Rick and I are just back from the Conference of the Carolinas in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Hosted by the South Carolina Bed & Breakfast Association (SCBBA) and North Carolina Bed & Breakfasts and Inns (NCBBI) it was three day gathering of innkeepers, vendors, and aspiring innkeepers to learn, network, and have fun. We certainly had fun, but we also learned and shared a lot.
Rick Wolf addressed a group about "Inn Branding, Market Positioning, and the i.guest." I spoke to another group on a topic called "Your Inn’s Value and the i.guest." We continue to focus on the importance of recognizing the contemporary traveler. Together with Rick Newman of Commercial Capital Network, a lender who focuses on the bed and breakfast industry, we spoke about the importance of a standard, industry-specific chart of accounts both for tracking your business and for obtaining a loan or refinancing.
The keynote speaker at the conference was Berkeley Young of Young Strategies and Randall Travel Marketing who talked about travel trends for 2008. The consensus is that travel expenditures will increase 6-8% in 2008 with leisure travel outstripping business travel. Not surprisingly, boomers will dominate the market. ADR (average daily rate) and RevPAR (revenue per available room) are both up, which, as Jay Karen from PAII (Professional Association of Innkeepers International) pointed out, is good for the bottom line. Occupancy was flat in 2007, due in part to increased capacity nationwide.
Berkeley talked about some of the things we at The B&B Team have been discussing on this blog: time poverty, the Internet as the #1 source for travel planning, and the new consumer, whom he calls "transumers." The "transumer" is catered to in a variety of ways from malls in airports, retail sales generated from lodging rooms, to visitor centers becoming "heritage centers" to cater to the demand for education in travel.
But, the bottom line takeaway from Berkeley Young was that innkeepers need to IDENTIFY their guests. We’ve been saying this, and he talked about researching your guests to learn who they are. We are pleased that Berkeley Young and Young Strategies have decided to form a strategic partnership with The B&B Team to bring some of the high level, comprehensive research that they have been doing for years down to the level of smaller, unique lodging properties. Stay tuned for more about this exciting venture!