Social Media
  • Include Strong Calls to Action (CTA)
  • Create a Mobile App
  • Plan Your Marketing
  • Provide Value in Advance
  • Create an Experience Rather Than A Room
  • Provide great Customer Service
  • Encourage Your Staff to Be Ambassadors Online
  • Test, Measure and Improve Your Marketing
  • Offer Free Food Samples to Encourage Restaurant Use
  • Measure Email Responses
  • Use Google Analytics to Measure Website Success
  • Try Using Google Search Console to Improve Your Website
  • Use Roadside Signs That Direct Guests to Your Hotel and Promote You


How to market restaurants, cafes, tea rooms and wine barsYou can learn more about How to Market a  Cafe, Pub, Tea Shop, Wine Bar, Restaurant or Coffee Shop by reading my book. Its available on Amazon and can be downloaded on to any digital device. Just click the above link.

And did I tell you it’s free on Kindle Unlimited? 


And there are more free restaurant marketing tips at


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