How often do you update your room tariff? Does it reside on the check-in counter, laminated and curling slightly at the edges? Or is it something you constantly monitor, change and adapt to fit market conditions and demand?
Bearing in mind this post is labelled ‘B&B rate management’, it may sound like we’ve inadvertently strayed into hotel chain territory with the last suggestion, but in the dynamic, digital marketplace in which we now find ourselves, every accommodation business owner has to get serious about strategic rate management.
That includes you!
In fairness, though, you’re probably not blessed with the presence of a revenue manager. You’re a small business owner who has to pour their heart and soul into every area of the operation. You clean the rooms, cook the breakfast, welcome guests through the doors and do everything in your power to ensure there’s a healthy number of bookings in the diary.
Rate management? Who’s got time for that in the B&B trade?
You have! And you know why? Because it can be devilishly simple.
So simple, in fact, that we’ve set ourselves a challenge; we’re going to attempt to provide the simplest B&B rate management guide you’ll find on the web - in just three steps.
1. Pick the right tool
Do you have a hotel booking system? No? Well, it’s time to invest in one. Thankfully, they’re now incredibly low-cost and, in some cases, packed with features that were once only present in expensive, large hotel property management systems.
Online travel agencies (OTAs) are increasingly jumping on the rate management bandwagon, too. Booking.com, for example, has recently introduced BookingSuite, which offers properties of all sizes the ability to get a handle on market demand and competitor pricing. It’s powerful - and genuinely useful - stuff.
If you’re a B&B owner, it really is worth checking out the new connections offered between hotel booking systems and OTAs - they’re capable of taking a great deal of the work off your hands when it comes to rate management.
2. Deciding how much to charge
Check out your competitors. What are they charging? Do they appear to be full regularly? If so, there’s a chance they’re either A) well-priced, or B) too cheap. Go with your gut instinct; if you wince at the rates being charged by the competition, price your rooms aggressively.
Don’t focus solely on the small properties, either - take a look at the big boys, too. You have a far more interesting proposition for guests when compared to soulless chains, and if you can match or beat their pricing and extol the virtues of staying with an independent operator, you should be able to steal some of their business.
3. Get strategic about price increases
When is your B&B most in demand? Are there tangible peaks during certain times of the year? Is there a local event on the horizon that will signal a higher demand for accommodation in the area?
You know your market better than anyone. You know your guests like the back of your hand. There’s nothing wrong with charging a little more when demand is higher - it has been a tactic long used in the hotel trade.
Simple, eh? No spreadsheets, no calculations and no finger-in-the-air guesswork - just good, honest common sense - that’s all your rate strategy needs.