Theresa M. Lina, author of bestselling book Be The Go-To: How to Own Your Own Competitive Market, Charge More, and Have Customers Love You For It, encourages business owners to "differentiate in a way that is blatantly obvious to customers..." We should be able to instantly convey what makes us unique and valuable to a particular audience. 

Guests Must Understand & Value How You Are Different

The goal for hospitality providers is to get prospective guests to understand what makes your accommodations and hospitality different. It is important to attract and retain the right guests. The guests that most appreciate what you offer and who can afford to come back time and again. 

Guests will only pay higher prices when they receive higher value. Lina advises that we figure out how to raise the value of our offerings in order to raise our prices (at least proportionally to rising costs). Moreover, when we leverage and become more efficient in our operations, we can reduce our costs. 

According to the author, the most critical competitive threat to most companies is commoditization in the eyes of customers and the market as a whole. When you are absolutely unique in what you offer, and it is of high value in urgent demand, then you can charge higher prices AND keep your rooms consistently booked. 

Establish Your Unique Market Position

Hospitality businesses that have defined, committed to, and established a unique market position are the ones that dominate their spaces and become go-to accommodations leaders. You can command much higher than your competitors because the guests consider what you offer to far outweigh your cost.

Focus lets you concentrate your message so it speaks directly to your guests' pain points and needs in their language. Lina advises that we focus on a specific market that is large enough to have enough opportunity, but small enough to concentrate our finite resources in order to capitalize on synergies. Target markets act as kindling. 

A go-to business focuses on having a long-term relationship with its customers (guests). Be sure to keep up with changes in the industry to stay cutting-edge. This book focuses on four different phases which lead to becoming a leading business. The phases are not necessarily sequential. 

For each phase, I share a practical example of how a bed and breakfast can differentiate itself from its competition. By offering a unique niche, accommodations can stand out to potential guests.

The Launch Phase


Take Ownership of a Market Problem and Solve It With An Articulate Vision:

  • Decide what you problem you want to be known for eliminating
  • Declare a unique approach to solving a critical market problem you want to own
  • Identify a common, critical problem no one else is addressing
  • Develop your unique point of view on and solution to the problem (the "Why/What/How" Storyline)
    • First core message answers WHY customers in the market have the problem
    • Second core message answers WHAT your customers should do about it
    • Third core message answers HOW you have solved the problem and the results you deliver
  • Define your meaning and value with a solution that delivers a powerful result guests are willing to pay a premium for

Bed and Breakfast Example: Eco-Friendly Traveling

  • WHY: Potential guests who are environmentally conscious do not want to feel guilty about traveling. They want to be responsible travelers who leave as little of a carbon footprint as possible. 
  • WHAT: Since we are the only Trip Advisor's Green Leaders in our area, guests feel good about staying at our environmentally-friendly accommodations. 
  • HOW: By choosing to visit at our accommodations:
    • Guests can recharge their electronic cars
    • Laundry is hung to dry on a long, sturdy clothesline
    • Everything that can be gets recycled or reused
    • Low-voltage lighting used wherever possible
    • Air-circulating ceiling fans are in most of the rooms throughout the inn
    • Water is drawn from the inn's well
    • Plants grown fresh in a "rain gutter garden"
    • Guests offered other locally-sourced foods

The Ignite Phase

Lead a Movement in the Market Around The Problem and Solution:

  • Draw attention to a problem
  • Rally influential people around an approach
    • Connectors: know and can connect you with a lot of people
    • Mavens: deeply passionate to share information about their interests
    • Salespersons: respected industry thought leaders skilled at persuasion
  • Evangelize the message with a game plan and materials with targeted media and at industry events
  • Gain market momentum around your solution
  • Monitor, measure, and refine

Bed and Breakfast Example: Vegan Lodging

  • WHY: People who live a vegan lifestyle want to stay at accommodations that support their lifestyle. 
  • WHAT: As the only vegan accommodations in our area, our guests feel at ease about the food we serve.
  • HOW: Our accommodations:
    • We do not consume dairy, eggs, or any other products of animal origin, in addition to refraining from meat (as do vegetarians).
    • As ethical vegans, we strongly believe that all creatures have the right to life and freedom.
    • We believe that veganism offers health benefits and promotes a healthier way to live.
    • We believe animal agriculture causes higher greenhouse gas emissions than plant-based options, is a more water-intensive process, and can lead to deforestation (when forested areas are burn for cropland or pasture).
    • For these ethical, health, and environmental reasons guests choose our accommodations. 

The Navigate Phase

Guide Customers Along The Journey To Solving The Problem:

  • Develop an Integrated operating plan with concise information
  • Implement your approach with the right customers 
  • Be top of mind and help customers navigate the journey
  • Deliver on promises efficiently 
  • Provide the "whole product" with other services and partnerships
  • Build a "community of believers"
  • Monitor, measure, and refine

Bed and Breakfast Example: B&B Spa

  • WHY: Some guests who prefer bed and breakfasts (over hotels) also desire the pampering that comes with an on-site spa. 
  • WHAT: We are the only B&B in our local area that also has an on-site spa.
  • HOW: Our award-winning spa offers:
    • Heated floor tiles
    • Luxurious Jacuzzi tubs
    • Manicures
    • Pampering linens
    • Pedicures
    • Rejuvenating facials and body treatments
    • Sauna room
    • Swedish, detoxification, and couples massages
    • Tempur-Pedic beds 

The Accelerate Phase

Stay Ahead of Market Changes and Competition, Refresh the Vision, and Pick Up Speed:

  • Adjust to market changes and strengthen your position
  • Broaden your market presence and offerings to strengthen loyalty
  • Constantly monitor the market to anticipate trends
  • Update your point of view and solution as needed
  • Continuously innovate and adapt to stay ahead of the competition

Bed and Breakfast Example: Pet-Friendly Accommodations

  • WHY: Potential guests who are pet owners want to be able to bring their pets along when they go on vacation.
  • WHAT: We offer the only pet-friendly inn in our local area. 
  • HOW: We offer:
    • 5 acres of land for your pet(s) to roam
    • Guest rooms with convenient private entrances/exits and easy outdoor access.
    • A complimentary dog bed, with 2 dog bowls, and plenty of dog treats & toys.
    • A $10 gift certificate to our local Dog Bakery. 

Differentiate to Dominate

Author Theresa M. Linda dedicated this book to helping businesses be the Go-To in their market. It starts with finding your specific marketplace to dominate. 

There are so many bed and breakfast niches, including:

  • Environmentally-Friendly
  • Farming
  • Garden Award-Winning
  • LGBTQ Welcoming
  • Kid-Friendly
  • Murder Mystery Parties
  • Pet-Friendly
  • Restaurant
  • Romantic/Adults Only
  • Spa
  • Tea Room
  • Vegetarian or Vegan
  • Wedding Venue

Bed and Breakfast Marketing Solutions

Kristi Dement of Bed and Breakfast Blogging offers effective marketing solutions with blogging, email marketing, social media marketing, website design, and more. Contact Kristi for a complimentary twenty-minute conversation. 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

About the author 

Kristi Dement

Tapping into her love of hospitality & accommodations, as well as her talent for marketing, Kristi started Bed and Breakfast Blogging in November of 2013. She loves helping owners of B&B inns & other properties become more effective with their marketing. She is a member of the Association of Lodging Professionals. 

You may also like

Why Hospitality is the Spirit of Serving Others

How to Be Innovative in a Crisis Like This

How To Make Your Hospitality Irresistible To Guests

Subscribe to our newsletter now!