These are tough times for everybody but perhaps the hospitality industry is feeling the impact a little more than most other businesses since people are taking few trips and staying closer to home.
So what can you do, if you have a small bed and breakfast operation to survive these down times?
Here are some suggestions for you:
1. Look at your marketing budget and see where you can increase exposure. Many innkeepers make the mistake of cutting back on marketing in down times when just the opposite is needed. Cutting back in marketing in slow times is a terrible idea, although for many B&B owners it is the first thing they think they can do to save money. What is really needed is to make sure that your marketing dollars are working hard. If you don’t know if a marketing campaign is working for you, then assume that it is not. For example, don’t spend money advertising in newspapers, magazines, radio or Yellow Pages if you can’t count how many customers these ads bring to your place. You need to make sure that you are making more revenue from the ads than you are spending in this type of advertising. This looks like an obvious thing but I can guarantee you that many owners never question or analyze their advertising expenses. Next tackle your Internet marketing. Since it is a proven fact that more and more people are making their travel plans online, it is foolish to ignore the potential business that can be harvested from the Internet. If you have a blog on your Web site, make the time daily to post on it. If your state B&B association makes a blog available for your use, get on there daily and post. Blogging is often more affective than pay-per-click, so make the time to blog.
2. Reduce your portions if you give lots of food in your breakfast dishes. Not only you’ll be doing a favor to your customers (they really don’t need to overeat these huge portions) but you will save in food costs. Reduce quantity, but be sure you also improve quality. It is a win-win and everyone will benefit.
3. Look at your menu and see if you have dishes that give you very small profits because they are very labor intensive and difficult to prepare. If you are serving such dishes, replace them with recipes easier to make or that require less time to prepare. Again, you will save in overall costs and increase your profit.
4. Keep an eye on your labor expenses. If you see that some days of the week are slower, reduce your employees these days. If you reduce your labor expenses, you will cope better with slow times.
5. Spend extra time and energy pleasing your clients. They are your most important asset, more than your amenities or food or anything else. If you don’t have clients, nothing else matters. Period. Pamper your clients. Make them very welcome, bend over backwards to please them and try to always exceed their expectations. This is the best way to assure that they will come back.
6. If you haven’t done so, start a formalized referral system to build a returning clientele.
7. Replace costly snail mail by communications via your website and email. This cost you nothing since you already are paying for the services. Plus, getting into the habit of keeping in touch with your guests will always pay-off over time.
These are just a few ideas for you to implement. In these down times and fear of financial crisis, ingenuity and excellence go a long way to make sure that you’ll be there when the economy recovers and guests eager to travel are looking for the best lodging properties to stay. Your B&B should be always on top of their lists when they think of traveling to your destination.
Amelia Painter specializes in Bed and Breakfast Marketing and Consulting Services. You can find more about her marketing & consulting offerings by visiting her web site: http://www.totalwebdesigner.com.