by Tina Boden from thebandbkeeper.com
B&B industry guru Tina Boden provides some core tips on leading your hospitality business to success and avoiding the risk of ending up in a dead end
Q. We seem to be getting quite a number of enquiries asking if we serve dinner. As a Bed and Breakfast this is not something we have ever really wanted to do, evening is our down time. There are a couple of pubs and restaurants near us that guests have always used but they are popular and with reduced space are getting booked up quickly, especially at weekends.
A. I appreciate cooking dinner as well as breakfast is a commitment many running Bed and Breakfast properties do not want to make, especially if you are not an enthusiastic cook. However, if you feel that you are loosing bookings because of it at the moment there are a number of options you could consider. Firstly, look at it as a short-term offer and ensure you state that dinner is available between July and December 2020 due to the Government restrictions in the local hospitality businesses on your website and social media. Secondly, why not put together a small menu, a choice of 3 starters, main courses and desserts is adequate. Share this on your website and also when you send out a booking confirmation and insist people order 24 hours in advance if they would like dinner. Thirdly, when it comes to preparing the meals on your menu many things can be batch cooked and frozen to save you time. With pre-order you can just take the meal out of the freezer in the morning and there is no need to spend all afternoon in the kitchen. Alternatively, find a business near you that supplies home-made meals and strike up a deal with them. Many hospitality businesses have started doing take-aways to boost their income. This could be a great way to offer guests what they want, reduce your cooking time and still bring income in to your local economy for other businesses.
Q. During lockdown and since re-opening we have realised many of our competitors are extremely active on social media. This is something we have tried to avoid as we find it hard work but understand now we may be missing out on bookings because our B & B is not as visible.
A. Any micro and small business not using social media, especially currently while so many people are shopping, meeting and communicating online, needs to change that immediately. I appreciate that social media can be daunting for many but it is really important that you share stories, news of your local area and pictures of your property to bring additional promotional opportunities for your business. Understanding which social media platforms to use and how to use them correctly is important so you get maximum benefit. Do not get me wrong this form of promotion will not necessarily bring guests running to your door but it helps raise your profile and can be a great way to interact with other local and regional businesses. There are plenty of online courses available to help you or alternatively if you want 1 2 1 support this is something I offer through my business. The thought of social media can be overwhelming but the benefits out way this when it comes to engaging with customers.
Q. We have always received regular reviews through OTAs and our website. Since re-opening they have been limited and when you look it feels like the reviews for our property are outdated. What should we do to ensure the comments people see on the internet are recent?
A. It was Mahatma Ghandi who famously said ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get it’. As happy guests are leaving encourage them to go online and write a review. You could even have some business cards printed that you hand to them as they go with the correct links to follow to write a review. I appreciate you may not want to ask all guests to comment about their stay, we all know that some can be downright grumpy however much you do for them, but the ones who have had a good time should be encouraged to share their exper. Highlight that positive reviews that reflect the care a business is taking to implement Government guidelines and keep guests safe are important now more than ever to keep customers old and new informed. We all know reviews come with their pluses and minuses but right now my advice for you now is do not be afraid to be more Mahatma Ghandi and ask for what you want.