When innkeepers take a reservation from a repeat guest or learn that a new reservation was referred by a previous guest, it’s always a good thing. The higher the percentage of repeat and referral guests, the better, because word of mouth advertising costs nothing. Or does it?
In the day to day reality of most inns, word of mouth is free. But in the larger world of marketing, advertisers (that’s anyone asking someone else to buy their product or service, including innkeepers) are spending an increasing amount on Word-of-Mouth marketing, according to a recent article from PQ Media. PQ Media reports that "Spending on word-of-mouth (WoM) marketing jumped 35.9% in 2006 to $981.0 million and is expected to top $1 billion in 2007." If WoM has now extended from just friends and family talking together to social media outlets where future guests get referrals from "friends" they may not actually know, this is huge.
According to Nielsen Online, the most popular social networking site, Myspace.com, had almost 59 million unique visitors in October, 2007, up 19% from October, 2006. Facebook.com grew 125% in the same period! The B&B Team has been addressing this issue a lot lately, because it’s important. Does this mean that you have to start spending money to get the word of mouth that has always been free? No, not really. To partcipate in the virtual WoM world takes time more than anything. If you set up a blog the cost is minimal, but it costs nothing to belong to and read various social network sites where a lot of this word-of-mouth marketing is happening. So what are you waiting for? Eavesdrop a bit. Join the party and find out what everyone’s talking about. We are!