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THe Audacia Company

A Data-Driven Approach To Increasing B&B Bookings.

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.” - Arthur Conan Doyle (writing as Sherlock Holmes)

I remember reading about Sherlock Holmes & Watson in one of those "Great Illustrated Classics" books as kid. I was always struck by how the detective would take the smallest details and hints and use that to solve a case. Watson would stand by in awe as Sherlock would make inferences based on the information available, leading to the timely arrest of some unsuspecting antagonist. In some ways, the method of reasoning employed by Holmes is something business owners across all industries engage in daily. 

Inductive reasoning is a logical approach to making inferences, or conclusions. People often use inductive reasoning informally in everyday situations. In this case, we'll be talking about how observing the Bed & Breakfast market led to the creation of a specific marketing strategy for hosts currently managing a location.

Observing Trends

" There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact. " - Sherlock Holmes

The whole process started with a closer look at the behaviors of individuals in the market, which type of customer created the most value over the long-term, and which approach would best meet the needs of those customers. I reviewed a few sources and will share a brief summary:

A woman enjoying breakfast in bed
  1. The B&B Industry is worth around $3.4 billion in the United States alone, and globally was an estimated 3.82 billion in 2020. 

  2. Approximately 45% of the bed and breakfast (B&B) industry’s clientele are leisure travelers.

  3. The average price for a weekend stay at a bed and breakfast can vary depending on factors such as location, amenities, and seasonality. On average, you can expect to pay around $130 to $180 per night for a family at a bed and breakfast

  4. The average occupancy rate for American B&Bs is 43.7%

  5.  While no specific numbers are shown - multiple sources and articles speak to the importance of repeat customers in this industry. Securing repeat business is a chief aim of many succesful B&Bs in the industry.

There is a lot more data, articles and posts that share more information on this topic. If you're interested in learning more about my research process, you can see all the information I looked up with a summary at this link here:

The Initial Inferences

“You know my methods, Watson. There was not one of them which I did not apply to the inquiry. And it ended by my discovering traces, but very different ones from those which I had expected.” - Sherlock Holmes

As I continue to apply inductive reasoning, I had to be careful not to hold closely to any preconceived notions about what the opportunities are for B&B owners. I attempted to look at these facts and infer more truth about the current market. This is some of what I gather from the data.

The B&B industry sees more than half of their guests come from business trips, one-time visitors, and those passing through enroute to other destinations. These individuals may be less concerned with specific luxury accommodations or historic spaces, and are likely to book as long as modern conveniences at a baseline are met. This includes high-speed internet, washer & dryer, and quality review scores. 

Leisure travelers are likely to book for reasons beyond just the accommodations themselves. They are equally motivated by local or regional attractions, proximity to friends & family, along with the time of year. They look more closely at things like the historic meaning of the location, the additional amenities offered, and ease of travel from the B&B to locations of interest. 

With average prices sitting at close to $150 a night, weekend getaways that include 2-night stays, dining out, events & other attractions could reasonably be between $800 - $1000 dollars. For singles and couples, that price tag could be brought down to between $400-$600 dollars. 

B&Bs could consider doing specific deals if they ever drop below 40% occupancy, specifically to drive more leisure travel customers until they reach acceptable levels. 

There are likely a wide range of loyalty programs already in use by existing B&B owners - innovation in this space could help secure more deals in high-traffic urban centers, or in areas that are rural but receive periodic traffic boosts due to seasonality.

Expanding On The Inferences 

“I presume nothing.” - Sherlock Holmes

After taking some time to sit with the inferences I think there are a few questions that B&B owners should always ask when marketing their rooms on platforms like Google, Meta, & other independent websites. 

  • What special amenities or interesting spaces are close to your B&B? 

  • Are you a cost-effective option, or do you categorize yourself as luxury?

  • Are you in a city, in the suburbs or in the countryside?

  • Is there seasonal demand for specific kind of activity or event by your B&B?

  • Does your B&B have a historic brand, aesthetic or physical amenities that help differentiate it from standard hotel options and AirBnb rooms?

Hotel Lobby

The name of the game is work both sides of the market - offer specific packages to those traveling for business, emphasizing travel times to and from the B&B, Wifi strength, level of noise and dedicated workspaces. For the leisure & repeat travelers, highlight the B&B in the larger context of the community it sits in. Creating things like travel guides and budgeting suggestions will help secure more organic traffic.

There are times when someone traveling for business becomes a repeat customer, either due to the nature of the business or the experience they had at the B&B. These guests should be treated with V.I.P status because they can be rare, but drive large amounts of revenue for the business. Both repeat business and leisure guests should receive loyalty program invitations to add more perks and value to their stay.

A Profitable Conclusion

“How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” -Sherlock Holmes

The most profitable customer is the repeat customer - and any organic marketing strategy pushed by a B&B should be geared towards creating more of them. While studying the B&B industry I came to the conclusion that B&Bs should operate like little tourism centers for the communities they operate in. This allows them to capture intent-based traffic, or people looking up that region for the purposes of travel.

Focusing our effort on securing more bookings, we can create something that someone traveling for leisure or business find valuable - with a heavier emphasis on appealing to the demo most likely to travel to your region. Are you near an urban center like New York or Atlanta? There may be more business oriented guests. Near the ocean or mountains that double as ski resorts? Expect more seasonal leisure travels.

Ideas for organic marketing campaigns targeted at these groups? Downloadable guides for planning a trip for the best price in your community. This can include travel, dining, social events, etc. These guides can be tailored to fit the experience of specific demos likely to visit your community. You can provide the event/trip planning for your guests using a chatbot or real person on your site - helping them plan and book the trip all in once place. You can post articles promoting the community and its amenities, capturing organic traffic and driving it to an online blog. 

Why is this the most profitable approach to driving organic leads? We are targeting the demos most likely to repeat spend and securing their loyalty. We ensure a certain baseline in service and amenities to capture one-time bookings, while highlighting special offerings of our location to capture those looking for specific experiences. A more narrow net designed to capture a specific kind of guest. 

Meet With the Audacia Company Team

You've made it to the end of the article - but if you like what you've read and want to speak with our team - book a meeting with us to discuss how we might apply some. of the strategies we talk about here for your business.

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