The world we live in is a very connected place. Almost every person in the developed world has access to a computer and the internet either at home, work or even in the local public library. It therefore stands to reason that from a business promotion perspective you want to be where the masses are looking for their information.
Not having a web presence in the 21st century is a kin to missing out on a Golden Page listing in the 80’s and 90’s. With this in mind here are 4 key on-line tools that you need to successfully run your business.
For a Bed & Breakfast business a website is a must. Consider the Internet as a giant business directory and your site a listing in that directory. Carefully constructed it should become a powerful advertisement for your business.
A Website need not cost a fortune but a cheap site with poor design can do more harm than good. Read this website blog post for more thoughts on this topic.
Ideally your website should have the following content:
- A small introduction to your business;
- Directions to your property;
- An on-line booking feature;
- Key local attractions and activities;
- A contact form; and
- Photos and/or videos of your rooms.
- professionally taken photos; or
- content edited by a professional copywriter.
Email is a key communication tool, especially when you are trying to communicate with potential guests in different time zones. It is also an extremely cheap means of communication, both from a one-on-one perspective and from a mass communication perspective (see email marketing below).
Most businesses now have email yet one of the things that never ceases to amaze me is how many businesses still use free mail addresses like hotmail or yahoo, or email addresses provided by their Internet Service Provider. Ask yourself, have you ever looked at businesses that use these types of email and wondered just how established or serious they are? I know I do.
If you have a website with a domain name specific to your business, then an email address at your own domain (email@example.com or .com or something similar) is a must. You already have the necessary tools, you just need to use them. If you don’t have a website on your own domain, then securing one is an extremely low cost exercise that creates a professional image.
Social Media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Google+ are a great way to promote your business to potential guests and to communicate at little or no cost with previous guests.
Some uses of these tools for a B&B business include:
- Promoting special offers;
- Introducing new packages or services;
- Announcing refurbishments etc;
- Guest testimonials; and
- Sharing photos and guest experiences.
Email Marketing is another great way to communicate to the masses. Obtaining an email address from every guest that checks in should be a must. This way you can send all of your previous guests special offers and newsletters with a view to generating repeat business.
These days email marketing tools are extremely powerful, and better still some of the best can be accessed for free.
If you do undertake email marketing and you choose to use your own email instead of a specialist email marketing tool remember the follow:
- When sending bulk emails to unrelated persons never use the To: field. Always use the bcc: field;
- Be aware of spam rules and always provide a way for people to unsubscribe from you mail-outs.