Embrace Many Different Marketing Ideas

One thing is clear: It probably won’t be just one marketing approach that fills your B&B in the dead of winter or on a random Wednesday night. Be ready to diversify your efforts.

A B&B in northern California takes advantage of his location to offer specials and promotions year-round. In the winter, for example, the innkeeper offers discounts on lift tickets for local ski runs. In the summer, he works with companies that offer fly fishing, golf, kayak rentals, and so on. The inn also offers a mid-week “romance package” that includes two nights at the Inn, a dinner voucher for a fine restaurant nearby, and a 3-hour class on wine pairing.

Reach Out to Local Companies for Midweek Guests

Our member from a B&B in Wisconsin says that, “Marketing is a way of life. In order for my business to survive, I need to remain positive and diverse, and think outside the box.” For example, she has worked with local corporations to lodge their employees and outside contractors who come to town on business. She also hosts company events such as board meetings and strategic planning sessions.

Similarly, Rod Glupker of La Belle de la Riviere Bed and Breakfast in Michigan has increased midweek reservations by working closely with local colleges, hospitals, factories, and other organizations that bring in people from out of town.

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Build Your Own Special Events for the Off-Season

A Member B&B in Rockland, Maine describes the strong results that its historical inn association has had with its signature “Pies on Parade” event, which promotes tourism to the area for a weekend in January that would otherwise be quiet. The event also raises awareness of the inns among local residents, thereby increasing word-of-mouth referrals throughout the year, at the same time that it raises money — more than $100,000 so far — for a local food pantry.

The association’s collaborative marketing efforts (“You name it, we tried it,”) have drawn lots of positive attention, including awards from tourism industry organizations and featured coverage by more than 150 media outlets, including The Today Show, the New York Times, and the Food Network.

When You Can’t Fill Rooms, Collect Revenue

Finally, think about ways that you can bring in more money during down times, even when you’re not bringing in guests. The 2014 winner of the B&B Marketer of the Year contest, J. Todd Allen of Maple Hill Manor and Bourbon Manor in Kentucky, gives special attention to boosting income at the end of the year. In 2013, his holiday gift card promotion brought in more than $20,000 in sales. As he puts it, “The gift card sales help to guarantee a busy upcoming year, [including] a significant boost to mid-week bookings.”

As you can tell from these examples, marketing your inn for higher occupancy year-round requires creativity, hard work, and a willingness to try new things.

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