As a bed and breakfast owner you find that during holiday periods you could fill your establishment ten times over and you are turning away business, yet at other times you are empty. Your objective is to come up with a strategy to help "fill the gaps".
Identify who is your customer?
As a bed & breakfast owner, your customer base largely consists of individuals and couples who are on holiday and stay for both short stays (typically a day or two) as well as longer periods, say a couple of weeks. While traveling through your city they choose to stay at your bed & breakfast because they prefer the "feels like home" experience over larger and more impersonal hotels.
However, currently most of your customers are just traveling through and you don't see them again. What you would like are customers who could keep coming back. These may be people within your drive market area or in neighboring areas who are looking for a quality short break away from their regular weekly routine. In fact, the ideal target profile would be drive market couples and families who are willing to spend a few extra dollars on a quality experience.
What is the best thing you can do for that customer?
Make your bed & breakfast more drives market friendly by offering value added services that build an enjoyable experience.
How am I going to do it?
What is the offer? You are going to create a series of unique short-stay packages that will appeal to the drive market. Select from your local theaters, cinemas, restaurants or stores for the ideal partner(s) for your bed & breakfast. Negotiate a deal whereby they offer a special discount to your bed & breakfast customers. Package this with your own special deal on accommodation, to create unique short-stay packages.
Create a database of all your past and present customers (VIP Express) and send a direct mail invitation to offices and businesses in your drive market area to join the VIP Express Club in order to receive information on your special short-stay deals when they sign up for a monthly newsletter at your website.
Additionally you could offer to make special arrangements / bookings for requests made in advance and charge a premium for this service.
Don't forget to say Thank You!
Every customer that registers for your newsletter should get a thank you email and every guest that stays with you should get a thank you email 2 days after they check out of your bed & breakfast. Include a link to a survey where every submitted entry wins a discount on their next stay at the bed & breakfast.
Along with the email marketing, invite guest feedback and comments to use as testimonials on your website and marketing literature. After all, Word of Mouth from happy customers is one of the best ways to boost business in the hospitality industry.
Survey questions to database could include:
What do they like/dislike about the breakfast menu?
What additional services would they expect of a bed & breakfast?
What do they consider when selecting a place to stay – price, safety, cleanliness, services, bed & breakfast?
You could also collect birthdays, anniversaries and other times of the year when he/she typically travels.
When to communicate?
Regular packaged offers. Change these frequently – cinema one month, theatre and dinner the next, keep it interesting so customers read your emails. Key dates such as birthdays, anniversaries and other occasions with best wishes and exclusive offers. Reminders a couple of months before holiday periods like Christmas, Easter, etc encouraging them to book early.
How do you measure success?
In addition to your exit survey after people have stayed with you, conduct 6 monthly surveys of all VIP Express members to judge their level of satisfaction with your facility and offerings.
Incentivize survey completion with a special complimentary "deluxe" breakfast for the whole family during their next visit.
For measuring bottom line performance, compare bookings and revenue between like periods across the past couple of years. Keep an eye out for spikes in revenue generated by any particular offer or deal and repeat the same when business is slow.
Become the "Expert"
Include in your monthly newsletters to the VIP Express Club, profiles of tourist attractions, new developments and upcoming tourist events in your area.
Create exclusive packages around these events for VIP Express members. Because of your thoughtfulness, your bed & breakfast is likely to become the top of mind choice for impromptu quality getaways for your database.
Build Build Build! Continue to build you database by sending regular direct mail outs to more suburbs, businesses that fall within your drive market.