Staying Fully Booked Throughout the Year
Keeping a full house throughout a whole year in a bed and breakfast can be very difficult, and most of the time you have more guests than you can handle, followed by times when you aren't busy enough. Most bed and breakfasts have a season, an extreme one in many holiday resorts, or it might be a gentler rise and fall in guest bookings in areas that rely less on tourism.
Bed and Breakfasts Can Use the DowntimeIn actual fact, it's a bonus if there is a clear period each year where bookings fall off as it's a good time to catch up on maintenance and get it all done while there are no guests. Or you may even want to go on holiday yourselves!
But if you are thinking of doing maintenance during this period, the bed and breakfast must be properly closed. If you take on a few guests when you're in the middle of major renovations they will just get annoyed and never come back.
You should also make sure that everyone is aware when your downtime is happening every year. Put it on your website and mention it in your periodic email newsletters. Make sure the sign out the front is taken down or clearly marked as 'CLOSED, but with a re-opening date, so that passing trade don’t think you've closed for good. Make sure all the local tourist associations and the agencies or holiday companies that you book through know about it too.
Guests Don't Just Come in Summer These DaysThe holiday market is changing and bed and breakfasts can benefit from these changes. The traditional fortnight break in the school summer holidays each year does still happen, enough for many B&B's to have a full house, at least in tourism-based areas. But short breaks are getting more popular and those are often taken out of season, usually around a weekend.
If you can tap into the short break market then you can extend your busy period outside the school holidays. Look around your area for events that happen in these times or natural displays, perhaps bluebells in spring or spectacular autumn displays if you are near a forest or large arboretum. Perhaps there are local attractions that are cheaper out of season, you can feature these in your brochures and email newsletters.
This kind of activity must be tied into cheaper rates than in the high season to encourage guests to come to stay with you. You must know your break even rate though and only go below it if you feel that it will lead to future full-price bookings.
Look to Business Guests for a Full HouseOnce you've started attracting guests for long weekends then you are likely to have guests at weekends with some staying Fridays and Mondays too. That leaves the middle of the week, and business travellers are perfect for filling those gaps.
Canvas local businesses so that they know you are able to take business travellers and make sure you can have newspapers delivered. Free wireless internet access will be pretty easy to set up too as long as you are in an area that has broadband.
Each year will be different, of course, but if you can extend your portfolio of offerings you will be able to smooth the peaks and troughs of guests and have a much more profitable year than relying on just the peak holiday season.