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Hand writing Recommendation - How to get more recommendations at your bed and breakfast

How to get more people to recommend your bed and breakfast

marketing a bed and breakfast running a bed and breakfast Oct 07, 2022

In this week’s blog post I’m talking through why recommendations are so important to a bed and breakfast business and how you can go about getting more of them.

But first - is this the best fish finger sandwich in the world?

We recently enjoyed a wonderful few days away in Fowey in Cornwall. We stayed in the town itself and were able to eat out a lot.

On the last day of our trip, we discovered a van in a car park on the edge of town selling the most amazing food.

I had the best fish finger sandwich I’d ever had - succulent fish, crispy breadcrumbs, the freshest bread and an amazing tartare sauce.

Just as we were leaving, the van owner called over to us and asked how the meal was. I responded with “It really was the best food we’ve had all holiday, thank you”

There were 4 or 5 couples looking hesitantly at the blackboard. Rob, who was watching the couples trying to decide if the food would be ok, said they all reached into their pockets for their wallets and started to queue.

“You’ve probably just made them an extra £200” he said to me.

It really got me thinking about how powerful recommendations are for hospitality businesses.

As a B&B you’re unlikely to have potential guests milling around outside, hearing you call to departing guests, asking how their stay was.

So how do you get guests to recommend you?

How to get recommendations for your B&B

You might think that having happy guests and a great B&B is all you need to get your guests to recommend you to their friends and colleagues.

But these days this often isn’t enough. You have to encourage your customers to leave you reviews and recommend you to their friends.

Here are just a few ideas:

Put a stamped postcard in the room

This method used to work really well for me at my B&B.

I’d leave a stamped postcard on the bed next to the guest information book and menu.

Along with the postcard there was a pen and a note saying “If you’re enjoying your stay, please accept this postcard with our compliments and send it to a friend who you think would love to stay here. P.S. The post box is 2 minutes away, over the bridge and to the left”

I believe what made this successful for me was that I'd stamped the postcard.

I've stayed in many hotels that leave a postcard in the room, but they've usually just been taken home and stuck on the fridge ( if they were lucky ) or disappeared into a black hole of paperwork ( more often the case )

The stamp made the card higher value and made it much easier for the guests to write it and send it, without the faff of having to find a post box.

Give guests a postcard as they leave

As guests were leaving, I used to give them another postcard with one of our beautiful views from the B&B on the front. But on the back of this one there'd be a message.

I’d thank them for staying, give the link to my breakfast recipes, include my social media and contact details and ask for a review.

You could of course ask guests in person as they leave, but I always found this a bit intrusive as part of the final goodbye.

I would always ask guests how their stay had been to make sure they had the opportunity to give me any constructive feedback, reducing the chance of a negative review.

But I found the postcard was a gentler way of asking for a review, allowing the guests to think it over in their own time.

Here are some ideas about what you can include on the card:

  • Say thank you for their business
  • Give them something e.g. a percentage off their next stay, a link to recipes. You don’t have to give something on the postcard itself, it could be a goodie bag to take away for the journey with the postcard inside, or a pack of handmade biscuits for the journey.
  • Ask them to leave a review and to recommend you to friends if they enjoyed their stay
  • Ask them to drop you an email with any constructive feedback - this gives them the opportunity to feedback any negative stuff directly, which may well divert it away from a review.
  • Make it easy for them by including a QR code to your review page.
  • Include your social media handles, website, email address etc.

Send them an email after they've left

Send an email after their stay, containing the same sort of information as the postcard.

Thank them for choosing your B&B, give them something, ask for a review and for feedback.

Make it easy for them by including links to your review page and contact information.

Encourage guests to interact with your social media

Long before the days of websites, Tripadvisor, OTAs and social media - when I first set up my B&B in fact - bed and breakfasts relied on word of mouth and recommendations for business.

And social media is the ultimate word of mouth!

In the pre social media days, when your guests had a good time at your B&B they'd go home and tell 3 friends down the pub. If they hadn't enjoyed their stay, they'd tell 10 friends.

Now they can tell their 10,000 followers on Twitter what they think about your B&B.

If you use social media for your business, you could ask guests to tag you in their posts whilst they’re staying @yourbusinessname and to use your own hashtag e.g. #yourbusinesshashtag

This is a great way for your social media followers to see what your actual guests are experiencing whilst they’re staying with you. It also means that their followers can see where they're staying and that they recommend you.

Asking guests to interact with you on social media is best done before they arrive or when they’re still staying with you. Put it in the welcome email you send before guests arrive, in the room information or a tented card on the tea tray.

You could use wording something similar to:
“We’re on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter and would love to see and share your posts whilst you’re staying with us. Please tag us @yourbusinessname and use the hashtag #yourbusinesshashtag"

Respond to social media comments

When guests tag you in their posts, it’s very important that you respond to them.

Like, comment and share their posts ( make sure you are always sharing appropriately, not just taking the guests photos on putting them on your feed - this could cause copyright issues - so retweet on Twitter, share on Facebook and share to stories on Instagram )

This will makes your guests feel appreciated! Plus it’s good for the algorithms!

Respond to reviews

Many B&B owners will only respond to negative reviews, but I believe it’s just as important to respond to those people that have taken the time to leave you a positive review.

You can read more about how to respond to reviews in this blog post here >> How to respond to a negative review about your B&B

Incentivise your guests to give you a referral

You need to be careful about incentivising guests to leave positive reviews as this could breach the terms and conditions of review sites.

But you could offer an incentive to guests for referring you to a friend. Give them a code for their friend to use when they book and offer something like a discount for your guest and their friend when they book.

Incentives don’t have to be discounts. They could be special T&Cs such as early check in, late check out, free newspapers, complimentary room upgrade, free cake in the room.

Say thank you

If a guest does recommend you and their friend stays. Make sure to keep a note and to thank them the next time they stay with you.

I hope you've enjoyed this blog post. 

You can read more about why repeats guests are important to your business here >> Why repeat guests are important for B&Bs

I run a comprehensive online course on how to set up, run and market a B&B, which you can get immediate access to here >> Bed and Breakfast Training Course 

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