Lots of Expats in South Africa work in the Tourism industry and a huge number of them are running guest houses or bed & breakfast.
Especially in the top tourist destinations within South Africa like Cape Town, there is a lot of competiton. Therefor it is very
important to have a very well planned marketing strategy to attract guests.
Find below hints and tips for marketing your guest house in South Africa.
Please note this section on marketing your GUEST HOUSE does not cover the presentation and running of your guest house but focuses on the marketing of it to gain new clients, repeat clients and referrals.
All Things To All People – Know Your Market Segment
The expression that you can not be all things to all people is never truer than with a GUEST HOUSE. GUEST HOUSESs are selected over hotels for their ‘’personalities’’. A businessman may seek the home touch whilst on their travels but also need a quiet environment to carry out their work, if your guest house targets families you can be sure the business person will only come once.
Become an Expert
Know your stuff – what’s good to see, where’s good to go and where’s a waste of time. Maybe compile something for your guest to browse through (whilst sipping on a nice glass of white from the honesty bar).
But don’t stop there show the world your expertise – visit sites like www.allexperts.com and sign up as an expert.
Clubs, Consulates, Schools, Universities, Unions
For many of the above not are they only pivotal points of referrers but also have large memberships. Contact them offer special deals to their members; provide them with mail shots to send out to their members list.
Don’t Sit and Wait
A GUEST HOUSE owner or manage should never be bored and stuck for things to do. The marketing of a GUEST HOUSE is about letting people know you are there. Websites can be updated, photos added, attractions , places to see. Start a blog, get on Twitter and face book, learn a new skill – become a FUNGI. Contact other GUEST HOUSESs for overflow or referral business, drop off flyers, send newsletters – the list is endless, the point very specific clients don’t just knock your door you must let them find you.
Of course you want to show your guests as great time, bit also maximize your income potential from guests. How about extending that Braai night to your guests, or offering sunset snacks and champagne.
Free is a Business Plan
GUEST HOUSESs tend to have quite periods during the year, unfortunately many of the costs are still there even if the guests aren’t. So promote your one night free with every two nights booked.
Guest House Network
Don’t view your fellow GUEST HOUSESs as competition but as your business colleagues. Speak to other local GUEST HOUSESs and agree a referral program for overflow bookings. Make contact with guest houses further afield, many visitors to South Africa travel. Get agreements with guest houses along popular travel routes that are reciprocal.
Have a Unique Selling Point
This Is akin to the 30 second pitch – ask yourself what makes my GUEST HOUSE better than other ones? If you can’t answer the question in less than 30 seconds you don’t have a unique selling point.
Just a few things to know:
- Who is your competition
- What are there rates
- Which booking agents are most successful
- Where are they sending their enquires to
- Is your website getting traffic?
It is the curse of guest houses that every Tom, Dick and Harry approaches them to buy, advertise or part with money for some good cause. Just because it seems good it might not be. Make sure you receive justification for parting with money, for example for advertisers how much traffic do you get, how many bookings might I expect, what makes you different, how negotiable are your rates.
Know What You Want to Achieve
Many guest houses do not have a target -for example beds booked for the year, number of guests, number of extras sold, number of enquires. Its an old (but true adage) if you don’t know what you are aiming for how will you ever get there.
One of the worlds best social and business networks with more of an emphasis on business. Visit www.linkedin.com , register and see the impact that networking can have on your guest house.
The good news is google has made it easy – put maps on your website showing where you are, where tourist attractions are – a graphic picture means more than hundreds of words.
Establish a mailing list and send out a regular newsletter. Many guest houses are relocated in beautiful areas, let your subscriber know what’s going on, include photos, let them know of special offers and most importantly make sure they remember you.
If you are not online than you are a dinosaur. The majority of travelers use the internet to search for guest houses. Please see our section on websites here.
Even the very best guest house will have to close its doors if people cant find it. Placement is about putting your guest house in appropriate places so guests can see it. Whether it is on line, I the local tourist information centre.
Quiet is Not an Option
It may sound repetitive but shout about your GUEST HOUSE. Use every form of media, online or printed, journalists, travel writers etc to get you message out there. Why not give a free knight to a travel writer or journalist to do a price on your guest house. Whatever your method say it loud and say it proud!!
Repeat is Better than Brand New
There is a cost, a marketing cost, in attracting a new client to your GUEST HOUSE. A good example is the client who books through a booking agent costing you 15 -20% of the room rate. Now if they come back next year through a direct booking you have effectively eliminated the marketing cost and increased your income by 15 – 20%.
So make the stay memorable and keep in touch, maybe offer an incentive for them to come back to you.
Speed of Answer
If you sleep you lose – answer enquires quickly, there’s nothing more impressive than a quick response and it makes a great first impression.
Technology Needs Embracing
Online visitors want o book online and want to pay online, there are some excellent and much cost efficient products out there to assist you with this. Please see here for more details.
Understand Your Clients Needs
And exceed them. As above know your market segment then think what they need. For example if you are after the family segment, think about outing some childrens equipment around, a sand pit a children’s climbing frame. For the business client look at providing internet access (you can even charge for this see www.hotbx.net.
Visual Is Good
As alluded to pictures say a thousand worlds, make sure you brochures show off your GUEST HOUSE in its best light, if need be invest a little in getting a professional photographer. Put a gallery on your site. Let people see the attraction rather than read about them.
One of the most important aspects for a guest house– your ship window.
GUEST HOUSESs are a personal business. The x factor is your personality, your unique touch, in other words what makes you guest house special.
Your Destiny is in Your Own Hands
Running any business is hard, especially a seasonal business. It’s always easy to get down especially in off season. Remember why you started your guest house and the ambitions you had. Sitting back waiting for solutions /guests to appear is not the answer. Keep yourself motivated with to do lists, spend time each and every day on marketing and remember to congratulate yourself on achievements.
Not the New York approach to crime but yours towards your guest houses standards. Team members need to understand your and service levels. Whether it is response times, breakfast presentations or turning down the sheets, make sure your team understand your standards and strive to meet them, letting them drop is a rocky road downwards.
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