Let me tell you about a critical marketing tip that often goes overlooked. Trademarking your property name lets you take the lead on Google when a potential guest searches for your property.
You may want to click this link before Trademarking your Vacation Rental Direct Booking Business.
Take a look at the screenshot below.
Notice that I searched for “White Lodge Hotel in Filey”. Anyone who types such specifics into Google is determined to find out about that specific hotel. They want to check availability, price, and, potentially, book directly.
In this situation, it is very crucial that the hotel’s actual website claims the first spot on Google. By claiming the first spot, a hotel increases its likelihood of the potential guest clicking on the hotel’s website instead of an alternate booking site.
However, look again at the screenshot above. There are three companies that appear above The White Lodge Hotel’s website, even though I searched for the hotel's proper name. These three companies are “bidding on the brand”. Booking.com, Expedia, and the UK. Hotels are using their marketing knowledge to get in front of the hotel’s website. Unfortunately, the chances of the potential guest being number four on the list are SLIM. But the chances of the potential guest clicking on one of the OTAs and booking via their site instead…HIGH.
Now, it's your turn! Google your property. Type in your property’s exact name and location. What do you see?
If you see online travel agents bidding on your brand, don’t panic. I can help you! Read on to find out how to stop the Online Travel Agents advertising on your brand name.
The 5-Step Solution on protecting your vacation rental and boutique hotel web design and brand
The title says it all. This series of five steps will let you trademark your company name to stop the online travel agents from “bidding on your brand.” I tested this solution with The Grainary, and it worked!
It is important that you follow all of these steps carefully. If you don’t, you could waste money and a lot of time doing this.
First, find out what the majority of your customers are typing into Google to find your vacation rental, hotel, guesthouse, or holiday cottage. For example, The Grainary has found that guests search for “Grainary Scarborough,” “Grainery Scarborough,” The Granary Scarborough,” “The Grainary,” “The Granary.” We found that mostly, they searched for “The Grainary Scarborough.”
IMPORTANT: Input your town name in the trademark because it will increase your chances of being successful.
What do I mean by this? Well, say, for example, you are the Red Lion Pub and Hotel in York. How many other Red Lions are there in the country? TONS! You need to make sure you stand out as the specific Red Lion in York. This is how to trademark your business name effectively and stop the OTAs from bidding on your brand.
Submit your Trademark
Follow this link and fill in all the necessary information to apply for a trademark. NOTE: The critical code/class you need is number 43.
Pay for it
Yes, you have to pay for your trademark. It's worth it! You have two options.
Firstly, pay a £100 deposit for the Intellectual Property Office to do all the checks to see if you are eligible for the trademark. Then, once you get the OK, pay an additional £100 to complete the application.
Or pay £175 straight up, no deposit.
Please note that if your case is denied, the money is non-refundable. However, if you do the homework beforehand, then you will be okay. I promise!
The Waiting Game
A trademark takes 3 months to go through. Be patient. This process is worth your time.
Don’t fall for scams!
Once you have applied for your trademark, your application becomes public knowledge. Some scam companies will send you letters asking you to pay an invoice related to your trademark application.
These letters may look official, and some may bear logos related to the application process or even to your hotel, but be cautious!
Those are easy to fake. The bank account into which you're supposed to deposit your “fee” is likely to be somewhere in the European Union or in Switzerland, and the number will be a different account than the one you have already paid your fee. Please do NOT pay any of these invoices.
Three Months Later…
Your Trademark is approved. You will receive a registration certificate through the post. YAY!
You aren’t done yet! Don’t forget step 5.
You need to tell Google.
Google Ads has a TradeMark Complaint form that you need to fill in. Click this link to register a complaint. Make sure you tell them exactly which companies are advertising on your trademarked name. At this point, Google can respond anywhere from a day to a month.
Is It Worth It?
Yes! 48 hours after receiving the confirmation email from Google that the trademark infringers had been taken down, The Grainary had two direct bookings via our website.
This doubled the return on our vacation rental web design investment. We could debate whether this directly resulted from our placing the trademark – who knows? – but regardless, when a potential guest types in our property's name now, they don’t get distracted by the online travel agents. All they see is our website! We earned the priority, and it worked!
That, for me, is worth ten times what I paid to make it happen.
If you need any help on this, get in touch with me at [email protected].
Update: I have been experimenting with trademarks at Boostly, and recently, we discovered that this trick does not work on Bing Ads. Instead of Bing Ads, we recommend you follow these guidelines to bid on the brand.