Lucky you! Running a B&B is one of my dreams, and being in a quaint little town like Savannah definitely gives you an edge.
Happy customers are important to your business, so let's first discuss ways to leverage them.
One word: TripAdvisor.
TripAdvisor is the hotel and travel industry's dream network. With 200 million unique monthly visitors, this network should be taken seriously. Like other social networks, TripAdvisor gives you a way to promote your services, connect with customers, and gain useful insight as to what your customers like and don't like about your B & B. Plus, it shows up high on the search engine results.
The tricky part is getting people to write a review. Here's where your social prowess will come in handy. Start with your past customers: email the ones who loved your B & B the most, and nicely ask that they leave a review. Remember to provide them with the link, so they don't have to go searching around for it! Also encourage them to post photos from their trip. According to a recent study, properties with 30 or more photos have 41% more engagement than those with 10 or fewer.
And don't forget that incentives go a long way. As a thank-you for writing a review with photos, offer them a discounted rate for next time they stay with you, or perhaps send them a souvenir that's iconically Savannah.
But simply having a profile on TripAdvisor, or any social network for that matter, isn't enough: your engagement will be required. Respond to the reviews, because this shows you're dedicated and willing to participate. If you're responsive on the social site, people are more likely to believe that you'll be responsive at your hotel.
Now go even deeper by scouring the forums and looking for Destination Experts: people who have built a name for themselves within the TripAdvisor forums by knowing your city, responding to posts, and offering their sage advice. Connect with these people. Offer them a free night's stay, a free breakfast, or even a tour of the hotel. Even if they aren't the typical B&B frequenter, they can still refer you to other members.
Lastly, don't forget to take pictures and post them to Instagram. Because city tags are so popular, you can easily build a following of travelers who prefer photos to text. The Four Seasons hotel chain does this very well. They have a designated Instagram account for each of their properties, where they showcase photos from around the hotel, in the hotel restaurant, and around their surrounding neighborhoods. Instagram is a great way to allow people to see the world through others' eyes, and can make a huge impact.
Take a look at how the Four Seasons Hotel Baku works their fans through images:
So what're you waiting for? It's not too late to start today. I hope to see you, and Paula Deen, in Savannah soon!
Do you have a question for Socially Stephanie?
Please email [email protected] and let Stephanie help you solve your social quandaries, queries, and boondoggles. (Questions may be edited for length and clarity.)
Illustration by Jesse Wells
(Downtown Savannah, Georgia / shutterstock)