B&Bs perform an important role in the tourism industry in their ability to create an authentic and real tourism experience. They can contribute to creating a strong relationship between visitors and locals. Bed & Breakfasts, guesthouses and motels have a unique advantage over other forms of accommodation in that they are very popular with travellers who want to get closer with locals to get a more ‘cultured’ experience.
Bed and Breakfast
A Bed and Breakfast is defined as a private residence where the owners provide the guest with a bed for the night and then breakfast in the morning before they leave. The owner is mainly interested in making some extra money by renting out an extra bedroom or two. Guests who choose to stay at B&Bs are usually looking for a lower cost accommodation, a more personal experience and the chance to learn more about the area from a local resident.
How B&Bs Work
The Bed and Breakfast industry claims that their websites are essential tools that reel in up to 80 to 90 per cent of new business from all over the world. Thus, many B&Bs benefit from an increase in the number of foreign guests. B&B owners consider the internet to be the main communication tool. The internet has taken away the advantages that large multinational organisations once had over small businesses. The internet allows B&Bs to gain a competitive advantage by maintaining repeat and loyal customers through the virtual environment. But B&B owners have to be careful to monitor and maintain their webpages and also find other ways to distinguish themselves from their competitors. A static webpage which is updated once every few months, with no memorable features isn’t going to do well in pulling in guests.
What Tourists Expect from B&Bs and How You Can Deliver
The key functions of a B&B are accommodation, hospitality, breakfast and a few other services. For each of these functions, the guest has certain expectations that the owner should meet.
First, with lodging, the B&B should be comfortable and the host always hospitable to the guest. The host should have a friendly, candid personality and provide the guests with all the services advertised. As said before, many guests choose to stay at B&Bs because of the personal experience, so falling short of the guests’ expectations can cause a loss of repeat customers and negative reviews
For breakfast, it should be a standard service included in the cost of the room. It can be a simple continental breakfast or a full cooked breakfast (you’ll most likely pull in more guests if you offer a full cooked breakfast though).
For payments, B&B owners should accept cash or credit cards. For other services, the B&B owner can sell their own products (such as jams, fruit or merchandise) and recommend local attractions or other accommodation.
The Way Forward for B&Bs
Some tourism studies show that the greatest weakness in the B&B business has been the owner’s inability to market their business and on their limited marketing resources. Thus, developing effective e-commerce is a major area to work on for many B&Bs. So develop an attractive, functional website, have a Facebook page which complements it, make sure your B&B can be easily found in a Google search, and get your name and good reviews onto Tripadvisor.
Is there a Role for Holiday Parks in the B&B space?
Certainly. Although holiday parks are not generally known for being hosted accommodation, many holiday parks have food and beverage facilities as well as high quality accommodation.
It would require a specific marketing campaign to reach the B&B consumer, probably through a specific Facebook or Google plus page which targets the needs of this affluent market segment.
For holiday parks that take the time to develop a part of of their business aimed at the hosted accommodation segment, the dividends may be greater than you would think.