The most effective Internet lodging
By Scott and Allison Crumpton
Determining where to wisely spend your advertising dollars can
be a big mystery. Solicited daily by Internet lodging directories,
sleazy marketing outfits and amateur webmasters, innkeepers are
forced to endure a variety of sales pitches. Sifting through the
valid and invalid offers is often a waste of time and money. Even
worse, many solicitations are nothing but scams created to separate
you from your hard earned cash.
Since internet lodging guides represent roughly a third of all
visits to your website and a good percentage of your reservations,
knowing where to list is vital to your inn's success. But don't
despair as help is on the way. We've spelled out where to be listed
and provided information on companies who can take care of this
time consuming task.
There are four principal ways to measure the effectiveness of an
internet lodging guide. The first two methods are for determining
a guide's value before you buy. The second two methods are valuable
after you have ordered the service or in determining whether to
renew your listing.
1. Free trial offers are a surefire way to try before you buy.
The next time a lodging guide contacts you, be sure to ask for a
free trial period. It's a great way to turn annoying sales calls
into potential reservations. If they are unwilling to put their
product to the test, why should you?
2. Personal Referrals from other innkeepers are another way to
ascertain the value of a lodging guide especially if they don't
offer free trials. If a lodging guide brings an innkeeper business,
they'll certainly know about it. Be sure to ask several different
innkeepers as very few are signed up for more than a handful of
3. Stats programs are by far the most reliable source of information
in evaluating the source of traffic to your site. If you don't have
access to your website stats, be sure to ask your webmaster for
assistance. If your host does not provide a statistics package,
you can install the popular and free Extreme Tracker (www.extreme-dm.com)
or the more accurate and exhaustive Web Trends Live (www.webtrendslive.com).
A stats program is essential in determining the best marketing plan
for your inn and whether a certain guide delivers the hits.
4. The problem with stats programs is not all lodging guides are
designed to simply drive traffic to your website. Many of the top
guides provide all the information and photos necessary for potential
guests to make a decision. For these guides, you will have to rely
on your own written logs or memory to determine their value and
For the last six years, we have been reading web stats for hundreds
of B&B websites and consistently ask innkeepers what lodging
guides are working for them. The following is a compilation of some
of these results and our recommendations.
The following nationwide internet directories have proven themselves
over time. They provide a page or more of photos and information
on your inn rather than just a link back to your website. This is
usually enough information for the traveler to make a reservation
which is why these guides "might" not rank highly in your
stats report. In the case of VirtualCities, they do not allow links
to your website but are listed here due to their effectiveness.
2. BedandBreakfast.com (Silver Package)
3. VirtualCities.com (aka 1st Travelers' Choice)
The simplest way to determine whether a lodging guide is effective
is by checking your stats. Having done so for hundreds of B&B
sites, the following top performers are bringing plenty of hits
to innkeepers' websites. Please note, the first five are generic
types of sites but the principal holds true no matter where you're
1. Your local B&B association website
2. Your local chamber or visitors center website
3. A regional B&B directory (if one exists)
4. Your state B&B association website
5. Various local city links for major attractions in your town.
For example, skihood.com is a great one for the Mt. Hood/Hood River
There are hundreds of lodging guides on the net but due to their
lack of consistent performance we did not list them here. Thankfully,
the plethora of lodging guides is decreasing as the true performers
break away from the pack.
There are only a handful of internet lodging guides which consistently
either directly provide reservations to your inn or visitors to
your website. We have detailed our top picks based on years of research.
While not simple to implement, listings with these guides are necessary
and effective. If you're the type of innkeeper who is web savvy,
you shouldn't have too much trouble signing up for these services.
For the rest of you, help is only a phone call away.
Generic internet promotion companies are a dime a dozen and can
be expensive and ineffective in the lodging industry. Thankfully,
there are a few specialized companies for Bed and Breakfasts who
provide promotion in addition to web design and hosting services.
If you're looking for a firm to quickly and expertly handle increasing
your reservations, several companies already provide such plans.
You shouldn't have to look far for the help you need.