Build your Luxury B&B crowd; Create the power Of plenty
Whether you are in the luxury B&B industry or an independent business owner in another sector, this time of year can be a challenge. The start of 2019 does however seem to be harder than normal for those in the hospitality industry. Dry January, constant media hype in the UK about grim weather and the other headline-hogger beginning with B that has people clutching tighter than ever to their purse strings has not encouraged guests old or new to book as they may have done in the past.
The change in booking habits brought about by short cancellation terms introduced by larger chains and online booking agents adds further frustration. Projecting cashflow is hard enough, and none of the above factors help this difficult task.
Building your crowd and then keeping in touch with them is an important part of modern business. Following a few key steps will help you do this
In this together
Facebook groups offering support for those running luxury B&B businesses, Guest Houses and small hotels seem to have a larger-than-average number of posts relating to slow business and lack of forward bookings. Some comfort can hopefully be gained from the number of comments under each post from people that are clearly experiencing the same problem. Unfortunately being part of a trend does not pay the bills, nor does it relieve the stress and anxiety growing in the business owner while the phone is not ringing and the email is not pinging.
It is important that we support each other in business, and my advice is this: if you are not already a member of a local consortium, association. informal group or a Facebook group or forum that allows you to chat with others in the industry then make sure you add joining one to your To-Do list, and do it soon. Sharing knowledge, experiences and an understanding ear can make a big difference to both yourself and others.
We need to support each other to make life in self-employment easier: this support network is a key part of our crowd, and its members are the ones that help keep you sane when the going gets tough. Joining online groups is easy and convenient, but meeting up with people in your community is really important. Getting out, sharing ideas and collaborating can reap great rewards for your business.
Find Your Niche
As business competition grows, you need to find your niche in the evolving hospitality market that you can build and grow your reputation around.
- Walkers and hikers
- Dog owners
- Single guests
- Young people
- Theatre goers
The list is endless, but you need to base it on something for which you have a knowledge or passion, so that you can sell it well to those you want to attract. Working hard to become known for that niche is essential; sitting back and resting on your laurels is not an option. Customers are the No 1 at the front of your crowd. They boost your cashflow, and without money flowing through the veins of your business there is no business.
Look at what your competitors are doing, and if you have a good working relationship with them then consider collaborating. You can have your own niche while promoting that of others, resulting in a village, town or city that people want to visit because it has so much to offer – a niche of niches.
It never ceases to amaze me the number of micro and small business owners in customer-facing industries that tell me they are not using social media for their business or admit they are doing it badly. You do not have to be an expert you just have to be effective. If you are not confident in promoting your business across Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, or any other platform your customers are engaging with, then number two on your to-do List is ‘Book a place on a social media course for the hospitality industry’. You may not even have to leave your luxury B&B to do this, as a number are available online.
Building a massive crowd on social media is not essential. It is not about the numbers but the engagement. Encourage guests to follow you and ensure you are sharing news, stories and useful information about things going on in your area regularly. Doing it properly is like sending a newsletter, something that has become a little restricted thanks to GDPR.
One thing is for certain: building your crowd is vital, comprising those that support you, those that promote you and most of all those that buy from you. Work on the ‘If you build it, they will come’ theory, an adaption of the quote for the 1989 movie ‘Field of Dreams’. Embrace the quiet periods in your business to look at how your crowd can help you.