The A-Z of marketing your property

Here is a helpful A-Z guide to help you market your establishment.

All things to all people – know your market segment

The expression that you can not be all things to all people is never truer than with an accommodation establishment. Guest houses and B&Bs are selected over hotels for their “personalities”.

A businessman may seek the home touch whilst on his travels, but also need a quiet environment to carry out his work. If your guest house or B&B targets families you can be sure the business person will only stay once.

Become an expert

Know your stuff – what’s good to see, where’s good to go and where’s a waste of time. Maybe compile something for your guest to browse through (whilst sipping on a nice glass of white from the honesty bar).

Clubs, Consulates, Schools, Universities, Unions

These are pivotal points of referrers with large memberships. Contact them to offer special deals to their members; provide them with mail shots to send out to their members list.

Don’t sit and wait

A guest house or B&B owner or manager should never be bored and stuck for things to do. The marketing of an accommodation establishment is about letting people know you are there.

Update your website, add photos, attractions and places to see. Start a blog, get onto Twitter and Facebook, learn a new skill. Or respond to reviews on TripAdvisor.

Get to know the other businesses in your area who might have visitors from head office in another town, drop off flyers, send newsletters – the list is endless.

See our blog post on mining your local market.  Remember clients don’t just knock on your door – you must let them find you!


Of course you want to show your guests a great time, but also maximize your income potential. How about extending that Braai night to your guests, or offering sunset snacks and champagne?

Free is a business plan

Businesses tend to have quiet periods during the year, unfortunately many of the costs are still there even if the guests are not. So promote one night free with every two nights booked.

Guest house network

clipart_of_16341_smjpg-preview_0Don’t view your fellow providers as competition, but as business colleagues. Speak to other local accommodation businesses and agree a referral program for overflow bookings.

Make contact with products further afield – many visitors to South Africa travel. Get agreements with establishments along popular travel routes that are reciprocal.

Have a unique selling point

Ask yourself what makes your business better than others? If you can’t answer the question in less than 30 seconds you don’t have a unique selling point.


It is the curse of an accommodation establishment that every Tom, Dick and Harry approaches them to buy, advertise or part with money for some good cause. Just because it seems good it might not be.

Make sure you receive justification for parting with money, for example for advertisers – how much traffic do you get, how many bookings might I expect, what makes you different, how negotiable are your rates? Double check the company’s website to verify their claims.

Know what you want to achieve

Many guest houses and B&Bs do not have a target – for example beds booked for the year, number of guests, number of extras sold, number of enquiries. Its an old (but true adage) if you don’t know what you are aiming for how will you ever get there?


One of the world’s best social and business networks with more of an emphasis on business. Visit, register and see the impact networking can have on your business.


The good news is Google has made it easy – put maps on your website showing where you are located and where tourist attractions are – a graphic picture means more than hundreds of words.

We have more helpful articles on Google Maps and Facebook Places to further assist.


Establish a mailing list and send out a regular newsletter to them. Many properties are located in beautiful areas so include photos, let them know of special offers and most importantly make sure they remember you.


Online presence

If you are not online then you are behind the times. The majority of travellers these days use the internet to search for accommodation and activities.


Even the very best guest house or B&B will have to close its doors if people can’t find it. Placement is about placing your property where so guests can see it. Whether this is online or in the local tourist information centre.

Quiet is not an option

It may sound repetitive but shout about your property. Use every form of media, online or printed, journalists, travel writers etc to get you message out there.

Why not offer a free night to a travel writer or journalist in exchange for a write-up on your property?  Whatever your method, say it loud and say it proud!!


Repeat is better than brand new

There is a marketing cost involved in attracting a new client to your establishment. A good example is the client who books through a booking agent costing you 15 – 20% of the room rate. But if they return again next year through a direct booking you have effectively eliminated the marketing cost and increased your income by 15 – 20%.

Make the stay memorable and keep in touch, maybe offer an incentive for them to come back to you.

Speed of answer

If you snooze you lose – answer enquiries quickly, there’s nothing more impressive than a quick response and it makes a great first impression.



Online visitors want to book online and want to pay online. Be available 24/7 with live availability and bookings through NightsBridge!

Understand your clients’ needs

And exceed them. Know your market segment then think about what they need.

For example if you are after the family segment, think about children’s equipment around your property like a sand pit or climbing frame.

For the business client look at providing FREE internet access.

Visual is good

Make sure your brochures show off your property in its best light. If need be invest in a professional photographer. Put a gallery on your site. Let people see the attraction rather than read about it.



Use the quieter times for staff training. Make sure they deliver the level of service you want your guests to come back for again. Encourage workers to think outside of the box and not just have tunnel vision about their specific field of work. Your team should believe in team work, everyone focused on one goal.


Accommodation establishments are personal businesses. The x-factor is your personality and your unique touch.

Your destiny is in your own hands

Running any business is hard, especially a seasonal business. It’s always easy to get down especially in the off season. Remember why you started your business and the ambitions you had. Sitting back waiting for solutions/guests to appear is not the answer.

Keep yourself motivated with to do lists, spend time each and every day on marketing and remember to congratulate yourself on achievements.

Zero tolerance

Team members need to understand your set service levels. Whether it is response times, breakfast presentations or turning down the sheets, make sure your team understand your standards and strive to meet them, letting them drop is a rocky road downwards.

This article on marketing your guest house was passed on to us by Kristi of GHASA (Guest House Accommodation of South Africa) who found it on the Incompass Financial Solutions website Incompass Financial Solutions is a GHASA preferred supplier and able to help you with insuring your property.

GHASA offers benefits, assistance and valued advice to their members, as well as booking opportunities for travellers.


ghasaThis article on marketing your guest house was passed on to us by Kristi of GHASA (Guest House Accommodation of South Africa) who found it on the Incompass Financial Solutions website Incompass Financial Solutions is a GHASA preferred supplier and able to help you with insuring your property.
GHASA offers benefits, assistance and valued advice to their members, as well as booking opportunities for travellers.