Sage Blossom’s Sample Section from the eBook “Marketing — Standing Out From The Competition”

Web Site Versus Brochure

Do you need either a web site or a brochure — or both? They both express your market niche and illustrate the guest experience. They both help promote the existence and details of your B&B, get the word out about you. It never ceases to amaze me when an innkeeper chooses to not have a web site or to decide to let their brochure go. Both arecritical to your success. The job of the web site and brochure, like the ads you run, is to get the phone to ring so you can sell the guest experience to those who have expressed interest in staying with you. Your web site is found by a wider audience than print ads are, and for less money. Your brochure hits a smaller audience but is portable, allowing it to be used in ways your web site can’t be. For a web site to be most effective you must register and use your own domain name ( For a brochure to be most effective it must be printed with quality in mind. You can have a web site without your own domain name but those names are usually long, convoluted, and unmemorable. You can print a brochure without quality and it’s unmemorable — and sends a negative message about your B&B.

In my opinion, you must use both vehicles to market your inn. Review the pros and cons of each to understand their respective strengths and weaknesses so that you can use them to your advantage.

Web Site Pros:

  • it’s expandable, allowing you to offer lots of detail
  • you can make changes “instantly”, easily updating facts, verbiage pictures, and specials
  • you can incorporate online reservations into your site, making it easier for guests to book with you
  • it’s a great place to present detailed facts and benefits
  • it allows you to show guest rooms and common areas, the grounds, food, views, special events and yourself — for very little incremental cost
  • you can have sound, letting you effectively take viewers on a guided tour, making it a more personal, enticing experience [Though let it be an option of the viewer since you never know where they are surfing the net. Don’t blast people with sound without their permission. Another problem with sound is that it slows the downloading of your site and if people don’t have high speed connections they may lose interest in waiting for your pages to load and move on to other inns. Even with fast connections and computers, the Internet can be slow, thus slowing the downloading of your site]
  • you can link to other businesses and information for your guests’ benefit
  • broad distribution channel — international
  • you can link to other businesses and information ports for your guests’ benefit
  • you don’t have to react immediately to an inquiry from a potential guest, the Internet can handle that contact for you, though you should respond to emails quickly
  • easy distribution
  • links to other sites like the chamber of commerce, travel and visitors bureau, weather, MapQuest, local attractions, or entertainment which adds value and helps your potential guests understand why they should stay at your inn
  • your can encourage viewer communication by providing your email address on each page [Use a business email with your domain name like, for example. Don’t forget to use a “signature” at the end of each email including all contact information (even the city and state). Don’t use vcards — virtual business cards — with your email because they just add clutter to your correspondents’ “Attachments” file.]
  • relatively inexpensive

Web Site Cons:

  • non-professional photographs are even more glaring in this environment than they are in brochures
  • the server can be down when people go to your site, keeping them from getting the information they were seeking
  • sets expectations of potential guests that you will be readily available by email [take that as a hint: consider the importance of checking email several times a day and adding that to your duty list. I talk about duty lists, with samples, in my e-book Daily Operations — The 8-Ring Circus.]
  • your site can get lost in the abundance of information that’s on the Internet
  • it’s too easy to forget that you have old or outdated information; rates, the number of guest rooms, special events, owner’s name (if there’s been a change of owner), seasonal events, or specials you have offered that are now expired
  • URL typos in ads, listings, or articles, or by the user at the computer will effectively “lose” you to their searches
  • bad design can muddy your marketing effort — hard to navigate through, slow loading, difficult to find the needed or desired information, insufficient details like the number of guest rooms or the breakfast “menu”
  • a tendency to overuse technology can make your site hard to use or slow loading
  • because the technology of the Internet and web sites changes so fast, you may fail to say current with the trends, ultimately frustrating your viewers

Brochure Pros:

  • portable
  • an important communication vehicle for low-tech communication
  • a good addition to your PR packets
  • great place to present summary facts and benefits
  • you have control of the finished product quality (paper, colors, photo reproduction)

Brochure Cons:

  • long shelf life, leaving “old” facts or mistakes out there “forever” [include an “effective date” to at least give your brochure holders a reference point so they won’t be surprised when you don’t have the same prices you did, say ten years ago.]
  • non-professional photographs can set an unprofessional tone to your inn
  • you have to react to a potential guest’s inquiry, interrupting the flow of your day
  • cost for complex brochure quality (paper, color, photos)
  • inventory control can be inconvenient
  • limited distribution
  • slow distribution channel
  • limited space (cost constraints) to present much of the guest experience, price, contact information and a map
  • bad design — poor quality paper and printing, insufficient information about the inn and guest experience, words written over graphics (sketches or photographs) so the words become difficult to read, contact information is difficult to find

This is a sample from the eBook “Marketing: Standing Out From The Competition”. Click here to order this eBook and others in the Series.