The UK bed and breakfast industry is looking forward to one of its best summers yet in a sector currently generating an estimated £1.4 billion in revenue annually.
“More than 1,000 new B&Bs have set up in the last year alone and we’ve been talking to our clients across the UK to find out how they’ve succeeded in this highly competitive market,” explains John Jones, Commercial Director at Welcome Systems Ltd. “We’re delighted to share this expert insight.
“Planning for the ups and downs brought about by weather, seasons and economy are just a few typical issues which emerged. It’s clear there’s more to running a top B&B than just cooking a great British breakfast – although that almost certainly helps!”
One leading B&B owner Welcome System’s Ltd spoke to was Polly Ernest who, along with her husband Roger, runs East Friars B&B in Herefordshire. Polly explains:
“In 2011 our B&B was effectively a hobby business. We had no background in tourism, but knew we wanted to be an Alastair Sawday’s B&B as their profile fitted ours.
“Now we cater for a broad range of people. Sometimes they’re businessmen, other times canoeists on the ‘Land’s End to John O’Groats trail.’ We welcome guests into our own family home which can accommodate six, in addition to our five children, dogs and cats, all in the beautiful setting of the banks of the River Wye in Herefordshire.
“When it comes to Online Travel Agencies some people say ‘what about the cost?’ We were of the opinion that 0% of nothing is still nothing. I stumbled across Booking.com by accident when I was staying at a hotel in Lancaster in 2012. It was instantly great for us and our rooms have been fully booked ever since. We shot to turning over £38,000 within our first year of using the system, and also benefit from lots of return guests. They have a standard way of writing things, which we had to address to manage people’s expectations and ensure guests understand we offer a family home environment.
“Our relationship with Booking.com is very easy, but be prepared for the bookings to start coming in once you begin using it.”
Polly’s advice for anyone coming around to the idea of running their own B&B is: “Don’t try to be something you’re not – B&Bs are about individuality, not faceless standardisation. There are lots of chains and boutique hotels which are very good at what they do, but B&Bs offer a high level of personalisation which allow you to build relationships with guests.
“Most importantly don’t go into the B&B business if you don’t like people, and remember: this is a two-person job. We’re a husband and wife team and understand it’s vital that you’re both happy welcoming people into your home.”
For further details visit Welcome Systems Ltd webpage.
Welcome Systems Ltd’s ‘Top 10 Tips to Running a Great B&B’
With many entrepreneurs thinking about entering the market, Welcome Systems Ltd – the commission-free, web-based hotel bookings system provider – has developed a handy list of top tips on how to start-up and manage a successful B&B.
1. Put people first. If you can’t stand the idea of opening your home up to strangers, this isn’t the business for you.
2. Find a good accountant with a track record of supporting accommodation businesses. They’ll discuss VAT registration and how your business should be structured.
3. Running a B&B’s a full-time job for at least two people, and you might need other staff. Be prepared to work hard and make breakfasts, clean rooms and help answer guests’ questions.
4. Online travel agencies (OTAs), such as Booking.com, can drive a lot of business to your B&B, but charge high commissions of between 15-20%. Welcome Systems Ltd connects you directly with OTAs so you don’t have to manage multiple diaries.
5. Keep up-to-date with insurance requirements and fire and health and safety regs.
6. Many people use TripAdvisor to find B&Bs and check reviews in the process. Earn positive TripAdvisor reviews and maintain a free basic listing, or pay to include your contact details.
7. Become a social media whizz – there are lots of easy-to-use free platforms and it’s a fantastic way of promoting your business and communicating with guests.
8. Location, location, location. Do your homework and research the area you’re planning to set up in and pricing.
9. Marketing your business and having a professional website is very important. Consider buying-in professional help, use great photos and include customer reviews.
10. Read the VisitEngland Pink Book – a vital guide to Legislation for Tourism Accommodation.