Did you know that just because someone is willing to book and pay for a room at your bed and breakfast, they may not be a good guest for your business?
In a recent survey I did with people who are thinking of owning a bed and breakfast, I received the following question: “What will bring the most people to stay at my B&B?”
I don’t believe that financial success depends on the quantity of guests you can get to stay; instead, it is getting the right people to stay.
Who are these people? They are the people who want (and are willing to pay for) what you have offer – and really enjoy their stay.
It took me three years to figure it out, but when I was finally honest with myself about whom my perfect guests – I was able to position my business to reflect that – and it took off.
Here’s my story:
When I first opened, I was petrified that no one would come and stay, so I said yes to every request I got. But, like every other business, there are guests (or customers) that cost you more than they are worth. For me, this was families with young children.
While I don’t have anything against little kids, they are not a good match with my ideal guests. I regularly received complaints when they cried and disturbed other guests.
Also, I found them to be difficult to take care of. They weren’t always hungry when breakfast was served, or they would want foods I don’t normally have available, and they would require constant supervision. On top of that, many parents expect them to stay free!
Once I made the decision to restrict children under the age of eleven to stay – and I started charging for them – I had even more of my ideal guests staying with me.
This includes couples who were trying to get away from their own kids; grandparents who needed a break from the hustle and bustle of family, people here on business… and their online reviews raved about what a great place my B&B was.
So, how do you figure out who your perfect guest is?
There’s a pretty good chance you already know, but here’s an exercise to get you started.
1) Create a chart (an excel spreadsheet works well, or you can do this as a pen & paper exercise) using the following characteristics: name, age, gender, education level, marital status, kids, pets, travels, hobbies, job title, and average income, what I really like about this person, what drives me crazy about this person.
2) Fill in the names of 10 people you really like (friends, acquaintances, co-workers, etc.) and to the best of your ability, fill in the chart.
3) Repeat the exercise, this time using 10 people that you dislike as the basis.
4) Add in your own name and complete the categories for yourself.
5) Compare the results and identify similarities and major differences.
Based on the exercise above, were there a lot of similarities between those people you liked and yourself? If you are like most of us, the answer is yes.
We are attracted to and comfortable around people we can relate to – and not so comfortable with people who are not like us.
So the answer to the question: “What will bring the most guests to stay at my B&B?” is by figuring out who you want as your guests, providing them with what they want and are willing to pay for, and then making them feel comfortable and welcome.
And if your perfect guest is similar to you in many ways, then it will be easy to know how to set up your rooms, what to serve for breakfast and how to market to them – because there is a pretty good chance they will like the same things you do!
Susan Poole, The B&B Coach
Susan Poole is The B&B Coach and owner of the award-winning 40 Bay Street Bed & Breakfast, located in Parry Sound, Canada. She helps people take the guesswork out of owning a bed and breakfast with her three-step “Design Your Dream B&B” system. To get started on your journey, download her free e-book at http://BandBCoach.com.
You can also learn how to attract your ideal guests online with our free ebook: