Featured Listing: VisitMaine

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About the business

Tell us a little about yourself. What’s your background? How did you start the business?

We started our Marketing company back in 1994 focused on hotel marketing. Back then our first clients would say, “First thing is we need a brochure.” and we would reply, “Great but we are also going to develop a website for you.” to which they would reply, “What is a website?” And we would say, “We are just going to do this for you.”

In those early years, our 5 hotel clients were 5 of the first in Maine to have websites and displayed #1 – 5 on Netscape and AOL. But we realized that eventually all 2,000+ hotels and lodging properties in Maine would realize they need a website and that our clients would not remain first page results. So we saw the State had VisitMaine.com and thought we would develop VisitMaine.net.

From the beginning, we developed VisitMaine.net to be THE place for hotel and lodging searches in Maine. All of the hundreds of other pages of content were developed simply to make the site stronger for lodging and hotel properties.

The first year we just placed our clients on the site for free. Then we demonstrated the value and started to charge our clients a few $’s to be on the site (but you had to be an IMS-21 client). Then we started getting calls from other hotels that wanted to be on the site. At first, we said, “no, sorry, you have to be a client.” 18 or so became clients so then we said, “Sorry, we are too busy right now to take on additional clients.” A couple of years later we thought… wait, we can just charge a few dollars to place these clients on our site, and not do all of their marketing. And that (2003) is when VisitMaine started to really take off.

What can you tell us about your Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) and Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

CLV – most customers stay with us for years. CAC – we have not done any marketing.

How have you marketed the product and where are your customers originating from?

We have not marketed the product hardly at all. Our customers are Maine Hotels.

Is the asset on your listing owner-operated, how much time does it take to run the business, who else is needed on the team, and what is automated?

My wife and I. She writes the copy. I prepare a cover sheet for the Invoices and she creates the Invoices in Quickbooks. As Maine Hotels are most profitable in June, July and August we have migrated many of the annual invoices to the revenue months. Combined we spend about 40 to 50 hours for 2 or 3 months. Then maybe 10 hours a month for a few months. We are on the road travelling for about 5 months a year (Heather is also a Travel Writer) and we do VERY little, if any, work when we are travelling.

What does someone need to do to continue operating the business in its current form?

Create a renewal letter detailing the number of links from our website, create and email Invoices to the existing clients.

Growing the business

Can you list a few opportunities for a potential new owner to continue growing the business?

Other Opportunities in other industries in Maine include:

  1. Sales Effort
  2. Retirement Communities and Continuing Care Facilities
  3. Real Estate
  4. Restaurants
  5. Shopping
  6. Activities like boating, kayaking, skiing, and more
  7. Windjammers
  8. Lobster Shipping Sales
  9. Sell Maine goods and products
  10. Affiliate Marketing
  11. Breaking away SouthernMaineCoast.com and creating a NEW revenue stream.

Potential Site Upgrades:
• Add a reviews feature
• Add online Booking via booking.com and earn commissions

What has been the evolution of this asset since its launch?

The first year (22 years ago) we just placed our hotel clients on the site for free. Then we demonstrated the value and started to charge our clients a few $’s to be on the site (but you had to be an IMS-21 client). Then we started getting calls from other hotels that wanted to be on the site. At first, we said, “no, sorry, you have to be a client.” 18 or so became clients so then we said, “Sorry, we are too busy right now to take on additional clients.” A couple of years later we thought… wait, we can just charge a few dollars to place these clients on our site, and not do all of their marketing. And that (2003) is when VisitMaine started to really take off.

How does this business make money? What are the current revenue streams?

Currently, 170+ Paid Annual Listings.

What marketing channels are most profitable for the business?

That is a great idea!

How does the business currently acquire customers and what is your breakdown for marketing costs?

100% Word of Mouth. We do a few emails a year.

How big is your current team? How many people does it take to run this business?

Just my wife and I are very part-time as described above.

What’s the reason for selling your business on Flippa?

We are ready to travel the world and want to see someone take it to the next level!

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