Guests stay at your accommodations for a variety of reasons. Knowing why your guests choose to stay with you is essential to growing your bed and breakfast business. First, we will include reasons why this is important for B&B owners and innkeepers to know. Secondly, we will discuss how you can better understand the motivations for your guests visiting. Thirdly, we talk about reading and responding to your guest reviews. Lastly, we will show you can encourage them to return again.
Why You Should Know the Reasons That Guests Stay
People choose to stay at B&B accommodations for a variety of reasons. Here are just a few factors to consider.
First, it depends on your guests. Do your guests tend to stay for business, pleasure, or a combination of both? How often do your guests stay solo? Also, about how many of your guests travel with companions? Do guests arrive to spend time as a family, to bond as friends, or to strengthen their romantic relationships?
Moreover, it can depend on the season of the year. Perhaps you are near the ski slopes, and your busy season is during the winter. Conversely, perhaps you are on the coast, and guests prefer to stay during warmer weather.
Additionally, it depends on your accommodations, including your amenities. Perhaps you only host adults and attract your guests with romance packages, including a bottle of wine and a dozen roses. Moreover, you may have private hot tubs, offer in-room massages, and/or bring to guests an evening dessert tray.
Also, your location and proximity to other places, including restaurants, shopping, and attractions. For instance, if your guests are within driving and/or walking distance to several entertaining venues, you may not be struggling for bookings. Notably, Asheville, North Carolina; Charleston, South Carolina; and Savannah, Georgia are each popular bed and breakfast towns in the Southeastern United States.
Moreover, it may be the activities your local area provides. For example, guests who visit the mountains find peace from experiencing a mountain retreat. Besides, they may like to go hiking or zip-lining. Alternatively, beach lovers seek waterfront accommodations with views to appreciate. Perhaps they like to taste the fresh seafood at local restaurants.
How You Can Better Understand Guest Motivations
Guests choose to stay with you for various motivations. Moreover, the motivations for some guests will be entirely different than others. This depends on the interests, values, and preferences of each guest.
Do your guests...
- Seek luxury experiences? (Like an on-site spa?)
- Value saving money? (Stay 3 nights, get the 4th night free?)
- Want a quiet, private retreat? (Perhaps they are seeking a remote area to get away.)
- Like the opportunity to interact with other guests? (Common social spaces.)
- Come for business activities and conferences in your area? (On-site or local to you.)
- Stay purely to have fun? (Vacation all the way!)
- Book all the rooms for a special event? (Such as weddings & private events).
- Include children and/or pets who stay as guests? (So, you attract more families & dog owners.)
Make brief private notes (in your files, or reservation software), about any of the following information:
- How your guest(s) found you
- The reason for their stay
- Any activities and local attractions they are interested in
- If there is a special event or special occasion they are celebrating
- Ages of children and/or # of pets (if allowed)
- Places they plan to see in the area
Not only will this help you better understand your guests, but you can also ask them about it during their stay or when they check out. You will begin to see patterns. Thus, you can fine tune your guest packages to include what you know your guests will appreciate. Therefore, guests choose to stay with you since you understand them so well.
Read and Respond Appropriately to Each Guest Review
Encourage guests to leave a review. Indeed, you may see some common threads in your reviews. For example, if several guests rave about the same breakfast dish, you should probably keep that in your rotation. Your guests may appreciate things you had not even thought about. Furthermore, quoting guest reviews is a great thing to do on your website and in social media.
How you respond to negative comments will set you apart from other innkeepers. Rather than taking it personally, consider it from their perspective. Of course, you do not have to apologize if you did nothing wrong. However, it is polite to acknowledge their feelings, "We are sorry you feel..." Remember, even if those guests never return, future potential guests will appreciate how you responded in kind.
While it is important to respect the privacy of your guests, when you do see them outside of their room it is a good idea to ask your guests if there is anything else you can do to make their stay more pleasant. This may give them the opportunity to let you know about any of their concerns. Thus, you avoid a negative review because you got to meet their needs (such as more bath towels) during their stay.
How You Can Encourage Your Guests to Return
Perhaps you can ask for the month and date of their birthdays and/or anniversaries by offering a quarterly drawing. For example, your reward could be a 2-night stay for 2 guests. Thus, this allows you to know the ideal time to send reminder emails or postcards (in advance of their special events).
By tracking your occupancy rates, you will know your busy and slow times. Then, consider offering a special for those who visit during less popular times (out of season or during the middle of the week, for example). Conversely, you could raise your rates for your premium lodging times. In some cases, a bed and breakfast inn asks for too little. Unfortunately, this calls them to question the quality of the experience the guest will have.
Do you know that the Ritz-Carlton is known for their legendary service? One of their secrets is to make private notes when they notice anything their guest likes. Later, when the guest stays at any of their locations, the hotel personnel have notes on the guests' favorite beverages, favorite foods, etc. Similarly, your hospitality guests will return and appreciate how well you remember them and their preferences. Thus, when guests choose to stay with you, they will also choose to return.
How B&B Consulting Helps Innkeepers
In conclusion, B&B Consulting works with innkeepers looking to buy an inn, sell their inn, or grow their innkeeping business. Contact Rob Sales, a former B&B owner and innkeeper and experienced, licensed real estate agent, broker, and bed and breakfast consultant.