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@Corinne Orde our b&b with just 3 suites and staffed only by the owners sounds as if it may be like yours. We too work our butts off at busy times with heavy turn around.
I understand the guilt you feel but you must do what is best for yourself. If you overwork for too long you will burn out and all future guests will miss out. If you should aspire to growing to become a larger hotel with staff to handle increased turnaround then you must make more money to cover those improvements and wages. Thus one night stays or 3 night minimum, the best is whatever gives the most profitable outcome. If you have a one night is ok policy and yet you only book a room for one night on a weekend (and it is empty the other night) then you make less than if you had a two night policy, even with a discount to effect more two night bookings.
Regarding 3 night policy and overflow from competitors, it is an individual situation that we each need to consider and perhaps test. Whatever fills the most rooms in the most profitable manner will give you the best freedom to offer the most people a pleasant holiday. We always keep one of our suites open for one night stays, while others are minimum two nights in busy times. Weekdays are often times with empty rooms and we will take anyone! I sometimes try to move guests to an alternate suite to align empty nights (Thus allowing an extra two night stay, even if change over becomes more hectic) this process, even if it involves a free upgrade can make more money if it frees up a suit for an extended stay.
1. A good selection of quality self serve beverages both in rooms and in shared lounges.
2. Home baked goods or preserves, cookies or cake on arrival and home made preserves on meal tables, provided free, are a nice touch. They must be personally made. Often they will store well so cook can make them on quiet days or in off season.
3. A box of toys to keep kids quiet.
4. DVD movies on free loan.
5. Facial wipes for cosmetic removal ( this also help keep linen cleaner).
6. Old fashioned customer service. We are a small establishment. I try to meet each of our guests in the car park to assist with there parking and offer to carry their bags to reception, and then to their room. Chat with them to find out what they like and what you could provide. If not immediately then to another guest at another time.
Put yourself in the position of a guest before they book.
Type into Google "accomodation" and the name of your district. See what potential guests see. Choose an accomodation provider with similar facilities to yours, a guest might book with them, or with you. You need to set your price the same or just below your competition. If you need a higher price then you will need to improve your property and facilities.
You cannot make people want to come to your region if they want to be somewhere else. So if your region has a slow season you must provide a reason for people to attend. Do you have an "experience" provider you can partner with? For us that could mean fishing charters. Can you provide accom for guests to another tourist operation?
Can you contact local schools, companies, event managers, local government departments, who might need to accomodate someone and will prefer a discounted season. We accomodate judges for a national wine tasting during our off season.
Also we have had success with a postcard promotion where we sent special offer cards to past visitors, health workers (shift workers often have mid week days off), elderly citizens groups e.g. Lions Clubs or Probus, and even family friends. Make the deal for a fixed season or short time, but make it transferable so it can be passed to a friend. Print and post is relatively cheap and you get a definite measure of you success rate. Ie no discount unless guest brings in a discount card.
Your past clients will tell you a lot about where you can best promote your accomodation and services. Both directly and indirectly.
If you get lots of wedding guest clients then contact the reception venues and churches to see if there is some way of leveraging their clients. If you receive a lot of guest associated with a sport, you should contact clubs or groups associated with those sports, etc.
Do you collect guest information e.g. address or email? Keep in contact with past guests who enjoyed staying with you to let them know of special deals, hotel improvements you are making and events you are hosting that they may be interested in. Single accomodation guests might be interested in wedding events, past corporate guests might be interested if you are hosting a conference for someone. And of course if you know a past guest has a birthday coming up, or is expecting a child that's a great time to send a greeting.
And of course there is bdc ratings. Specifically ask each happy guest at checkout to post a review. Check on the extranet now and then for new settings, or settings you can update to make your accomodation stand out.
Booking.com extranet room specifications ask can extra beds (E.g. single or children's beds) be added to the room. You need to find the box and tick it. You will also need to check your standard room fee is for the maximum number of people the room can fit, with discounts if the extra bed isn't needed. It's confusing.
I have not yet found a solution to optional beds, e.g. changing a king into two singles without adding to the guest numbers.
We have not yet had to replace any linen ( still in first year of operation) but are trying to prevent the stain problem by offering free personal and cleaning products. E.g. makeup removers in the bathroom and small bottles of detergent or cleaner a guest might use after an accident.
If all else fails you may have to demand a security deposit.
We have a similar situation to your premises David.
We have had guests book two or three rooms, adjoining, in a single booking. They just have to pay attention to the booking form. If you use an ordinary internet browser and go to the bdc public site and search your own accomodation you can see it just as your guests would.
I am toying with creating a virtual suite, of multiple rooms (the other rooms all put together) in order to be able to change the conditions and rates. I am wary though that this could cause double bookings.