After implementing the tips you’ll get in this post, you won’t be able to stop the 5 star reviews pouring in (not that you’d want to anyway).
You’ll be impressing your guests left right and centre, leaving them no choice but to leave a glowing recommendation online that all their friends will see!
From how to provide a truly memorable service to the secret ways to ask for reviews, I’ve got the best 10 tips for running a successful bed and breakfast right here in this article.
So, let’s get started…
Invest in high quality bedding
Is high quality bedding really that important to guests?
Yes, it certainly is. And there’s plenty of research to back it up. Although this study was conducted into hotels, the results are still valuable for B&B owners…
95% said they would even tell others about the poor service, ouch!
Sounds like a one-way ticket to a 1 star review on Trip Advisor.
But you don’t have to worry about that because you’re going to take my advice, which is to invest in soft, comfy, high quality bedding.
I’m talking 100% cotton, fluffy feather and down pillows, high tog duvets and crisp white sheets.
If you’re on a slightly tighter budget, there are plenty of high quality synthetic options. Read about the difference between hollowfibre vs microfibre to find the best synthetic fit for your establishment.
Ask for reviews
If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Well, you probably will get some reviews as we’re all familiar with those guests who seem to spend their lifetime on Trip Advisor.
But, if you want to start rapidly raking in the glowing 5 star reviews, you’re going to have to give some subtle pushes.
Your guest may have had a wonderful weekend packed full of unforgettable moments at your lovely B&B. They’ll always remember it, but it’s straight back to work on Monday and the thought of leaving a good review leaves their mind and never returns.
It’s understandable, we’re all busy people!
Here are some gentle reminders you can give your guests:
- Include it in the welcome letter. Your introductory letter probably includes a warm welcome, a brief explanation of the amenities available and perhaps the Wi-Fi password. When your guests are stunned by the beautiful interior as they walk into their room, getting a review reminder in there early is a great way to keep it on their minds.
- Ask when they are checking out. You should be asking how they found their stay anyway, but in addition to this ask if they would mind leaving a review. Explain how much it means to your small business and you’d be highly appreciative!
- Send an email. This can be a generic template that can be automatically sent to guests a week after they’ve left your establishment. Express that you hope they got home safely and enjoyed their stay and ask if they would be willing to write about their experience in the form of a review.
Provide a memorable service
Tens of thousands of small businesses make up the UK bed and breakfast industry. A £22 billion turnover was achieved by the sector in 2015, Little Hotelier tells us.
So the question is, how are you going to stand out?
By providing a truly memorable experience, of course.
Follow up question… how exactly are you going to do that? Well, this is what you need to think about.
Are you going to:
- a) Shine with your dazzling and charismatic personality.
- b) Stun guests with quirky and never seen before cutting-edge interior design.
- c) Set extremely competitive prices.
- d) Provide exceptional knowledge of the local area and history.
- d) All of the above?
I’m just giving some examples of ways you can stand out from the crowd. Whatever your niche is, hone in on it and promote it on your social media and website.
Did someone say website? Here’s a smooth transition to my next tip…
Build a great website
It’s 2018 – are you telling me you don’t have a website?!
For those that do, phew. You’ll still want to read these suggestions for what you should include on it. For those that don’t, you really need these tips…
Cost can be the biggest deterrent for building a business website.
But with 80% of people booking online, you can’t afford not to have a website. It is your most powerful marketing tool that is dedicated to showing off how fabulous your B&B is.
Here are the key things that potential customers look for on a website that can help convert them into your guests:
- Professional photos – Leave the iPhone photos for social media. Your website should be a professional platform that shows your establishment in the best light possible.
- Search engine optimisation – Optimise your website with local keywords, such as ‘Manchester’ or ‘York’. It’s all about showing up higher in the search engine results for the queries that your potential customers are typing in. To find out more about SEO, read this guide ‘Do I really need SEO?’
- Online booking – Remember that statistic about 80% of people booking online? Make sure you’re not missing out by using an online booking system on your website.
- Reviews – Now you’re raking in the 5 star reviews with my expert tips, make sure you have them front and centre on your website.
- General information – Don’t forget the basics! Have a page dedicated to the amenities you offer, general information about the hotel and useful advice about the local area.
- Phone number – Add your business contact number to every page – whether this is on the header or footer. If a potential customer has a question they want to quickly ask, the number will be right in front of them to call up and hopefully they end up booking a room.
Be aware of quiet/busy seasons and budget accordingly
It’s vital to identify your quiet and busy seasons for a few reasons.
Firstly, bookings. During quiet seasons you’ll want to drum up bookings to keep earning profit, and even in busy seasons you’ll want to maximise bookings as much as possible.
Once you’re aware of the differing seasons and can predict what business will be like, it is much easier to adjust your budget and marketing strategies.
For example, if you know it’s going to be quiet in September, perhaps you could create some limited offers for a free bottle of wine with every room booking.
You also need to be aware of quiet and busy seasons so you can have a break.
Yes, you do still need breaks when running your own B&B! If you work yourself too hard you will most likely end up resenting your business or burning out too fast.
So, make sure to take full advantage of your quiet periods with a well-earned break.
Define your market
How are you going to promote your B&B to a group of people when you have identified your target market?
I’ll answer it for you… you can’t.
You can’t tailor your services and adjust your marketing strategies to a group of people that doesn’t exist because you haven’t identified it, or at least it’s going to be pretty difficult.
Who is going to stay at your B&B? Is it a kid’s friendly establishment that attracts young families?
Or is it a grand castle that appeals more to an older generation of historians?
Once you’ve got a clear idea, making marketing decisions and promoting your business online will be much easier once you know who you’re talking to.
Put some thought behind the decoration/ design of the building
Your interior design is a creative way to tell the story of your bed and breakfast.
Of course, it needs to be practical and functional, but add special touches that give an insight into how your establishment came about.
Draw inspiration from your history and heritage, no matter how new or old your business is. Use local materials to give a real sense of the community that your guests are visiting. Use local items such as wood, furniture, rugs, plants, decorations and any other interior design pieces you can forage in the nearby area.
When guests visit a B&B, most want character, charm and style… not a lifeless empty white room that they could have found in a budget hotel.
Make the best first impression
No matter how hard you work on the customer experience of your bed and breakfast, a bad first impression might ruin the whole thing.
Even if you try make up for it afterwards, it’s what turns a 5 star review to a 4 star if the guests were stood waiting 20 minutes for someone to come and check them in…
…and you want those golden 5 star reviews.
So, get the basics right first such as making sure there’s always someone on reception and that the entrance area is clean and tidy.
To get extra brownie points, you could go the extra mile and offer a free slice of cake or a fresh cream scone with a cup of tea as you take their bags to the room. What a stellar first impression!
Define clear boundaries
This is a must, especially if you live in your B&B.
From the very start, you need to define clear boundaries and let guests know what they can and can’t do in your establishment.
The biggest boundary to make clear is where they can go in the building, and make sure your own living quarters are inaccessible to guests.
You may want to set other boundaries such as removing muddy shoes at the door, stating that breakfast must be ordered the night before or a deposit must be paid for all stays.
If you don’t set the correct boundaries that are important for you, you may begin to resent your business and not enjoy the many lovely qualities it has to offer.
This will also help you maintain a better relationship with guests, as you won’t accidentally snap at the couple in their 30s who are wondering around your cream carpet with mud-covered wellies.
Don’t forget the little details
Have you ever been in a hotel or B&B with a cup of tea and thought ‘I wish I had a biscuit right now to dunk in my cuppa’?
Or forgotten an essential such as shampoo or toothpaste?
Wouldn’t it be wonderful for it to just magically appear right there in your room?
Make your guests day by leaving treats or essentials in their room and bathroom, such as:
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Shower gel
- Body lotion
- Shower cap
- Bath robe
- Tea and Coffee
- Magazines/ Newspaper
- Map of the local area
These are just a few suggestions to give you inspiration, any guest would greatly appreciate even just a couple of these items in their room.
More advice for B&B and hotel owners…
Thank you for reading this article, I hope you found it useful. If you’re interested in more brilliant advice for B&B and hotel owners, here are a few posts you should definitely check out: