Whether you’re setting up a B&B for the first time or you’re on the road to making your guesthouse more popular than ever before, you’ll need to be wary about your competitors in the area. We’ve put this guide together to reveal all the secrets of making your business stand out from the crowd.
So, what can you do to make sure you give your potential guests every reason to come and stay with you rather than anywhere else? Well, there are quite a few things, so we’ve put together our top seven tips to help you on your way:
1. Know your competition
A good place to start is to get to know your competitors inside-out – especially those who you know are doing well in the area. It’s important to know what you’re up against, so be sure to assess their establishment and decide what you like about it.
So, how should you go about doing this? A good place to start is to check their website. It will likely contain prices, so you can see if your competitors are charging more or less than you on average, and you should be able to see what kind of meals they offer their guests on the website, too. You could also physically visit your competitors’ B&Bs to have a look at the kind of food they’re serving up.
There’s more that you can do online to spy on your competitors – social media for example! It’s likely that most of the guesthouses in your area are now sharing images and posting statuses like there’s no tomorrow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Take a look at how they interact with their followers and see what they share. Be sure to monitor both the big boys (chain hotels, 5* places) and the little guys too.
Make sure you go to Trip Advisor and other online travel sites like Expedia to see if there are any customer reviews that can give you more insider info.
2. Smart pricing
Once you have an idea of all your competitors’ prices, you can begin to adjust yours accordingly. If you’re charging more than the other B&Bs in the area, can you justify it? Are your customers getting a lot more than they would at your competitors’ guesthouses? You might want to also consider undercutting the other places in the area, to offer a stay that’s better value for money.
Offering deals based on seasonality factors may be the best way for you to go about this, as you can take advantage of both the most and least popular times of the year – which is something your competitors might have overlooked. Try to offer discount stays at the least popular times of year, and even greater discounts for group stays and longer stays.
3. Are your rooms up to scratch?
When you’re just starting out, your budget may not stretch as far as you’d like, though once you’re beginning to rake it in, you might want to add a few more furnishings to your rooms.
Some shots of your competitors’ rooms will be on their website, so you can easily see what you’re up against. If you feel like your rooms would benefit from brand spanking new kettles or simply a few new picture frames, then don’t be afraid to make these little changes. You don’t have to undertake a complete restoration project, but be sure to touch up any tired details.
What kinds of facilities are you offering guests who stay in your rooms? Of course there are the traditional tea and coffee sachets, and everyone loves a biscuit selection, but guests these days often expect a wider variety of drinks and snacks. Here are some ideas to help you get the ball rolling:
- Herbal teas
- The option to have breakfast in bed
- A drinks fridge for an extra charge
- Shower gel and soap from a well-known and fashionable company
- Homemade snacks and biscuits for a personal touch
If you’re offering a wider variety of facilities in your rooms, then you may entice guests away from your competitors, and lead them through your own front door instead.
4. Get some professional photos taken
If you want your guesthouse to look as swanky as possible online, and don’t feel too handy with a camera yourself, then it could be worth hiring a professional photographer to capture all your B&B’s best angles and demonstrate its full potential. Photos are a very important marketing tool so it’s crucial to get this right.
Showcasing your property looking its best doesn’t have to be exclusively for your website. These professional photos can be used across your social media, print advertising and on TripAdvisor. You want to make the best possible first impression, and if they like what they see, potential guests will book a stay with you rather than your competitors!
5. One menu to beat them all
If you really want to wow your guests and have the staff capabilities to do so, you should try to branch out from the classics and offer up some dishes that are made to order, too.
You could offer such dishes as eggs benedict, omelettes, kippers and pastries to really mix it up, as well as catering for specific diets such as vegetarian and gluten-free. Of course, the meals you decide to offer have to match the skill of your chef, so make sure you have someone who is up to the job
Why not also consider offering evening meals, or providing a picnic lunch for your visitors? These are especially popular with walking groups! Extending this extra courtesy will make your guests feel like you are really going the extra mile for them and may secure their custom.
6. Become AA Accredited
One way to give your guesthouse some hospitality gravitas is to have an AA rating at the front gate. This is essentially the AA’s review of your guesthouse, where a good star rating is very impressive for people looking for somewhere to stay. It is an internationally recognized mark of quality – one that guests look for to give piece of mind when booking. It also allows you to charge premium rates for your rooms, and reassures guests you are a trusted brand. If your business is independently rated then you’re likely to have undecided guests walk through your front door rather than anyone else’s.
7. Go the extra mile
Offering great customer service should be at the heart of your business. Making sure your guests leave with a smile on their face can help get them coming back time after time, word of mouth, written reviews and repeat bookings are all signs you are doing a great job. This builds your reputation, not to mention saving you money on advertising costs!
Great customer service starts from a warm welcome when visitors arrive at the front door, and continues right through their stay. It can come in many forms, from lending your guests a helping hand with anything they need, to picking them up from the station, or booking them a table at a restaurant you recommended. Going the extra mile will really put a smile on your customers’ faces, and will be the driving force behind them coming back to stay again.
Simply giving guests a great experience at B&B is extremely important, but there are other little tips and tricks to help you on your way to beating the competition. Together, these changes will culminate in giving your guesthouse the exposure it deserves. It’s the little things that often make the biggest difference.
Our award-winning product, eviivo suite, is designed to make life as easy as possible for independent hoteliers and property owners, so you have time for the more important things like looking after guests and marketing your property on social media.