In our latest GUEST BLOG, Sarah Murison, owner of the Two Rose Cottages B&B in Midhurst, West Sussex shares the things that keep business guests coming back to her bed and breakfast.
“Two Rose Cottages Bed and Breakfast has not been open long, and so far most of our guests have been business people: mainly, but not only, business women. I asked them why they chose us, and they told me about nine services that have turned this little bed and breakfast into a home-from-home for the business traveller.
Quite recently, we talked about the fact that growth in direct online hotel bookings seems to be outpacing bookings with online travel agents. At this stage, unsurprisingly perhaps, these direct bookings tend most often to be with the big hotel chains. But as travellers become more and more comfortable with booking accommodation online (and more cost conscious), it doesn’t seem implausible to suggest that smaller properties, like B&Bs, will reap the benefits too (as long as their websites are well set up for it.)
Julia Cox runs the South Lodge B&B with her partner, Colin. The South Lodge is the only accredited 5-star accommodation in or around Milton Keynes and is ranked #1 amongst 130 Buckinghamshire B&Bs on TripAdvisor. Writing exclusively for theBandBer, she shares her secrets for attracting business guests and keeping them happy.
“It’s probably a well-known fact that if your B&B is in an area that attracts business guests they can be a really good source of custom: reliable, grateful for home comforts and out all day! For the regular traveller it’s a huge relief to avoid staying in a faceless hotel where a freshly made breakfast and a quiet night is rare. Since opening South Lodge four years ago, at least 40% of all my bookings are business travellers. I’ve had the pleasure of listening to guests chatting over the breakfast table, vying for ‘who’s stayed here the most’!
Travellers in the US are getting more and more fed up with chain hotels charging fees that are compulsory but not shown in their online room rates at the time of booking. The most common are “resort,” “housekeeping,” and (our old favourite) “WIFI access” fees. Now independent consumer advocate Ed Perkins has taken up the cudgels in the Chicago Tribune:
“Our objection to these fees is simple: If they’re mandatory, they should be included in the hotel’s base room rate. […] You know how it works: A hotel that wants to collect, say, $200 a night for a room, instead posts a phony rate of $170 a night, then adds one or more mandatory fees to make up the $30 difference. The problem, of course, is that it’s the phony $170 price the hotel posts online and submits to the online pricing sites; you don’t find out about the true $200 price until later — maybe not until you’ve made a non-refundable purchase.”
The main criterion for travellers looking for hotel accommodation in the USA is now “value for money” according to hotelmanagement.net. Bad news for chain hotels that try to gouge customers by charging for every little extra. Good news for B&Bs offering free WIFI, fresh locally-sourced food and a great “home from home” atmosphere in lovely surroundings.
Acknowledging the effect of the “Great Recession” on travel buying habits, Hotel Management had this to say: “It comes as no surprise that the most influential factor in hotel/resort selection remains ‘value for the price,’ cited by nine out of 10 travellers today, and up two points from the percentage who cited this criterion two years ago (a statistically significant increase).”
The world of business travel is changing, in ways that could favour independent accommodation providers, like B&Bs.
According to business travel specialists AirPlusInternational, corporate travel managers are exploring new approaches to travel management. The most significant of these is the “fixed budget per trip” concept:
In the past, we’ve talked about the fact that female travellers (particularly female business travellers) tend to favour B&Bs more than their male counterpoints, because they appreciate the friendliness – and feeling of security – that comes from staying in a smaller property that is often family-run.
The good news for owners of B&Bs, inns and guest houses is that, according to new research, women are not only travelling more, but are also having a greater influence on travel decisions – both business and leisure.
No less an authority than the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration in the United States has been looking into what female business travellers want from accommodation when they’re on the road. According to the report’s author, Dr Judy Brownell, “Rather than emphasize the importance of specific items that fluctuate from one survey to the next, managers should instead focus on how combinations of services … contribute to the desired affective responses sought by women business travelers.” What does this mean in plain English?
We’ve talked before about the fact that more business travellers seem to be staying at B&Bs and Guesthouses in the UK: partly because they’re in search of a friendlier, less anonymous environment; partly because so many large organisations are reducing their travel budgets. That’s good news for B&Bs and Guesthouse owners. But business travellers often have different needs compared to the kinds of guests that small, independent properties normally cater for. So it’s perhaps worth re-emphasising the one amenity that matters above all others to the people who’re staying with you while they’re away from home on work: fast, reliable WIFI.
One of the main changes that owners of UK B&Bs and Guesthouses have reported during the recent tough economic times is a marked increase in the number of business guests staying with them. The most obvious reason for this is that a lot of companies can no longer afford to pay for chain hotels. But anecdotal evidence also suggests that many business travellers actively enjoy the warmer ‘family’ atmosphere that B&Bs and Guesthouses can offer – especially after a tough day’s work in a formal and (dare we say it) somewhat sterile office environment. So how can you maximise your appeal to this growing market? Continue reading →