I was just looking over a website for a lodging property that advertises itself as the "finest lodging property on the lake." But then I see rates of $78.00 per night. When I see this I am immediately turned off. Why? I know I'm being lied to.
When I think of something that's the finest I imagine a price tag to go along with that reputation. For example, you might consider a Mercedes S-Class to be the finest automobile and your wallet would be well over $100,000 lighter if you go buy one. Or, perhaps, dinner in a fancy restaurant for two that's the finest place in your locale. After dinner the restaurant will have earned that $200 trip to the bank.
So if you're advertising yourself as the best of the best, the price tag is a part of this message. With such a low price it means, to me, that you're lieing.
Now I have nothing against lodging properties that are $79. I have stayed in a lot of Best Westerns, for example, where the $79 I paid was a great value. Who would complain about a clean, comfortable room with great amenities, loads of space, a decent breakfast and a $79 price tag?
Here's a thought - how about an adjective-free campaign? This is how you market in today's world, actually.
Instead of saying you're the best, the most, the least, whatever; how about telling me the truth about all of your features or amenities? You could mention brand new king-sized beds, a full breakfast with bacon, 24-hour check-in, ample free parking, in-room refrigerators, oversized tubs or whatever truthful, measurable things your property has.
On top of the factual things, beautiful photography helps, too. This is true no matter what product or service you're selling. They say that a picture is worth 1,000 words but a picture is more than that - the right picture stirs the emotions.
Notice how we staged the picture above to stir the emotions. This is the naughty room at the Featherbed Railroad and we'v done a few things to enhance that. There are bubbles in the giant tub, we've put some pretty sexy shoes there, a robe is hanging but it's only one robe. There are candles lit as well - all of these things are meant to stir the emotions.
This is another heavily staged image of the Lovers Caboose. If you look carefully you'll see a vintage wedding dress in the reflection of the mirror. Since this room is noted as the honeymoon suite that wedding dress just helps set the emotional stage as the honeymoon suite.
But we don't advertise that business as the best, the most, none of that. We use photography to help tell the story, provide specific factual details and let the customer make their own decision. With one more important piece of information - reviews.
Today, unsolicited third-party reviews are a fact of life for any business. While we all go to Amazon.com for pricing, part of the buying experience is reading the reviews. This is also true of shopping for so many other items, including lodging. Smart shoppers always look for reviews when they're shopping around. It's a fact of life.
So if you're building a site for a lodging property instead of making unsubstantiated claims, just incorporate all the reviews right on your website so people don't have to go hunting. Today you can add widgets to a site that actually show-off your reviews on a number of sites including Yelp!, TripAdvisor, ILoveInns, BedAndBreakfast.com and many others. By boldly and honestly showing your reviews you are not forcing prospective customers to go to another site to read them which means you'll likely get more direct bookings.
The bottom line here is that you don't want to make unsubstantiated claims. Give today's customers the facts where and how they want to have them and facilitate their making an informed decision. They will appreciate it and you'll earn one heck of a reputation.