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The Importance of Knowing Your B&B Guest - Marketing Tip #9

marketing a bed and breakfast Mar 13, 2024

Welcome back to this 52 weeks to taking control of your B&B marketing series!

🎙 If you prefer to listen rather than read, this post is also available as a podcast episode >> The Importance of Knowing Your B&B Guest - Marketing Tip #9

In today's marketing tip, number 9, we'll discuss how understanding your ideal Bed and Breakfast (IBG) guest can simplify your marketing efforts. Even if you haven't set up or bought your B&B yet, this is still important to know. It's crucial for aspiring B&B owners to have a clear image of their ideal guest. This knowledge will help you create a B&B that your guests will enjoy, and just as importantly, one that you will love running!

I am aiming to deliver 52 ideas on how to market your Bed and Breakfast in just a short time each week. Just taking those tiny steps to take more control of your own marketing and hopefully generate more direct income.

The last 3 tips #6, #7 and #8 were all included in an email I sent out a couple of weeks ago. They were:

What is an Ideal B&B Guest?

Your Ideal B&B Guest, or IBG for short, is the person who loves everything about you and your business. They keep coming back to stay and tell all of their friends about your B&B. And to market your business well, it really helps to get crystal clear on who your ideal B&B guest and to know everything about them.

Whenever you write your blog, send a newsletter, post on facebook or instagram, you have your IBG in mind - imagine you’re talking just to them.
It becomes much easier to know what to post and write about when you know you’re talking to a dog owner who loves long walks in the countryside, or a parent who’s looking for something to do with their children at half term.

Not yet set up or bought your B&B?

If you have yet to start your B&B journey, then it’s essential that you get clear on your goals for running a B&B, and these include:

  • Getting clear on your why for wanting to run a B&B
  • Understanding what sort of B&B your dream you having
  • Knowing the type of B&B owner you want to be
  • What sort of lifestyle do you want as a B&B owner
  • And who your ideal B&B guest is

Knowing all of this information up front will significantly improve your chances of creating a B&B that your guests will love and you will love running. And if you need to borrow money to get your dream business up and running, it will also significantly improve your chances of creating a successful business plan.

I cover these important first steps in the First Steps to Running a B&B Mini Workshop and go through it in detail in the Main Online Course, Setting Up, Running and Marketing a B&B.

A quick point about ideal B&B guests

Whilst a huge percentage of my guests - over 80% I would guess - fell into my ideal B&B guest categories, I also attracted other guests who didn’t fit the mould at all. And quite often they loved the B&B too.

But, almost without exception, on the rare occasions I didn’t have a happy guest, I’d already recognised that they didn’t really fit my typical guest profile.

And this wasn’t because of the way I treated them any differently. In fact, If I felt a guest wasn’t happy at the B&B, I'd invariably over compensate and  always go the extra mile for them!

A really important point - this isn’t about who you will and won’t accept at your B&B!

To be absolutely clear,  identifying your ideal B&B guest doesn't mean refusing guests who don't fit that category. Instead, it's about identifying them to make it easier for you to create a B&B tailored to their needs and to simplify your marketing. It's really important to be aware of your local discrimination laws. You must ensure that your marketing strategy and setup of the B&B don't discriminate against individuals based on protected characteristics.

You can find out more about protected characteristics on the Equality and Human Rights Commission website here in the UK >> Protected Characteristics.

Back to marketing your B&B…

Can we have more than one ideal B&B Guest?

As a bed and breakfast owner you may have several ideal B&B guests and that’s ok.

But, when it comes to marketing it's a good idea not to have too many or you're just going to be making things more difficult for yourself - maybe 3 or 4 max, ideally less.

Knowing your IBG and who you’re talking to when you’re marketing makes your marketing so much easier. My view is:

“When you try to attract everyone you end up attracting no one”

And this was the biggest mistake I made when I was setting up my B&B and one that cost me a lot of money! I can quantify what it cost me in hard cash because I spent money on advertising in the wrong publications and also bought the wrong B&B equipment which had to be replaced when I finally worked out what I was doing!

But I would also have lost money which I can't quantify,  by putting off guests that might well otherwise have booked.

Imagine if you were trying to attract cat owners and dog owners and people who didn’t like pets, couples on a romantic break, families with young children, business men who needed peace and quiet…

By trying to attract everyone, you are going to be putting someone off. If you welcome children, you may put off the romantic break, honeymooners or silver surfers. If you welcome dogs, you’ll put off people who don’t like dogs.

But by positively welcoming children, for example, and making that clear in your marketing, you will be attractive to parents with children and it will be easier for you to find those potential guests.

In fact, the more specific you get the easier it is to find guests and the more attractive your B&B becomes to them. Children come in all shapes and sizes! If you specifically target guests with toddlers, for example, offering a B&B that welcomes and specifically caters to them, you’ll become more attractive to parents of toddlers rather than parents of teenagers.

Once you start talking about details and specifics that appeal to your ideal B&B guest, They will start to remember you and you’ll stand out from all of the other B&Bs.

Your Ideal B&B Guest can change over time

You might have been running a B&B for a long time and have a clear idea of who your ideal B&B guests are, but during the events of 2020, many B&Bs saw a shift in the demographic of the type of guest that comes to stay.

When overseas travel became more difficult, UK B&Bs were attracting guests who would normally travel overseas. And they came with a whole loaf of different expectations of what they wanted or would get from a holiday.

Even without the dramatic shifts that happened due to Covid, B&B guests can change. When we created more contemporary rooms in a separate annex, we saw a change in our market.

Or some external factor may have an effect on the type of guests visiting you - maybe a long distance walk has opened up, so you’re attracting more walkers or one night stays.

Or maybe your own life circumstances or viewpoints have changed. We didn’t originally accept dogs at my B&B because we had a very elderly rescue dog, who was scared of other dogs. And it wouldn’t have been fair to her.

But when she died, we adopted Mitsi and Murphy, who were 2 very easy going dogs who, respectively, loved and couldn’t be bothered about other dogs. So I made the decision to become dog friendly - and that was one of the best business decisions I ever made!

Thinking of running a dog friendly B&B? Check out this blog post here >> A practical guide to running a dog friendly B&B

So even if you’ve been running your B&B for a long time, it’s worth reviewing your marketing messages to check they are still relevant.

What do you need to know about your ideal B&B guest

Here are some ideas about the sort of things you need to know about your ideal B&B guest:

  • What is the age range of your guests?
  • Are they traveling solo, as part of a couple, or as a family?
  • Do your guests typically bring children?
  • What activities do your guests tend to enjoy when they are on holiday?
  • What hobbies do your guests have?
  • What types of books do your guests like to read?
  • What do your guests usually prefer to eat for breakfast?
  • What aspects of your B&B do your guests often praise?
  • What activities do your guests usually engage in when they are staying at your B&B?
  • What complaints do your guests usually have when they are staying at your B&B?
  • What features of the local area do your guests love?
  • Do your guests use any social media platforms?
  • What concerns or worries do your guests generally have about staying at a B&B?
  • If your guests are from the UK, which part of the country do they usually come from?
  • If your guests are not from the UK, where in the world are they typically from?

The end game is to create 1-4 profiles for your ideal B&B guest. Describe them, give them names and then whenever you are doing any marketing, bring them to mind and write your marketing copy ( blog, email, social media caption ) as though you are writing it just for them.

How do you find out this information?

This is way you go back to those files I’ve written and / or talked about previously:

This information from guests is likely to be a gold mine for helping you identify who your ideal B&B guest is and how you can market to them.

You can also think about the guests that come and stay with you and look for similarities between them and start to build up a few profiles for your ideal B&B guest.

To wrap up, understanding your Ideal B&B Guest (IBG) is key to simplifying your marketing efforts and creating a B&B that both you and your guests will love. Your IBG is someone who adores everything about you and your B&B, returning often and recommending you to their friends. Whether they're a dog owner who loves long countryside walks or a parent looking for half-term activities, speaking directly to them in your posts and newsletters makes it easier to decide what to write.

Remember, having an IBG doesn't mean refusing guests that don't fit the mould, but instead tailoring your B&B to their needs and simplifying your marketing. And, while you might have multiple IBGs, try to keep this number small to avoid complicating your marketing efforts


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