How to get more bookings with a better profit for your Bed and Breakfast business?
Top tips for Oxfordshire Bed and Breakfast and Guest Houses
Getting a predictable stream of bookings for your Bed and Breakfast throughout the year, even during off-season is what Guest House and Bed & Breakfast owners like yourself are looking to achieve. Maybe you’ve joined hundreds of thousands of B&B owners throughout the UK using the services of online travel agencies (OTAs) like booking.com and airbnb to promote your property online and increase the flow of bookings. But with 15%-20% of the booking going to the online travel agency to cover their fees, is there a way of creating a new source of bookings which give you a better profit?
The answer is of course yes, but the point is you should be looking to generate bookings from more than one source, and certainly not to be dependent on one source. No owner wishes to have their B&B or Guest House completely booked this year if they are to find themselves quiet next year, particularly if their bookings only came from one channel and they didn’t have any other channels established.
If you’ve invested in your own website, and have the ability to take bookings directly, increasing the number of enquiries through the website will deliver you a better profit for each reservation than anywhere else. So this article is intended to show you 5 essential ways of increasing the flow of customers who are interested in more than just rock-bottom prices, and who will make a booking directly with you.
Before jumping into the essentials of creating better profits for your Bed and Breakfast, it is worth understanding the pros and cons of online travel agencies...
Top Tips for B&Bs
5 essential ways of attracting more bookings with bigger margins.
Visibility for B&Bs
The cost effective way to promote your B&B to 100,000s of visitors.
If you require any help actioning any of the tips recommended on this page for your Guest House or B&B, please contact us using the form below.
B&B Landing Page
Should you rely on Booking.com and other online travel agencies
Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) generate interest in properties like yours and use price as the main comparison between properties and the main driver for booking. While B&Bs love the reservations that Booking.com brings in, they hate it when they have to sell for consistently low prices, stifling any opportunity of differentiating their property on any other factor.
Customers using Booking.com are drawn to the lower prices because they’re looking for a deal, but it doesn’t mean that all their business has to be based on cut prices and lower margins?
Many online travel agencies use a flat commission model on Hotel and B&B bookings, but recently many including Booking.com have introduced a bidding system where properties pay for positions on the first page of a Hotel or B&B search within a destination. For Oxford, many Hotels and some Guest Houses pay over 20% in commission to be on the first page of the recommended properties. Although the property will be benefitting with strong reservation numbers, and hopefully good revenue, they start to depend on the travel agency website for their reservations, and end up becoming a slave to the service, with little bargaining power.
So should you rely on the online travel agencies? While you may be getting a flow of bookings and reservations from Booking.com, Airbnb or another, be careful not to fall into the trap of becoming too reliant on them.
5 essential ways of attracting more bookings with bigger profits
Top Tips for Guest Houses and Bed and Breakfast
The range and quality of Guesthouses and B&Bs in Oxford and Oxfordshire is vast, giving great choice to customers looking for a short break or holiday in this area. The overheads involved in the running of a Bed and Breakfast aren’t insignificant, and if you’re a Bed and Breakfast owner, you’re familiar with the endless hours required to keep the business afloat and guests happy.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a few essential tips for boosting the profits in your B&B bookings, because we think there are a few things you should be doing to make your end of year figures look rather more attractive.
Build an eye-catching website
for your Oxfordshire B&B
Start accepting payments for bookings on your own website
Build an eye-catching website incorporating Bed and Breakfast booking software
Giving confidence to potential customers that you run a credible bed & breakfast business where they can thoroughly enjoy their stay in Oxford or Oxfordshire should be your main priority. Most of them will be searching Google, or online travel agency like booking.com, or accommodation listing sites like oxfordcity.co.uk and will be comparing your property with those of your competitors. If you have an eye-catching, easy-to-use and informative website which reflects the care and attention you apply to your property for the benefit of customers, then you’ll start to stand out.
But you also want your website to work hard for you and help you convert a web visitor into a paying customer. As described above, you can get a steady flow of bookings from the big OTAs, but a booking or reservation you can take on your own website can be more valuable to you than third party bookings, because you don’t have to pay a commission. Better still, you get to build a direct relationship with the customer, manage the relationship, and if they enjoy their stay with you and want to return they’ll book directly with you again and not via an OTA.
What are the key points to remember about creating and maintaining a credible and eye-catching website for your B&B?
- Add online booking software to your website and start making better margins on your bookings.
There are no shortage of options available including Eviivo, Cloudbeds and SiteMinder to name just a few, where you can start accepting payments for bookings within hours, and show your website visitors your availability. If you’re already using travel agency websites like booking.com or airbnb that’s fine too, because your booking software will distribute your availability to these sites in real-time like booking.com preventing double bookings and disappointed customers.
- Good photography is the single most effective way for your website customers to browse your property and for you to promote a great short break or holiday experience.
Potential guests will be drawn to your photos when scanning your website so use good quality internal and external shots of the property, its surrounding views and local area. If you can afford to, hire a professional photographer.
- Sell the experience with a great description of your property.
Use engaging copy to reinforce the photography and provide relevant detail which will encourage customers to see themselves in the property. Saying your Oxford or Oxfordshire B&B is in a “lovely location” isn’t really enough. Provide insight to local attractions and amenities which are all particularly useful for customers who may not know the area and need the destination selling to them just as much as the property. Detail is always desirable because it helps reduce customer questions or concerns prior to arrival.
- Reviews, reviews and more reviews.
A testimonial or review remains the first thing that potential guests look at when choosing a holiday home. If you have a guest book at your B&B, use it to your advantage and cherry pick some of the best and publish them on the website.
Promote your Bed and Breakfast on OxfordCity.co.uk
You’ve got an Online Travel Agency taking bookings for you, but you really need to generate more bookings on your own website. Remember, bookings on your own site are commission free, so you’ll make a bigger profit on every booking you receive. You should now be thinking of ways to direct more enquiries towards your own website.
Advertise your B&B on OxfordCity.co.uk, the leading accommodation and attractions listing site for the City of Oxford and surrounding area. With over 150,000 website visitors each year, the site can direct a steady flow of enquiries and bookings to your website, where you can manage the booking and make the profits you desire.
An Enhanced Entry on oxfordcity.co.uk gives you priority listing within the Bed and Breakfast & Guest House section and provides you with a full detail page to help you sell a great holiday experience at your B&B, and include those all important links to your own website and booking software.
Get your B&B listed on Google My Business
How to get your Bed and Breakfast on Google My Business
If you’re not yet listed on Google My Business, you could be missing out on prominent visibility on the page 1 of Google.
Google created Google My Business (formerly Google Places) to make their search results more location relevant. This gives local businesses a better chance of appearing on page 1 of Google for location-based searches e.g. ‘B&B in Oxford’.
If you’re running a B&B or guest house, sign up with a Google Account and join Google My Business. This means that when a website visitor carries out a local search i.e. they include a location within the search, those businesses registered with ‘Google My Business’ will usually be displayed near the top of the page. Website visitors will see your contact details, a selection of your photographs, Google reviews and most importantly a link through to your website.
Just like a listing on oxfordcity.co.uk a listing on Google My Business is another layer of visibility for B&B with direct links through to your website and booking software.
Connect with your Bed and Breakfast customers on Social Media
If you’re an active social media user promoting your B&B, you will appreciate the hard work required to maintain regular updates of relevant content. Whether you’re a newbie or seasoned marketer, your efforts can be highly rewarding because social media is a great way to connect with your audience, build relationships and direct potential customers towards your B&B website.
The key to social media for your B&B business is to provide the right content to the right group of people on the right social platform to generate engagement. With social media you’re not just talking to people who follow/like you, you’re actually trying to engage with them so that they respond and share content about your B&B to their friends, family and connections. Once you have fully understood who your target audience are including what social media platforms they use (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc), and what they like to read and talk about, you’re half way there to getting started.
But what is the right content to use on social media for your B&B? To get engagement you can’t just talk about or promote your bed and breakfast, you have to post updates which will encourage a response on a range of subjects relevant to your target audience. Typically this could be 5-6 posts that are valuable, beneficial, relevant and interesting to your potential customers before you post one where you advertise the benefits or your bed and breakfast. Once you start building a following, if someone asks a question or comments on a post, you want to respond as soon as possible and preferably as immediately as you can.
The idea of social media, is to be a source of useful and interesting content which your growing number of followers can engage with. The more engagement you get, the better your chances of getting those social posts and images containing links, bringing potential customers to your website.
Advertising your Bed and Breakfast with Google Adwords
Advertising your B&B with Google Adwords is an effective ways to promote your business online and steer potential customers into your own website and towards your own booking software.
You simply need to identify the most relevant keywords for your business and specifically keywords which someone would search for on Google. Once you have created ads (Adwords) around those keywords and made them live, your B&B will then appear on relevant search results pages, and because this is a paid service your ads will appear at the top of a Google search results page.
Paying for your ads can get complex, but essentially you only pay Google when someone clicks on one of your adverts. The good thing with Google AdWords is that most of the people who see your ads are already interested in what you have to offer, and they will click straight into your website.
Good luck with your marketing activity, and start enjoying better profits.