I want to share with you how The Carlton House in Scarborough brought in over £6000 worth of new bookings in just one week!
Bilyana contacted me via Facebook requesting I help set up her new venture. For years, Carlton House in Scarborough was used for student accommodation, but now, with the University moving, Bilyana had the idea of transforming it into a hospitality for the general public. There was one problem: she didn’t know how to go about doing it.
In May 2017, we sat down and put a plan together for the next six months.
Bilyana herself admits that she was very nervous about opening the doors to the public. “Will they like it?” “Will it be popular?” These are questions we all ask ourselves before we open or launch something new. But as with any venture, if you are transparent and open with your guests, they will accept your new idea.
It’s when you try and hide what you are all about that guests get annoyed.
Under-promise & over-deliver: that has always been how I run things. I advise you to abide by this philosophy, too.
With a new website, but no web presence, the most important thing I needed to do was to make all the major online platforms aware of Carlton House. Here’s what I needed to cover:
✅Google Business Listing
It is crucial that you set up your listings on these sites. I believe this is where most property owners and managers fail, leaving room for the OTAs to take the lead. It is easy to set up these accounts incorrectly, so having some guidance is recommended.
For Carlton House, it was essential to let the guest know what they were getting and what should be expected as far as prices, accommodation, room details, and the fantastic location on Scarborough South Cliff. I made sure we consistently highlighted these points on all of the sites as they were created.
I set up the accounts, but here is the significant bit, I didn’t go live, not yet. Not until we were ready. Next, we needed a Booking Manager, ideally a Hotel Property Management System (PMS). Free To Book suited Bilyan’sa needs.
Again, I got everything in place and linked up the calendar to Booking.Com to set up the online payment method with Stripe. Even with all of this work, nothing went live immediately. Before we could roll out our new system, we had some other issues to deal with.
The main one was the history of Carlton House as a student accommodation property. When you Googled the name “Carlton House in Scarborough,” the web pages that appeared were from old student website forums.
We wanted to make sure that anyone Googling the property wasn’t going to get confused, so I reached out to the website owners, and they took down the individual posts.
Note: It is critically important to make sure that you Google your business’s name at least once every month. You need to know what is coming up in the search results.
Next, we booked a professional photographer to take new photos. I could have saved money here and done it myself, but as I have stressed several times on Boostly, the images sell your property. If they look like crap, people will go elsewhere!
Finally, we discovered a niche! But there are hundreds of other accommodation services in Scarborough, especially around South Cliff. It’s a trendy area to stay. What could we do differently to make Carlton House stand out?
This is where my research paid off. We used Google Analytics to see what the majority of people were searching for. We matched that with what Carlton House could offer. As a result, we discovered that there weren’t many properties that offered a pet-friendly environment to stay at a budget rate.
That was our niche. We made sure we hammered home on that point.
The other issue with Carlton House is that it is a work in progress. This is one of the reasons Bilyana was nervous about the opening. “Would a guest mind if there were no breakfast?” “Will they mind that we are working in the kitchen area?” Again, by being transparent and offering an incentive for the guest to stay at the property, you can break down any barrier and concern.
That is why, when a guest arrives at Carlton House for the first time, there is a little gift waiting for them in their room. This helps with the first impression and the reviews and feedback they have had since prove that.
Also, set a “Welcome Letter” on the bed. This should list recommended walkable places to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Furthermore, at the bottom of the letter should be an invitation to come and stay at Carlton House in the future, with a discount of 15% if they book directly. The message was this: “If you like us now, wait until you see us when we are finished!”
People love to be surprised, and they appreciate it when you go the extra mile.
On June 21st, we were ready to go live to the world. By implementing the changes, I was able to help Bilyana and Carlton House bring in over £6000 worth of new bookings in just seven days! I was delighted to see all of the hard work pay off.
I will finish this case study with the words of Bilyana Wharton.
“We found Boostly on the Internet when I was trying to figure out what to do about our ex-student accommodation. The obvious answer was to turn it into a hotel, having been one once in the past. We just did not know how.
I hardly can believe the speed, enthusiasm, clarity and professionalism Mark put into lifting our new venture off the ground. Within less than a month we had all the system set up and explained to the point that I felt I have done that before. Within a week of going live we had 22 bookings and counting (we only launched five rooms, to begin with).
Marks understands the hospitality marketing jungle and navigates our way through it with confidence and competence. Not to mention that when I was stuck, he was always on the other end of the line to help me out and explain.
Thanks to Mark’s expertise my fears of starting a new venture turned into enthusiasm and expectation of what is still to come. And I hope that will be many more bookings, happy guests and more hours working with Mark, so we achieve the best possible future for our little hotel.
It is still the beginning, but with confidence, I will continue putting our trust in his capable hands.
Bilyana (and Rob) Wharton, Carlton House”