Marketing your Business in Directories and Guides
Getting your bed and breakfast into tourist guides and directories can be an effective way of marketing it to customers. But there are a vast number of these guides and directories so how do you decide which ones to go for?
The Difference Between Guides and DirectoriesThere are two distinct types of listings. Some are simply directories that anyone can pay to get into, then there are the guides, which ought to be more than that. Guides should tell you about the area and recommend good places, not just any place. They will recommend the ones that they think fit in with their niche and their ethos, although you are still likely to have to pay to be entered into them. Local tourist board listings and those of other associations are covered in a separate article in this section.
Regional DirectoriesDirectories can be focused on a geographical area or a particular niche, so the best thing to do is go out and buy a few, or get them through a local library. Whether or not it's worth being in a regional directory depends on exactly where your business is located. If you are somewhere that's not so well-defined, perhaps just outside a recognised tourist area such as the Cotswold's or the Lakes, then it could be good to be marketing in a broader regional directory, as you'll then be found by people trying to find a B&B exactly where you are.
On the other hand, not entering into a well-known directory of a tourist area may make people wonder why you aren't in it. You will have to occasionally take a punt and put some money into a guide or directory and see how it works out.
GuidesGuides will be trying to inform travellers about the region as well as list places to stay. With guides it is more important to look through them and see if they are going to be talking to the same people that you are trying to attract. If you are marketing to a particular niche, then a guide book that attacks that same niche is more likely to give you a better return on your money than a guide book with a broader approach.
Some guides will not include you unless they have sent someone to stay in your place and inspect it for themselves. You still have to pay to be entered, but at least you'll find out that you aren't right for whatever market they are appealing to without spending any cash. Apart from a bed for the night and their breakfast, of course.
Protecting Your Business's Marketing InvestmentThere are two things that will make your marketing forays into guides and directories more successful. The first is never to send any money for a directory or guide entry until you have verified independently that it exists and suits your market. There are scams out there where invitations to enter into business directories are given out by fax, email and post, and even doorstep visits, but they are in fact not worth the paper they are written on. They can be simply inflating their claims as to the number of people who will see the directory or sometimes even complete shams.
The second is to ask guests and people making enquiries, even if they don’t book, where they found out about you. If after a year's advertising with a particular directory or guide you haven't had a single lead or paying guest from that source, then you can reconsider paying for a further year. If you don’t do this, you could be wasting hundreds, or even thousands, of pounds a year.