Trivago recently announced the winner of their annual awards that recognise properties that deliver an exceptional service to their customers. Winners are selected by analysing more than 175 million reviews from websites all over the world.
And one of our customers won not just one, but two of these prestigious awards. So we spoke to The Arthington Guest House about their big win!
Congratulations on winning Trivago’s Best Bed and Breakfast in the UK and Best Value for Money for 2017! How does it feel to win?
Fantastic! What we always say is that it doesn’t mean that we are the best, it just means that the majority of guests that have come and stayed with us have enjoyed their stay. And they’ve been very generous with their comments on various booking engines and review sites. However, we do believe that we offer great value for money, as our rooms all vary in size and in price, so we do cater for most budgets.
This is the second year in a row you’ve been crowned the Best Bed and Breakfast in the UK by Trivago, how have you maintained that high standard over the year?
Well, we haven’t changed really! Just a year older and a year wiser. If there are issues or things that need addressing during the year, we try and deal with them straight away. So there’s been no change, we’ve just carried on as normal.
So, what do you do to keep guests coming back?
I think the key for everybody is value for money as people like to see what they’re getting for their money. But, some of our regulars do come back just to see any changes in our décor. And in the 10 years we’ve been here, everything’s changed! Any business in this industry wants repeat custom- that’s the only way to survive. You do get some that only come for the one time only, but to survive you’ve got to build a repeat custom. And when we do get repeat guests, it makes us feel like we’re doing something right, because there is plenty of choice in Blackpool. We’re one of over 1,500 accommodation providers here, so to keep being chosen by the same people coming back, we’re obviously doing something right.
You have an incredible 5 star rating on TripAdvisor with over 1,000 excellent reviews, how do you handle your reviews and do you do anything to encourage them?
The internet profile is so important to any business, especially in this industry- but we do realise that you can’t please everybody all the time. And most of our guests do actually find us via these review sites, so they are TripAdvisor savvy. Obviously we would prefer if people approached us directly if they have any negative comments, but if there are any negative comments posted, we check to see if there is anything we can do to address them and see if it’s something we can do to improve, and if we can we do it. Or if it’s just that we haven’t met their expectations, there’s not a lot we can do. Sometimes people don’t know the difference between what a B&B can offer compared to what a hotel offers. Mainly that’s size of rooms, and size of bathrooms, but at the end of the day we are a B&B guest house and proud to be that. But we do encourage people to give us feedback, which helps us grow as a business.
You also stole the crown for best value, so you’re obviously giving an exceptional service for an affordable price, do you think that’s why more and more people are choosing to stay at B&B’s over larger hotel chains?
Well we can’t speak for the rest of the UK, but Blackpool is renowned for its bed and breakfasts and guest houses – even the hotels like to say that they are guest accommodation rather than a hotel. Guests like the fact that they are welcomed as an individual, not just as a head on a pillow. It’s a more personal touch as we greet them by first name and introduce ourselves as Steve and Elaine, then hand out tea and coffee and tell them a bit about the hotel and about Blackpool. We don’t just give them a key and send them off to their room. We try and guide them to the best places to eat, tell them what’s going on and be something for Blackpool as well as our guest house. Also, we get involved with the people themselves, learn what they do and find out why they’ve come to Blackpool. It’s that personal touch that I think. And it’s not just Blackpool, it’s probably how guest houses all across the UK survive.
You’ve been doing this for 10 years now, so what advice would you give someone else thinking of entering the industry?
Do your homework! And be prepared to learn something new every day. It’s hard work, but it is rewarding. You know it’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle choice. You’ve got to come in with your eyes open. And not think that it’s really easy and you’re going to make loads of money, because you’re not. But, it is enjoyable, and what makes it enjoyable is meeting all the different people, from all walks of life. You’ve got to be a people person.
How did you get into the industry?
Well I met Elaine back in 1983, and she was already working in the hotel industry and I was in the army. After we married, Elaine left her career and joined me around the world on my various postings. But I left the army in 2005, and Elaine said “it’s now my turn”. So she knows what she’s doing, and I’m still following orders!
Do you have a funny guest story?
One that always sticks in my mind is some guests that do come back to us, and they keep in touch on Facebook. Now, I’m sure we’re not the only B&B to have had a child conceived in their property, but for them to actually tell us that it happened as well! But for them to come back a year or so later and say “look can you make sure it doesn’t happen again.” My reply was “well what do you want me to do, come up and say stop!” We always say that we’re going to write a book at the end.