BedandBreakfast.com has recently revamped their business model. Moving forward, BedandBreakfast.com will no longer be a directory website. They are moving to the “instant booking,” commission-based model, something we’re all familiar with from OTAs.
The new program means BedandBreakfast.com bookings will be made directly on their website. In other words, you’ll only have to pay for bookings instead of a directory listing. BedandBreakfast listings will no longer have a link to your website, and you will no longer receive traffic from BedandBreakfast.com. According to the folks at BedandBreakfast.com, “you’ll be able to better track the revenue and value that BedandBreakfast.com is driving directly to your property”. But that isn’t the whole story.
Click here for more information about BedandBreakfast.com’s new “Instant Bookings” program.
Why Did BedandBreakfast.com Make the Change to “Instant Bookings”?
I really can’t blame BedandBreakfast.com for making this change. It’s smart business. My opinion is that most innkeepers undervalue their listing on BedandBreakfast.com. Either they don’t have the analytics in place to know better, or they don’t ever look at their analytics.
One of the first things we do when we launch a new B&B website on Odysys is to make sure that Google Analytics is setup to show innkeepers exactly where their traffic and bookings come from. For properties that are listed on BedandBreakfast.com, it is often the top source of traffic and bookings outside of Google. Especially if you spend a little time looking into “first-click” and “assist” attribution… but that’s a topic for another day.
This change allows BedandBreakfast.com to better demonstrate the value of their program to innkeepers. BedandBreakfast.com is banking on the fact that the listings program they’ve had to date has been undervalued by innkeepers. They have to be tired of having discussions with innkeepers based on they “feeling” that they aren’t getting the value from their program. Now, they don’t have to rely on innkeepers to have proper analytics because they can show them exactly how much revenue they’re getting from the program.
Pros and Cons for Innkeepers
Pay Only for Bookings: On the plus side, opting-in to BedandBreakfast.com’s instant bookings program means that you will no longer have to pay an annual fee for a directory listing and then hope for the best. Now that they have switched to a commission model, you only have to pay for the bookings they generate. In my experience, many innkeepers undervalue their presence on BedandBreakfast.com because they don’t have their analytics working properly.
Connectivity to HomeAway/Expedia: Your BedandBreakfast.com listing provides access to HomeAway and Expedia. The nice part about it is – you have one point of contact and one flat rate. You can manage your listing, rates and availability through this single connection. Note: the Odysys booking engine uses MyAllocator for channel management, making the BedandBreakfast.com connection a breeze.
Traffic to Your Website: As a result of these changes, you’ll lose referral traffic to your website and may see a drop in direct bookings. Many of the properties that I work with get a large chunk of their traffic from BedandBreakfast.com. Traffic from BedandBreakfast.com frequently converts into a substantial number of direct bookings. If you’ve been using BedandBreakfast.com and move to instant bookings or decide to drop BedandBreakfast.com altogether, your website traffic will take a hit.
SEO/Inbound Links & Domain Authority: Your SEO may suffer a bit as well. Links to your website are a big factor in your rankings with Google. The link you’ve had from BedandBreakfast.com carries a lot of weight and “authority” with it. In other words – the link to your website from BedandBreakfast.com helps with your Google rankings. Losing this valuable link will likely have an impact on your website’s ability to compete for rankings in Google. But – all your competitors will be in the same boat, and Google has incorporated other signals into their ranking algorithm like “citations”. But links still rule.
On the Bright Side:
The Billboard Effect: About 50% of the people who find your listing on BedandBreakfast.com will seek out your website by doing a Google search for your property name. Stack the deck in your favor by optimizing the Google results for searches for your property name. Follow our 4-point guide – click here. Create AdWords and Retargeting campaigns designed to convert these potential guests into direct bookings instead of OTA bookings – more information.
Citations Matter: There is strong evidence to suggest that the “citation” from your BedandBreakfast.com listing can help with your SEO. In other words, simply appearing on BedandBreakfast.com’s website is valuable to your SEO, even without the coveted link. But there’s no readily available metric for innkeepers to track for this. Now, you only have to pay for a booking instead of just having a link and hoping for the best.
What Should You Do?
If you’re an inn or bed & breakfast, the BedandBreakfast.com program is typically a pretty good fit and I highly recommend you stick with it. The upside of the new arrangement is that you don’t have to guess if the directory listing is cost-effective.
There is SEO value to sticking with BedandBreakfast.com, but there won’t necessarily be any hard evidence for it. You’ll need to determine whether their bookings and commission structure truly work for your property. If you’re on the fence, my advice is to keep your listing. Despite the changes. You might also consider signing up if you haven’t used BedandBreakfast.com in the past because of the pricing structure. There is actually more incentive to sign up now because you will only pay for bookings, not for your listing.
Checklist for More Direct Bookings
Now is a good time to bolster your presence outside of BedandBreakfast.com. Use this time to focus on building your links & citations for your website. There are many ways you can do this:
- Start by making sure you have included links to your websites on all social media profiles and business listings. Review your Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter, Google My Business, Yelp, Foursquare, and so on.
- Get in touch with the real world organizations you are part of and see if they will link to your site online, such as local bed & breakfast organizations, your local and state visitors association or chamber of commerce. You can also exchange links with vendors, business partners, and other complementary businesses, such as local spas & tour operators.
- Find local sites that are well-indexed by Google and find a way to get your website linked-to. Start by performing a search on Google for “[your city/destination] blog” or “[your neighborhood] blog.” Reach out to these sites to tell them why you have content that is valuable to them or why they should link to your site.
- Add depth & breadth of content to your website. Blogging is one of the best & easiest ways you can do this. Companies that blog regularly receive 97% more links to their website and get more of their pages indexed by Google than the ones that don’t. By consistently adding original and authoritative content to your blog, you will improve traffic and SEO. Download our guide to blogging to learn the ins-and-outs of starting and maintaining a successful blog.
- Make sure the content of your site is informative, well-written, up-to-date and clear. We encourage every website to include a strong Things to Do page to ensure that you are selling your destination as well as your accommodations. Make sure to include these other essential pages on your website as well. Remember: guests judge a property based on the website. No matter how much traffic is coming your way, you won’t get those valuable bookings with a subpar site.
- Consider AdWords and Retargeting campaigns for your website to drive more direct bookings and to better compete with OTAs for your own property name in search results.
- Optimize your Google Business Listing. Check out our Webinar on Demand “How to Rank Better in Google Map Results“.
The BedandBreakfast.com revamp may mean some big changes for your property and SEO. As a rule of thumb, I recommend sticking with BedandBreakfast.com. But now is the time to broaden your SEO efforts to make up for the lost link. With the right mindset and action plan, you can actually use these changes to your advantage. Take this change as an opportunity to build links, improve your site’s content, and re-focus your SEO efforts. In the end, you may very well come out on top.