The Local FAQs
What marketing platforms have you found valuable?
We have mixed feelings about many online marketing platforms. They censor and block any communication they deem inappropriate, you have 24hrs to respond to everything, they ding you if your track record isn't perfect, and after all that they take a commission. But, who can say no to free advertising? Our advice would be to pick one and focus on making that listing perfect. When you are ready to add another listing go ahead and do so, but only if you're going to be 100% dedicated. If you have a low rating your listing will never be seen.
VRBO - We have never had much success with them. Their prices are very high and they are a hostile company to work with. Plus there are SO many listings on their platform it is hard to stick out.
Airbnb - They only take 3% and we've had much more interest through this listing, also a more user-friendly company.
Hipcamp - They have a great business model, easy platform, and we've had really great campers. Their fee is 10% which may sound high but since camping isn't that expensive it makes sense. Raise your prices by 10% to cover the fee.
The Knot - Expensive and overrated, we get the same number of hits with our free listing as we did paying $350/month.
What social media platforms do you find most important?
Yelp - Very important for gathering reviews, sharing photos, and getting additional online hits.
Google - Creating a google business page is important for the same reasons as Yelp, but also keep in mind that Google dominates the online market. Your Google business page is linked to Google maps and a strong profile is very important.
Facebook/Instagram - Be strategic about how you use these platforms and the images/posts that you share. We are still on the fence regarding whether or not their fee-based marketing tools are worth the money, they over-exaggerate their results so be skeptical and do your research.
Using free analytics is a great way to track who is actually clicking over to your website and from which sites. Google Analytics is a free service and very helpful once you get it set up.
We aren't willing to pay for much, but if there is one place you should spend your money it's on professional photos. Have someone come out to capture the location, the experience, the products, etc. You need a solid pool of professional photos to pull from at anytime. These are important for all online listings, you want everyone who finds you to be impressed from the get-go. Keep in mind that we are very visual beings, most people shop with their eyes. One captivating photo will do much more for your business then a well-worded descriptive paragraph.
What services turn the most profit for your business?
For the last two years we were more dependent on weddings until we realized something very important - weddings don't bring returning customers. We are now cutting back on weddings and going back to hosting friends, families, company events, campers, etc. It turns out that returning guests are what brings us the most revenue, maybe not in the fee for their booking but if they come back a few times a year then it all adds up. Plus, returning guests are almost no work, it's very easy from both the booking and hosting perspective.
Everyone will try to sell you a boosted SEO but we have found a way to self-generate interest in the online market. Every online account that we have created leads back to our website. Yelp for instance has always tried to sell us a service of improving our hits to our Yelp page which to us isn't an important landing page. We aren't interested in boosting our Yelp page, our only focus is how to get customers to click over to our website. That has been our focus for the last 3 years and over time it's really made a difference. That's the problem with Airbnb, VRBO, and Hipcamp, you can't get customers to your website and they mediate the entire process. Yelp, Google, Facebook, Instagram, and others will all provide links back to your website which will in turn generate more hits which will result in a higher search rating.
Also important to note, we send links to our guests ALL the time to keep people clicking over. Think about how you can use your website as templates of information, and rather then typing that info again and again you can instead create one page and share the link anytime it applies. More clicks, more visibility. We have never paid anyone for SEO services and are very happy with the amount of traffic our website generates.
Unpaid Internship Agreement
We have a document which we require all of our unpaid interns to sign, whether they are staying for two weeks or for two months. It releases us of liability and makes clear the terms of our agreement. If you'd like a copy you are welcome to edit it to cover the details of your business.
Submit your questions to Rebekah@BarSZranch.com for additional information here...