Posts in Hospitality
Digital is cost effective marketing solution for holiday chalet owner

cromer-pier-holiday-norfolk1 In 2010, when the price for marketing her holiday chalet doubled overnight, Debbie Copas turned to the internet for help in keeping costs down.

A year earlier, Debbie had become the owner of a chalet in Norfolk, on a park which offered to manage the lettings. But a change in park management led to these commissions doubling, at which point Debbie, who lives in Hertfordshire, decided to market the chalet herself.

Today she owns two chalets and manages a barn conversion, using social media, listing sites and a website to generate interest and business.

This is not a Dorset social media story

As you may have spotted, there is no connection between Debbie and Dorset—except that she is solving a problem that faces the owners of many Dorset holiday properties, that of finding customers.

Back in 2010, Debbie’s first response to taking on her own marketing was to throw together a website and put an advert on eBay. She also added her accommodation to listing sites. Since then she’s learned a huge amount about digital marketing and has embraced social media networks.

Todays approach to digital marketing of holiday accommodation

At the heart of Debbie’s digital marketing strategy is her website, along with her Twitter and Facebook accounts.

The website is an absolute must and it’s worth investing in a good design and filling it with high quality content. Debbie’s site is clear, simple and, very importantly, it passes the Google mobile-friendly test.

Clean and simple - the booking page of the Norfolk Coastal website

As of April 2015, websites that are not mobile-friendly will find it harder to get discovered through Google searches. Because more people now browse the web on a mobile device than a laptop or desktop, being mobile-friendly is no longer an optional extra.

Debbie’s Facebook Page, Norfolk Coastal, has enjoyed steady growth to achieve over 1,400 likes. She uses it to share information with her followers and is not too bothered about getting lots of likes and comments on each post. Facebook Groups have proved to be a useful source of new contacts and she has recently started her own Group, for past customers and those interested in holidaying in the Norfolk area.

Her experience is that users of both Facebook and Twitter prefer to engage with an account that has real personality, so she is allowing some of her own character to come through in the posts. Her guests are made aware of the Facebook Page and encouraged to use it to share their holiday photos.

Active engagement generates results

NC-FBFacebook Groups are examples of online communities, which draw together people with common interests. Debbie is part of a similar community on Twitter, where every Saturday morning, tweeters gather to socialise online, using the #satchatUK hashtag. Her activity here, and on Facebook, helps drive people towards the Norfolk Coastal website.

Google+ also features in Debbie’s marketing strategy. While she’s not that active, a presence is maintained because it helps improve her site’s rankings in Google searches.

Listing sites also have a part to play in maintaining Norfolk Coastal’s visibility online. She uses smaller listing sites that focus on specific niches, such as those that feature dog-friendly properties.

Debbie’s advice to anyone wanting to improve their use of digital marketing is to always ask for help and support, because there is no such thing as a stupid question. She finds online forums very useful, where people can share queries and concerns with other accommodation providers, and get useful answers. She recommends the forum at LayMyHat.com.

Staying in control of her marketing activities is important to Debbie. She’s learned that a strategy is required to get results, and, along with the rest of us, she’s still learning and adapting her approach.

See for yourself how Debbie uses digital marketing through:

Her website: NorfolkCoastalHolidays.co.uk Facebook: Norfolk Coastal Holidays Twitter: @NorfolkCoastal

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Dorset estate agent shares the secrets of her social media success Getting good with Google+ - how one Weymouth guest house uses social media

Getting good with Google+ - How one Weymouth guest house uses social media

Dorset’s guest houses, B&Bs and hotels are beginning to find their way with social media. One that’s seeing some success, on a network that many businesses overlook, is Morven Guest House in Weymouth. Morven House Google+ pageRun by husband and wife team Matthew and Nancy Lambley, Morven is a four star, nine-bedroomed guest house within a short walk of Weymouth seafront. It’s open between 1 May and 1 October every year.

Having been there for 25 years, the Lambley family has experienced the massive disruption that the digital revolution brought to the hospitality trade. “Years ago, we advertised in the Weymouth Guide, which was advertised in the Radio Times and TV Times at Christmas. From that, we had loads of phone calls during January and February,” said Matthew.

Today, the phone still rings, but not so often nor so predictably. Bookings also come in through email and social media, particularly Google+, Matthew’s favoured social network.

Social Media Training Banner SmallHow to get results with Google+

Many people I speak to have little interest, or knowledge, of Google+. If they use social media at all, their focus is Facebook and Twitter.

Matthew has chosen to put his energies into Google+, while also using Facebook. The Morven Guest House Google+ Page has around 4,000 followers and has been viewed well over a million times. But the real test is bookings, and here Matthew is satisfied with the results so far.

The best way to understand how Morven uses Google+ is to take a look at their Page. Here you’ll see that Matthew usually posts once each day, sharing a great photo that he’s taken himself. Every post gets upwards of 20 pluses (likes) and most attract some comment.

The result is that Matthew is engaging with his audience, and that engagement translates into bookings. Many come from overseas, particularly Germany. Google+ is much more popular in Germany, Italy and France than it is in the UK.

Having posted an update to Google+, Matthew often puts the same image onto Facebook. But having less than 200 Page likes, the level of interaction per post is much less. That said, he does get bookings through his Facebook Page, as a result of guests sharing with their own network of contacts.

Focusing on the specific interests of customers

Matthew Lambley

Niche marketing, as it’s called, can be a very effective way to get noticed by a specific type of person, and this is an approach taken by Matthew.

Some people are attracted to Weymouth by the scenery, others by the wildlife, or the heritage. Knowing what makes people choose to come here, and then enticing them with great photos and information, is at the heart of Matthew’s strategy for marketing Morven.

Take a look at his photos and you’ll see Dorset presented in splendid variety. Harbour and lighthouse images appeal to those drawn by the coast. Flowers, trees and butterflies catch the eye of nature lovers. Tyneham, Gold Hill and historic buildings whet the appetite of heritage hunters.

The Morven marketing strategy encourages people to get in touch, through Google+, Facebook, email or via the fresh, smart website. Here the phone number is very prominent, making it really easy for people to call with an enquiry.

Theres more to be done when marketing Weymouth

Morven House, Weymouth

I’ve spoken to some B&B owners, frustrated by the trend for people to book at the last minute, only for short stays, and often via a booking website that takes a commission of up to 20%.

The Morven enjoys plenty of advance bookings, many for a whole week, and you won’t find it on the major accommodation websites. But Matthew is neither complacent nor entirely satisfied. The Morven isn’t always at capacity, and he knows that he can’t let up on his marketing efforts.

But he does believe that Weymouth could do better as a whole, and this would lift trade for all those involved in hospitality. The Morven was one of the first Weymouth guest houses to have a website and it’s now one of the few on Google+, and indeed on social media. Matthew is leading the way and setting an example that should inspire others to follow.

To see how Matthew is using Google+ to promote Morven House, visit the Google+ page.

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