When it comes to hospitality marketing, there is always something new to learn. Offline and online marketing, social media in particular, is an ever-changing landscape. It requires attention, time and effort to stay up to date. But hey, that’s where Tremento comes in, and that’s where these blog posts come in! Today we are going to learn more about B&B Social Media Marketing, from Château de la Ruche. But these tips will be helpful for any hospitality brand.
One way to optimize your own hospitality marketing, is to learn from the best. That’s why we started the ‘leading by example’ series. So far we interviewed Little Dolce (BnB), Finca Les Coves (glamping) and The Inn at Felt Manor. Next up: Château de la Ruche, in the Loire Valley region of France.
This beautiful chateau, owned by Tim and Rebecca Jones, was featured on the Dick and Angel Strawbridge‘s second series of Escape to the Chateau: DIY.
We got the chance to interview Rebecca about the chateau and how they’ve tackled marketing. There are some golden nuggets in here, which we have highlighted with GOLD. So look for those *GOLDEN NUGGET ALERT*s (text made bold and gold). Have fun reading!
1. How would you describe Château de la Ruche and why did you start it?
France was never our plan, buying a Château was something we’d never dreamt of, but moving here was just something that fell into place, like it was somehow meant to be without us really knowing it.
I started searching online and realized that we could swap our four-bed Victorian townhouse in Stamford, England with its lovely, but admittedly little, garden for a 14-bedroom château with 15 acres of park and woodland. We’d always wanted a wild, outdoorsy childhood for our children, Rufus, 9 and Laurie, 7 and we love doing up houses so it seemed like the perfect opportunity for us.
We searched through hundreds of Châteaux online, but there was something about Château de la Ruche that kept drawing us back to it. It’s a beautiful place, hidden in the trees, surrounded by countryside, peaceful and quiet. We fell in love with it and within six months we had sold everything in the UK and we were here – that was September 2017. We had a decent renovation pot, but it was soon swallowed by boring things like plumbing, electricity and septic tanks. We knew that we would need to run the Château as a business to continue to fund the renovations and had always planned to open a bed and breakfast and host events. We opened the business with one room and the salon for serving breakfast and dinner in August 2018.
3. What did you do in terms of marketing?
As soon as we moved here I started an Instagram account to record our adventures. I shared the renovations and bits of our life here. The ups and downs, successes and failures. It grew slowly, but I kept sharing. Taking photos of the things I loved about this life. I was a journalist in my previous life and I love to write so I gradually started to write little stories about our day and our life. I found that overtly “selling” the B&B just didn’t work. But telling people about our life here made them want to be a part of it.
Instagram is very aspirational and people want to live your life through it. I’ve found that that has really worked for us. We started by offering special discounts to get early bookings and we ran a very, very discounted winter weekend break that allowed us to practice, learn the trade and get some early reviews before our first proper season which was really important for us. We also invested in our website and made it easy for people to book directly with us.
4. How important do you think social media marketing is for Château de la Ruche?
Social media has been incredibly important to us. We were fortunate to be featured on UK television, but so many of our guests have said that it’s our social media that really convinces them to book a stay with us.
Everyone searches online these days and social media really helps people to get a feel for you and your business. I would actually have no idea how to run a business without it. I was told recently that people often need up to seven touchpoints to be convinced to book something – so perhaps your website, your social media, a great review, a recommendation from someone else, an advert, a newsletter, and even a personal response to a question or email. Being visible has never been more important.
5. What would you advise other BnB or guest house owners to do in terms of social media marketing to get more guests and bookings?
I never say – “come and book a room” – I try to be aspirational and oblique about it – I might show a picture of one of our bedrooms but then talk about how the light filters through the shutters in the morning and that I can hear the birds singing – I want people to imagine how it feels to really be there.
I don’t just talk about the business, I talk about our life in France, the countryside, the renovations – it’s all part of our story and that’s what interests people. Everyone has a story to tell. If you love food and cook for your guests share recipes, or shots of your local market or your veggie patch. If you have beautiful gardens share pictures of it and talk about what it’s like to be in it.
Photography is really important and I have learned a lot about it by doing little courses online – good pictures reach more people. Always use natural light and really think about how your photo looks. I also use hashtags to broaden my reach – and I change them regularly depending on what I’m sharing. Look at what successful accounts in your industry are doing and which hashtags they are using and use the same ones.
If I do any direct selling – such as mentioning a special offer etc., I do it at the very end of a post or in my stories. I also find the Q&A feature on stories is a good one for promoting things because people often ask questions there about staying with us that we can then share with the rest of our followers.
6. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned when it comes to B&B Social Media Marketing?
Quality over quantity every, single, time. Lots of people say you should post to Instagram everyday – but I don’t. I would rather post three or four great posts a week than seven substandard ones. I spend a lot of time taking my photos and writing my captions – it’s part of my marketing plan after all. I also really engage with my audience – I reply to every comment, I reply to every DM and acknowledge every like I get on stories. It’s important that your audience feel a connection to you.
The other great thing about connecting with your guests before they arrive is that they know what to expect – if we have a crazy renovation project ongoing that has left part of the grounds in a bit of a mess they know about it already and generally just want to have a look at what’s going on rather than being disappointed.
Wauw, what an interview, right?! So much useful information about hospitality and B&B social media marketing. I hope you use those golden nuggets to your own benefit. I’d highly recommend any hospitality brand to listen to what Rebecca says here. We, at Tremento, preach the exact same thing.
So, if after reading this interview, you are wondering, but how do I use the question function on Instagram Stories? Or how to even use Instagram Stories? Then no stress: check out our membership program, too. We will make social media marketing fun instead of a struggle for you.
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Just a final little thing: are you already part of our Hospitality Marketing Facebook Group? If not, please join! It’s 100% free. You can find the group right here: click.