Understanding Your Customers: Why People Stay at B&Bs
Business is looking up for B&B’s this year. A recent study by Ypartnership showed that nearly eight out of ten leisure travelers considered booking a B&B in their plans. The higher the income group, the more likely they were to choose this option. To capitalize off of this trend, let’s get to know the motivation behind travelers’ choices.
The Mental Picture
Most people’s first experiences with B&B’s are indirect. They may hear a friend talking about a recent trip or drive by a local B&B in their town. Most often, it’s the media that paints the mental image of the B&B. Think of all the films and TV shows you’ve seen that have featured a B&B experience.
A recent episode of the hit series How I Met Your Mother comes to mind. The classic married couple heads to quaint spot outside New York City. One of them loses herself so completely in relaxation and spa treatments, she doesn’t even realize her husband is gone. Check out this post from the Old Hen listing ten movies that featured B&B’s on the big screen.
It’s amazing how powerful those indirect experiences are. The mental picture of a perfect B&B has come to represent the romantic getaway, the adventurous traveler, the relaxed atmosphere and the unique experience. These are all abstract pieces of the mental picture. It’s this quintessential image that most often attracts first-time guests. It’s the real-life experience that gets B&B customers hooked. (tweet this)
The Social Aspect
More travelers today want a deeper connection with the places they visit. With big hotels sometimes the only interaction you’ll have is when you’re checking in. The impersonal hotel chain experience can’t compare with an intimate B&B.
An owner with local knowledge is an important attraction, as well as the opportunity to meet other interesting guests.
B&B’s give guests more options between privacy and socializing. Common areas and meals let people meet without feeling overcrowded, but the private room layout gives guests alone time if they need it. There’s also less possibility of disturbance from neighboring rooms, since the setting is less anonymous than a standard hotel.
More flexible social options make for a memorable trip. As guests get to know you and your B&B, they’ll ask more questions and get engaged with your area. You’ll be their go-to person for advice on local events, restaurants and shopping options. The value of your friendly, personal service outweighs any chain hotel’s information desk.
The One-of-a-Kind Attraction
No matter where you go, the Hilton will always look pretty much the same. This isn’t so with B&B’s. Each one has a distinct history, owner, and style of accommodation.
A top reason given for travelers choosing B&B’s is the option to reserve a specific room with unique qualities. Especially for returning guests, this makes for a special experience with sentimental value. The individual decor, furniture, amenities and architecture all add up to make every B&B one-of-a-kind. Make sure you feature them when you set up your Facebook Page.
Unique home-cooked meals are one of the most sought-after features of B&B’s. (tweet this) Some larger hotels offer complimentary meals, but they’re usually pretty bland and uninventive. The home-cooked appeal of a B&B’s meals gives the guests a chance to enjoy local cooking with a personal touch.
Going the Extra Mile
B&B’s are known for going above and beyond standard hotel accommodations. The owners take personal pride in their business. They feel a responsibility to make their guests comfortable. If someone has a question or special need, the owner is usually directly available. If you’re planning a romantic surprise on a honeymoon trip, the owner will be there to help you out. Guests like it when B&B staff do their best to cater to everyone’s needs.
Travelers also expect B&B’s to have little extra perks. These might be as simple as free WiFi or an in-house entertainment library. Details like a collection of board games or bookshelf also add to the experience.
Most hotel chains will charge add-on’s anywhere they can, so it’s refreshing when B&B’s are more lenient with the extras. If there’s coffee or tea left out on the dresser, it’s usually complimentary at B&B’s. These things make guests feel more welcome and appreciated in an unfamiliar place.
Knowing what makes people choose your B&B over other options can help you focus on your most attractive features. Create a private yet socially welcome environment. Make sure your B&B has its own unique atmosphere, and go beyond the minimum expectations of standard hotels. These factors will help you deliver on your guests’ mental picture of the perfect B&B experience.
Once you understand everything about your customer you can implement your ideas with a B&B website. Hotel Propeller is a great way to get started with your online marketing initiatives.
Photos by Marcus Berg
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My aunt ran a B&B on the Isle of Arran, Scotland for many years and year after year she had a 100% occupancy rate. Most customers were repeat others were referrals. Her accommodation wasn’t superior I’d rate it at best as average. Customers loved her sincere friendless and exceptional cooking. Most guests also had evening meals. If they stayed a fortnight no one ever was offered the same meal twice. If they wanted lunch she would provide packed lunch again never the same. On the Isle of Arran for most visitors walking is a major past time. Customers without their own transport my aunt would offer to drive them to a walking drop off point and leave them to walk back. As the article infers understand your customers and exceptional results is the norm. My aunts strategy couldn’t be easily replicated by her competitors as her personality played a large part in her success. Consequently my aunt was able to charge a premium and maintain her higher price.