Inn Consultants and Brokers Since 1993

Rick Wolf and Peter Scherman (that’s Rick on the left and Peter on the right) are both experienced speakers who have presented on a range of innkeeping related topics at the state, regional, and national level. They gather and analyze research for the Innkeeping industry and welcome the opportunity to share it with others. Contact Us

The B&B Team

Do You Know What the B&B Industry’s Competition is Doing?

On a flight to visit an inn this past week, I was reading an article in the USA Today (June 1) containing some interesting information about the big guys…the hotels…with information that also applies to the B and B industry.  In his article “Hotels try to woo leisure travelers” Roger Yu relates some concepts of the changing travel marketplace and the evolution of the hotels (and WE should listen too!) to meet the change challenge.

First a few facts: According to D.K. Shifflet & Associates, a travel and research consulting firm:

  • Leisure travel surpassed business travel for the hotel industry in 2004
  • That gap has widened and by 2009, 54% of hotel travel volume is now leisure travel.
  • Corporate travel has been slowly declining, and “it’s not going back” according to Shifflet.
  • The Gen X (late 20’s to early 40’s) travelers are replacing the Baby Boomers and are traveling with their young families.

The hotels are watching the changing demographics and evolving to meet the new market.  To entice the leisure traveler to their properties, focus is strengthening on FAMILY travel. Marriott is:

  • Offering a Nickelodeon package to the kids with activity books and Nick bracelets
  • Toddler care packages are awaiting the arriving family with squirting bath toys, fitted crib sheets, baby shampoos and nightlights.
  • Spongebob backpacks with matching sheets and pillowcases are for sale in the gift shop.

The younger demographic is also demanding VALUE, a concept more wide-spread than just the Gen X-ers.  Homewood Suites by Hilton (typically a corporate traveler mecca has seen a 50% increase in its leisure travel this past year) is revising its free meals program, and Kimpton Hotels will give away free sangria drinks and Wii video games in the lobby this summer…something for the parents AND the kids.

So what does that have to do with US in the Bed and Breakfast Industry?

Everything, if you are ready to keep your business growing!

B and B owners often cater to only a certain slice of the traveling market.  They rely on the romance getaway, or traveling couple, typically Baby Boomers, to fill rooms.  But this AGE-SEGMENT of the traveling market is declining and we must target the NEXT generation as well…and they’re traveling with their kids. Some target the corporate traveler if the inn is fortunate enough to have several large businesses or a college within a mile or two.  But this segment is also in decline, and mid-week rooms are going to go empty.

Some ACTION Items for your Next Planning Meeting

  • Is your Inn ready for a Tune-Up? Do your rooms and bathrooms appeal to the NEW demographic of the traveling public?  Do you have Ipod docking stations, and have you replaced gramma’s old furniture with clean lines and Pottery Barn-type styling?  People want to visit museums, not stay in one.
  • Is your website ready for updating?  Anything 2 years or older is a dinosaur that won’t be found by the new search engine algorithms.  Do you have video of area attractions, or still relying on static photography of a bed?  The next generation is ultra techno-savvy and will find you in ways OTHER than your organic website, IF you embrace social media (May 7 posting) marketing and email marketing.
  • Are you still illegally restricting kids to age 12 or older?  Talk to those inns who willingly accept children and find out what they do to make the family experience memorable.
  • If all the inns in your area still restrict children, think of the ADVANTAGE you will have when they send all their family-travel referrals to you!
  • Targeting and marketing for mid-week bookings in addition to your current corporate travelers will prepare to replace those declining mid-week business guests with others…such as quilting groups, elder travel with grandkids, or scrapbookers.  I’ll bet there’s an inn in your area already capitalizing on this new trend.

The B&B Team is ready to help you with your Evolution Planning when you are finally disgusted with negative growth of your inn’s performance.  The traveling market is evolving, and we BEG each of the inns in this industry to evolve with it.  And it’s fun!  And more satisfying than watching Spongebob!


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2 Responses to “Do You Know What the B&B Industry’s Competition is Doing?”

  1. Hilary Jones says:

    This is all very well, but major changes like this often require substantial financial investment to replace furniture, reconfigure rooms etc. I can hear you guys say now, “well if you want to remain competitive you’ll find the money” and it’s all very well for you to say that, but you’re not in the position anymore of running an inn in this economic climate. I ask how many inns and B&B actually have the funds necessary to make wholescale major changes like this, and if they don’t what are they supposed to do to change things, like increase the size of their rooms, to accommodate families? Simply adding Spongebob amenities isn’t going to cut it, I suspect. A bit more practicality and a lot less banal rhetoric would be much appreciated from our industry consultants!

  2. Hello, Hillary;
    Great hearing from you again. I hope the season is starting off well for you in North Conway.
    Your inn is beautiful (I like your new website, BTY), but I don’t necessarily believe that it has to take a substantial financial investment for many innkeepers to keep rooms up to date and changing with the market. And updating rooms doesn’t have to be done all at once.
    I inspected an inn guest room (I’m the “friendly” state association inspector) with pink flowered wallpaper and white, lacy, baby christening dresses hanging from the sprinkler pipes. Not quite what the next generation (and probably not even the Baby Boomers!) is looking for in their room decor. A coat of paint and an eye for style doesn’t have to be expensive.
    Most inns I’ve seen have (at least one or two) rooms large enough to have a daybed…more than adequate for traveling with a child. There’s no need to rebuild the inn, just consider amending the paradigm that children don’t belong in an inn and develop practices and menus to create family memories.
    Thank you for your input! We value thoughtful and healthy discussion about topics in our industry. Scott