“Any ful kno” (as Nigel Molesworth used to say) that one of the most effective ways to get an economy out of a slump is to boost exports. One way to do this is to devalue your currency and make exports cheaper (exactly what Greece, Spain etc can’t do right now). But another way is to avoid taxing the hell out of the revenues generated by whatever it is you’re exporting – regardless of whether it’s a product, or, in the case of B&Bs, a service. High taxes on UK accommodation stifle the recovery, pure and simple.
Right now, bed and breakfast owners have a rare chance to help the country in terms of both exports and domestic consumption. Staying in a B&B – especially a rural one – is often one of the most delightful experiences for visitors to the UK: it gives them an invaluable chance to experience domestic life in another country without sacrificing anything in the way of comfort and modern amenities. B&Bs are also a crucial generator of jobs and GDP in the local economies that we so desperately need to stimulate (in order to stop the UK becoming, business-wise, “London… and everywhere else.”)
Google are warning business owners, including hotel and B&B owners, that “fake glowing testimonies” written by reputation management companies on Google+ Local pages will be taken down.
Google+ Local used to just be called Google Places. It’s essentially just normal Google search with a location slant. These local search results appear anytime an online user combines a search item with a geographical modifier, i.e., “B&B York.” The results appear as a listing and as pins on a map. They are sorted by their relevance, which is determined by how close each B&B is to your current location when you search.
In this new GUEST BLOG, Craig Stewart, co-founder of online reservations company Freetobook, share some advice on making sure that your bank isn’t ripping you off when it comes to credit card handling charges.
“I won’t make any friends in the banking industry for saying this, but here goes…
If you already have a deal which is bad or average then it’s worth shopping around now. You could save money, as your bank may be taking advantage of you.
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.
You may remember us mentioning a while back that the UK’s Advertising Standards Agency ordered TripAdvisor to remove the phrase “reviews you can trust” from its homepage. After many frustrating years for hotel and B&B owners, the issue of authenticity does seem to be getting more mainstream attention.
Now, one of the largest hotel companies in the world is taking matters into its own hands, by verifying all (unmediated) reviews on its own sites against a database of actual bookings.
As recently reported by the Financial Times[i], the Government’s Funding For Lending Scheme (the successor to the discredited Project Merlin) doesn’t seem to be working: “There is little evidence that households and businesses are benefiting from the new scheme, under which 13 UK banks applied for £60bn in low cost loans from the BoE. The savings from accessing cheap money could theoretically be passed on to borrowers, but there is no sign yet that lenders are doing so.”
Now, Bob Marchant, owner of the Tudor House B&B (a TripAdvisor certificate of excellence winner for 2011 and 2012) has written an open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, protesting about how fundamentally meaningless the FLS is when it comes to supporting small business like bed and breakfasts. This is a matter of interest to many BandBers in similar circumstances. Here’s Bob’s letter in full…
Television viewers in the UK are well accustomed to Gordon Ramsay’s kitchen antics. Now he’s subjecting American B&B owners to the same kind of rough treatment he has previously reserved for hapless chefs.
In his new ‘reality’ series, “Hotel Hell,” Ramsay travels the US, seeking to put right “failing” properties (all of which, of course, have been carefully selected in advance, with each show being stage managed and edited to present them in the worst possible light.) Broadcast by the Fox Network, “Hotel Hell” premiered on August 13th 2012. It has already been a ratings success and has just been commissioned for a second series of six episodes.
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).”
According to a recent article by Felim O’Rourke in the Irish Independent newspaper, “The treatment of the humble B&B by the controlling interests in Irish tourism is a scandal. The loss of the B&B sector has been a disaster for Irish tourism.”
What has prompted such an outburst? Well, according to O’Rourke, Irish B&Bs have suffered a massive decline over the past decade in terms of their share of both domestic and overseas tourism markets. And he provides some stark figures to justify this claim: