Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Putting an Honest Grade to the Bed and Breakfast Industry in Hard Economic Times

Today I was going through some web-sites devoted to Internet Marketing, and some things really touched me. I will come with a summary later.
But now I can't help but quote this article, because it simply expresses my own thoughts. I hope you will enjoy reading.

By Mallory Peterson

With the Great Recession, many bed and breakfast owners are crying "foul" and a handful are using that most dangerous word: "victim". One of the few good things about tough times is it can be an opportunity for re-evaluation, reflection and refinement. That's not to downplay the challenges and difficulties we face right now which are serious. But within the industry, maybe we haven't done as much as we need to do. To judge this we need to honestly grade how well the B&B's are doing as a whole with regards to product, service level, quality, marketing, retention and operations.

How can we come up with a realistic, unbiased grading system? To perform the grading we need two things:

1) To have a list of the majority of bed and breakfasts in the United States.

2) Come up with a fair rating system.

Fortunately, Destination Nexus has done just that. At the time of this post Destination Nexus has 17,691 U.S. inns and they are currently adding hundreds more across the globe. Their goal is to be the end all source of "exceptional lodging & activities" in the world.

Now we have our list. The other good news is that Destination Nexus travel editors review inns one by one and rate them on core criteria, which translates into a score from 0 to 100 based on the inn's website, photos, appeal, ease of use, customer reviews, capabilities, etc.

According to Destination Nexus results of 17,691 bed and breakfasts the average score is a 42.5 on a 0 to 100 scale.

The bad news: we find that the majority scored only between 20 to 60 out of 100! If bed and breakfasts were students, on an A to F scale, they would be struggling. Only 102 scored an A. That is half a percent (.5%).

The good news: There is room for a lot of improvement and it's not really that challenging to go from a struggling student to an over achiever. According to Destination Nexus the top four major issues are:

1) Outdated and uninviting websites - 8 out of 10 inns have websites that are seven years or older. A lot has changed in that time, especially the quality produced by modern web design companies.

2) Blurry or unattractive photos: Most $100 digital cameras put to shame the pictures found on current bed and breakfast websites. Hire a professional or at the least take updated pictures with any newer (10 MP+) digital camera. A lot of websites still use pictures taken from old film cameras.

3) Lack of a real-time reservation system: Only 10% of bed and breakfasts offer real-time online bookings from their website. Another 12% use request-based online booking services, which has to be one of the worst missteps introduced to the industry. Imagine if airlines only allowed phone reservations for booking flights. Or worse the only option was to e-mail them and wait for them to respond confirming your desired flight! The bed and breakfast industry is no different or better than the airline industry. If anything, we take greater risks in not having to screen for bombs, terrorists and lunatics.

4) Lack of quality guest rankings or testimonials on TripAdvisor.com, Google, DestinationNexus.com, etc: The web is here to stay and web presence is important. Start encouraging your guests to leave an impression on the web for you. Automatic thank you e-mails is a great way to automate this process.

Summing it up

What causes bed and breakfasts to score a 42.5% on one industry test? Taking a hard look at the data and tips from Destination Nexus, maybe we hold onto things too long and they become outdated like our websites and online booking options. Bottom line, there is much room for improvement and we can't blame the Great Recession for all our woes. If anything, it should weed out the weak and elevate the cream.

Suite Exchange is a new blog designed to provide tips and how to's on running a bed and breakfast. The blog is run by several industry insiders that work with hundreds of inns daily.

This article was originally published at Suite Exchange.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Mallory_Peterson

1 comment:

Bed and Breakfast Team said...

What I wonder about is if B&B are able to recognize themselves in these patterns, and if they are ready for improvement.
Would be interesting to see some statistics on other countries about the same matters: a topic for a research.