I’ve had my share-server domain and simple web sit that links to air for booking since I opened, in part to get the SEO built up over time.
My tour business is already a member of our local tour bureau, which is largely funded by room taxes and tour ship port fees (for the info booths and supervision of the 20,000 jaywalkers we get every day most summers), so this fall my B&B will join, in order to get on their web site and eventually in their printed book they mail out to queries, and, most important, to get my cards in the card racks at their kiosks and booths.
Once I have rack cards, I will also take a short ferry trip to neighboring towns and visit other B&Bs, offering to trade rack cards with other hosts, and put cards in racks in ferry terminals and airports.
The rack cards have paid for themselves for tours in the past, and I’m sure they will also for STR. Many of my guests are independent travelers arriving on the Alaska Marine Highway, our ferry system. I know many crew members (my brother retired from the ferries 6 yrs ago) and and they will put cards in racks on board.
I really recommend joining your local convention bureau and taking part in their events as a networking method. In many cases they are a great referral service, and if the volunteers are familiar with your STR, it really helps, and a small open house event only costs a few canapes and a couple of bottles of wine.
After all, my guests pay 9% to support the bureau, and I need to take advantage of that channel, and then have an off-season volunteer and staff familiarization event and show off the house, especially for volunteers that work the booths for incoming flights and ferries. During the annual pre-season volunteer training, we get 5 minutes to pitch our tours or businesses to the volunteers.
Mine sends me lists of upcoming meetings and conventions (or they will once they start happening again) far enough in advance that I can create rulesets to raise prices, or if it’s during the off season, making special offers through the bureau and the convention sponsor.
I think that we sometimes forget that folks have been in the STR and vacation rental business for years – it’s just that AirBnB and other online bookers have made it so much easier to find and book alternative to hotels. If we want to have influence over the way travel and tourism develops in our communities, good and bad, we need to get active and build allegiances, and your local travel and convention agency is a great way to do that.