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B&B Marketing Membership

marketing your b&b Oct 05, 2020

 

One of the areas in their business, that B&B owners most often ask me for help with, is marketing their B&B and attracting more direct guests. 

I’ve been devising a cunning plan for a while - mostly at 2am in the morning. Thanks brain - and I finally broached it with my past course attendees a couple of weekends ago.

It's not a perfect, cunning plan. But I’ve had a lot of positive responses to it so thought I would share it with you too!

The problems

These are the problems I hear about again and again from B&B owners when it comes to attracting guests to their business

  • Frustration with Online Travel Agencies
  • Not knowing how to get the best out of social media
  • Worried about being authentic in their marketing and having "to sell and be pushy"
  • Using marketing techniques that attract the wrong sort of guests to their B&B
  • Struggling to keep up to date with the latest marketing techniques
  • Constantly trying to come up with...
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Hollandaise Sauce - without the tears

breakfast recipe Sep 30, 2020

My husband's favourite breakfast is Eggs Benedict. He always orders it when it's on a hotel menu. Though, rather curiously, he asks for it deconstructed. Poached egg covered in hollandaise with the bacon or ham and the toasted English muffin on the side.

So it was a bit unfortunate that hollandaise was one of the last recipes I've mastered. I have tried several times over the years and, on at least one occasion, it has reduced me to tears.

However, when it comes to breakfast, I'm not one to give up. And, thanks to James Gray, who used to run The Ashton in Lancaster I've discovered an almost foolproof method for quickly cooking preparing hollandaise. This recipe is slightly different to the one James gave me, with thanks to Delia.

Once you've mastered Hollandaise it can be used to produce lots of different breakfast recipes.

I got another tip from Susan Poole, who used to tweet as the B&B Coach. She suggested putting the sauce into a thermos to keep it warm, so...

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Lemon Drizzle Cake

recipe Sep 28, 2020

I have a bit of a confession to make.

Since I opened the B&B, I’ve always made cake available to my guests to dig into whenever they get the munchies.

When both my rooms were in the house next to each other, I used to leave a homemade fruit cake in the hallway between the rooms.

When we built the rooms outside, there was no shared indoor space, so I started putting a whole lemon drizzle cake in each room.

This has proved quite a winner over the years and is one of the most commented on things in my guest book and my online reviews.

Most people describe it as the best lemon drizzle cake they’ve eaten. I wouldn’t know - I’m not a fan. In fact, I’m not a huge cake fan - now doughnuts. That’s a different matter.

Anyway the other week I was busy and tired and I had new guests arriving. So for the first time in 16 years, I went to our local farm shop and bought an orange drizzle cake.

I know - it wasn’t my finest moment. In my defence, it was...

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Why repeat guests are so important to most B&Bs

Why I love to welcome repeat B&B guests

Since the first lockdown ended here in England, like many B&Bs across the UK, my own Bed and Breakfast  has been very busy. Many people have been desperate to to get away after months of lockdown or have had their trips abroad cancelled. 

It’s not all been plain sailing though. Whilst some people have been desperate to get away, others have been more apprehensive. I’ve had 28 B&B nights, booked before lockdown, cancelled because people are too nervous to travel or have had some change in circumstances due to COVID19.

Looking back at my diary for the last few months, I think about 90% of my bookings have been repeat guests. And looking forward, 100% of my bookings are guests who have stayed with us before. My bookings in a normal year are made up of  about 60-70% repeat business.

Having repeat guests to stay is a just a bit more relaxing

Even after over 16 years of running a bed and...

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The top 8 mistakes I made setting up my B&B rooms

setting up your b&b Sep 14, 2020

The top 8 mistakes I made setting up my B&B rooms

I’ve set up 4 B&B rooms in the 16 years I’ve been running a B&B. And I'm not too proud to admit that I’ve made a fair number of mistakes along the way. 

Some of these mistakes have cost me time - an awful lot of time over the years - and others have cost me money.

Hopefully by sharing my mistakes it will help you avoid the same mistakes, save you money and time when setting up your own B&B!

Just a note to say, that whilst some of the things I've done were wrong for my B&B, they may be exactly the right thing for your B&B. It's up to you to assess your potential market and decide.

Mistake 1 - Getting Zip and Link Beds

When I first set up the B&B, I didn’t really know who my B&B guests would be, so I bought zip and link beds. The advantage with them is that they give you the flexibility to make the room up either as a large double or a twin.

However, whilst I've had...

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Do you have to serve a cooked breakfast at a B&B?

One question I’m asked an awful lot on the courses is “Do you have to serve a cooked breakfast?” In the UK, that would be a full English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish, with even more regional variations.

And my answer is “No you don’t” but then I add a “BUT…” I have a pretty standard answer for this on the course, but I thought it would be fun to go out to the FB group for past course attendees and ask them what they offered for breakfast.

There are a number of things you need to consider when planning what sort of breakfast you will serve to guests.

  • Your personal preferences and cooking abilities
  • The type of guests staying at your B&B and why they’re staying
  • Where you’re located and if there are places to eat nearby 
  • The size of your dining room and your B&B rooms, if you’re doing room service
  • Staying safe with social distancing in the current Pandemic

What sort of breakfast do you want to serve?

...
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Granola Recipe

breakfast recipe vegan Sep 02, 2020

GRANOLA RECIPE

I’ve tried quite a few granola recipes in my 15 years of running a B&B. And this is one is our favourites. Our guests love it and it’s what Rob has every morning for his breakfast, on top of chopped banana and natural Greek yoghurt.

This granola recipe is full of healthy nuts and seeds, as well as heart friendly oats, healthy oils and no refined sugar. If you make it with gluten free oats, then its gluten free. I make it with maple syrup, so it will be suitable for my vegan guests. But you could easily substitute the syrup for honey.

You don’t need to be too exact with the ingredients. If I find I’m missing some of the dry ingredients ( with the exception of the oats of course ), I just leave them out. And speaking of oats, it really works best with jumbo rolled oats. If you’re in America, you might find them called rolled or old fashioned oats.

I make a big batch of granola and store it in a couple of large kilner jars. It never...

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How to buy the best beds for your B&B

setting up your b&b Sep 01, 2020

How to buy the best beds for a B&B

On my B&B training course I'm often asked how to buy the best beds for a B&B. Should you should buy double, king size, super king size, twin, firm, medium, mattress topped etc?

Choosing your bed is up there as one of the most important decisions you'll make as a B&B owner. You can create the most beautiful B&B in the most perfect location, but if guests don't get a good nights sleep, they won't come back.

We've stayed at some wonderful places across the world. We'd love to go back to many of them and then we remember the bed. We stayed in a fabulous cottage in Tuscany on a vineyard. There was as much free wine and olive oil as we needed. Everyday the elderly owner would come round after our meal and ply us with vin santo. However, the bed was so soft that we ended up sleeping on the sofa bed in the lounge. That was only a little more comfortable.

What factors do you need to consider when buying a bed?

Size

I think you need to...

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Running a B&B | My top 5 gadgets for B&B owners

running your b&b Aug 22, 2020

One post that is sure to get a lot of comments in the Facebook Group for Past Course Attendees,  is the one that asks for recommendations on the best gadgets to use for the B&B. Everyone has their favourite!

I wish the group had existed 16 years ago when I set up my own Bed and Breakfast, as it would have saved me an awful lot of money over the years. It's painful to think of the money I've spent on gadgets over the years, either to have them either sit in cupboards unused or to end up at the rubbish tip.

If you've been following me for any length of time, you'll know I hate cleaning and I love knitting. So many of the items I've bought have all been about minimising the time I actually have to work and maximising the time I can sit and knit!

Here are my favourites..... 

By the way, as part of the online course I include a 27 page room design checklist you can download, which covers all of the items you'll need in your B&B bedrooms and bathrooms 

FIND OUT MORE...

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Running a B&B | Has it met my expectations?

running your b&b Aug 15, 2020

I was running the regular Zoom Q&A group chat for the online course this week, when one of the participants asked me if running a B&B had met my expectations.

It's a really interesting question and one that threw me a bit. It's been 16 years since I set up my own B&B, and I can't really remember what my expectations were back then. To really answer it, I need to explain a bit more about how I came to run a bed and breakfast.

I actually need to take you back to 2001. Both my husband, Rob, and I were working for British Airways in the Marketing and IT departments, respectively. I'd recently been promoted to manager and had just taken over the role of managing about 50 people.

Both us were enjoying our jobs, working for the airline and enjoying the perks of staff travel. That summer, we'd had the most glorious 2 weeks in Maine , staying in a cottage by the sea with our daughter, Jess.

At the beginning of September we'd bought a lovely little cottage in Shropshire. Our...

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