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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Improve your bed and breakfast business

Improve your bed and breakfast business by Reuben O'connell
Increasingly, we are using the internet to buy products, book accommodation and find information. If you run a bed and breakfast, the chances are you've already started to use either your own website, or others, to advertise your business.
According to a MORI Poll, 35% of the 23 million Britons who have used the internet used it to make purchases. Of these purchases, the most popular were for flights and hotel bookings.
Deciding which website to advertise with, or how to promote your own site, can be difficult, given the amount of options available. With regards to the latter, finding a website you would consider booking accommodation on yourself and is well promoted, with good customer service gives you a good basis to work with. Look for clear, well designed pages that provide clear and comprehensive information on each accommodation provider and compare prices for listings across a selection of sites.
With your own website, creating pages that are easy to navigate, have great images and describe your location, accommodation and facilities well is a good start. Making it easy for people to find your prices and booking information sounds obvious, but it is surprising how many website designers forget the basics. Promoting your website in the search engines is a daunting task considering the amount of competition in this field. Having a well designed website with precise html code that has outgoing and, more importantly, incoming links of a high quality, are just some of the things you need to consider. There are so many bed and breakfasts across the country, making yours stand out from the crowd is important.
So once you've received your bookings and your customers arrive, how do you get them coming back for more and to recommend you to other people. Simple things make all the difference. As well as having a homely, welcoming, environment with areas for guests to relax in, extra touches can make all the difference.
Flowers in guest rooms needn't be time consuming - rather than a full vase, use a small single stem vase with just one or two flowers to make your guests feel at home. Other extras you could consider are dressing gowns and electric blankets in the winter months, an empty jam jar with homemade shortbread next to their tea and coffee making facilities and a complimentary magazine or newspaper of the day in each room. Touches like these only take a little extra time, thought and money to achieve, but can greatly increase your chances of repeat bookings from returning customers and recommendations.
In a communal area, provide good tourist information in a folder, or something similar, with up to date leaflets. Personalise this information by adding your own recommendations of things to see and do in the area and add basic accommodation information to keep your guests informed e.g. breakfast times, house rules. Also take the opportunity to advertise any extras you offer like evening meals and winter break offers. Make books and magazines available in your guest lounge and perhaps put on some music to create a welcoming, homely environment.
Put a couple of business cards in your guest rooms for them to pass on to others, or keep in their wallet or purse until they need to use you again. Perhaps offer a small discount for returning guests as that extra enticement for them to return.
The possibilities of improving your business are endless. Everyone should strive to improve their bed and breakfast and making small changes can make big differences.

1 comment:

rainforest said...

We never thought of having business cards to give to guests. We are trying to attract European visitors (nearly 100% or our guests are from the U.S. with only an occasional Spaniard and once a guest from Germany).

Our website El Yunque bed and breakfast gets hits from mostly google searches and from our Podcast about Puerto Rico We have just added a blog about running our bed and breakfast which has lots of personal information about how difficult it is to rebuild the family estate which was destroyed by hurricane Georges. We are renting out to guests at the same time as my wife and I do the work which means we can only work when guests are out on the island.