How a Strong Web Presence (and Zero Print Advertising!) Keeps 40 Bay Street B&B Running All Year Long
This week’s hotelier interview brings us back to Canada as we welcome Susan Poole of 40 Bay Street Bed and Breakfast. I found two insights really caught my attention in this interview:
- How Susan focused on her web presence alone, with no print or other promotional expenditures.
- How Susan overcomes seasonal ups and downs by running a B&B consulting business by the name, “The B&B Coach” (Fantastic online branding, I must say 🙂
If you find this interview as interesting as I did, tweet it.
As a reminder – This article is part of our Hotelier Interviews series, where we’re inviting Hotel, B & B, and Resort operators on to tell their story of how they run and sustain their business. If you’re interested in being interviewed, submit your request here.
Anyway, on with today’s interview… Welcome, Susan….
Can you briefly introduce your hotel, where it’s located, the local attractions, etc.?
40 Bay Street Bed and Breakfast is located in Parry Sound, Ontario Canada, two hours north of Toronto. Parry Sound is located on Georgian Bay and people come from all over the world to play in it’s waters. Designated by UNESCO in 2004, Parry Sound is located in the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve, which is an area of 347,000 hectares that stretches 200 km along the eastern coast in the world’s largest freshwater archipelago, also known as the 30,000 Islands. Boat cruises, sea-kayaking, fishing and sailing are just some of the many water-based activities that people participate in.
How long have you been in operation? What led you to the decision to start your hotel?
40 Bay Street Bed and Breakfast has been in operation for seven years. While I knew I wanted to own a B&B on Georgian Bay, fate lead me to find the right property in Parry Sound. I had made a concious decision to open a bed and breakfast five years earlier, and spent that time researching properties that would draw the type of guest I wanted to host.
What has been your most effective method of marketing your hotel and attracting guests?
When I opened my doors in 2006, I was the only local B&B with a web site and rack card. Since then, the learning curve has been very steep in regards to the impact technology has had in promoting my business. Word of mouth – both locally and on-line through review sites like TripAdvisor – has allowed me to reach the type of people that would enjoy staying at my B&B when they are in the area.
How have you used the web and social media to promote your hotel?
“I can’t imagine not using social media and the web to promote my business.”
Definitely! Research shows that over 80% of people begin their travel research on the internet – I can’t imagine not using social media and the web to promote my business. I do not pay for print advertising, other than when it comes as part of the package with a strong internet presence.
What is the most challenging aspect of running your hotel business? How do you overcome this?
The seasonal aspect of running my B&B makes it most difficult in the terms of cash flow. Despite several years of trying to promote Parry Sound as a four-season destination by myself, I have come to realize that I don’t have the resources to reach the markets I need by myself. Therefore, I monitor cash flows very closely, plan for the long-term and seek other opportunities to keep busy and generate some additional revenue as The Bed & Breakfast Coach (The B&B Coach).
What was one thing you learned from your experience operating your hotel, that you didn’t know or expect before starting out in the hospitality business?
That people have a reason to seek a particular destination prior to looking for accommodation!
Free Hotel Website Checklist
5 Essential tips for using your website to book more guests! Plus, a Free email course, Winning Web Strategies For Innkeepers.