Making the Best of a Seaside Location: A Case Study
A seaside location is the traditional home of the B&B but although it means more visitors, and therefore more potential customers, there's much more competition for those customers too. We talked to Joan and Michael Bronson* who have run a seaside B&B for the last seven years.
Forgotten CornwallThey are based in what they like to call 'forgotten Cornwall', the Torpoint peninsula in the very south-east corner of Cornwall, just the other side of Plymouth Sound.
"Being a little tucked away to the south of the A30, herds of tourists just sweep straight past on their way to the better known areas of West Cornwall," said Joan, "it's rare that we catch passing trade, so we have to make the best of every single internet enquiry or phone call that comes in."
Their bed and breakfast is on the south coast of the peninsula, close to the twin picturesque fishing villages of Cawsand and Kingsand. The shingle beach is 500 yards away via a link to the coastal footpath and the fact that it's not sandy is a blessing in disguise.
Sandy Beaches"We know many of the other bed and breakfast owners in the area," said Joan "and not having sandy beaches means we're not constantly sweeping sand out of the bedrooms, even the beds sometimes!"
But it means we have to market carefully," Michael chipped in. "Families with small children do stay with us but they might be better off being closer to a sandy beach. The main thing is not to mis-sell, so we're very honest. The last thing we want is people complaining because there isn’t golden sand on their doorstep."
The Bronsons make sure they know the beaches nearby as well. This knowledge is vital for describing the assets of their bed and breakfast and its location accurately over the phone or in an email. After all, the sandy beaches of Whitsand Bay are only a few miles away, including Seaton Beach with it's country park and dog facilities.
Research for TouristsIt's not just the beaches. The Bronsons make a point of going out in the early part of the season and checking every tourist location for ten to twenty miles around. They get up-to-date leaflets from tourist centres, check that the good pubs and restaurants are still in business and research new features or work going on at the major attractions.
"For example this year we were able to tell our customers about the closure of half of the top floor of the Plymouth Aquarium," said Michael. "It's not in our interest to stop tourists going, but we don't want our customers to be disappointed either."
Tips for FamiliesSimilarly knowing the Eden Project's evening events programme is well worthwhile, as they now have top bands and comedy on. They also have reduced entry rates after half-past three in the afternoon.
This is a great tip for large families because even when there isn't an evening event the grounds don't close until 8pm. So it's perfectly possible for families to see it all after a day on the beach and save a packet on admission.
Customers Appreciate InformationOur approach certainly seems to work," said Joan, "we have leaflets and maps available and we tell customers when they arrive to ask us if they want any further information.
"But we don't shove it down their throats," said Michael, "some people are happy to work thing out themselves and they don’t want to be pestered."
* names have been changed