PEI tourism business is just around the corner ( hopefully today is the last storm of the winter). Economy in PEI is highly dependant on Tourism. Here are my inputs as an entrepreneur how B&B can leverage technology to get more customers.
As more travellers look for economical ways to sleep at night, bed and breakfasts are placed in a very beneficial position because not only are you affordable, economical, and inexpensive but you provide an experience that a large hotel-chain or Airbnb cannot offer. With that said, you are likely to experience more competition on the market and so you will need to focus on increasing your customer base and expanding the value your brand offers to loyal customers. To help, we have compiled 21 ways you can take your bed and breakfast to the next level, beginning with the basics and ending with viral growth options.
Get the Basics Down First: Easy Options to Start With.
Develop an Affordable CMS Website.
If you do not have a website, you need one as soon as possible. No business operates in today’s digital world without one, as any query that a customer has, is found mostly online. If someone wants to visit your bed and breakfast but can’t find a website for you, they are likely to pass on even calling you up. Content management style websites are very affordable, easy to understand, easy to maintain, and are scalable. As your business grows, your website can expand efficiently and effectively.
Get Your Social Media Pages Up and Running.
The digital reach of social media is well into the billions with 2.46 billion social network users worldwide as of 2017 according to Statista. That’s a number that you should not pass on, as the mass exposure you will get just from having your social media pages up and running is too good to let go. Get your social media pages up and running and then consider engaging in some advertising campaigns to increase brand exposure to targeted demographics.
Create a 3D Video of Your Bed and Breakfast.
You can do this one of two ways, either you can create a walkthrough video of your bed and breakfast and compile it into one introduction video that you place on your website as “get to know us” content or create a virtual tour of your bed and breakfast. When you provide a 3D walkthrough, you give prospective customers an idea of what they can expect. Not only does this help them visualize the value of what you are providing them, but it helps them get familiar with what they will be walking into. This familiarity increases bookings as customers can envision themselves using/in your bed and breakfast.
Have High Resolution Photographs.
If you have hazy, pixelated, or blurry photographs, no one is going to book with you because 1) they won’t be able to see what they are buying into and 2) it’s unprofessional and doesn’t speak well of your business. Make sure you are using a high-definition, high-quality camera to get your photographs taken or use a professional photographer. High resolution photographs pique the interest of your customers and do your property justice.
Get Listed with the Tourism PEI Directory.
Every province has a tourism dedicated website and directory that lists off all current options in terms of activities, destinations, must-see attractions, and amenities like restaurants. This is one of the first places a customer will go, especially if they are coming from out of province, as they offer reliable information.
List Yourself on Booking Engines
One of the first places customers go when looking to book a bed and breakfast are booking engine sites. These types of sites provide customers with reviews, pricing, pictures, and most importantly reviews and easy access to contact information. Make sure you get your business listed on popular booking engines like Trip Advisor, Expedia, and Booking.com.
Get Listed on Local Business Directories.
Getting your bed and breakfast listed on a local business directory will provide you the opportunity to expand your brand awareness as directories list your website, your contact information, and your products/services. Beyond this, local listings increase sales and exposure, are good for search engine optimization, and it is very cost-effective.
Get Listed in the Local Newspaper
Although print media has died down some since the advent of digital content, there are still some major benefits you can reap from local newspaper listings. Newspapers have a short lead time, the cost of placing an advertisement is relatively low, and your ad can be focused on a specific geographic target and demographic. Beyond this, newspapers are trustworthy, have a broad audience, and advertisements of this kind are effective.
Utilize These Growth Hacks to Maximize Exposure.
Make Your B&E Migrant Friendly.
PEI is known to be a hotspot for individuals who are immigrating to Canada. According to the Prince Edward Island Statistics Bureau, international immigration is at historically high levels with a rate of 13.8 per thousand, the highest rate in the country. To make your bed and breakfast more migrant friendly, consider serving international foods and utilize immigrant-friendly recruitment practices.
Increase Your Ticket Value by Enhancing Your Menu Options.
Look at what your current offers are and see about enhancing them. For instance, if you have a two-night deal, add on one free night to add more value to this. Look at little ways that you can add a little bit of value to each offering, if it is a one-night stay, throw in a discount for a second night and so on and so forth.
Give Referrals a Free Night (Focus Efforts Elsewhere like Food).
If you are getting a lot of referrals or want to get a lot of customer referrals, offer them a free night stay. Focus on earning the profit from other items when doing this, such as food or “budget-friendly” add-ons that won’t cost the customer a lot but are attractive such as private access to their room, organic breakfast option, or a hiking trail tour of the area.
Make Your Accommodations Inexpensive & Increase Amenity Pricing.
Ideally, you want to keep your pricing on the inexpensive side for your actual accommodations. This will encourage people to book for longer and book more often because the upfront price isn’t exorbitant. To remedy the lower accommodation numbers, increase your amenities pricing on things like evening snacks/desserts, stationary, extra slippers/blankets/robes, rose petals for the bed, reading lamps, postcards, mini-fridge, up-scale furniture, and so on.
Incorporate Digital Services as Add-on Costs.
One way to ramp up your profit margin is to add in digital services at an additional cost. Things like a camera rental for the tours nearby, a Netflix subscription account per room, or access to a tablet/computer/printer.
Advertise on Maritime Bus/Halifax Airport.
When you have hundreds of thousands if not millions of people using these transportation methods, not having advertising here would be missing out on massive brand exposure.
Hire a Digital Marketing Consultant.
A digital marketing consultant can help you leverage different online channels to better target your customers, utilize existing trends in the market, and help you reach out to your customers in an effective way. They will help you create a marketing strategy that best works with your existing business model, allowing you to achieve growth and milestones.
Host Events and Meetups.
One way to expand in your growth is to start hosting events and meetups for prominent groups of individuals. If you can make your bed and breakfast the “place to book” for these types of events and meetings, then you will increase your growth through steady profit.
Partner with Taxi Drivers.
The likelihood of your customers wanting to travel to the city, in the city, or to destinations around the outside of the city-center is extremely high. Customers use bed and breakfasts for all kinds of trips, from vacations to business meetings, to quiet get-a-ways. By partnering with taxi drivers, you provide a valuable service to those looking to explore. You also increase the likelihood of providing an excellent experience to your customers because they will be able to go where they want right from your doorstep.
Consider Tapping into “Viral” Methods
Create Video Testimonials – Happy Customers + Goodies.
One of the major ways you can get a lot of customers booking in is simply through happy customer testimonials. When someone listens to another’s experience, they envision what that would be like for themselves. This helps encourage the new customer to go ahead with their booking. If you are having trouble getting happy customers to leave video testimonials, offer some extra goodies as enticement.
Invest in Branded Swag Products for Customers.
Customers who have a good time, a positive experience, or create happy memories at your bed and breakfast, may want something to remember their time there. You can invest in branded swag, such as shirts, mugs, pens, photograph frames and the like to give out to customers.
Utilize Multilingual Content to Bring in More Interest.
Since Prince Edward Island has a large influx of immigrants every year, it would be best for your content to be in multiple languages. French, Arabic, Spanish, Chinese, and Hindi are the large ones you should be looking at.