This week I had the opportunity to attend the 2nd Annual Hotel Sales Strategy Conference in Washington, DC hosted and presented by HSMAI, the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International, of which I am a member. There were fewer that 100 people representing some of the leading hotel and hospitality names in the industry as well as a cross section of large independent properties. The B&B Team was the sole representative of the unique lodging industry, so it was both an eye opening experience and an opportunity to share with others some of our issues in the larger scheme of hospitality marketing.
In the bed & breakfast industry we like to think of ourselves as different from hotels, and we are, but I was struck during the day how many common challenges the "big guys" share with smaller innkeepers. There is concern about room pricing, the dangers of discounting, the challenges of using technology to market themselves, and, believe it or not, the impact of social media and review sites on their business. These are the very topics that we have written about in The Innkeeper's Resource for a long time and have spoken about at PAII and other innkeeping conferences.
One of the biggest differences between the life and experience of the other people in the room and those of you we work with in the innkeeping industry is the segmentation of tasks. For these executives and sales and marketing directors, one of their biggest challenges is integrating their sales department with the marketing department with the revenue management department. And, of course, each of these departments has numerous employees. For innkeepers, most of those departments are rolled up into one or two people, usually you, the owners.
There is a great advantage in this. You know what you are doing, so integration isn't a challenge. At least communication isn't (or shouldn't be), but addressing all the areas may be difficult for the simple reason that you have to be good at sales and marketing and revenue management (that's figuring out what is profitable!) in addition to all your other tasks. We'll continue to talk about these trends, both here and when we speak to innkeepers, but rest assured that your challenges are not unique. It's the scale that is different. Part of our goal is to help you understand the impact of these changes and to help you accomplish all these tasks in a challenging and sometimes intimidating environment. It's a very exciting time to be an innkeeper!
Do you find that in today’s troubled economy, keeping the B&B business in the black is today’s biggest challenges? Most people I know are leary of traveling and I can’t imagine that business is doing very well. What are the toughest challenges that you have found thus far, and what are you doing to mitigate these tough times?