By: Linda Hayes, ijk Partners

Are you looking for ways to improve your bed and breakfast business? Are you possibly planning to buy a B&B of your own? While all aspects of running a bed and breakfast will be of interest to you, here are three must-dos!

The words OTA* and Book Direct are a familiar part of running a bed and breakfast.  If you are doing the necessary things to get guests to your bed and breakfast, what are you doing to keep them coming back? Are they raving to all their friends about the memorable experience you provided?

Reservation desk at an inn

1. Make a Great First Impression

Have you heard the phrase about making impressions with the “first 10 words, 10 steps, or 10 seconds?” Making a good impression is absolutely essential to running a bed and breakfast.

How do you answer the phone? Are you warm and welcoming? Or does the phone go to voicemail? Do you answer the phone enthusiastically with genuine interest in the guest? 

When a guest arrives, is the walkway to your front door swept and in good condition? Are there seasonal planters on either side of the door, looking fresh and up to date?

When you greet that arriving guest, do you warmly welcome them, offer them a beverage after a long drive? Do you ease their tension if they are first time guests?

Glasses of wine

2. Personalize Your Location’s Attractions

There was a reason you chose the location of your bed and breakfast. Was it the proximity to seasonal outdoor activities? Are you running a bed and breakfast in a college town? Is your community known for wineries, breweries, and distilleries? Is your inn a retreat in itself, with lovely outdoor areas for relaxation and activity?

Are you sharing all of this with your guests? Are you just collecting brochures and displaying them? Or are you personalizing by creating a list of YOUR favorite activities, with descriptions and directions?

Where is the shop that has the local honey you love? If you don’t already sell it, perhaps guests can visit and sample. Shorten the list of wineries and breweries to your very favorite and then map them so your guests can visit. Of course, connect with the business owners so your guests will be treated with some extra love. 

Are the restaurants and cafes you suggest, your very favorite? Are they where you enjoy a meal when you can? Make sure you make the reservation for the guest in your inn’s name along with the guest’s name, so the restaurant knows you referred them. 

Lastly, think about putting all the information you choose into a digital guest welcome book. You can send it to them in advance so guests can view it while traveling.  Having a tablet in the guest room with the information provides a tech-friendly solution that won’t be dog-eared after a few uses. Look at Touch Stay or Frictionless App for great solutions.

Happy couple sleeping at a B&B

3. Know Your Guests

Don’t be too busy running a bed and breakfast to get to know your guests! How well do you know your guests? If they are a couple, do you know who actually booked the reservation? You probably know their birthday or anniversary if they booked to celebrate, and you probably know their food restrictions, allergies, or dislikes. But what else do you know?

Why are they visiting the area? Do they have family or good friends nearby? What are their plans? Do they have tickets for a cultural event? Did they book a guide to fly-fish? Are they alumni of the area college? We can go on and on, but the more you know, the more you can tailor your offerings to them.  

Talk to your guests! Survey them! Have a question about something in the area? Ask a guest who has experienced it. Create a VIP list and reach out often to get their opinion, encouraging a repeat visit. 

When running a bed and breakfast, think about the lasting impressions you make with your guests. Ask them about their visit and then ask them to return again and again!

Breakfast in bed at a bed and breakfast

Would you like more ideas on running a bed and breakfast?

For prospective inn owners, a one-day seminar on running a bed and breakfast is great way to learn what you need to know before buying a B&B.

For current inn owners, a free consultation on how to put your property in the best position to sell is a great first step in planning your exit strategy.

*OTAs are online companies whose websites allow consumers to book various travel related services directly via the Internet. They are 3rd party agents reselling trips, hotels, cars, flights, vacation packages, etc. provided/organized by others.