Who Are Your Guests?

Whether by design or accident, your inn probably appeals more to some people than others. The key is to take advantage of that. For example, many parents of young children steer away from B&Bs, but if your inn welcomes young families, you can promote that through your website and other marketing.

That’s what Jane Sales of The Presidents’ Quarters Inn in Savannah, Georgia did. Her outreach attracted the attention of a food blogger whose main audience is young moms. The writeup brought the inn more business from couples traveling with small children.

You can also go out of your way to serve certain groups. At the Castle Marne Bed and Breakfast Inn in Denver, Louie Feher-Peiker has worked to attract veterans, active military members, and first responders (law enforcement, firefighters, and EMS) by offering them a 20% discount on any room at any time. That online and offline marketing campaign has increased guests from those segments by more than 40%.

What Do Your Guests Like to Do?

Many savvy innkeepers develop successful niches by focusing on specific things that draw people to their area. Do people come for culinary excursions? Whitewater rafting? Local history? Skiing? You can highlight these attractions on your site, partner with local businesses related to them, and look for niche organizations and publications that will help get the word out about your inn to people who share those interests.

Think also about the demographics of your guests. Erika Hall of Abbey's Lantern Hill Inn in the Mystic, Connecticut area increased her annual revenue by 45% in large part by appealing to her fellow millennials. “I am branding my inn as catering to those who value local, homegrown, organic, artisanal, high-quality products and experiences,” she says, focusing on “millennials looking for an inn run by a young person who understands their needs and interests.” Everything from the décor of her inn to the optional add-on packages she offers to the YouTube videos she makes reinforces that approach.

Where Are Your Guests From?

Lots of innkeepers market heavily in the big cities within driving distance of their B&Bs. Others look farther afield. One great example comes from Marc Lautenbacher and Marie Simard, who operate Acacias Bed and Breakfast in the city of Quebec. For each of the past seven years, they have produced their own magazine, published in English, French, and German and distributed through five travel agencies in Europe as well as closer to home.

On top of offering insights into Quebec City — with ideas for excursions, notes on the best bicycle routes in the city, and so on — the magazine makes it clear that their B&B is a welcoming place for international travelers, and especially German speakers. The results have been outstanding. As the innkeepers put it, “We are fully booked-up every year in the summer season, from June to the end of October, with guests from all over the world!”

When Do Your Guests Travel?

Ice fishing clearly operates on a different season from fly-fishing, so if your area offers both activities, you have an automatic opportunity to attract guests across the annual calendar. When you think across the weekly calendar, it becomes obvious that business guests of local companies need rooms midweek, whereas tailgaters for the local college’s football games will book weekends. And while it makes sense to market to vacationers for the summer months, you might fill more rooms during the winter holidays by marketing to locals who have family coming in from out of town.

You’ll see that the answers to the questions here are often interconnected. By working through all of them, you can develop a better sense of where to focus your marketing.

What are you doing to draw more guests from the niches that are best for your B&B?