Evaluate Your Offers and Increase Your Number of Guests

So, you followed your dream of opening a bed and breakfast. However, you just don’t seem to be getting the number of guests that you need to be a success. You think that you have an amazing place to stay and offer your guests exactly what they need, but somehow you just don’t sell the amount of rooms that you need to be profitable. But treating it as a business, not a hobby, is your first step.

Is there something that you can easily do to change that situation? How do you get more guests to stay at your bed and breakfast? Here are some questions to ask yourself to help improve your situation.

Look at What You Offer

This is probably the painful part. We all tend to think that our bed and breakfast business is the best available, but if you take a long hard look are you offering what guests want? Is the reason that you are not getting the results that you want is that your product is just not good enough?

Hopefully when you bought your bed and breakfast you did a lot of market research to check that there was a market for sustaining a business. If you did and now the guests simply aren’t coming, you must take a realistic look at what the reason for that could be.

Are you offering what your customer needs? Look at the local competition. Do they seem to be getting great occupancy rates and you aren’t? It is often very difficult to take a completely objective view of why the bed and breakfast down the road is doing very well and you aren’t. This is where you need to be very honest with yourself. Are you charging too much? Do your competitors offer something that you don’t? Are you offering the best service to your guest?

Is Your Website Helping You?

We live in the age of the internet. People are most likely to search online when they are looking for a great bed and breakfast. A website does not need to be expensive, but it does need to be a great marketing tool.

Your bed and breakfast website does not have to be complicated. It just needs to show what you must offer in the best possible light. This means great photos. Not just good photos, but great photos.

Technology is simple these day and most people can take great photos on their phone. Think about composition. Show things that will make your guests want to come and stay with you. If you can’t do this yourself then pay someone to do it for you. Great pictures are essential on a website which is marketing a bed and breakfast. You have a very limited time to capture your website visitor’s attention. Do not underestimate this. Display the best photos that you possibly can.

Make sure that it is easy to contact you on your website. Many people still want to contact you on the telephone so make sure that your number is clearly displayed. There should be as many ways to contact you as possible and this should be posted on your website.

Display your nightly rates clearly on your website. Bed and breakfast owners are sometimes cautious about doing this because they feel that it may deter potential customers. However, this is the wrong way of looking at this. You must display nightly rates so that your potential guests know exactly whether your bed and breakfast is within their budget. If you are competitive within your local area you should be confident that your rates are set at the right level.

 

Photo by paparutzi

Do You Have What It Takes to be a Great Innkeeper?

Are you thinking of running your own bed and breakfast? To many people this can seem like a dream life. Owning a beautiful home and making a living out of welcoming guests to stay can seem like a very attractive life style for many people. However, do you have what it takes to be a great inn keeper? Or is it just a dream that will never turn into reality? Here are some things that you must ask yourself before you take the first steps to running your own bed and breakfast.

Do You Have the Personality to Run an Inn?

A lot of the success of running a bed and breakfast comes from the location and the building itself. However, the personality of the inn keeper is a crucial element of the success of any bed and breakfast. Even a famous talk show host had trouble running her inn.  You can have the perfect location and a beautiful home, but if the owner isn’t suited to running a bed and breakfast it is unlikely that the business will work.

If you look at reviews of bed and breakfasts you will often see that guests comment on the personality of the owner. This can be both positive and negative!

You must have a genuinely enjoy meeting people. People book a bed and breakfast instead of a hotel as they are looking for a unique experience with personal attention. A good inn keeper will be able to talk easily to people and put them at their ease.

You must also know when to simply leave people alone. A friendly host is a great host. An overly familiar one is not. You must be able to recognize that people want their own time and space as they are on vacation, but know when to step in because they need some assistance.

Will you be able to deal effectively with difficult customers? You will be providing a service and the thing about the vacation industry is that a lot of people complain. You need to ask yourself whether you would be able to deal with this. Not every guest is going to think that your bed and breakfast is a wonderful place to stay and you must consider if you are the kind of person that can deal with this properly.

Do You Know How to Run a Business?

A lot of people want to own a bed and breakfast, but have no idea of how to run a business. This is a recipe for disaster. You can have the most idyllic place to stay and be the perfect host. However, if you do not have any customers you will not make any money. If you have plenty of people to stay, but you do not know how to make it profitable, this is also a big problem.

Make sure that you explore everything from the business side before you set up your bed and breakfast. Many businesses fail. You may be putting a lot of your personal money into the bed and breakfast, or getting into debt to set it up. Either way, if it doesn’t succeed as a business you could lose a great deal of money. Be sure that you get proper advice and know exactly what you are getting into before you open your doors as an inn keeper.

 

Photo by Chris.,

Three Ways to Up Your Inn’s Revenue

Your Rival Can Be Your Friend

It is usually a mistake to see your competitors as the enemy. Most successful business owners know that being friendly with their competitors can bring advantages to their business. Do not see every bed and breakfast business in your town as a rival – they may be a good source of business for you.

You will sometimes have bookings that you cannot fulfill because you all your rooms are already taken. The bed and breakfast owner down the road probably has the same issue. Why just let the business go to another town or simply be lost altogether? If you had a great relationship with a bed and breakfast which is like yours, each of you could simply refer each other business. This is a winning situation for everyone if this is a balanced relationship. Do not always see the competition as a negative thing. You can learn from them and often by fostering a good relationship with them you can each increase your business revenue.

Referrals Are a Great Idea

We have already talked about how other bed and breakfast owners can refer your business to increase your revenue. Another good idea is to have a referral scheme for your guests. A lot of your business will probably already come from happy guests referring you to their family and friends. People always look for personal recommendation when choosing a place to stay.

It is very easy to implement a referral scheme. You can offer exiting guests a discount code for themselves with an incentive to refer other people to you. You could offer them a discount per night or a subsample monetary discount on their next stay. You can give them a coupon code for their next stay which they can also pass on to family and friends.

The simplest way to do this is to send them an email the day after they have checked out. You can ask for feedback and give them a coupon code with the terms clearly set out. This is a great time to ask for feedback. You can easily do this online as there are plenty of inexpensive and free survey sites, so that your guests can give you feedback.

You could also offer discounts for longer stays, or free nights if guests stay for a certain period.

Look at Your Expenses

All businesses need to look at their expenses as well as their income. Are there some areas where you could easily be saving money? We are not suggesting that you cut corners on things which are important to your guests. You will want to offer them a high-quality service. However, there may be simple changes that you can make to save you some money.

Your utility bills are probably one of your biggest expenses. Look at how you can cut down on your energy bills by introducing more energy efficient appliances.

 

 

Photo by peyri

How Can My Bed and Breakfast Make More Money?

Running a bed and breakfast business can be very rewarding in terms of job satisfaction. May bed and breakfast owners report that they enjoy running their business. However, even the most successful of bed and breakfast business owners report that they are always looking for ways to increase their revenue and make more money.

Being an inn keeper may be personally satisfying, but it must also be financially rewarding. Here are some ideas that you can implement now to ensure that your bed and breakfast makes more money.

The Lowering Your Rate Myth

When times are difficult what many bed and breakfast owners do is think that they need to lower their room rate. Some inn keepers overcharge. They think that their bed and breakfast is of a much higher standard than it is and will overcharge. If you are one of these people take a realistic look at the market and comparable properties and go ahead and adjust your rate.

However, do not think that lowering your rate it the answer to everything. This is a myth. If you have looked at similar inn properties and done a realistic market analysis and found your rates to be too high, then you should go ahead and adjust them.

Take note here that we said you need to be realistic. Do not just lower your room rate. It may be a short-term fix, but do you want to be known as the cheapest place in town? High caliber guests tend to believe that you get what you pay for. Do you want to attract the guests who do not want to pay a decent rate? You may increase your revenue in the short term, but you are probably storing up a whole lot of problems for yourself in the future.

What Other Services Can You Offer?

Here is where you get to be a little creative and start to think about what other services that you can sell to your guests. People are prepared to pay for things other than just a room and breakfast. Your guests are looking for a bed and breakfast because they do not want to stay at an impersonal hotel. So, brainstorm about what other things that your guests may want. Extras can usually be provided easily for guests which have a high profit element.

The simplest upsell is a room upgrade. You will learn the best way to sell this to your guests, but often offering it at check in is a good way to close the deal. You must make them feel as though they are getting a great deal and that you are making a very special deal just for them.

You can always think about how to offer extra services to your guests. This may range from champagne and roses in the room, to offering a complete concierge service. There are many opportunities for you to take some money off the top by simply offering convenience for your guests. See what your competitors offer and see if this will work for your business.

 

Photo by kevin dooley

An Inn Is A Business – So Treat It Like One

There’s a lot that goes into running a successful inn.  But the most detrimental thing you can do is treat it like a hobby.  Do you think an excellent plumber treats his job like a hobby?  Or a heart surgeon?  Of course not.  You must see your inn the same way if you’re to thrive.

See Your Inn as a Business

You may have a wonderfully romantic idea about opening your home up to paying guests and that everything will just work out right so long as you have the right location and ambiance for your bed and breakfast. However, you must make sure that all the decisions that you make are from a business point of view.

Running a bed and breakfast is extremely hard work, and you will want to make sure that you make a profit. You must run your business with your head, not your heart.

If you do not have business experience, make sure that you have people around you that do. You will learn things as you go along, but you should always have a good business sense if you are going to make this a success.

Make sure that you are aware of the legalities of running a bed and breakfast. This must be a first consideration. You must be aware and comply with all regulations which relate to a bed and breakfast in your area. You do not want to be shut down for noncompliance with a regulation. This could mean a hefty fine and signal the end of your business before it has even had a chance to get off the ground.

Speculate to Accumulate

Starting a bed and breakfast business can take a lot of money in startup costs. Just as with any other business, you must spend money to make sure that the business is viable.

If you are converting your own home, make sure that you spend your money wisely on facilities for your guests. An essential part of this will be spending money to ensure that you own living space is separated from the guest rooms and facilities.

If you have bought a bed and breakfast as a going concern you will still need to spend some money in updating the premises and making sure that you put your own personal stamp on the guest rooms. Always have a contingency fund so that you have some money for unexpected expenses.

When you are running the business, there will always be necessary expenses so that you can keep your bed and breakfast up to the standard that you want.

Do Not Neglect Your Marketing

This is an area where many bed and breakfast owners fail. They may have an idyllic place to stay and offer great customer service to their guests, but they are simply not getting enough customers. Bed and breakfast owners must have many skills, and marketing is one of the crucial ones.

Your internet presence is absolutely key here. You do not have to spend a great deal of money in setting up a website these days. The important things are that you get your message across to your potential guests about what you are offering to them. Photographs are key. If you can’t take the photos yourself get a professional to do it. Potential guests will be looking at the photos first so make sure that they are outstanding and show your bed and breakfast in the very best way possible.

Make your website clear and easy to navigate. If you don’t capture and keep the attention of your website visitor you are missing the most important marketing strategy that you can have.

 

 

Photo by Ozzy Delaney

Do You Really Want to Own a Bed and Breakfast?

Many people dream of owning a bed and breakfast. The idea that you can run a wonderful guest house welcoming paying customers into your home is very appealing. However, is this the real picture of what running a bed and breakfast is like?  One of your first steps should be to check out the Professional Association of Innkeepers International to get qualified, serious inn-running information.

It can be a great lifestyle for some people, but for others the dream does not turn out the way they expected. Here are some questions that you should ask yourself to see if you are cut out to be a bed and breakfast owner. You should be as honest as possible so that you get an idea if this is a good business decision for you.

What is Your Motivation?

What is it that makes you think that owning a bed and breakfast is a great idea? Many people have different ideas of what they think running a bed and breakfast will be about. Some people do it because they enjoy meeting new people and look forward to hosting them in a beautiful setting. Others love cooking and want to share their expertise and make that the focus of the experience for the guests.

If you can’t think of great reasons why you want to run a bed and breakfast you should be questioning your motives. If you just see it as a way you can live in a great house and live off the proceeds of taking in paying guests, you probably need to think again. The work of an inn keeper is very difficult and can be spectacularly time consuming. It is not an easy way to make money.

Do You Have the Commitment?

Most people underestimate the time and commitment that it takes to run a bed and breakfast. Have you considered how many hours you may need to work to make it a successful business venture?

You may be going into this venture because you love cooking. The idea of preparing a tasty breakfast for your guests appeals to you. However, have you thought about how you will feel when you must get up early every single morning to prepare pretty much the same meal repeatedly? Or how you will deal with the picky customers who complain that their eggs aren’t perfect? You must make sure that you think that you will be happy to still perform your inn keeper duties far into the future.

If your business is profitable you will be able to hire extra help. However, it might be that you must take on a lot of the tasks yourself, particularly when you are just starting out.

You may not mind certain tasks, but do you want to clean multiple toilets every single day? You may not like doing laundry for your family, but imagine washing and changing linen on multiple beds each week. Of course, you may be able to take on employees to help you with all of this, but just be realistic in what you must do for yourself.

 

Photo by Iain Farrell

How to Get More Guests to Stay at Your Bed and Breakfast

Beware of Cutting Your Rates

Lowering your nightly rates can be very tempting if you are not attracting enough guests to your bed and breakfast. However, always be careful about doing this. Are your rates already competitive? This is where you must do some market research and be honest with yourself.

If you find that your rates are too high, then of course this could be a reason why you are not getting enough guests. However, if you have taken an honest look at your rates and think this is not the problem then you need to consider what else you could be doing to attract more guests.

Are You Making the Most of All Advertising Opportunities?

Gone are the days when you simply had to put an advertisement in a magazine or newspaper. Most advertising opportunities these days are online. You may have a great website already, but you also need to be thinking about social media marketing as well. Your potential guests probably spend a lot of time on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. These are all important and free sources of advertising.

You should also be looking at websites which specialize in advertising bed and breakfasts. Some of these do cost money, but this could be money well spent.

Do You Have Great Reviews?

Think about how your potential guest approaches finding a bed and breakfast to stay in. They will look at pictures and a description of what you must offer. However, one of the most important things that people look at is reviews.

Are you encouraging your guests to leave reviews for you? You should always make it easy for guests to leave reviews. This can be as simple as showing them the guest comments book that you leave in the lobby. You can leave comment cards in the room.

Online reviews are also good. You should always do a follow up email to a guest the day after the leave. Encourage them to send you a review by email and give them a link to any online review facility that you have.

Do You Have a Frequent Guest or Referral Program?

Take an idea from the large hotel chains. They all have a loyalty program which encourages guests to return. You can offer guests a discount if they return to stay with you. To encourage them to tell their friends about how great their experience was you could give them a coupon code which gives a bigger discount if they refer a friend. Get imaginative. There are many ways that you can reward your best customers.

 

Photo by the.Firebottle

Is Innkeeping Right For You and Your Family?

Are You Prepared to Work Very Hard?

It may sound idyllic that you simply accept people into your beautiful home and they pay you for the privilege! Paying house guests – what more could you want? Stop to think about how much work family and friends are as house guests. Then realize that running a bed and breakfast to keep paying customers happy is going to be a whole lot more work than that.

Unless you have a great deal of money to pay staff you are going to have to do a lot of the jobs yourself. Do you want to spend a lot of the day cleaning? Or get up very early every morning to prepare a cooked breakfast for lots of different people all potentially wanting very different things? Imagine how much laundry there will be every day.

Then once you have finished all the domestic tasks you will still have to deal with the running of the business. You will constantly have to answer the phone and reply to email and internet enquiries. The day to day tasks of running the business will be up to you, unless you can afford to pay someone else to do this.

It is very hard work every day when you run a bed and breakfast. It may be that you are open 365 days a year, so it would be very difficult ever to take a break. You may live in a bed and breakfast, but you may find it impossible to ever take a break so that you can visit someone else’s bed and breakfast! It most likely will be very difficult to ever get any vacation time. If this something that you want to sign up for? You must be very clear about the huge time commitment that you are going to have to make to run a bed and breakfast.

 

innkeeping photo
Photo by InAweofGod’sCreation

Will Your Family Support You’re in Running the Business?

If you have children and other relatives living with you, then you must think about the impact that running a bed and breakfast will have on them too. The children may get to live in an idyllic location and a beautiful house, but will they get to spend much time with you? Running an inn is a very big commitment and it is very important that every member of the household is on board with the idea.

They may not necessarily want to help you in a practical way, but you will need to know that at least they understand what is involved and will make things as easy as possible for you.

Running a bed and breakfast can be a very personally rewarding and sometimes financially rewarding thing to do. Just make sure that you have thought about what it involves before you make the decision.

Three Complications in Owning Your Bed and Breakfast

Can You Deal with The Complainers?

You may love having house guests. However, have you faced the reality of always having stranger in your home? These strangers will be expecting a high level of service and may be very quick to give negative reviews. You must think about whether you are tough enough to take the good with the bad

You must be willing to accept that some guests will complain whatever you do, and others will complain because there is something which needs to be fixed. This is a business and you must make sure that your customers are happy. That will often require a thick skin.

You should always be looking at how you can improve your bed and breakfast for your guests. Taking constructive criticism is essential and so is accepting that there are some guests who will never be happy. Only you can decide if you have the temperament to deal with guests who are not happy with the service they have received.

Can You Afford the Risk?

Running a bed and breakfast usually requires a very large initial financial commitment. If you buy a bed and breakfast business as a going concern, there is likely to be a very large capital outlay. Some people use their life savings to invest in a bed and breakfast business. You need to be very cautious about doing this and you always need to take expert advice.

You would most likely not risk a lot of money in most business ventures, but somehow people buying bed and breakfast businesses tend to have an idealized view of how things will be. They cannot see past the romantic ideal of owing a bed and breakfast. However, you must always be sure that you have good financial and business advice.

Even if you already own a suitable property the costs of converting your home to be a viable bed and breakfast business can be high. You must make sure that you have a separate living area from your guests. Running a bed and breakfast is not like simply inviting family and friends to stay. You will want to make sure that there is a very clear separation for you and your guests.

Always take proper financial advice before you start a bed and breakfast business. It should always be treated as a business venture, no matter how tempting that it may be to see it as anything else.

Do You Have the Support of Your Family?

You will be inviting people into your home as guests. It is a business venture, but you will be most likely using the place that you are also using as a home for your family. The most fundamental question is does your family who are living with you agree that this is a great idea? It may be your dream, but is it theirs?

Running a bed and breakfast impacts your family hugely. It is such a unique business venture that your family will almost certainly be hugely affected by it. Make sure that they are completely on board with the idea before you go ahead. If you don’t it may have very serious consequences.

 

 

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You and Your Locale: Running a Successful Local Bed and Breakfast

If you have decided that you want to run a bed and breakfast you really need to go into it with your eyes open. Many people have a romantic dream of owning a bed and breakfast, but the reality turns out to be very different from how they thought it would be.

Are You Up to the Job?

Before you even start looking for a suitable bed and breakfast to buy, you must think about whether you are the type of person who can be successful as an inn keeper. Running a bed and breakfast takes a great deal of work. The hours are long and the profits are often remarkably small.

You have to be in the business because you really want to. Although some people do make a good living from it, you will definitely be working very hard. Unless you are dedicated to really wanting to run a bed and breakfast business you should probably look elsewhere.

You have to have a genuine passion for meeting people and wanting to make their stay as pleasurable as possible. You will meet some very interesting people, but you will also meet some people whose only mission seems to be to complain about everything. Will you be able to deal with the bad and the good guests?

Is your family completely on board with the idea of running a bed and breakfast? Many couples run the business together, but others want to keep at least one person employed. You may work longer hours than your partner and this can be a source of resentment.

You also have to be aware that unless you hire people to look after the bed and breakfast while you are not there, you will rarely get any time off or vacation time. This can impact on family life. Everyone has to be on board with the idea of running a bed and breakfast or this can quickly create conflict within the family.

Are You Looking in the Right Area?

Once you have decided that you do want to buy a bed and breakfast you will have to start the search to find one. If you are thinking of converting your own home to take in paying guests, you will still have to think about whether or not it is the right house in the right location.

You have to decide which market to cater to. There are many questions that you need to ask yourself. What kind of guests do you want to attract to the business? Would you like to target families, or are you more of a romantic couples retreat kind of place? Will you take pets? These are just some of the questions that you need to ask yourelf when you are thinking about the type of the propery and the location.

You should also look at the competition in the area. If there are bed and breakfast businesses already in the area you should do some research to see how successful they are. Is there room for another bed and breakfast in the area or has the market reached saturation point?

 

Photo by ExperienceLA