Podcast 4th January 2022
video1888897037: [00:00:00] Hi, it's Karen here. I'm the owner and founder of Bed and Breakfast Academy. I provide training and ongoing support to aspiring and existing bed and breakfast owners helping you create a b and b lifestyle that you're gonna love living with guests to become repeat fans. Well, happy New Year and welcome to the First Bed and Breakfast Academy podcast of 2023.
We have a bit of a Blowy day here in the Shire Hills, so it's nice to be inside in the warm. I hope you'll all had a good break over the holiday season and those of you who have been working. Have had some well earned rest scheduled in afterwards when I was running my b and b. It was always difficult to encourage visitors to stay in the winter months.
You know, I could be full during the summer months with repeat guests who loved it, but they just would not come back during the winter months. So I would go into a semi hibernation mode here. I often joke that [00:01:00] I am neither an owl nor a lock, but a sort of a door. So I would have lots of curling up in front of the fire with knitting or a good book.
And I'd occasionally drag myself and usually an unwilling dog out into the cold in the rain. Just for the sake of saying that, I'd got some fresh air. if you are already running a bed and breakfast and it's a quiet season for you, then amongst all the redecorating and renovation I know a lot of you like to do, I would really encourage you to take some time to sit back and relax and take some time for yourself.
And I know as for a lot of people, 2022 was quite a difficult year for b and b owners. So, you know, I think it's important for you to, to take that time out. I wrote a blog post before Christmas about setting smart goals for your business for 2023, and I know it can be dull stuff and if you've left an office job or similar [00:02:00] to run your b and b, probably the last thing you want to be thinking about is company visions, goals, KPIs.
I know when I left my corporate job I was managing for around 120, 130 staff. , and I never wanted to hear the word goals or review again. I used to have to do about 120 performance reviews a year. And I, all I wanted to do was to spend my time enjoying the countryside, making marade, and making a sanctuary that guests would want to keep returning to.
Oh, and by the way, it's January here as I record this, and it's that time of the year when the Cilla oranges come into season. And I start getting an awful lot of views of the marmalade recipe on my website. You'll find [email protected] uk slash blog. And on there somewhere, there's a search bar and you can search for marmalade.
My guests really [00:03:00] used to love the homemade marmalade I made, and were always asking to buy jars to take home, and I used to have to make hundreds of jars at this time of year. It was an awful lot of effort. Marmalade making is an all day event and certainly not a moneymaker, but it was one of the special touches that had guests coming back year after.
Though ironically, after 17 years of marmalade making and much to my husband and father-in-law's disappointment, I have absolutely no intention of ever making a jar again. I dunno, I might change my mind in a few years time, but I think I overdosed on marmalade making. But if you pop onto my blog that's the recipe that I always used and that people loved.
There's also one there. Three fruit marmalade, which you can make at any time of year. And that's a bit less intensive. It's less peeling and chopping and all the other stuff that goes with it. Okay, well, back to [00:04:00] goals., if you're planning to set up A, B, and B, it's really important that you have a crystal clear idea of how you want your life to be when you run A, B, B, and B.
And if you are already running A, B, B, then it's important that you have goals in place to you know, continue to achieve the lifestyle you want or maybe to change. So let's look at goal setting. So the very first thing you need to do is review the past year, reviewing what has already happened is often an overlooked part of goal setting.
And, you know, to plan any journey we want to make, we need to know where we're starting from. With my mum being ill and in a home and in hospital. Over the last year I've spent an awful lot of time driving across to the place where I grew up. The black country. If you don't know, the black country is an area of the West Midlands.
It's sort of between. [00:05:00] Birmingham and Shopha. And it originally got the name Black Country in the Industrial Revolution, so sort of in the 1840s, 1850s. And they believe it came from the. There's a lot of heavy industries. So coal mines iron foundries, brickworks. We had lots where I come from Wordsley, we had glass factories.
So have you ever heard of Rob Riley Crystal or Stuart Crystal? That's comes from Wordsley originally where, where I grew up. And the result of that amount of industrialization causes sort of black soot across the countryside. So that is, is where the word the term black country comes. Be very careful if you, if you want to upset someone from the black country, tell them that they have a Birmingham accent until they come from Birmingham.
But I, I don't, I, I don't recommend it. So I've been driving across to the black country now as a teenager driving around in a very ancient mini, I knew the rose out the back of my hand, but, you know, 30 years since I've been doing that and I've. . [00:06:00] And of course roads change and there's landscape changes over the years, so I really don't have a clue.
I've been relying on Google. For Google to work. For me to get to my destination, to reach my goal of, me seeing my mum in the nursing home, I have to put in my starting point. Google needs to know your starting point and your destination. And that is while you need to review your year, it's, this is the same thing.
You need to know where you are to be able to get to where you want to. . So, you know, it's important that you know your numbers at your b and b. So how many nights did you sell? How much was your total turnover? How much were your expenses? How many nights were booked directly? How many nights were booked through the OTAs, the online travel agencies?
What's the average time between people booking and staying? Do people book last minute or are they booking three or four months in advance? What's your cancellation rate?[00:07:00] And how many reviews did you receive? So those are the sorts of stats you want to be collecting for your B Airbnb so you can look to see if there are improvements you could make, as well as looking at numbers.
It's also really good ideas to look how things have gone. Your business to identify any trends and see where you can make improvements or to make things better. So have a look through your reviews, your smile file. If you've not come across a SMILE file before, it's could be a, physical document.
It could be I prefer to use Google Docs. It could be notion I'm getting into notion. So a great Note taking tool. But it's, it's where you put all of the positive feedback you're getting. So you you've got something to look back on on the bad days. And it's also a great source of information from writing blogs, from writing copy.
So get your positive reviews. So if you get positive reviews on TripAdvisor or the OTAs, Copy and paste. Stick those in your [00:08:00] smile file. If you get an email from a guest, put that in your smile file. If, if a guest makes a comment over breakfast, quickly, go write it down or get it into your smile file. It's all that positive stuff.
On a psychological sort of, Standpoint, it's, it's really good for you to be able to look back and see what's going well. At the times when things aren't going so well, we tend to focus on the negatives. I've talked about that before. So you know if reading the positive stuff is gonna be really help you, but it can also be good for reviewing how your year went to see what went well.
What are your guests loving? Can you do more of the sort of stuff your guests are loving? Are there themes emerging? Are you including it in your marketing? Well, speaking to someone last year, and they were saying as a surprise when guests arrived, they got a free cream tea. Now, now it shouldn't be a surprise.
It should be part of your marketing. It should be on your website, it should be in your newsletter, in your social media. So look at your positive reviews. [00:09:00] I'd also suggest having a good tool through the re reviews of your competitors in the area. And this can be a great way to spark ideas for your own business.
What are their customers loving about what they're doing? I'm not saying copy what they do, but you could use ideas from their positive reviews to do things differently in your business. And we're gonna, you know, look at your negative reviews as well. None of us likes to develop negatives, but these can be a great source of inspiration and sometimes a better source of inspiration than the positive reviews.
Again, if something keeps coming up or their actions you need to take to reduce negative feedback or. You need to do something to market your B Airbnb differently. You know, negative feedback is quite often a result of a difference in a guest's expectation of the experience they will have at at a B, B and actually the reality.
So make sure you are accurately portraying the [00:10:00] guest's experience in your marketing. Again, your website and social , media, I was actually really surprised by the number of guests who would come to my b b and. Gosh, it looks just like the photographs. And I'm like, well, yes, . And they said The number of times I've been to a b Airbnb and it didn't look anything like the photographs on the website.
And again, that's where the disappointment arrives. And that's where the negative reviews come in. What sort of goals do you need to set for your b and b? . People keep talking about smart goals cause smart goals work.
And smart stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timebound. So let's look at example about how you might develop a smart goal for your b and b. You might start out with a goal. We want more direct bookings. I would imagine a lot of BMBs want more direct bookings and not so many bookings through the ota.
So let's make it a bit more specific. So you could say, we want to grow the number of direct bookings [00:11:00] by creating an email newsletter and posting more on social media. So that's a bit more specific. So it's a good start. But if your goals are measurable, they are easier to turn and. So for the example, increase the number of direct bookings from 40 to 60% by posting daily on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok if you use it and sending an email once a month.
You've got something solid there that you can measure and you know whether you've achieved it or not.
It's important you don't set yourself up to fail. So this is why goals should be achievable if you are running a busy B and b yourself using all the social media platforms and sending a monthly newsletter maybe too much for you. So let's make this goal more achievable by focusing on the social platforms where your customers are most likely to be, not posting so often and reducing the [00:12:00] frequency of your newsletter.
So the goal looks like now increase the number of direct bookings from 40 to 60% by posting twice a week on Instagram and Facebook, and sending an email newsletter once every two months. Your goal needs to be relevant to your business and your overall vision for it, so you need to be clear on why you want it as a goal.
Let's look at it now. We'll increase the number of direct bookings from 40 to 60% by posting twice a week on Instagram and Facebook, and sending an email newsletter once every two months because increasing the number of direct bookings will give us more control over our business, increase their profits.
I mean, we enjoy hosting, more. So that's our why. And finally, The goal needs to be timebound. If you hear any odd noises in the background, it's my dog saffy who's just come in [00:13:00] and started ning her blanket, which means she's just chewing it softly. It's a comfort thing, apparently. Okay. Back to goals.
The goal needs to be timebound. So you increase the number of direct bookings from 40 to 60%, and we add the time bit in here. So by the end of June, 2023. And we will do this by posting twice a week on Instagram and Facebook and sending an email newsletter once every two months, starting on the 15th of January, 2023, because increasing number of direct bookings will give us more control over our business, et cetera, et cetera.
So you can see. But this goal is far more detailed than we want to get more guest booking directly with us, rather than through the O OTAs. And then in turn, this makes it much easier to identify a plan of actions you need to take. Now a lot of businesses and bigger companies focus on 90 day goals rather than goals for the full [00:14:00] year.
So having 90 day goals means you can tackle fewer goals at a time, which allows you to really focus and do something meaningful. So setting a smaller 90 day goal makes it more achievable. You'll probably get results sooner, which then makes you more motivated to carry on for the bigger goals. Setting yearlong goals can actually cause you to procrastinate and put off doing anything whilst that 90 day period means you need to start sooner and, and get working on those.
So the next step of goal setting is to identify what actions you need to take. With the smart goal it can be much easier to see what actions you need to take to achieve it. However, some goals are pretty big. For example, if your initial goal of the year is to set up A B B, that's a pretty huge goal and there's an awful lot of action steps to go.[00:15:00]
In this case it makes sense to split your goal into projects. So for this example, I've been talking you through your projects, might be a social media project and it might be an email newsletter project. And I'm a big fan of sending emails. I think emails. Probably the most important part of your marketing strategy as a b b.
I know we all get sucked into social media, but I think emails are, are really important. So let's have a look. So the email project action. And dates example. So you might sign up to MailChimp email software. So this is software which allows you to put a distribution list together and, and send out emails to your guests.
You might create a distribution list on MailChimp. You might create a landing page on MailChimp. So this is the page that your customers arrive at [00:16:00] where they can put their email addresses. You might. Then another action might be add the signup link to your email signature. So every single one of your emails that you send out has, if you'd like to have more information, whatever sign up for email.
Another action might be creating a special club for people who sign up for the email. So email subscribers get better benefits and people who. Who aren't email subscribers such as, I dunno. Early check in, late checkout Sunday newspaper, upgrade to a better room if it's available, that sort of thing.
So, identifying what what you're going to do for email subscribers might be in action. Add a sign box to your website and then brainstorm content ideas for newsletters.
So once you've got your goals in place, it's really important that you review them. You, you know, put your goals in place, you've created an [00:17:00] action plan, and now it's time to review your progress. I'd recommend adopting that 90 day model and reviewing every 90. And reviewing every 90 days. And the review is important to identify what's going well, if there's anything you need to do differently.
And if the goal is actually still relevant to your business, you know, for this goal, you might suddenly decide, well actually I don't want to spend so much time on marketing. We're happy with the OTAs, we're happy with the business we're sending them. Put our prices up to cover the costs, and that's it.
It's important to review and say is, is this goal still relevant? Not just sticking to it for the sake of it. I hope that's been useful for you and has inspired you to carve out a bit of time to do a bit of goal setting in the online course. One of the modules that several people have said to me has been the most important to them is that first one, which looks at, why do you want to set up A, B, and B?
What sort of b and b do you want to run? [00:18:00] And really goes into that whole sort of goal setting process. , right. Well I think I've said enough today. So thank you very much for listening. If you want to know more about running your own bed and breakfast, please head over to bmb academy.co.uk where you're going to find over a hundred blog posts all about starting up running marketing, Airbnb, and there's quite a lot of recipes on there.
Remember that orange marade recipe there? If you need it for the season, and you'll also find details of my complete b b course, which walks you through step by step, how to set up your own b b, thank you for listening, and I'll see you soon.