Word of mouth
Your first few bookings will more than likely be through marketing directly to your family and friends. This is wise as they will be understanding of any teething issues before you ‘go to market’ but be sure and tell them to be brutally honest with their feedback about how their visit could have been improved. All going well, you will get a few bookings through further ‘word of mouth’ referrals.
So everything is purchased. The bills are sorted. You’ve had some family and friends to stay who’ve presumably enjoyed themselves. Now how are you going to find your guests?
Is print advertising worthwhile?
I tried advertising in a national Irish newspaper for a month without as much as one resulting enquiry. Other people I’ve spoken to share similar print marketing experiences:
- It’s expensive.
- It’s difficult to find the target market unless you look at specific travel magazines.
- 87% of people now search the internet for their holiday options.
Therefore my off-line marketing recommendations would be the following:
Get some business cards* printed. You may think they are a bit ‘old-school’ however there will be numerous times your property will come up in conversation with friends and new acquaintances. If you have a card in your purse or wallet it’s a quick and easy way to leave your holiday details with them. They may even come across it many months later and be reminded. Keep 3 or 4 on you at all times.
Be sure to include your property location, lead image, name, email address, website link and possibly phone number and QR code**
Produce an advert (including QR code) on your own computer and distribute to friends to put on work noticeboards. Ask your local newsagent(s) if they would place your advert or business card in their shop window. Sometimes they charge a nominal amount per week but it can work. I received a call and subsequent booking from someone who’d seen my advert in my parents’ local Spar. I’d forgotten it was even there! Don’t use tear-strip adverts as they give off a cheap look. QR Codes are useful here.
Make up customised postcards. These can be created online with your image and website address. Leave them in the property for guests to use if they want. Great cheap advertising. You can even consider stamping each postcard to make it easy for your guests to post your advertising to their family and friends.
*They may not be popular with those in the print trade, but I’ve used Vista Print in the past for business cards and customised postcards and the results were perfectly fine and inexpensive. They are slightly smaller and thinner than formal business cards but perfectly reasonable for this purpose.
**A QR (Quick Response) code is a barcode which can be scanned by smart phones and link direct to a website.