I want to share with you how I successfully helped launch Carlton House and covered my six-month rate in just one week.
Bilyana, contacted me in January 2017, requesting I help set up her new venture.
For years, Carlton House in Scarborough was used for student accommodation, but now with the University moving, Bilyana had the idea of transforming it into a place for the general public.
There was one problem, she didn’t know how to go about doing it.
In May 2017, we sat down and put a plan together for the next six months.
Bilyana will admit herself, she was very nervous about opening the doors to the public.
“Will they like it?”
“Will it be popular?”
These are questions we all ask ourselves before we opened or launch something new.
Like anything, if you are transparent and open with your guests, they will accept it.
It’s when you try and hide what you are all about that guests get annoyed.
Under promise & over deliver, that has always been how I run things, and I advise you to do it too.
With a new website, but no web presence, the most important thing I needed to do was to make all the major online platforms aware of Carlton House.
- Google Business Listing
It is crucial how you set up your listings on these sites. I believe this is where most property owners and managers fail, leaving room for the OTAs to take the lead. It is very easy to set up these accounts wrong, so having some guidance is recommended.
For Carlton House, it was essential to let the guest know what they were getting and what should be expected: prices, accommodation, room only, a fantastic location on Scarborough South Cliff. I made sure we consistently highlighted these points on all of the sites as they were created.
I set up the accounts, but here is the important bit, I didn’t go live, not yet. Not until we were ready. Next, we needed a Booking Manager, a Hotel Property Management System (PMS)
Free To Book suited what Bilyana needed.
Again, I got everything in place, linked up the calendar to Booking. com, set up the online payment method with Stripe, but nothing went live, not until we were ready.
Before that, we had some issues to deal with…
The main one was with Carlton House being a student accommodation property in the past, because when you googled the name “Carlton House in Scarborough,” the web pages that were presented were from old student website forums.
We wanted to make sure that anyone Googling the property wasn’t going to get confused, so I reached out to the website owners and they took down the individual posts.
Note: It is so important to make sure you Google your business name at least once every month. Just to see what is coming up in the search results.
Next, we booked a professional photographer to take new photos. I could have saved money here and done it myself, but as I have stressed several times on Boostly the photos sell your property. If they look like crap, people will go elsewhere!
Finally, we discovered a niche!
There are hundreds of other accommodation services in Scarborough, especially around South Cliff. It’s a very popular area to stay.
What could we do differently to make Carlton House stand out?
This is where my research paid off. We used Google Analytics to see what the majority of people were searching for, we matched that with what Carlton House could offer. As a result, we discovered that there weren’t many properties that offered a pet-friendly environment to stay at a budget rate.
That was our niche, so we made sure we hammered home on that point.
The other issue with Carlton House is that it is a work in progress, this is one of the reasons Bilyana was nervous about the opening.
“Would a guest mind if there is no breakfast?”
“Will they mind that we are working on the kitchen area?”
Again, by being transparent and offering an incentive for the guest to stay at the property, you break down those barriers and concerns.
That is why, when a guest arrives at Carlton House for the first time and they are unsure by the reception area whilst the work is being done, there is a little gift waiting for them in their room. This helps with the first impression and the reviews and feedback we have had since prove that.
Also, set a “Welcome Letter” on the bed, listing recommended walkable places to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Furthermore, at the bottom of the letter is an invitation to come and stay at Carlton House in the future with a discount of 15% if they book directly. The message is, “If you like us now, wait until you see us when we are finished!”
The message is, “If you like us now, wait until you see us when we are finished!”
People love to be surprised and they appreciate it when you go the extra mile.
On June 21st, we were ready to go live to the world.
When anyone signs on to work with me, I always offer a money back guarantee.
It is a minimum of a 6-month contract, but my promise to you is that if I don’t bring in enough new business that covers my rate, you get your money back.
This case study was created on Wednesday, June 28th, 7 days after we went live.
As you can see from the image, I covered my rate in just 7 days.
Just imagine what we are going to bring in the next 175 days!
Below is Bilyana’s words…
“We found Boostly on the Internet when I was trying to figure out what to do about our ex-student accommodation. The obvious answer was to turn it into a hotel, having been one once in the past. Just did not know how.
I hardly can believe the speed, enthusiasm, clarity and professionalism Mark put into lifting our new venture off the ground. Within less than a month we had all the system set up and explained to a point that I felt I have done that before. Within a week of going live we had 22 bookings and counting (we only launched five rooms, to begin with).
Marks understands the hospitality marketing jungle and navigates our way through it with confidence and competence. Not to mention that when I was stuck he was always on the other end of the line to help me out and explain.
Thanks to Mark’s expertise my fears of starting a new venture turned into enthusiasm and expectation of what is still to come. And I hope that will be many more bookings, happy guests and more hours working with Mark so we achieve the best possible future for our little hotel.
It is still the beginning, but with confidence, I will continue putting our trust in his capable hands.
Bilyana (and Rob) Wharton