November 1, 2013

The 3 R’s of Innkeeping

You provide R&R for your guests, but have you thought about what R&R you're receiving in return? While getting rest is important, I'm talking about the three R's that matter most to innkeepers: Repeat guests, Referrals and Revenue. This information may be nothing new to you, but have you recently considered what you have been doing to generate referrals and turn your guests into repeat guests?

It's an important topic that I devote a full chapter to in my book, Running a Bed & Breakfast For Dummies. It's also a popular topic at various conference workshops. Did you know that the chances of securing repeat reservations and referrals start even before you speak to or meet your guests? The likelihood that you will have returning guests begin with your website and the initial contact that you have with the guest, whether that be over the phone or in person. First impressions always count!

Lookout Point Lakeside Inn, Hot Springs, AR
It goes without saying that you have to put a lot of thought into your marketing to find new guests, but don't ignore the ones right under your nose. Treat your current guests as potential repeat guests and as referral sources. Remember, every inn has their own method, and there is no comprehensive list to follow. What you can do though is go through all the points of guest contact and think about ways you can easily tweak them so that your inn stands out. Keep it simple and show that you care. You'll find your guests doing the work for you through guest referrals and return visits.

You might be surprised to learn that many repeat guests and referrals don't find your inn by visiting your website directly. Instead, they find your inn by visiting an online search guide like BnBFinder.com, or on review sites such as TripAdvisor. We know this because two common questions we receive are about inns that don't list with us. First, guests want to know what is wrong with an inn when they don't see it listed on our site, not knowing that you choose to list with us and not the other way around. Second, guests want to verify if an inn is still in business because they can't find it on BnBFinder.

In the past, we have been contacted by members of the media inquiring about inns they believed were out of business, since they were not listed on BnBFinder. Of course, we know it's impossible to be listed everywhere, but it is worth listing in search guides that will bring you guests, guest referrals and media exposure. So, devote a little time to getting your R's in order - your business needs and deserves them!

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