David Weston of the Bed & Breakfast Association 'fights the corner' for this £2 billion 'cottage industry'

Monday, 3 September 2018

Going Above & Beyond – What Makes A Great B&B


What makes a B&B outstanding? 

Carly Menken from Direct Line for Business shares her advice on how to go above and beyond: 


Get to know your guests
Want to delight your customers and be the perfect host? Be prepared from the outset. Send your guests a quick email after they’ve booked to ask if they have any food preferences, require a parking space, or if there’s anything else they’d like on arrival.
On arrival day, first impressions count, so make sure your guests feel welcome and at ease straight away. Give them a quick tour if they’ve not stayed with you before and offer them a welcome drink. You can really make a lasting impression for your regular guests by throwing in something special for them, like their favourite snack or a bottle of wine in their room.
When it comes to check-out, don’t miss the opportunity to find out how you could improve your guests’ experience. Ask them to fill out a quick feedback form – they’re more likely to give you their honest opinion if these are anonymous. And feedback doesn’t have to be one way – let your guests know what great customers they’ve been, and remember to thank them for staying with you.

Find your unique selling point (USP)
To really impress your guests, you need to give them something they can’t get elsewhere. Research your competitors and get to know what they offer, so you can do things differently or better. For example, if a rival B&B owner leaves newspapers out for guests during breakfast, go one step further.  Ask your guests what newspaper they'd like before they arrive.
If there’s something that makes your B&B different, make the most of it. Perhaps you have a unique location or an interesting history? Promote your uniqueness to stand out from the competition.

Stock up on the essentials
When you’re running a B&B, you’ll quickly realise that guests forget things. So be prepared and stock up on basics like toothpaste, toiletries, new toothbrushes and cotton buds. Choose luxury items to really treat your guests, and make sure you have extras of everything, like towels, so they don’t feel awkward about asking for more.
It’s also nice to leave a guest room basket or pack, with maps, local taxi numbers and restaurant recommendations. Other welcome tray ideas include tea making facilities, snacks and bottled water.

Manage expectations
The easiest way to make sure you don’t disappoint guests is to be honest and upfront about your accommodation. If the rooms are a bit small don’t exaggerate their size – some guests will be perfectly happy with a cosy bedroom if the breakfast is great. Make sure you plan for worst-case scenarios; make a list of things that can go wrong (or have before) and come up with an action plan for each.
Guest expectations managed? Now you can exceed them. Always offer a bit more than your website or listing says you do. It’ll be a lovely surprise for your guests (and something your competitors won’t be able to nab!). A small gift on departure, for example, goes a long way.

Don’t forget the basics
It’s easy to get carried away with ways to wow your guests, but don’t forget about the B&B staples.
You can be in the most rural location but guests will still expect good Wi-Fi. So, do your best to find an internet provider that can make this happen.
At breakfast, try to provide a wide selection of foods – or, even better, ask your guests in advance what they’d like to eat. Try to be flexible about check-in and check-out times – a rigid early check-out can put a slight dampener on an otherwise great stay.
When it comes to the rooms, the two things that can really affect your guests’ comfort are temperature and noise, so do what you can to get these right. It goes without saying that rooms should always be spotless and decorated tastefully.

Have fun!
To be a great host, let your guests get to know the real you.
Remember why you started hosting in the first place. Chances are you enjoy meeting and interacting with new people, so set aside time to do this – whether that’s stopping to say hello over breakfast or inviting your guests for an early evening drink before they go out for dinner.
If you’re stressed, others will notice. Find the balance between enjoying yourself and providing a great service – your guests will thank you for it.

Being a good bed and breakfast host
In summary, it’s often the simple things, which don’t take much time or money, that take a B&B from being good to great. Being smart about what you offer your guests and how you communicate with them will have a big impact on their stay.

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