Ever wonder what the most successful inns have in common?
A strong focus on guest satisfaction. What are your guests saying about you? Since guests are our #1 priority, place great importance on pleasing them. Be available to give local recommendations (for a variety of interests) as well as directions. Offer concierge services and extras like evening wine and dessert for two. During their stay, ask them if there is anything you can do to make their stay with you more pleasant. For example, if you find out that someone is celebrating something special, consider offering something complimentary. They will remember that you went the extra mile and will be likely to return again as well as recommend your inn to others.
A great website with awesome pictures. When was the last time you touched up your website and your photos? Make it easy for them to do business with you. Your website should be easy for others to find online. Feature current professional photography of each place (inside and outside) guests may spend time in. Give them the option to check availability online and book a room. Your website should clearly specify your address (ideally your webmaster can insert a Google map), list phone numbers, and always include all your social media icons. This allows guests to connect with you on social media if they haven't already.
A distinct niche or focus. What are you known for? The most successful inns set their inns apart to specific audiences so they attract more guests. The audience could be specific groups of people: adults only, family friendly, LGBT friendly, pet-friendly, special diet friendly, etc. It could be specific interests: photography, culinary-minded, adventurous (such as skiing and zip-lining), and history buffs. It could be for different types of retreats: corporate, yoga, writers, quilters, etc. It could be for your packages: restaurant, performing arts, sports, local attractions like amusement parks and museums, etc.
A delicious breakfast. Are guests happy with your menu? With breakfast representing the second letter B (in B&B), the most successful inns offer something special. This could be your commitment to catering to special diets, a complimentary wine & cheese hour, or 24/7 access to goodies and treats. Perhaps your inn has a restaurant or tea room. Maybe you offer in-room breakfast delivery for an extra fee. Be sure to have a page on your website devoted to discussing your inn's culinary offerings. Share pictures of your food in social media. Mouths will water!
A connection to local businesses. Do you promote your local area? Could you arrange for your guests to receive a discount from local restaurants, attractions, and other venues? This would give guests a reason to visit those businesses (that would be why the businesses offer the discount) as well as make you look good for having arranged for them to receive the better rate.
A consistent presence. How often are you blogging and posting on social media? By regularly blogging and posting on social media, this builds awareness for your place of hospitality and what you offer. Blog posts provide fresh new content which attracts visitors to your page. For example, consider writing blog posts about: local attractions, your amenities, your packages, a behind-the-scenes blog post, and so on.
A variety of incentives. Do you offer specials? This could be discounts for multiple night stays, weekday stays, etc. Do you offer packages? You could plan all the details for your guests so it is less work for them. Do you offer referral discounts? Do you reward your guests who refer other guests who stay at your inn in some way? This could be a free upgrade in room, a free massage, a discount in their room rate, etc.
A superb selection of amenities. What amenities do guests love using at your inn? Most guests (especially the millennial generation) expect access to free wireless internet. Be sure to feature the extra luxuries you offer in photos on your website and in pictures you share on social media. This includes fireplaces, spas, libraries, and more.
A follow up. Do you send a follow-up email to thank them for staying and a survey to get their feedback? Is there a way for people to opt into receiving regular e-mail newsletters? By sending regular emails, you remind previous guests of their experience as well as attract new potential guests to stay at your inn. The most successful inns follow up with guests.
A solid reputation. What is your reputation? Favorable online guest reviews offer proof to future guests that they can expect to also have a positive experience. Strong testimonials (always ask for permission and include only their first name and the first letter of their last name as well as their location) can be included on your website and shared in social media.
Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography