A study conducted by TripAdvisor in 2015 found that smaller independent accommodation operators were providing the biggest boost to the UK’s overall average rating.
What’s more, B&Bs appear to have led that surge in quality with those based in the UK enjoying an average review rating of 4.16 our of 5. That helped put our nation’s independent hospitality businesses in a lofty second place out of fifteen major tourist destinations. Only the Italians managed to score higher (and they do have Lake Garda, so we’ll give them that).
So, B&Bs in this country are, quite simply, brilliant. But they face something of an uphill struggle when it comes to boosting revenue and increasing margins. The overheads involved in the running of a B&B aren’t insignificant, and if you add in the endless hours required to keep the business afloat and guests happy, the bottom line for the owner isn’t always that palatable.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a few tips for boosting revenue in B&Bs, because we think there are a few simple things owners of such businesses can do to make their end of years figure look rather more attractive.
1. Invest time in TripAdvisor
Yikes. Why start here? For one very good reason: TripAdvisor is perhaps the most important sales channel available to B&Bs and, if you’re ignoring it or pretending it isn’t there, it’s time to dig your head out of the sand and meet the public.
Firstly, update your listing with a brilliant description and photos and, if you can afford it, pay for a Business Listing (the benefits make it worthwhile). Then, spend time digesting reviews and replying to as many as you can. As the business owner, you get the last say, so put your best foot forward and show the world why you’re an attentive B&B owner who loves their business and its guests.
Nearly every guest will use TripAdvisor to check you out. You should be doing the same, because putting your head above the parapet shows you care and will attract more people to your establishment. More guests equals more revenue - it’s that simple.
Forgive us for introducing a somewhat car dealership-ish term, but up-selling in the hospitality industry is absolutely vital if you are to uncover latent revenue opportunities. What’s more, there are plenty of easy ways to do it.
If you have graded rooms, always offer the best ones to the guests who have booked standard rooms when they check in. If you operate a taxi service into the local town, make people aware of the fact when they arrive. Perhaps breakfast comes in two flavours (excuse the pun), with one being a premium affair; again, up-sell to those who booked the continental.
3. Forget you’re a B&B
It’s always a shame to see B&Bs drop that very label and instead call themselves a ‘guesthouse’ or ‘small hotel’. Be proud of what your property is - there’s a huge amount of tradition woven into the term ‘B&B’ which many guests love. However, in order to boost revenue, you need to think bigger.
Implement a hotel booking system, not a B&B booking system (you no longer have to spend a fortune in order to do so); apply hotel marketing tactics to your website by stealing the best content and layout ideas from your larger competitors; if you have room, erect a proper check in desk.
Do all you can to offer a hotel experience to guests, but remain close to and proud of your roots.
4. Use OTAs, but don’t rely on them
You should absolutely be using Booking.com as a B&B operator. They will act as a beacon for your establishment and introduce lots of new guests. The trap you should avoid, however, is becoming too reliant on them.
This usually manifests itself in returning guests booking again through the OTA on which they originally discovered your B&B. That’s another 15% commission, gone. So, instead, always tempt people to rebook through your own website (because you implemented that hotel online booking system, didn’t you?).
5. Allow dogs
Even if you’re not a dog person, allowing pets into your B&B will instantly unlock the door to more bookings and - you guessed it - more revenue. You can charge extra for furry guests and the fact you allow them through the door will endear you to the thousands of people who holiday with their four-legged friends every year.
We hope the tips above help you in your quest to raise the revenue your B&B generates. Here are the takeaways: think like a hotelier, connect with guests on TripAdvisor and embrace every opportunity to up-sell additional services to guests.