There’s a short but eminently clear and to-the-point article on – of all places – the State of Indiana local government homepage about mobile websites. In the “Tourism Tech Corner” of the site, Jeremy Williams not only does a superb job of explaining why a mobile website is becoming vital for any hospitality-related business, but also drives home the fact that it’s becoming morevital with every passing month, since use of smart phones for Internet browsing is growing at a tremendous rate.
Yvonne begins by describing the difficulties she found herself in just 3 years ago and how she overcame them: “My room occupancy rates were completely in line with ‘Europe wide industry statistics’ at 21.58% (the Europe average is 21.5% according to Bed & Breakfast.com) and I started to build up an overdraft. Then I started borrowing elsewhere to keep the ship afloat and bit by bit I edged into more and more debt.” However, by changing her strategy, she managed to stop the decline: “I started to increase massively my room occupancy rates, in fact so much so that in a year they soared from 21.58% to 37.68% a MASSIVE 74% increase.” Last year her occupancy rate hit 49.01%, which, she points out, is “almost unheard of in the B & B industry.”
“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.
Booking.com’s rise in Europe seems to be unstoppable. Though they may sometimes resent its dominance, it has offered big new opportunities for independent hotels and B&Bs in particular. Smaller properties that can’t rely on the “brand” advertising of a large chain are able to use Booking.com as a platform to massively increase their visibility. They frequently pay a pretty big cut for the privilege, but there’s always the opportunity to convert Booking.com customers into repeat, direct bookers.
There are signs, however, that Booking.com is trying to control hoteliers – and squeeze them financially – more and more. Some of its strategies are outlined by Pedro Colaco (president of GuestCentric) in a recent guest article for travel tech website Tnooz…
A lot of statistics on subjects like online accommodation booking or the influence of social media on travel tend to hail from America, which always seems to be ahead of the UK when it comes to adopting new technology for business. However, it looks as if at least one innovation – the increase in the use of mobile devices like iPhones, Androids and iPads – is having a significant effect on the habits of British holidaymakers (and not just those who are going abroad.)
GUEST BLOG. Iain Stewart, Co-Director of Freetobook, mulls overs the implications of this latest development and offers some advice for Scottish tourism businesses who now have to find an alternative system that will provide online booking.
It came as bit of a bombshell to lots of hospitality businesses when VisitScotland suddenly announced the withdrawal of its online booking system. Many, including myself, would argue that this was long overdue. VisitScotland’s foray into this area over the last 10 or so years has left many Scottish tourism businesses disgruntled and wary of online booking….not a great record.
Simmering tensions between owners of legitimate bed and breakfasts and Airbnb seem to have finally erupted in the US. It’s quite understandable that experienced innkeepers who have spent years perfecting their service should be irritated by the idea of homeowners with no professional hospitality experience being encouraged to compete by a company that includes the letters “bnb” in its title – thus implying that the two experiences are somehow equivalent.
Online booking isn’t voodoo. There are lots of private companies out there who manage to provide it to B&Bs in an efficient and cost-effective way (indeed, some of them even do it for free). Yet it seems that the moment government lumbers onto the scene, costs rise and efficiency plunges – all covered up by bureaucratic double-speak.
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’!
Like most visual aspects of life, a bed and breakfast’s website is very much a personal thing. That said, there are certain practical additions that are absolutely necessary to ensure you give yourself the best chance of getting extra bookings. Here are a few strategies that – if done well – can make a real difference.
1. Great images help your customers relate to your B&B. These are so important it’s worth considering getting them done professionally. Start by identifying what customers like or love about your property and then try to capture that in images. For example, make a note if you really want to show a particular aspect of your property or area that is seasonal: it could be bluebells, a certain shrub in full flower or the autumn leaves in woodland nearby. Never underestimate the power of these images as they really speak to us on a deeper emotional level.