Tina Boden is certainly no stranger to The hospitality industry – it has been a part of her life since the age of 2.
As The Tiny Troubleshooter, Tina works one on one with business owners, providing virtual assistance and marketing support.
As one of the B’s in the B and B Keeper, Tina will step in to run your BnB, Guest House, small Hotel or Inn while the owner is on holiday.
And then as Co-founder of #MicroBizMatters Day Tina is one of the leading voices for micro business in the UK.
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Our B & B is located in a small village with only one other B & B and a handful of holiday homes in it. We also have a couple of pubs, one serving delicious food that people travel from outside the area to enjoy. At the moment we are concerned about the attitude the local residents will take towards our guests when we re-open as most do not rely on tourism for their livelihood and might not understand why we are welcoming people back into our community.
This is a popular concern with B & B owners especially in smaller locations where tourism is not prolific. It is important you work with the other short-term accommodation providers to create what I am referring to as a ‘Positive Welcome’. I also advise that you include the pubs in this collaborative work to ensure all businesses that are attracting people from outside of your village are included. Arrange a meeting online with the other business owners to discuss your concerns, if the holiday homes are managed by Agents do try and include both the owners and the Agents. Producing a leaflet from all the businesses setting out what you plan to do to keep businesses operating while ensuring yourself, guests and local residents are safe is a good place to start. Arrange to deliver this to every house in your community. Showing you are thinking about them and working to keep them safe will help build residents confidence and reduce their animosity. Ensure there is a contact name and number for at least one of the business owners for them to talk to if they have concerns.
We are growing increasingly concerned about re-opening as time goes on not only because of the new measures we will have to put in place resulting in the closing off of rooms but also the PPE we may have to wear when greeting guests. Our warm welcoming manner is one of the things we are complimented on both personally and in reviews and the worry we have is this will be lost behind a mask.
Firstly, I advise you not to ‘presume’ what you will have to do but wait for the final guidance from the UK Government around cleaning, necessary PPE and also the resting of rooms between guests. Guidance will cover a multitude of things some of which may not apply. As with much of the information received over the recent months it has been based on inaccurate facts shared on social media. Short term accommodation providers come in all shapes and sizes and therefore one size fits all guidance will not work. Some of what you implement going forward will be based on your own common sense as well as the layout of your property and how you can meet and greet guests both on arrival and as they return from their day out. Industries in different sectors are not making mask wearing compulsory so there may be no reason why tourism and hospitality have to. Once you have decided on your meet and greet process set this out in an email that you send your guests a few days before they are due to arrive. Keep them up to date with information about short term changes to the usual way you run your business especially if they have stayed with you before.
I have really been struggling with a feeling of loneliness over the past few weeks. I run a B & B and am used to a house full of guests. None of this has been helped by the uncertainty of when we can re-open and also the financial impact this forced Covid-19 closure has brought.
If The mental health of many UK micro business owners has been seriously impacted since Mid -March and for some, like B & B owners who were gearing up to start the season, the coronavirus impact has had a much greater effect on them than others.
At the beginning of May I created a group called ‘My B & B and Me’, an opportunity to meet online once a week for 4 weeks on a specific day at a certain time. With a maximum of 12 participants, a number I set to ensure interaction, it has been a great way to share thoughts, fears and great ideas and I know it has helped people feel less alone while meeting new people to chat to. I plan to hold another group later in June to give support to those you are feeling alone.
It is good to talk and I encourage you to reach out and chat to fellow B & B owners who understand what you are going through – welcoming guests into your home is something that can often drive you mad at the height of the season but the feeling of emptiness in your house right now is a reminder of all the things you are struggling with.