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Hotelier news, tips and advice from industry experts.

Welcome Anywhere Property Managment System > Blog > 2017 > December

You’ve always wanted to run your own B&B. You have the right property, enough time on your hands to make a serious go of it and you’re confident the location is ideal.

So, where do you begin?

Make no mistake, running a B&B is incredibly hard work. For many, it’s a lifestyle business, but it’s a lifestyle that can quickly swallow you up and cause undue stress if you go about it the wrong way.

Help is at hand! We’d like to give you the leg-up you need to get started on the path to B&B success with the following five tips:

1. Work your personality into the business

Ask any guest who enjoyed their stay at a B&B what it was that set it apart, and one of their answers is likely to be “the owner”.

You are a huge part of your B&B business. You need to be welcoming, approachable and flexible if people are to recommend your property to their friends.

Thankfully, that’s you all over, so work your personality into the business from the moment it starts.

2. Don’t do it alone

When first starting out, you may have no choice, budget-wise, but to run the entire operation single-handedly (or in conjunction with your partner).

Despite this, budgeting for staff in the future is a vital tactic, because you’ll quickly find this is a business you simply can’t run by yourself.

For instance, think about finding help for the cleaning and breakfast preparation. Even just a few hours from the right pair of helping hands will make the world of difference once your B&B business starts to take off.

3. Embrace technology

Your website, online booking system, guest review platforms and social media will become vital tools as your business grows.

Just because you’re running an ultra-small business doesn’t mean you can do it without technology of this kind. In fact, without it, you’ll struggle to compete against the big boys of the industry.

Thankfully, all of this technology is within reach these days - none of it will break the bank or prove cumbersome to use.

4. Write a business plan

Many a B&B business owner has skipped this step in the belief that it isn’t required. You simply open your doors, advertise the accommodation that’s available and deliver a great guest experience, right?

At its base level, that’s exactly what you’ll be doing, but the absence of a business plan will mean you won’t haven’t planned or budgeted for the future. And that means your business will struggle to become sustainable.

You don’t need to pen War and Peace, but a concise, well-considered business plan written with the help of a knowledgeable friend or business associate will really make the difference.

5. Accept the realities of being a B&B owner

One of the most exciting things about running a B&B is that very few days are the same; you’ll be met with new challenges and triumphs every week.

This is where the realities of being a B&B owner need to be identified and taken into consideration. Make sure you’re comfortable with what it entails; the uncertainty, long days and varied roles you’ll have to play need to be met with a strong will and desire to succeed.

Wrapping up

Like any business venture, it takes a huge amount of bravery, persistence and courage to become a B&B owner.

Follow our tips above, and you’ll embark on this adventure with a mindset that will give you the greatest chance of success.

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A few weeks back, Twitter gave all of its users access to a new 280 character limit.

Ever since its inception, Twitter has only allowed 140 character to be used in tweets, making this sudden doubling of available commentary/shouting/ranting/opinion space quite a big deal.

Some people seem to love it, while others lament the decision to turn what was once the platform’s endearing selling point into something that gives advertisers and internet trolls far more space to irritate all and sundry.

Despite this, Twitter’s new character limit offers some interesting marketing opportunities. It shouldn’t be abused, but we think you can definitely make better use of the service now if you’re a hotelier.

Here’s four tips for making the most of the 280 character tweet limit:

1. Use paragraphs

Perhaps the worst thing to come out of the increased character limit is a tendency for people to publish great big tweets that don’t feature an ounce of punctation.

When these tweets were just 140 characters long, that was less of an issue, but at 240 characters, they simply become big blobs of text that few people are going to read.

If you’ve got something interesting to say about your hotel, you now have more space in which to do so, but that means you can rely on white space, rather than endless sentences.

Use paragraphs on Twitter, and break up your tweets so they’re easily digestible.

2. Include multiple links

The shorter tweets of old typically only justified a single link to be included, but with 280 characters to play with, you can get a bit more creative with your calls to action.

For instance, if you’ve just launched a number of new Christmas packages, why not tweet them out in paragraphs (see above), with the corresponding link to each package description on your website?

Don’t forget to include images, too - tweets containing photos or some other form of graphical accompaniment will perform better, and they no longer count to the character limit.

3. Tweet in multiple languages

If you regularly welcome foreign guests to your hotel, or want to broaden your reach on social media, Twitter’s higher character limit finally gives you the space to tweet in multiple languages.

For instance, you can now kill several birds with one tweet if you want to announce the launch of your new online booking system to people in England, Spain, France and Germany.

4. Don’t feel you have to use every character

One of the best pieces of advice we can provide about Twitter’s new 280 character limit is… to not use it at all!

Just because you have all that extra space to play with doesn’t mean you need to use it each and every time. If you’ve experienced Twitter success with short, concise tweets, stick with them!

Listen to gut instinct; if a tweet feels too log or laboured, trim it back.

Wrapping up

Have you used Twitter to your advantage as a hotelier? We’d love to hear your experiences. Get involved in the conversation by leaving your comments, below!

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In episode 5 of the Welcome Systems podcast, we chat to Barry Clark, Managing Director of Dunedin Consultancy, and Hefin Morris, Operations Director at Welcome Systems, about the challenges that come with managing millennials in hotels.

We discuss (amongst other stuff relating to this fascinating generation):

  • the changing migrant working market;
  • the approach to life, work and society of the millennial generation;
  • whether or not there's a hotel staffing crisis on the horizon;
  • what the biggest employment challenge is for hotels in the digital age;
  • whether hospitality is still a long term career; and
  • the importance of staff training.

Find out more about Dunedin Consultancy here:

Find out more about Welcome Anywhere here:

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There are clever, smart ways to encourage guests to leave good reviews for your hotel… and then there are the rather more daft approaches made by Basil Fawlty types.

For an example of the latter, look no further than the owner of the Royal Clarence Hotel in Somerset, who decided to label one group of guests “muppets” after they allegedly demanded a refund in exchange for a positive review.

Harsh? We’ll let you be the judge of that, but there’s no arguing this isn’t really the way to treat guests - or paint an image of yourself online as a hotel owner.

This chap’s anger is understandable, even if his way of dealing with it is somewhat questionable. Hoteliers know the value of good reviews - they improve rankings on review sites, OTAs and search engines - therefore obtaining them and dealing with the negative stuff is a highly emotive topic.

It goes without saying you shouldn’t bribe guests into leaving decent reviews on TripAdvisor, but there are a number of legitimate, fair ways you can increase the chances of them doing so:

Never compromise on service - ever

Let’s get this one out of the way, immediately.

For guests to leave decent reviews, you need to provide a stellar service each and every time they step into your hotel. If you run your business like a tight ship and have a team that values customer service above all else, you’re already halfway there.

Mention it during the check-out process

Think about how often you’re asked by waiting staff to leave reviews on TripAdvisor when they hand you the bill at the end of the meal.

As a hotelier, you absolutely need to do the same thing. During the check-out process, encourage reception staff to ask if the guest had an enjoyable stay. If the answer is “yes”, encourage them to share their experience on TripAdvisor.

This is by far the best time to ask, because the positive vibe you’ve created for them will be fresh in their mind.

Send a follow-up email

Clearly, not every guest is going to take up - or remember - your suggestion that they leave a review, but there’s a neat way you can remind them to do so.

A day or so after the stay, schedule a follow-up email (most decent hotel booking systems will have this feature built in) that repeats the words of the reception staff and includes a direct link to your hotel’s listing on TripAdvisor.

“We’d love to see you again”, “thanks for staying with us”, “why not leave us a review?” are the kind of things you want to be saying in this ultra-simple email.

Keep an eye on social media

If you’re using software to keep an eye on mentions of your hotel on social media, you can pounce on the positive stuff (you’ll need to do the same with the negative mentions, but that’s for another blog).

For instance, if you spot a tweet that tells the story of a wonderful stay at your property, retweet it first, but then reply. Thank the guest for taking the time to tweet and kindly ask that they leave their happy thoughts on TripAdvisor for you, too.

Wrapping up

Positive guest reviews aren’t easy to come by, no matter how high your guest satisfaction rate.

People lead busy lives, and therefore often need encouragement (and the odd reminder) to do their bit on TripAdvisor if they thought your hotel was particularly wonderful.

Don’t be afraid to give them a gentle nudge!

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After what it describes as an ‘exhaustive consultation with its customers’, Welcome Systems Ltd, the online hospitality booking software experts, has completely revamped the reporting suite in its hotel property management system (PMS) ‘Welcome Anywhere Plus.’

The development continues Welcome Anywhere’s drive to innovate in line with market demands and suit clients’ continual needs for a 24/7 bookings service that delivers the best guest experience.

“The market is swamped with PMS offerings but I can say with confidence that Welcome Anywhere is the real deal for B&Bs, independent hospitality providers, small hotel chains and pubs with accommodation,” comments John Jones, Managing Director of Welcome Systems Ltd.

“This isn’t just bravado. Our business has been successful for over 30 years by being brave, building strategic partnerships and focusing on innovation, and many of our team are former hoteliers themselves. We understand the market pressures and deliver a system which is renowned for its ease-of-use and measurable results.

“Hospitality managers need the ability to automatically coordinate bookings and finances, send out confirmation emails to clients and accomplish everything at the touch of a screen, whether they are using a PC, tablet, smartphone or a combination of all three.”

Among the exciting new developments offered by the Welcome Anywhere are:

  • A new online dashboard offering instant hotel and accommodation data
  • Full mobile compatibility throughout the app
  • Instant adjustment and performance information on average daily rates, marketing cost per booking, direct revenue ratio, and total revenue per available room and per client
  • The Opportunity Centre, designed to identify opportunities to supercharge room performance and profitability

“Because customer feedback has always been vital to Welcome Anywhere our clients can now also send us their ideas for improvement using the new 'Got an idea?' section,” continues Jones. “In addition our system security is fully encrypted to combat the threat of cybercrime, and we have made huge advancements in mobile readiness.

“Welcome Anywhere has always been suited to devices of all sizes, but this latest update features significant improvements to the way it performs on smartphones.

“The booking details screen now has a new menu for users to quickly access invoices and add payment card details - a small, but crucial detail.

“There’s no doubt the future of hotel and restaurant booking is continual innovation online,” adds Jones. “We’re thrilled to be helping hotels, B&Bs and pubs with accommodation meet raised customer demands for improved comfort, value and convenience.

“This business is all about convenience, comfort and quality - factors that should apply not only to guests, but also to hoteliers in their day-to-day business.”

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