Top Tips to Improve Your Business During Lockdown
Quick View of Contents
- Inspire Guests by Bringing Your Local Area to Life
- Update & Refresh Your Photography
- Update Your ‘Google My Business’ Listing
- Customer Reviews, Feedback Forms & Guest Books
- Critique Your Own Website
- ‘Up Our Game’ – Personalise Your Communication
- Customer Database – Refresh It & Use It
Tasks We Can Do at No Cost
Here are 7 top tips and ideas to help improve your business that you can do from home (and need not cost anything).
During these difficult times of social isolation we have quite a lot time on our hands. How can we make best use of it? We can start with all those tasks at home have been putting off, teach ourselves new skills, improve existing ones, spend time with our families and of course relax. Time to plan and prepare our businesses for when things improve.
Be Positive & Pro-active
The “new normal” of social isolation is important for us all at the moment. However, it has rapidly affected how we live and work. The impact on most businesses has been profound as we have seen our business almost dry up overnight and our incomes reduced. Whilst these are very daunting and uncertain times for us all, we must focus on staying healthy, being kind to each other and take this time to be both positive and proactive.
Bucket Lists & Dreams of Holidays
As we are all now stuck at home, many of us are creating bucket lists and dream of time away with loved ones, families and friends when we can (I know I am). To take advantage of what will most likely be a significant surge in interest, here are seven great ideas to help you improve your business during this period of social isolation. They can help you stand proud of your competitors:
Inspire Guests by Bringing Your Local Area to Life
What do guests enjoy when staying with you? Inspire them with ideas, suggestions and recommendations. Write a blog or add new pages to your website to provide additional useful information helping guests put you on their wish list.
Google loves fresh and relevant content so here are a few suggestions:
- 10 Great Things to See & Do in Your Area
- An Expert Guide to 48 Hours on ‘The Scottish West Coast’ – weekend guides to see the best your region has to offer
- Top Places to Eat & Drink – Your recommendations and suggestions, include tea shops, restaurants, breakfast cafes, coffee shops, favourite pubs and takeaways
- Fun Outdoor Activities – Enjoyable and active ideas for all
- Local Places to Visit – Recommendations & links to appropriate local websites
- Shopping & Local Facilities – Farm shops to local markets, convenience stores and curio shops.
- Local Food Delivery Services – Supermarkets, farm shops and restaurants
- Day Trips and Ideas – Further afield highlights worth heading out for the day for
- Best Walks, Bike Rides & Local Adventures – List popular routes, favourite dog walks, bike hire etc.
- ‘Chef In House’ Recommendations – Romantic meal, family celebrations, Party events
- Local Events (promote these too) – List all the key local events & dates
- Unique Local Experiences & Ideas – Novel experiences that can be enjoyed – Falconry, zip lining, micro brewery tours, local cooking school, micro safaris.
Handy Tip – Promote and recommend local suppliers, restaurants, pubs and providers of activities, trips and places to visit. They may well add you to their website or recommended places to stay such as you.
Update & Refresh Your Photography
A picture is worth thousand words and springtime is such a good time to get some wonderful photos. Use your 1 hour of outside exercise to photograph your area whilst out for a walk or a bike ride. Nothing helps bring your holidays to life better than good striking imagery. What is that your guests love when staying with you, take photos and show them off?
Take photos of the highlights and headline them on your website, post them on social media and don’t be shy. Shout out to all and if they like it, they will share it too. Do not let some of your best attributes be a surprise to arriving guests, give them a taster so they want to experience it too. Inspire them to want to come to you. Go on, snap away and share.
These photos can include:
- Sunny external photos of your property & garden
- Local landscapes and countryside
- Views on site and nearby
- Local wildlife in your location
- Things to see and do locally
- Well-lit and striking internal photos of the property
- Quirky features and characteristics of your property
Update your ‘Google My Business’ Listing
You will all have seen these appear on the right hand side of a Google search. This is a free and valuable listing for your business and easily updated. When people are browsing your region or location it is very likely your business will appear at the top of the Google Listings as a selection of options available. Make sure yours is right up to date and standing out as best it can against your local competitors.
Is your business set up correctly, have you validated it and checked the map location is correct. Are you getting ‘Google Reviews’?
You can update the content, photos, web links, opening hours, business categories and directions. Update or set up your ‘Google My Business’ listing. Ask for more Google Reviews, you can send out request a review link to your customers to increase your number of Google Reviews. They really do make a difference.
For more information on how to improve your Google listings see Wordstream’s ‘The Easy Guide to Optimizing Your Google My Business Listing’
Customer Reviews, Feedback Forms & Guest Books
What is that guest’s love about you or how could you do it better? Go on, ask them and you be often rewarded with some superb feedback.
Do you have a guest book in your cottages, do you have a guest feedback form you can leave out with your thank you note and look forward to seeing them again in the future.
Reviews are great way to find out about what people love about staying with you, look back at all your previous reviews and pluck out positive comments around a common theme. These are a great way to base your marketing and promotion around. If guests keep mentioning certain points, other potential guests will love these too so tell them. Photograph it, headline them and show potential guests what they can expect to see when they arrive.
Extract a few comments from your guest book, quote them on your website, photograph them and pop them on your Social Media sites and Google My Places. All of this will help tell your story and bring it to life.
Critique Your Own Website (or ask a friend to do it for you)
“On average web users will only read between 20-28% of any webpage during their visit.”
Most visitors will spend no longer than 10 seconds on your website. In that time you need to grab their attention straight away, engage them and encourage them to explore further.
Your website is vital to your business and where the majority of potential new guests will get their first impression of your business. Does your website perfectly capture your company’s personality, values, your brand, highlight your proposition and have a call to action?
Can you improve what is on your website and how visitors navigate their way around it? Look at it from a potential guest’s point of view and see how easy it is to find the most important information.
Be aware that visitors could end up on various landing pages from their search so they all need to work hard for you not just your home page.
Key questions you need to ask yourself (or someone else)
- Is the website engaging and attention grabbing?
- Is the visitor excited to explore your website more?
- Are your web highlights and your unique headlines visible?
- Does your website answer all their likely questions?
- Is your website easy to navigate, search options, check availability, book or enquire?
- Are your customer reviews easy to see and view?
- Do you attract the right type of customers that you want to appeal to?
- Does your website provide good background knowledge which will invoke trust & expertise?
- Does your website include a clear ‘Call to Action’ e.g. ‘Book Now’, ‘Enquire Now’ or ‘Check Availability’
How Can We ‘Up Our Game’ – Personalise Your Communication
High quality of service and accommodation is now the expected norm. So what can we do to make sure we stand out from the rest and wow our guests? Brainstorm ideas and then choose the best and easiest ones to implement. Don’t forget that it is the little things that often resonate. Here a few ideas about simple personalised communication below but there are plenty of others you could consider.
Before The Holiday – Guests will be excited about their upcoming holiday, increase the excitement with a few personalised emails, texts or notelets.
When you send out your ‘Your Holiday with Our Wonderful Cottages’ pre-arrival message remind them of what they may need to bring, a packing list idea, offer to book activities, local food suppliers and deliveries, ask them if there is anything you can for their arrival.
On Arrival – Write a personalised welcome note with your contact number on top of the information pack and next to your tray of local produce you have laid out for them. Some milk and a bottle of chilled wine prosecco is already in the fridge.
On Departure – Personalised thank you note, a feedback form for them to complete and wish them a good journey home. A post card from the area or been created for your cottages that they can send to loved ones.
Follow Up – Another great way to get more feedback and ask for a review whilst the happy memories of their stay. Within a week of their departure send a link to them to post a review. Add a friends and family discount offer to help them spread the word on social media with your #tag.
For other ideas see ‘Go That Extra Mile For Your Customers’ blog article.
Customer Database – Refresh It & Use It
I recently received a hand written postcard from a holiday lodge owner I stayed with last year who sent us a picture of their new fabulous ‘Eco Pods’ they have had built at their location and offering us 20% discount to stay in one of them.
Your database is one of your most valuable resources and powerful tool you have available to you. It is not to be underestimated. These are customers who have already been lucky enough to have experienced a holiday with you. What is better than the potential of repeat business or third party recommendations?
How often do you communicate with your customers and guests? Have you updated them on any changes you have implemented, awards, ‘Green Tourism’ initiatives, new tourist attractions etc.?
Now plan what information you can send out to your customers to engage them. Ask them to follow your Social Media pages, add any reviews or guest comments.
- Make sure your database is all up to date or create a new one
- Add in any new customers and delete old email addresses
- Segment your very best customers and create specific messages and special offers for them
- Add names, telephone number, email address, home address from existing customers
- Be aware that you need to be complying with the latest GDPR opt in rules.
- Communicate with your customers with news, offers, holiday ideas and inspirations
Focus on What You Can Control
Our lives at present are somewhat out of our control. It is an opportunity for us take control of what we can. We can help ensure our businesses be as ready as it can be when everyone can safely emerge out of their homes and come out to play again.
‘Raise guest expectations and then exceed them’.
That is not a bad place to start.
Stay safe, healthy, positive, think outside the box and get creative. Good luck.