The Bed and Breakfast Industry is huge, in the US alone it has an estimated worth of more than 3.8 billion dollars with over 17,000 inns.
The B&B sector initially just started out as a small unorganized sector which provided alternate options for guests to stay at during holidays. Over the years it has become a significant contributor to the overall hospitality industry and has also become an option for business travellers.
B&B’s are generally owned and managed by couples or families without any extra manpower so they do face several challenges when it comes to managing, marketing or increasing occupancy rates.
Some of the Common Challenges Faced by B&B properties:
No Time off – B&B innkeeping is a 24 hour, 7 days a week job without much respite. Since B&B’s are generally run and managed by the couple or family owning it, everything from reservations, housekeeping, dining, managing check ins are all done by them. Forget weekends off, they don’t get much down time. Owners need to look at the options of outsourcing some of the activities so that the workload can be distributed and they can get some more time to interact with their guests or even have a day off.
Increasing occupancy during the low seasons-
The medium and low seasons become an anxiety point for B&B owners, they need to think of ideas on how to drum up more business. B&B owners have started becoming more imaginative, they offer special discounts or extra perks like a local activity with bookings done during the low seasons.
La Belle de la Riviere Bed and Breakfast in Michigan has increased occupancy by partnering with local colleges, hospitals, factories, and other organizations that bring in people from out of town.
Managing Social Media Platforms –
The onslaught of numerous social media platforms can seem extremely daunting. Websites, OTA’s, Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Twitter and other platforms keep increasing by the day. The owners need to realize that they don’t need to be available across all platforms, see the ones that can work for them.
B&B’s can actually benefit and save time by being available on social medias, it helps them market themselves by being globally visible, guests can make reservations with the property online which simplifies time and effort for the owners.
Social media platforms can also help B&B owners encourage the guests to write reviews about their stays and give feedback on the property.
Managing Competition –
There is immense competition in the hospitality sector even for the B&B sector, apart from other B&B’s they need to compete with AirBnB’s, boutique hotels, independent hotels, homestays etc. Each B&B should find their own USP and look at ways in which they can market that. Nowadays most guests find staying options via the internet, so make sure that the property is significantly available only, via a website, OTA, Tripadvisor or similar means. To stay in the running, B&B’s need to ensure that they are virtually visible.
B&B’s are no longer a simple family getaway option; they are an organised contributor to the hospitality industry. If the above challenges can be managed efficiently, and they can be, then the B&B segment shall be a strong competitor for other hospitality options.