Being better than your competition is the goal of most business owners. This post is for small business owners and hospitality providers like bed and breakfast innkeepers. You must think of yourself as an entrepreneur because you are! Your goal is to stand out from all other options. The best way to do that is to discover what is called your “unique selling proposition.” Basically, what do you offer than no one else does? By providing exceptional food, friendly hospitality, concierge services, and luxurious amenities, innkeepers can build a list of returning guests to B&B inns. There are many ways to stand out and it depends upon your preferences, priorities, and personality.
Do you offer spa treatments (either from your guest rooms or an actual spa)? Do you have a restaurant that also serves lunch and dinner to guests (and may be open to the public)? What kinds of amenities come in each of your guest rooms (mini-fridge, hot tub, free internet access, entertainment, etc.)? How do your linens feel? Do you add extra touches like mints on their pillows? When your guests feel special, they will want to return to feel that way again.
Depending upon the type of guests you attract, concierge services can be on the high end. For example, before staying, if a guest contacted you and said they wanted to surprise who they are bringing because it is their birthday or anniversary, do you have a plan in place? Are you connected to other local businesses? It is of great benefit to get to know the owners of local restaurants, boutiques, entertainment venues, etc. so you can network with them.
Custom packages should be tailored around why people visit you and your local area. For example, if you are in wine country or near a popular winery, consider adding a wine-tasting package that includes chauffeur service to a few local wineries. You know the area and your guests will appreciate not having to drive.
Another example, often destinations for romantic getaways offer packages that include couples’ massages, flowers, chocolates, restaurant gift certificates, event tickets, and so on. Think about what couples love to do in your local area.
If you have relationships with local farmers, regularly shop from your local farmer’s markets, raise farm animals, and/or have your own garden, be sure to tell your guests about that. People love to hear stories about that.
Alternatively, if you accommodate the dietary needs of your guests, be sure to mention that. “With advance notice, we can provide alternative food options.” Perhaps you pride yourselves on being vegetarian, vegan, diabetic-friendly, heart-healthy, or even providing your guests with “comfort foods.”
Some bed and breakfasts offer a free wine tasting time in the afternoon. This can be a social time and opportunity to interact with other guests. You may offer premium nuts, select cheeses, and other delicious appetizers as well.
Most inns offer complimentary homemade goodies for guests to grab at their leisure. Some offer extras like dessert and wine delivered in the evenings. This can also be part of a package.
If you host retreats, you have the option to lead the retreats entirely on your own, have guest speakers, or have other people host their own retreats using your food and accommodations. The options for types of retreats are endless. Think about why people visit your area. Various retreats include business retreats, relationship retreats, project retreats, and many more. Take the time to assess your interests and plug into your local area. This is yet another way to stand out and be better than your competition.
Do you ever get told that you should teach a class about something you are talented at doing? If you are good at cooking, dancing, painting, photography, writing, yoga, or something entirely different, you can use your talent. Do you have a famous local talent that would be willing to teach classes at your inn? Even if you don’t teach the class, you can bring an expert who does.
The private events you host depend upon your area and your interests. For example, if you live in a college town, then perhaps you can host graduation parties. If you have a background in coordinating weddings, and your accommodations is large enough, you can host weddings. Even smaller lodging places host elopements or intimate weddings. Hosting private events is another way to be better than your competition.
Do you have a plan in place to grow your small business to the next level? Consider working with someone who is experienced at helping businesses improve their bottom line.
Do they listen to your vision of what you would like to do with your business? Are they providing helpful advice to get you there? Do they seek out opportunities for you to receive press? Are you open to their suggestions?
The relationship you have with a marketing company can mean all the difference in the world. Bed and Breakfast Blogging partners with innkeepers to attract their ideal audiences (including pet lovers, history buffs, and adventure seekers).
A good marketing strategy means carving out your own niche and uniquely marketing to them in a variety of ways that include blogging, email marketing, social media, local partnerships, publicity, and much more.
I want to acknowledge the benefits professional association membership can bring. In this way, members are supportive of each other. Natural to their personalities, many innkeepers go out of their way to be helpful to others (especially their guests).
Belonging to an association allows for more networking, greater awareness of your industry, and coming together to encourage more direct business (rather than through third-party vendors). Have a network of referral partners. For example, when guests ask you to recommend another B&B in a different area (or when your inn is full), this is a great time to introduce them to other inns (and for other innkeepers to refer their guests to you).
Better Than Your Competition
By incorporating any of the ideas mentioned in this blog post, you are on your way to making your small business even better than your competition. Also, to establishing beneficial partnerships and associations.