Bed and breakfast owners need to incorporate Google more into their marketing plans, according to a recent Local U bed & breakfast study.
Hospitality business owners tend to focus on travel-specific sites over Google and other general search venues, according to Mike Blumenthal of Blumenthals Blog and one of the Faculty of Local University. However, the survey suggests that doesn’t necessarily match up with where consumers are looking to find B&Bs for their next getaway.
“Most bed and breakfast owners were focused solely on reviews on TripAdvisor, BandB.com, and similar sites, while people in the local search industry were focused mainly on Google,” he said. “But consumers said they were looking at reviews from everywhere.”
Of those surveyed, 31.5% said that the quality of reviews on travel sites were most important to them when choosing a bed and breakfast. And 20.9% said that the quality of reviews on Google were most important to them.
Because of this, Blumenthal said it’s important for businesses to make it as easy as possible for customers to leave reviews in different places. Let them leave Yahoo reviews if they already have a Yahoo email address. Or accept reviews on Citysearch since it allows users to sign in with Facebook:
“Give them more options – don’t just let them leave reviews on Google or TripAdvisor. A lot of people just ask for a review and forget about it, but you really need to consider the consumer in that process.”
Additionally, just 27% of respondents said that upon searching for a bed and breakfast on Google, they would go directly to the official website. The rest of consumers do other things like view Google Maps or Google Reviews. Therefore, Blumenthal said it’s important for businesses to make their Google+ pages complete and visually appealing:
“You might not be doing the social part of Google+, but it’s still important to make your page stand out from competitors.”
Aside from having all the necessary information like hours and contact information, quality photos and visuals are essential on your Google+ local page. To go above the basics, Blumenthal suggested having a local Google photographer visit and create a virtual tour.
While the research suggested that a typical B&B focus more of their new customer marketing on Google, it also suggested focusing less on Facebook for seeking out new customers. Only 4% of consumers said they ask for recommendations on social media when looking for a bed and breakfast. Facebook may be valuable for building repeat business among those who’ve already visited, however. Blumenthal said:
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“Facebook is not a place consumers are going to make buying decisions. They’re using it for socializing mainly. It’s a fine place for brand building and loyalty programs, but don’t count on it as a means for bringing in new customers.”