It's the Internet People
It's the Internet People

With the news that several Bed and Breakfast operations on Amelia Island have closed their doors for business, we set out to analyze why some properties do much better than others. Figuring out why some properties keep on doing well in an enduring recession and others are suffering and closing the doors is part of our background. Over the decades we’ve been involved in the economic ups and downs of tourism projects and areas in the Netherlands, Cap d’Agde France, the Canary Islands in Spain, Sardinia in Italy, The US Virgin Islands, St.Maarten, Anguilla, Saba, St.Kitts and Antigua in the Caribbean. It was a long route that brought us here to Amelia Island and its potential for tourism. Only one destination we advised was landlocked, all others were islands or ocean front resorts and destinations.

The remarkable part of all that expertise gathered over almost four decades is that with the arrival of the internet, every known leisure marketing and sales structure has completely changed. Traditional leisure values still rule, it’s the way they’re communicated that is different.

Besides of course financial management issues which is an unknown factor in this equation, the biggest reason why some properties do better than others is because the property’s management is unable to attract customers. Many hotel managers are still not up to speed on the power of the Internet or as Forrester Research states clearly- 90% of purchasing decisions begin online in the travel and leisure market-. That is 9 out of 10 bookings at least start on the internet. We will keep saying it until it irritates you.

To help you prepare for the upcoming year, we’ve assembled a number of hotel marketing ideas that may help you through the year. They say 80% of results come from 20% of the work. Who knows, we claim it’s more like 95% from 5%. Spend 5% of your time creating content and 95% promoting it.

  • So keep in mind to adhere to the following overall strategy
  • 90% of purchasing decisions begin online (Forrester)
  • Educated buyers now solve problems through Google searches
  • Marketing goals in the past: create brand awareness, target mass media, interrupt and repeat. Marketing now: create behavior change, create conversation, communicate directly
  • New goal: 100% engagement (not 2% conversion)
  • What should you publish online? Anything that saves people time and gives information that positions you as a good source. Understand what your customers need and want to know, and deliver it in a compelling way
  • What online channels does your demographic spend time in? Find out, then develop a strong presence there. Don’t make people come to you, put content where they already are online.
  • Think like a “content DJ”: use and reuse your content in many different formats: blog posts, email, newsletters, articles, PDFs, press releases, case studies, video, and social media updates
  • Spend the large majority of your time trying to reach the most likely buyers instead of the entire market. “The smaller the target, the bigger the bulls eye.”
  • If you’re small, you can be quick and nimble. Capitalize on that.
  • We have 3 jobs as marketers: obtain profitable customers, keep them, and expand their lifetime value
  • People admire complexity, but reward simplicity
  • Don’t do something unless you’re the best in your world at it. If someone else does something better, use their services. Focus only on what you do best, and outsource everything else.

Planning – The old days of wasting half of your advertising budget (or expenses if you don’t work from a budget are absolutely over.

  • The #1 failure in marketing plans: no clear measures of success
  • You must differentiate to avoid becoming a price-driven commodity
  • Not a lot of hotels know where their market position is. Define and position yourself.
  • On metasearch sites, hotels should move away from price commoditization by providing product-level custom messages to differentiate their offers
  • To find differentiating factors, thoroughly study the service you offer and interview the people that provide it
  • If you spend your resources like everyone else, you’ll get results like everyone else. Breakthrough campaigns often require unusual approaches.
  • Selling to your best guests is the best way to maximize profits.¬† Setup systems for recognizing and rewarding these people.
  • Identify and test the key strategies your marketing plan hinges upon. The more facts and research you can include in your plans, the better. Hard data is far more valuable than guesswork.
  • Decide what success means to you. It’s different for everyone.

The last question today is: DO YOU HAVE A CUSTOMER DATA LIST THAT CAN BE IMPORTED TO FILEMAKER PRO AND USED WEEKLY IF NOT DAILY TO ALERT CUSTOMERS AND POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS OF YOUR SPECIALS?

More about website demands, press, media and direct marketing tomorrow.

In the meantime this may not explain everything, but in our opinion there is a strong relation between success and website presence.

The following is a Website Grader comparison between the websites from the recently closed Hoyt House and the very successful Addison, an Amelia Island Bed and Breakfast.

Note the difference in their website rating:

The Hoyt House Bed and Breakfast
The Hoyt House Bed and Breakfast
The Addison on Amelia
The Addison on Amelia