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Best place to advertise


Strider

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We have a large house in Normandy (76) and have let it out to family and friends. We put an advert in our Christmas cards three year ago and the bookings came in. This year the bookings have dried up. Can anyone help as to the best place to put an advert and at what cost? We are not looking for wall to wall bookings just the summer holidays will do.  

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Try holidaylets, vocationrentals, holidaylettings, to name some or do a google for Gites in France loads will come up, they all list there prices. When you are looking at these sites go to your area and see how there bookings are going on the availability calander and see what the competition is like.

Good luck.

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Strider - where are you in 76? We are near Forges-les-Eaux and we advertise in:

www.VisitFrance.co.uk

www.holiday-rentals.com

www.sawdays.co.uk

So far I have 21 weeks booked for this year, mostly through those sites.

We originally were with frenchconnections and although they were good at first (3 years ago), they changed their website and we found that we were never near the top of the listings and hardly got any enquiries so we have stopped using them.

Good Luck!

www.leGaillon.com

 

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We have found Visit France to provide most of our bookings. We tried Chez Nous the first year without success far too big. We decided also to ensure we are in a publication, French magazine has given us one booking, France magazine several enquiries within the first few days of publication. We'll see.
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Hi Catherine.

 

I hope this message finds you well and well booked.

 

This email is quite old and I am wondering whether you are 'still in business' so to speak?   We have a cottage close to Aumale (not far from Forge) that I am considering letting so would be grateful to know whether anything has changed since the email above?

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

Sounds a familiar story where best to advertise.....as a Chambre d'Hote we have two stand alone websites, a further website on the delights on Southwest France which is linked to our main website and advertise in 18 other sites both here in France,Britain and Good ole U.S.A....really need to see what sites top the first page on the major search engines...Google..Yahoo etc..you will then see a pattern emerge on these "hits" and these are usally the advertising sites pulling in the enquires...but be warned your style, website, content, pictures and prices need to be fine tuned to get people to make contact.These days you have to work hard to get a booking if anyone tells you different they really don't have a clue and best to ignore them! 

Other threads past have mentioned Frenchconnections.co.uk.....have to say that we too have not had a single enquiry as this was are first year to advertise with them....we won't be renewing our advert for 2007....just a personal view!

 

 

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another personal view.....

have used frenchconnections in recent years to advantage and despite website change have had enquiries and bookings for 2006...

tried holiday-rentals.com for first time this year - complete disaster - only 4 enquiries - unlikely to repeat booking for 2007

we do have our own website.... but would be very concerned if rentals were an essential source of income....a warning for future "investors" anywhere in la france profonde....

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We have had our place advertised with French Connections for the past 3

years. The first 2 years were fine but this year a disaster, I think

they are too large now and their new site I don't like, definitely

won't be renewing with them. I have only one property so don't want to

spend a fortune on advertising....any idea's are welcome!!!!

aj

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I don't think it's so much the problem that the websites aren't doing their jobs, I think it's a particularly bad year this year.  I know two different gite owners in different parts of France, both of whom have been virtually full from May to September by April for the last couple of years only have bookings for July and August this year![:(]
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I seem to remember a similar thread last year about this time and many, including myself, were rather concerned about some of the websites on which we advertised and the fact it appeared to be a 'flat' year.

I keep what I consider quite good stats on where my business comes from. I have my own website to which many of the websites on which I advertise link to. This can lead to very deceiving results and I will give an example. If I look at my leads on the French Connections website I have basically converted a very small percentage in to actual bookings (one I think) which makes it look hardly worth my while advertising with them. However, when I look at the actual bookings that I received and where they came from the amount from French Connections is very high. This initially looks very odd but for the simple reason that many have gone through the French Connections website to mine and booked through mine. I have actually had just over 10 times the value of my French Connections (I have 4 properties advertised) invoice in bookings which makes it, in my mind, worth staying with them.

This is just one example and I have others with people like Visit France who I will advertise again with this year as they have out performed French Connections and well worth the investment.

Many people don't tend to book their B&B holidays until nearer the time, especially the English, because of flight prices (my area) and many other different reasons. I like some others here started to panic a bit last year but at the end of the year (which started off just the same as this) my business had grown by just over 23%.

I have heard many people with pet theories like it goes in 3 year cycles, it was a cold winter, the year before was too hot etc, etc, but my stats, which are not perfect but work for me, indicate that it's just the same as the last three years and I am anticipating further business growth of a minimum of 20%.

Now to the main question of where to advertise, well we advertise on many sites last year in fact it was 24 world wide although many we do not pay to advertise on. Our bookings from June 2005 to Dec 2006 however break down as follows.

 

Name                                                               % Booking

Bead and Breakfast Europa (DK)                     0.57

BNB France (UK/FR)                                      1.15

Clévacances (FR)                                             2.31

Cybervision (FR)                                              0.57

French Connections (UK)                                 3.48

Great Bed and Breakfast (UK)                          0.59

Late Rooms (UK)                                             1.15

Recommendation                                              2.9

Repeat Business                                               17.34

Tourist Office                                                    8.7

Visit France (UK)                                             4.6

Passing Trade                                                   10.40

Our Website                                                     46.24

 

As you can see only 8 out of 24 have produced and bookings but then all the ones we pay to be on are in the above list. You may draw your own conclusions from this.

 

Hope this helps.

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Must run my own stats to post here. One thing I did notice is that the mix of places providing us bookings is quite different from that last year.

I wonder about the number of hits listed as "own website" though. As a result of links to our website from other listings it's often far from easy to work out where the booking "really" came from.

For example, we have just received some guests who said they'd found us via our own website when we asked. However, they referred to us as "Mas d'Estagel" which is the name used for us by Chris of French Country Guesthouses. So, it's really a FCG booking. There are many others in the same vein but difficult to track down: I well remember a thread from around this time last year when the comment was made by someone that as she'd received very few bookings from visitfrance that year she was reluctant to renew but did in the end sans the link to her own website: all of a sudden she started to receive booking enquiries from them because without the link to her own site, they had to use the visitfrance e-mail facility to contact her ie she'd been getting bookings from them all along but just didn't know the actual source (something I'm always wary of when not renewing advertising).

There are many other examples in a similar vein that I could quote where it becomes clear that someone has booked us via our own website but only after they've found us somewhere else, due to a click-through, to avoid booking fees or even because they've looked up our own site to find out more info before booking.

So, I don't regard our own 24% or so own-site bookings as being completely own-site bookings.

 

Arnold

 

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I agree with Arnold and Chris regarding the need to be very careful with interpreting where your business is coming from.  We haven't been going nearly as long as they have, so I don't speak with as much authority, but at face value we get about 65% of business through our website. 

However, closer examination shows that over half of this comes through people finding our website through other portals - mainly free - where we are listed.  So only 29% of bookings actually come directly to us through search engines throwing up our website.  We always check how they found us when anyone books, either by phone or email.  If they say they found us through our website we always ask whether it was via a search engine like Google or Yahoo or through another website (and who).

It makes me laugh when at the end of a free advert trial (there seem to be lots of them about) a company comes back and asks us to pay to extend our advertising, then when we say we haven't had any bookings through them and our site stats show nobody has come to our website through them, they say 'Well, all you need is one or two bookings in the next year and the advertising is paid for' (we do B&B, by the way).  Duh, so by that logic I should just work to keep my advertiser in business, should I?  And who's to say that room wouldn't have been booked through another source anyway? 

I reckon that unless we get back at least 10 times in bookings what

we pay an advertising, then it is not worth having.  On this basis GdF/AA and Cap-Location have already done passed the test this year and we will doubtless add another source of advertising next year.  I think it is helpful to have some objective measure of this sort in order to decide whether to continue with a medium or dump it and try something else.  Not necessarily the 10% rule that we have but something with which you're happy.

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In the interests of declaring potentially vested interests for this reply, let me say upfront that I run the listings sites ourinns.org & ourgites.org for those that don't know.

 

Bear in mind that your own site statistics are not necessarily representative of the interest drummed up by a listing that you may have on any particular site. For example, consider visitfrance which last year had some serious slagging on this forum. What actually appears to have happened is that they changed how they implemented the click-throughs and thereby largely disappeared from the site stats of those listed with them. The click-throughs could still be seen by looking at the stats provided by visitfrance themselves but I suspect that the majority of people just looked at the visitfrance visitors recorded by their own stats and dropped their subscription. If they offer the chance, look at the stats provided by the listing company before deciding that they're useless; you may be quite surprised.

Don't forget too that many listings sites give you quite a chunky webpage these days so people may decide on the basis of your entry on the site to book and never look at your own website. The more complete your entry is on a site, the more common this is likely to be which is one of the reasons why you'll often see a "click here to mail owner" rather than a straight e-mail link (without the "click to mail" link, the site can't record any stats for you).

But even those stats aren't as reliable as they used to be. For example, I thought that I'd join the crowd and provide stats on the visits that individual property pages received on the ourinns/ourgites sites. It's far from simple to do it in a relevant and accurate way. Do I provide you with a count of all visitors that you receive for instance? That may well include the likes of google's robot software and therefore count a lot of visitors which aren't real. On the other hand, if I only count those which have a "referrer" (the search string used to reach the page) then that seriously undercounts the total as it will exclude people doing right-click, open as new page in their browser (very common on a listings site, of course). As an example of how extreme the difference is, on the ourinns/ourgites stats there are 10-20 times the number of visitors recorded without a "referrer" as there are with one which obviously makes a sizeable difference in how the stats look: you might renew a paid-for subscription if the site listed 100 hits per month (ie, in theory one or two bookings a month) but not if they only counted the total as 5.

Although I don't charge for listings, I also emphasize with those sites that say "you just need 1 or 2 bookings to pay for the entry". After all, those 1 or 2 that are directly attributable to siteX may well represent under 50% of those that you actually received from them but counted as own-site bookings. In fact, we are on one site ourselves which gives us hundreds of website hits but almost no bookings can be attributed to it. I'm quite sure that we are getting bookings from them given the sheer number of hits but those bookings are currently counted as "by phone", "own website", etc. (it's a French language site, so mainly "by phone" I suspect).

What I would say is to bear in mind that a rough rule of thumb for marketing is that you should expect around a 1% return ie at least 100 hits on your page per booking. So, taking a very broad brush approach, if the free trial place provides stats, divide those by 100 to get a feel for how many bookings you really received from them. In practice, I suspect that dividing by 50 would be more realistic for a listings site (ie a 2% return or 50 hits per booking). Watch too when you start your free trial: for B&B there's little point in signing up for a 3 month trial starting November but it would probably be pretty handy if the three months started in May or June.

Finally, remember that sites change, the rankings of sites changes and, at the end of the day, you really don't know how people will get to you. OK, a down year for frenchconnections, but who's to say that they won't get their act together for next year? Granted, it would be daft to keep paying for sites that didn't bring any bookings but I'd be inclined to renew after one down year on the assumption that the guys behind the site would be working very hard to get back up the rankings again.

 

 

Arnold

 

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I shall declare my vested interest as an owner registered on OurInns! 

What do you think of the stats provided by Google Analytics, Arnold?  I tend to rely on this rather than anything generated by the portals themselves.  It seems mighty impressive and has had very good reviews on the webmaster forums, allowing an enormous amount of cross-analysis and drilling down into the data to determine who is accessing your website and how they got there. 

It's extraordinary how some people hit your site through Google (keywords I mean).  Combinations I would never have imagined.  Like 'Gay Alencon' for us!  Because in our Livre d'Or quotes there is one from someone called Gay. 

It also shows from which sites the visitor was referred, what sort of screen resolution they were using, what platform, what browser version, which pages they enter on, where they leave, how many pages they look at, how long they look at each page, where their URL is located, etc. etc. etc. enough to keep a statistician happy for days.  Very useful.

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I have analytics running on the inns & gites sites but don't find them overlly useful to be honest, hence my work on the stats for the sites.

The problem is that what I think is most useful is how exactly someone reached the "final" page in the site which isn't really obvious from the analytics reports. For example, if you look at the analytics reports for your own site you should (hopefully) see that there are hits from ourinns.org which is nice for me but not really that useful for you. What I think would be more useful to you would be to know that a) the visitor came from ourinns and b) what the original search was that got them there and that information isn't available via analytics.

The other problem with analytics is the "no referrer" issue. I find on my own logfiles a rapidly growing number of visitors falling into that category. Analytics (and other similar software) can't really do anything about them yet the number is massive: last week I had 2400 visitors and 2000 of those listed as "no referrer". You can't even dismiss them as being mainly the crawling software either; I did a detailed run-though of the figures a few months back and I think it was something like 75%+ were real people who'd either typed the domain in directly or did right-click, open new window (naturally very common on a listings site).

And then there's the speed. I don't have the patience to wade through all the reports.

Finally, and possibly most significantly, there's the undercounting. I compared the numbers picked up from analytics (and another counter I used prior to it) and there's a very significant degree of under-recording of hits. It's not so easy to check it on analytics but with the previous counter I was able to click on a page and see it not counting the click quite directly. I don't know why that's happening but it appears to happen with analytics in the same way. Can't remember the exact figures but I think the counter was recording something like 1/3rd of the actual number of pageviews (the percentage recorded seemed to vary over time).

 

Arnold

 

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[quote user="mascamps.com"]

The other problem with analytics is the "no referrer" issue. I find on my own logfiles a rapidly growing number of visitors falling into that category. Analytics (and other similar software) can't really do anything about them yet the number is massive: last week I had 2400 visitors and 2000 of those listed as "no referrer".

[/quote]

Now that is odd, I agree.  I have hardly any non-referrers .  You're right about it not being straightforward to get to some results - it takes a while to get to grips.  In fact it can be a right pain in the bum to find out how to get to some things.

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Could be that you're getting lower numbers of non-referrers as you've a lot less incoming links to your site (200 vs my 600 on my property site plus maybe another 1200-odd on the listings sites). My thinking is that the majority of those are probably listings sites in some form (I try to list everywhere) some of which may not pass on the referral info.

The basic problem with the listings sites is that it's obviously very common for people to run down the listings and get to your site with right-click thus losing the referrer info. So if I've got in total something like 2000 odd incoming links from listings sites then that would, in principle, equate to 10 times the number of no-referrers that you have.

Whatever the reason, it leaves me with 400 known routes into the site from real people and over 1500 unknown routes in from real people over the last week. Figures like that make it quite tempting to disable right-click on the inns/gites sites but then whilst that would make the stats more useful for those listed it would make the site that bit harder to use for potential guests.

 

Arnold

 

 

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I have a much simpler way which I use when guests are here and I am thinking of expanding it to my website.

Most of our guests do appear to come through our website but they may get there (and mascamps) via a totally different route. We are published in several books now as is our website so they might just type in our website address. What we do is actually ask people how they found us. After all it's the ones that find you and book that are interesting because you can use this information to discover why others don't. You can also ask why they chose you which is equally important. I intend to add a sectin to our online enquiry form that will help us find out how they found us. As we know what websites we advertise on we can just give a drop down list with a 'Other' option and a box for people to enter information ,llike search engine string if we are lucky. This will be far more simpler than wading through loads and loads of Stats trying to work out whats what.

One thing I remember (I hope this is right) is that mascamps said he changed some text on his website and his ranking went up. This is quite normal with google as they stopped using keywords for searching last year. Their primary method is the text in the website and then they look at the keywords. There are ways of detecting all this with very sophisticated software and if you want to know more you can contact me via PM just in case I accidently break the no advertising rules.

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