The following is a guest post from Andrea Hudley (pictured right), the innkeeper at Bailey's Uptown Inn in Dallas, Texas and a B&B marketing expert. Thanks for sharing your tips, Andrea!
Have you been receiving lots of calls from Groupon, Living Social or Google Offers? They have gotten a lot of bad press from small businesses which can make you think twice, but they reach a huge audience of people that might not even know you exist.
My name is Andrea, and I’ve owned a B&B in Dallas for 9 years. I also have a website that helps B&B owners learn to market their own B&B, bedandbreakfastbusiness.org. I have worked with Groupon and Living Social three times in the past year, and it has generated $38k of incremental revenue for me. I think it CAN work for bed and breakfasts if you follow some important rules.
1) Always add something to the deal to increase the “value” of the deal. This increases the amount you make from each coupon. For example, wine and chocolates in the room for $70, flowers for $50, breakfast in bed for $40. By adding something to the price you increase how much you make on each coupon. I added wine and chocolates, my cost was about $7 but the “value” was $70.
2) Always limit the number of rooms that can be booked with the coupon. I have five rooms and I limited the deal to two to three rooms. That way I wasn’t full every weekend with discount people, but I was full. If you have empty rooms you can always allow them to book the other rooms, too.
3) Run the deal when you are slow. Most people stay within 90 days. I ran one in January, which is normally slow, and another in June because the summer is slow.
4) Be sure to block out popular weekends or weeks around popular holidays like Valentine's Day and New Year's Eve.
5) Be sure to be by the phone for the week that the deal is going. You will get a lot of phone calls from people wanting to check dates before they buy one.
6) If you don’t have housekeeping help, you can make the deal for two nights only. This may reduce the total number you sell but it will eliminate one-night stays if you have problems keeping up.
7) Make them pay the credit card processing fee. They will do that and it saves you another 3%.
8) Collect the taxes. Unfortunately, it is the B&B’s responsibility to collect and pay the taxes.
Let me explain how the deals work. They are usually available for people to buy for one week. There are a number of different payment options they offer. I like the one that paid 50% up-front and 50% 60 days later. If you run a deal that is $200 face value, you will collect $65-$70. The customer gets 50% off, Groupon gets 30% and you get the rest. My deal was $289 and I made over $100 per coupon.
If you are looking for other marketing ideas please visit our website, or if you have more questions about how these deals work, email me at email@example.com.