Small independent accommodation businesses in Wales are continually looking for ways to advertise on the internet to drive visitors to their Wales hotel or guest house. This is not been an easy task because not only are they up against the big marketing spend of large hotel and motel chains but as independent businesses they are unable to achieve economies of scale and simply become needles in a haystack on the worldwide web.
In addition, much of the sought-after accommodation in Wales is far from the madding crowd up winding mountain roads or deep in valleys that are ill-served by Broadband. Their only alternative has been to secure listings on agency websites with an initial set-up charge, commission payable on bookings and invariable a charge per transaction. This can amount to advertising costs as high as 35% of turnover and in trying to recover these, rate that are uncompetitive or profit margins too low to sustain the business.
So what’s the answer? Well, in the first place it’s a matter of education; the opportunities are out there but because the search engine marketing industry is some three years ahead of business according to the Search Engine Journal, businesses are simply out of touch with reality. Who then is to provide this education; tourism associations, tourist boards or the search marketers themselves? Answer: the search marketers. Why? Because tourism associations and tourist boards are hardly more knowledgeable and often less so than tourism businesses themselves with the blind leading the blind. So it’s incumbent on the search marketing industry to reach out to these businesses with new products and services that are simple to understand and can demonstrate real savings in a way small independent businesses can grasp.
There’s yet another challenge, which is how can trust be won from businesses that may have already experienced disappoint from ‘quick fixes’ offered by so-called search marketers when it’s impossible for all businesses buying into these can find themselves listed on the first page of Google search; even less possible now Google Places occupies top spot in Google’s own organic listings. Here though is exactly where one of the biggest opportunities lies for small independent tourism businesses. They just need to be told, which is why Tourism Wales UK has become one of the first, if not the first, online tourism marketing associations in the UK to tackle this. It’s a marketing gap that’s been crying out for some time now to be filled; a gap that the agency business model simply won’t fit into and as small independent tourism businesses become liberated the agencies will very soon find themselves imperilled.