Gearing your B&B to the business traveller
Provided by Business Partners Ltd, South Africa's leading investor in SMEs
For various reasons, including the need to cut costs, Bed and Breakfast accommodation is becoming more popular with the business traveller. If you haven't yet cornered this sector of the tourism trade, you may want to invest in catering to this traveller's specific needs.
Conferences, seminars, team-building tours, workshops and so on, make business travel a major (and lucrative) part of the tourism industry. As a B&B owner, you may want to consider how you can cater for these business travellers and compete with the larger hotel chains.
Adapt your service approach
A business traveller has a different agenda to a leisure tourist, so keep this mind with regards to the services you offer. For example:
- Accommodate late check-ins and early arrivals; and vice versa
- Give guests the option of eating alone. For many business travellers, flexibility with breakfast is more important than eating a specially prepared meal
- Perhaps you can take this a little further and give the corporate guest the option of hosting a business lunch on your premises
- Allow guests to set their own schedule. This type of traveller can't afford to waste time, so make everything as efficient as possible
- Make the check-in process quick and easy. Include all relevant information and optional services in your room folder
- If you have the space and the capital, you could invest in setting up a small gym with basic equipment. Many business travellers enjoy a good run/cycle/work-out after a long day of sitting in a conference
If you pride yourself in providing a certain type of service with a personal touch or have only ever accommodated leisure travellers and honeymooners, ask your business guest what his preferences are.
Rooms for work and rest
When travelling on business, chances are your guest will have to do some work in his room, so be sure to cater for this.
- Do your rooms have a desk or table? Is it at a comfortable height for typing on a computer?
- Are the lights adequate for reading and working?
- Do you offer reliable wireless Internet access?
- Does each guest room have a door that locks?
- Where are the rooms situated in relation to noise and distractions? Can these be minimised?
Whenever a business guest leaves, ask him to fill out a short questionnaire or to tell you what was missing from the service, so you can add it on for his next visit or your next corporate guests. Feedback is one of the best ways to increase your competitiveness and attract a regular flow of corporate bookings.
Now that you can meet a business traveller's needs, it's time to start selling yourself:
- Location: Most corporate travellers prefer to stay as close as possible to where they'll be doing business, but if you're in a more remote location, market yourself as a business retreat or team-building location
- Other service providers: If there are other facilities, such as conference or training venues in and around your B&B, team up with them to provide a package service to larger corporates
- Conferences and other corporate events: Find out which international corporate events are taking place in your area and how you can attract visitors to book their accomodation with you
- Add an incentive: Other than competitive pricing, if a free shuttle service to the conference venue (for example) is going to close the deal, maybe you should consider it
Find out what the larger hotels or other guesthouse's are doing to attract this market segment and try to go one better, or offer something unique. Diversifying your offerings is one way to ensure that you stay in business for a long time to come.
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