Do Not Let The Oil Spill Affect Your Bookings!

June 12th, 2010 by Mariah

If you own a Bed and Breakfast or Boutique Hotel along the Gulf Coast, you are probably a little concerned about what will become of your beaches following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. And you are not the only ones, millions of travelers are wondering the same thing. On top of everything else, now you also have to worry about this summer’s bookings.

But fear not: the fate of your summer bookings has not yet been sealed. According to a survey commissioned by the Beaches of South Walton, there is still hope for Gulf Coast owners. When we got our hands on this data it really gave us hope, so we wanted to share the info with you.

  • Most repeat Gulf Coast visitors have not discarded their plans of returning this summer. Of the travelers who visited the Gulf Coast in 2009, 62% plan to return again this year. And perhaps even more reassuringly, only 5% excluded the beaches of South Walton explicitly because of the oil spill.
  • As for the first timers, well they might just be waiting a little bit longer before booking – and this should be no surprise. Last-minute bookings have been a trend in travel for quite some time now. About 46% of the travelers planning to come to the area have not yet made their reservations.
  • Let’s say the worst case scenario happens and the oil does reach the beaches. Approximately 30-40% of the Gulf Coast travelers still plan to visit even if the beaches are affected.

Based on the results of this survey, your odds of filling your calendar this summer are still pretty good. Still, you need to take a proactive approach in securing bookings.
 

 

Here’s how:

Post current photographs of your beaches. Although we typically do not advocate date stamps on the photos for your listings, now might be the time. Prove to travelers that the beaches are still as pristine as ever.Promote the surrounding area. The beach may be a huge attraction (and likely half the reason you bought your Inn), but think about all the other fun things to do in your area. When you receive an inquiry, be sure to talk up the restaurants, shopping, your community pool, amusement parks, and any other activities available to your guests. This information should also be prominently displayed in your listing.Solicit reviews. If you have guest staying in your Bed and Breakfast now, it’s more important than ever to get reviews from actual guests who can attest to the condition of the beaches and all of the other entertainment options in the area. Offer specials. While we’re always advocates of holding out for the best price, now is the time to really consider offering incentives to your prospective guests. The last-minute nature of these bookings may make the market more competitive. While you don’t have to give away the farm, offering extras like beach service, 7th night free or discount attraction tickets can make the difference to an on-the-fence traveler. Perhaps you already offer these types of specials but haven’t updated your listing to reflect it. It’s your job to make your property and the area as appealing as possible. If you would like to take advantage of our “Specials and Events” Add-On, please contact us at Denee@TheInnkeeper.com, and we will set that option up for your listing today!Your best approach is to stay proactive. Reach out to past guests, update your listings, and be thorough with your communications to possible guests. Although you can’t control the results of the oil spill, there are plenty of ways to take control of your bookings this summer.