Social media: a place to post your selfie or a great way to spread the word about your business? Sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and TripAdvisor are no longer just for fun.  We talk to Jules and Alec of “The Beaches“, an independent guesthouse in Scarborough, to hear their story of successfully selling their business online.

Getting customers to return: how?

As an independent business, the B&B owners believe that “any opportunity for customer loyalty” is an important one. And it is easy to see why guests prefer them, say Jules and Alec. After a guest has stayed at the B&B, they receive none of the junk emails that clog up a mailbox with offers and promotions.
Plan on selling via social media? Here’s what you must know
Jules goes on to say, “We intend to send out a newsletter via email soon and do Christmas cards”, gestures that seem more friendly than corporate. Instead of relying on constantly marketing their hotel after a stay, they stress that “primarily we try to ensure their time here is to a standard where they would like to come back or tell their friends”. They put hard work into guest satisfaction, not marketing campaigns.

 

 

Working with the locals

As the UK’s original “seaside resort”, it is easy to see why “The Beaches” loves their location. Alec explains, “Scarborough is a fantastic town, and we’re proud to be a part of it. One of our aims is to become a part of what makes this town great!”

 

Working with local businesses is, therefore, important to these hospitality owners, who are themselves very much a part of the community. Their offline advertising consists of “word of mouth and sticker-bombing friends’ cars with website stickers! We’ve also taken some time to make a new advertising board out of the front of our property”. While the internet is an endlessly helpful tool, the successful guesthouse first establishes their fan base in their own town.

 

 

Using the Web to catch more than flies

For “The Beaches”, the best way to snag new customers is the Internet. However, there is a right and wrong way to market online. Ranking in terms of sales, the guesthouse identified Booking.com as their most powerful form of marketing. They found that Twitter was least effective.

 

Facebook: how to get more bookings

Facebook is a great place to start your online presence. Jules states that “Facebook is proving a useful tool in getting followers and some bookings.” These followers can look at photos, events, and room availabilities, providing a more personal look into life at the guesthouse. It is also important in proving guest satisfaction. As well as showing you the people who comment positively on their stay, “Facebook tells you how many likes the page has”, providing an actual figure for your popularity.

 

 

Instagram: selling your business more personally on social media

Yet the unexpected favourite social media outlet for “The Beaches” is Instagram. Jules and Alec call it their “up and coming tool” and see it as “somehow less formal and more fun than Facebook or Twitter”. Using Instagram to reach a whole world of people is evidently working. They say, “it amuses us that we’ve got lots of followers, including an anchor-woman from Scarborough in Canada!” Jules suggests a vital “do” to using Instagram: it is most “effective when you use relevant hashtags” such as #staycation. This means your business will be included in general searches of this term.
Plan on selling via social media? Here’s what you must know
This guesthouse is certainly winning at the Instagram game. “We’ve always liked and used Instagram on a personal level”. This affection for the platform shows when they use it for their business. Their account features photos of local scenery, tasty looking food, family life, and even an announcement that all rooms have new fans and USB ports. The posts give potential customers a glimpse into a more personal snapshot of a home away from home, presenting it as a more comfortable alternative to a hotel.

 

 

Booking.com: the best way!

TripAdvisor is an important website for the B&B, boasting many 5-star reviews and a 2016 Certificate of Excellence. However, Jules comments that “TripAdvisor is pretty important, however not the be-all and end-all. Booking.com is equally important.” Since consumers demand to see many different holiday options side by side, the owners say that “whether we like it or not these are the ‘go to’ places for people and their travels.”

Plan on selling via social media? Here’s what you must know

Even the 15% commission that Booking.com charges is worth it. Alec enthuses that “they’re great for getting people through the doors, then it’s up to us to keep them coming back by booking direct.” Simply putting your business on Booking.com is therefore not enough. You must be able to deliver excellent service to the customer and make them want to return again and again.

 

Alec and Jules’ top tip? “Get on Booking.com – so what if they take a commission? 85% of something is better than 100% of nothing, and every booking is an opportunity to get a new, loyal customer who books directly!”

 

 Go say “Hi” to Jules and Alec on Facebook
 Or, go and check out their fantastic Instagram photos

Great North Run

Alec is taking part in the Great North Run in September. He is raising money for Cystic Fibrosis.
Make sure you drop some pennies into his fund!

 

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