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Are You on the Right Marketing Path?

When I was chatting with another provider in our industry a few weeks ago, she said, "I thought you were on vacation", at which point we both agreed that when you are in the business of supporting Innkeepers, you never are really completely "on vacation".

That brings me to today's blog post. Our summer family vacations typically include multiple days of mountain biking in some ridiculously hot but absolutely gorgeous Western US locations. And this year was no exception.

Extreme vs. Difficult Marketing ChoicesWhile biking in Sedona, Arizona, in 100 degree plus temperatures, we came across this sign. Now mind you, in our family it isn't really mountain biking unless it's a "challenging" trail, though this is the first time that I've ever seen a sign like this on a trail.

I was being given a choice. I could choose between the "extreme" path and the "difficult" path. I immediately thought "Hey! Where's the easy path?" And standing on the edge of that cliff, contemplating which path I should take, it dawned on me that this choice was identical to the marketing choices Innkeepers have to make.

Innkeepers don't want to hear that marketing their inn is going to be "difficult", let alone, "extreme". They want the same thing I did, standing there contemplating that sign - an easy path.

I had a choice. I could have turned my bike around in search of an easier path, just like each Innkeeper does when they go in search of a marketing company that will promise them an “easy” marketing option for their inn.

The reality is, an “easy” marketing path for your inn does NOT exist.

Those companies who offer up a "more heads in beds guarantee", or promise you that all you have to do is pay big marketing bucks and you will be able to step back and not be an active participant in your Inn’s marketing plan are NOT making valid claims.

Innkeepers who take this "easy" path typically find out in 12 months or less that their "easy" path has just resulted in an "extreme"' marketing problem.

In the past few years we've had a handful of clients leave Acorn IS so they could pursue such paths with other companies in our industry. Lured by promises of guaranteed bookings and little to no involvement in the marketing process, they signed yearlong contacts, agreeing to pay crazy amounts of marketing dollars for a promise of an "easy” marketing option.



Case Study 1

  • 1 Year Contact Agreement
  • $1000 per month + 20% on every booking over the previous year’s bookings, determined and paid on a monthly basis, to the new marketing firm.

And all this sounds like a good deal, since you don't have to do any of the marketing work, right? You are only paying the flat $1000 a month fee plus 20% on bookings over and above the previous year, until you realize that you are paying...

  • 20% on repeat customers
  • 17% to the OTA fees and an additional 20% to the marketing firm on all OTA bookings
  • 20% on top of fees for directories you’ve already paid to be listed in
  • 20% on any booking, even those with which the marketing firm had no influence in procuring

All bookings that this Innkeeper had before the new marketing firm stepped in continued, but now they were paying an additional 20% for those very same bookings included in the increase (if an increase existed that month).


Estimated Loss with New Marketing Firm


Case Study 1 - Comparing 1 year of Acorn vs. 1 Year with competitor

You can see how the promise of "easy" turned into an "extreme" problem for this Innkeeper.



Case Study 2

  • 1 Year Contact Agreement
  • $2000 per month flat fee to be paid to the new marketing firm


Estimated Loss with New Marketing Firm


Case Study 2 - Loss of Revenue when with competitor

Both of these Innkeepers were Acorn Internet Services clients before they decided to give this new marketing firm a try. Both have now returned to Acorn Internet Services after their one year contract expired.



The Pitch

These Innkeepers were both convinced by the same individual that this new marketing firm's services were better than what Acorn IS was offering. The higher marketing fees were to be paid to the new marketing firm and they were going to take care of it all. It was supposed to be just that easy.


Reference Check Guidelines

You MUST protect your business, and the first step you need to take is to choose the right web company for your online presence.

  • Check at least 3 to 5 quality references.
  • Ask for un-biased references on the various Innkeeper forums or from other competitors in the industry.
  • Never rely ONLY on references given to you by the company you are evaluating.
  • Go outside the box to make sure you're making the right decision.
  • Never rely on any reference from a brand new Innkeeper.
  • Make sure the Innkeeper giving you the reference has been with the company you are evaluating for at least two or more years.
  • Don't rely on any referrals from another industry vendor who has something to gain.
  • Don't rely on any reference you obtain during a free consultation.
  • Always, always consider the source.

Our two case studies above are true stories, and we are happy to confidentially provide these, and additional references, should you wish to speak to other Innkeepers, who, just like yourself sought out an "easy" marketing path and ended up with an "extreme" marketing problem.


So – What’s the Deal?

Why would our Acorn IS products, even when these two Innkeepers chose NOT to use our Acorn IS marketing plans (Blog, Newsletter and Social Media Posts), have a better return than other marketing firms who are doing all this work for such high fees?

That’s easy. Our products are designed to create powerful support for your entire web presence. We follow Google’s guidelines. The better placed you are in Google Local and Organic, the more bookings you are going to have as part of your base presence. Then, when you do choose to add in all the additional marketing pieces and parts like Blogging, Newsletters, Social Media etc., they boost revenue in addition to your already high placement.

When you hire a firm that only concentrates on being able to prove that they did what you paid for, basically being able to say they “did the work” each week, it doesn’t help you. It fulfills their contract but doesn’t end with quality results.

  • Blog posted – CHECK!
  • Newsletter sent – CHECK!
  • Social Media posted – CHECK!

Innkeepers who leave a quality provider, such as Acorn IS, will typically see that their business drops or stagnates, even though they are paying a lot more money to the new marketing firm, for it to grow.

On the flip side, Innkeepers that start with a poor web presence of course will see an improvement in their placement. How could they not? The problem is they are unknowingly paying a lot of money for something they could have for a lot less.


Your Best Clue to a Quality Provider

A quality provider will care about your bottom line and provide you the ability to participate in monitoring programs to prove it to you. If you are paying a lot of money for marketing, and the company you are paying isn’t providing the ability to monitor what they are doing for you in relation to actual provable bookings in Google Analytics E-Commerce tracking, well, ‘nuff said!


Why Choose Acorn IS?

Marketing in today’s online world is “difficult” and there is no “easy” path to grow your business. It’s not worth the risk of your Inn having “extreme” marketing problems by choosing the wrong provider.

Acorn IS offers rescue and recovery, marketing and monitoring plans to solve issues other such marketing firms don’t even begin to address. No – it’s not easy, but we will make sure that we work WITH YOU to achieve the very best results possible for your business.



Need help? Call us at 877-226-7699 or E-Mail us at for assistance.


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