WINTER GETAWAY DIRECTORIES
Mary Bowling, Blizzard Internet Marketing, Inc.
By late winter, cabin fever rages though out the North. The most common symptoms of this annual epidemic are insistent dreams about warmer climes. While not everyone can afford a vacation to the beach or desert, many can find the time and money for a shorter trip closer to home.
City dwellers often want to go to the white wonderland of the countryside for outdoor recreation. Rural folk crave the spirited night life, culture, interesting dining and shopping of the city. Wherever your lodging property is located, it’s likely that you can exploit this seasonal wanderlust by attracting travelers looking for a winter getaway.
BBOnline.com, one of Blizzard Internet Marketing’s top recommended directories for years, has great positioning in searches for many "state+winter getaway" and "state+winter" specials terms. It comes up in the top ten for free Google searches for "winter getaway" plus "michigan", "california", "maryland", "north carolina", "arkansas", "oregon" and many others. If your property is a bed and breakfast, you belong in BBOnline. If you offer specials, you need to post them regularly on BBOnline and keep them fresh.
If you are in the vacation rental market, the two prime directories that appear high in your niche for similar searches to those above are Vacation Rentals By Owner, which was featured in the December newsletter, and Value Vacation Rentals. The latter offers an annual, single-property listing with eight photos for only $75. Its searchable, user-friendly homepage has a Google Page Rank of 6/10.
If you’re in the Mid-Atlantic or Northeast US – Virginia through Vermont – consider a listing in Escape Maker, which concentrates on getaways in this densely populated area and ranks highly for many relevant searches in Yahoo and MSN. The website is searchable, informative, and considers niches that you may not have thought of, such as getaways accessible by public transportation. You can get a free listing, without a link, at www.escapemaker.com/freelisting.php. For $119, a listing will include a link to your website, another link to your reservations’ page, a 500-word description, two photographs, and the ability to update your online information. Go to: www.escapemaker.com/signup/index.php to sign up.
Escape to Wisconsin is the website of the Wisconsin Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus. While you can’t list your property here, it will direct visitors to the websites of individual city and regional Visitors Bureaus, where member lodging properties are listed. One such directory is Visit Madison; this and Escape to Wisconsin both appear high in the free Google searches for "wisconsin winter getaway".
To uncover the best directories for your area, search in the big three engines (MSN, Yahoo and Google) for terms related to your property and the specials you offer. For instance, "michigan murder mystery weekend" or "new york wine tasting getaway" are very likely to give you ideas for new directions for your online marketing.
Don’t forget the power of optimization. Create one or more pages on your website dedicated to specific winter activities and special packages with wide appeal. Optimize the page(s) properly for the most-searched, targeted terms. Then, give the search engines a few months to reward you for your content and relevance by displaying your website in the free searches. For example, for a recent Google search for “texas getaway package”, the specials page for MD Resort in Fort Worth appeared on the first page of the free searches.
In many parts of the country, snowmobiling is the preferred winter outdoor recreational activity, and enthusiasts are out every weekend cruising for fun. If you’re in one of those areas, embracing this niche can bring you plenty of bookings. Offer special seasonal packages and consider teaming up with a local guide or outfitter.
In the Overture sponsored listings for snowmobiling (which show up in MSN and Yahoo searches, among others), Gordon’s Guide often pops up. This attractive, searchable website covers outdoor adventures of many kinds. Gordon lists accommodations on his Related Resources page. You can list your accommodations here in exchange for a link.
High in the free listings in Yahoo searches for snowmobile, you’ll find The Maine Snowmobile Association Guide website, which is dedicated to helping tens of thousands of riders enjoy the 13,000 miles of snowmobile trials in the state. They list lodging at www.mesnow.com/Services.html#Lodging; inquire about a linked listing for your property by e-mailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Utah!Travel and Adventure, the official state tourism website, lists lodging for snowmobiling at www.utah.com/snowmobile. Elsewhere on the site, you’ll find lodging that is searchable by a variety of factors – location, amenities, etc. The Bed and Breakfast Inns of Utah takes advantage of another form of advertising on the site – banner advertising. To learn about Utah!Travel and Adventure, fill out the form on www.utah.com/visitor/contact_us/advertising.htm.
Vermont Living has a snowmobiling page that comes up high in the free Google searches for "snowmobile vacation skiing", "fishing" and other outdoor activities, which are also well represented on the website. Lodging of all kinds can be listed either right on the activity page or on separate pages which allow you to drill down by accommodation type and location. You can get a free link through a link exchange, or purchase advertising, at http://www.vtliving.com/advertising/
WinterMT is one of the websites of the Montana Promotion Division of the State Department of Commerce, and features all types of winter activities. It came up in the number one organic spot for a recent Yahoo search for winter vacation. Their searchable lodging listings can be found at www.wintermt.com/campandlodge; you can inquire about listing with them at email@example.com.
There may be similar websites aimed at snowmobilers in your state or region. Try searching for keywords related to snowmobiling in your area.
Invest some time researching keywords related to the seasonal activities that your guests or clients can enjoy, such as the winter ones mentioned here. If you implement the knowledge you gain, you will be rewarded with improved organic search results. Make sure you have a presence in the resources that capitalize on these keywords. Remember, too, to give the search engines some time to react to any changes you make to your website as a result of your research.