Want to start a B&B or gîte business in France and not sure how to go about marketing it? You might find this advice useful.
Q: I want to start a B&B business in France, is it worth while sinking money into marketing or can I rely on word of mouth (as others seem to have done)? And if I do spend money on advertising etc, should I do it from the start, before opening, or wait until I have a more established setup to showcase?
A: Verity Reeve of Relocate France said: “Investment in marketing is never wasted! Even if it doesn’t have a direct or immediate result, marketing raises the profile of the service you are offering. Try to think beyond the obvious – which with a B&B is going to be Airbnb – and also access the French market via leboncoin.fr which is the go-to site for French people looking to source everything from second-hand children’s clothes to holidays, including B&Bs for their travels around France.
“For your marketing to those in the UK, it is a good idea to have a really simple (and probably email rather than postal) mail-shot to send to any organisations with members who might want to stay in your area. For example, if you’re near a golf course you could send an email to golf clubs near ports in the UK – make it easy for them! If you have wonderful walks on your doorstop, then you could get in touch with rambling clubs. If there are cycle tracks… you’re getting the idea.
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“If you have a ‘home town’ in the UK, then mail-shot places you frequented when you were there – the local doctor’s surgery, the library, the schools – proffering your B&B and offering a small discount if they take it up, thanks to the personal connection. It’s great to remove the risk factor of booking accommodation and if you can remove that by being an erstwhile contact then, again, it makes it easy for people to book with you.
“It’s remarkable how time, thought, and effort can pay dividends and the actual cost outlay is very little – so it’s not a decision about how much money to spend, rather time devoted. And the sooner the better. While a B&B will always have some ad-hoc bookings naturally, people planning a trip will be looking in advance so don’t wait until you have opened – do it now mentioning the date from which you will be open. A last thought – as someone who runs an estate agency in France, make sure all the local agents know of your B&B. Very often people visiting to view properties for sale will ask their agent where they might stay. I am sure you’ll have the ‘No Vacancies’ sign up very soon!”
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