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How to market your bed and breakfast: a complete guide

Whether you've just opened your doors or are looking to revitalise your existing bed and breakfast (B&B), crafting a strategic marketing plan is essential. A well-defined plan will help you attract new guests and establish your B&B as a destination location.

In this guide, we'll explore key marketing tactics specifically designed to target bed and breakfast guests. We'll also discuss how a Touch Stay digital guidebook can complement your marketing efforts and enhance the guest experience at your B&B.

Market to your ideal guest

Before diving into specific tactics, take a step back to consider your ideal B&B guest. Understanding their demographics, interests, and travel preferences will allow you to tailor your marketing messages to resonate with them.

Develop a guest persona

A guest persona or guest avatar is a detailed profile that outlines the characteristics of your ideal guest. You may know some of the factors intrinsically; others you might need to research, but the intent in creating this persona is to give you a reference point to focus all your messaging on. 

Consider building your persona to include the following information:

  • Age
  • Family situation (affirms whether or not your offering fits their typical family make-up)
  • Income level (helps you determine their affordability for your offering)
  • Geographic location (e.g. are they a domestic or international customer?)
  • Interests (what hobbies, sports, past-times might they want to continue if staying with you, or what information sources will they following online?)
  • Travel behaviours (understand how frequently they travel, and at what time(s) of year, whether they’re drawn to themed offerings, festivals or events, etc.)
  • Media preferences (e.g. the social media platforms they use, newspapers and magazines they read (in print and/or online), travel websites they’re fans of)

By understanding your target audience, you can determine the most effective ways to reach them. Use an online tool like SparkToro to help with audience research and how to reach your ideal B&B guest more effectively.

Set marketing goals for your B&B

Having clear goals in mind will serve as a roadmap for your marketing activities. They’ll provide a framework for you to plan within and stop you getting distracted by other things or too many new ideas, which is really easy to do when starting a B&B or doing your own marketing. 

The best goals are also measurable. Not always the easiest to write, but always the most rewarding to work towards. 

Examples of marketing goals you might set include:

  • Increase occupancy rates by a specific percentage within a certain timeframe, e.g. in the next 12 months increase occupancy from 30% to 50%
  • Achieve a certain number of bookings per month - you’ll likely factor in seasonality here and set a target for each month or season of the year
  • Grow direct bookings and become less reliant on listing sites, e.g. increase direct bookings from 10% to 35% in the next calendar year
  • Generate more positive guest reviews, e.g. aim for all reviews to be 5* by the end of this year
  • Encourage repeat bookings, e.g. 15% of all next year’s bookings are to be repeats

Market your B&B with high-quality content

Today, high-quality visuals are crucial for attracting guests. Invest in professional photography and videography that captures the ambiance and unique features of your B&B, tells the story of staying there, and gives a sense of the experience to be enjoyed. 

Whether you’re skilled enough to capture this content yourself or are instructing a professional to do it for you, aim to gather photos and videos of:

  • Guest rooms, en suite bathrooms, and any in-room amenities
  • Common areas, including the entranceway, lounges, dining areas, and libraries
  • The exterior of your B&B - drone footage is a great way to give a sense of space, location and proximity of amenities
  • Delicious breakfasts you serve
  • The typical arrival and welcome
  • ‘Unboxing’ the room as guests enter and explore their private space
  • How easy and calm it is to relax and enjoy the common areas
  • Enjoyment of any outdoor facilities, whether that’s a pool, hot tub, or a perfectly placed lounger for watching the sunset
  • Guests generally enjoying their time in the spaces available

Write compelling descriptions

Complement your visuals with engaging descriptions that highlight the distinctive qualities of your B&B while proffering a sense of experience. Prospective guests want both practical information and details that help them feel how much they’ll be able to relax and enjoy themselves. Focus on the guest experience and emphasise what sets your establishment apart from the competition.

Leverage the power of storytelling

People connect with stories. Use captivating narratives to showcase the personality and charm of your B&B. 

  • Share the history of your property 
  • Weave in tales about the surrounding area
  • Talk about the local produce used for breakfasts
  • Detail walks from the door
  • Highlight the experiences available in the words of previous guests - litter reviews and testimonials throughout your website and social media content to create a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) 

Embrace the power of online travel agencies (OTAs)

Listing your B&B on popular OTAs like and Expedia is an excellent way to increase visibility and attract potential guests who actively search for accommodation on these platforms.

When considering this as part of your bed and breakfast marketing plan, remember the purpose of this exercise is to extend reach and ‘get yourself out there’. Make sure your listings reference the name of your B&B - this might not be in the title of your listing (depending on the platform) but it would certainly be a good idea to include it in the opening line of your description!

Your listing photos could include branded B&B merchandise that’s part of your offering or available for guests to purchase. This informs the guest about both of your brand and all the little extra touches available.

You’ll also have to factor OTA listings into your pricing strategy - because they take a commission on each bookings. And clearly state, wherever possible, that the best rates are available when booking direct.

Maintain a user-friendly B&B website

A website for your B&B allows you to showcase your offering in detail and provide prospective guests with all the information they need to make a booking decision. Do your research on this - see how other B&Bs in your destination are using their websites as a marketing tool (it won’t always be great! But the purpose is to identify what works that you might want to emulate, and what’s missing that you could stand out for). 

Ensure your website is mobile-friendly (if using a developer or marketing agency to create it, brief them to build a responsive website) and includes:

  • High-quality photos
  • Engaging descriptions
  • Clear calls to action (e.g. "Book Now")
  • A user-friendly booking system or embedded booking widget
  • An image gallery
  • How to follow or connect on social media
  • A blog where you can share stories and local recommendations

Find out our top 21 website templates for short term vacation rentals

Optimise your website for search engines (SEO)

Implementing search engine optimisation (SEO) best practices will increase your website's ranking in search results and signal to the likes of Google and Bing that your website is an authority in its own right. This doesn’t happen overnight, rather it’s something that builds with time, and can be influenced by:

  • the website content being accurate and current
  • being regularly updated (this is where blogs come in handy, as well as adding new imagery from time to time)
  • having content that answers the search queries that your target audience types in to search engines (by using keywords and phrases that potential guests might use to find B&Bs in your area in your website content)
  • other websites linking to yours (e.g. your social media profiles, and any online press coverage, or any trade organisations you’re a member of)

Build a social media presence for your B&B

Social media platforms are powerful tools for connecting with potential guests and showcasing your B&B. Your guest persona will determine which platforms you’re best to be active on in order to reach your ideal guests. Share your content on your chosen platform(s) but also spend time interacting with other people's content - especially that of other businesses likely to attract the same ideal customer. 

Think of social media as an exercise in building connections and recommendations. Also take time to respond to comments or to thank people for sharing your content. And don’t be afraid to follow your peers or competitors - you might pick up ideas, you might gather followers, you might make like-minded friends or even become a referral for when they’re fully booked.

For inspiration, check out these 15 social influencers short term rental hosts need to follow.

Extend reach through social media advertising

Paid social media advertising allows you to target your ideal guest with laser focus - demographic, interest or location-specific targeting could put your place right under the nose of who you’re looking to welcome to your B&B. Create targeted campaigns that showcase the unique selling points of your B&B. And if it’s all too bamboozling, there are plentiful Facebook Ads experts out there working with small businesses like yours. 

Email marketing for B&Bs

Email marketing is heralded for its effectiveness versus social media and other marketing activities for many reasons: 

  • If someone’s happy to share their email address with you, you’ve got a direct line to them (no third party platforms and their algorithms getting in the way of your messaging)
  • Every email you send lands in their inbox (assuming you’re all set up correctly and not landing in their junk folders) and you can immediately measure whether your message hit home or flopped
  • People don’t expect (or want!) an email a day or even every week, so the pressure to create and send emails is off (compared to social media posting frequency), which also means when your email does land they’re more likely to read it
  • Email newsletters are an opportunity for storytelling, not just selling - done well, people will look forward to receiving yours for news about what’s on locally, new design touches you’ve incorporated, packages you’ve compiled or adjusted, etc. - these are all reasons to possibly stay with you again (all without mentioning the words ‘Book now’ or ‘This month’s offers’)

Building an email list will take time as you cultivate relationships with past guests and encourage potential visitors to subscribe via your website. You might want to give them a choice of which newsletters they receive - special offers, local events, updates about your B&B - or how frequently they wish to hear from you. And you might also encourage them to forward your emails to a friend!

Discover more with our ultimate guide to vacation rental email marketing.

Partner with local businesses

Collaborate with local businesses to create cross-promotional opportunities. Partner with restaurants, shops, and attractions to offer package deals or discounts to guests.

It might be instinctive for you to promote local restaurants, activities and attractions, but don’t be afraid to ask those businesses if they can consider promoting you in return. We’re not talking about giving them leaflets to put in their window or at their check-out. It could be as simple as engaging with each other’s social media posts, or it could be that each business provides the other’s customers with a value-add offer or discount (we prefer the former). 

Encourage guest reviews

Yes, we’re stating the obvious here, but you can influence the guest review at every guest touch point (and all the ones in between that you haven’t yet thought of!). Every interaction your B&B guest has with you, your team, your website or social media adds or detracts from how they feel about you. 

Proactively communicating with your guests is the starting point to a positive review. We’re not encouraging you to overwhelm them with information, but to actively seed details and inspiration to them that will help them plan their best stay at your B&B. 

This includes when it comes to departure time. Even if you have automations in place to prompt the guest to post their review of your B&B, you can communicate ahead of that (even automatically) to thank them again for their stay and to remind them a review request will be incoming. 

Steer them to tell you now if anything wasn’t quite ‘tip top’. And steer them to think about what they’ll write in their review. Get them to the things they’ve experienced and enjoyed the most (the room, the bed, the breakfast, the various elements of their package, and the restaurants they dined in and the activities they did on your recommendation). What we see when operators do this is reviews that are fuller in their verbiage and better in their scoring.

Positive guest reviews are essential for building trust and credibility. Encourage guests to leave reviews on online platforms and your website.

Use a digital guidebook

A Touch Stay digital guidebook is a versatile tool that can complement your marketing efforts and enhance the guest experience at your B&B. Here's how Touch Stay can help:

  • Provide local recommendations: present curated suggestions for restaurants, shops, and attractions in the local area so guests don’t have to search for it or wade through internet results. This will establish you as a local expert and encourage guests to explore the surroundings. Learn how to create the perfect local area guide.
  • Streamline communication: proactively communicate with guests before, during, and after their stay. Guests can easily access important information, complete forms, book packages, find activities and eateries directly through the guidebook. Find out how to master your guest communication.
  • Collect guest feedback: gather valuable feedback from guests through surveys hosted in the guidebook. Use this information to improve your offering and continuously enhance the guest experience.
  • Promote repeat bookings: encourage guests to rebook their stay directly through the guidebook.
  • Increase revenue: offer upsell opportunities within the guidebook, allowing guests to conveniently book additional services or amenities during their stay. Discover how easy it is to promote upsells and drive revenue through your guidebook. 

By implementing these proven marketing strategies and leveraging the functionality of Touch Stay's digital guidebooks, you can effectively market your B&B, attract new guests, and cultivate a loyal following that will keep your charming establishment thriving.

Ready to take your bed and breakfast marketing to the next level?

Try Touch Stay free for 14 days and discover how a digital guidebook can transform your marketing efforts and elevate the guest experience at your B&B.