If you’re interested in owning a Country Inn or Bed and Breakfast, chances are you’re already looking to provide an incredible and unique guest experience with great rooms, service and food. What can you do to stand out and get people talking about your establishment though? A great way to really shine through word-of-mouth advertising is to get creative with the local community. Go beyond handing out directions and pamphlets to your guests by forming real relationships with other unique businesses in the area. Embrace the culture of the area by offering pre-planned activity ideas and deals. Above all, don’t forget to bring the locals in the door. Other than by offering a free or discounted stay as a prize at raffles, in periodicals, over radio contests or through other competitions, how can you get the neighbors to experience what you offer?
- Food and Drink
Maybe your property is a potential exclusive restaurant or tavern. Amazing food for guests is a big box to check for a successful Inn or B&B, but can you take this to the next level? If you have some extra room in your dining area you could bring in some extra business during slower lodging times by making a few tables available by reservation to the public. An outdoor patio could be added or transformed into al fresco dining. Maybe add in a bar and a few stools. What better way to show off your offerings than to invite folks in to get a sneak preview of the experience. A local couple that has had a memorable dinner may recommend your establishment time and again to friends or family coming to visit.
- Cultural Events
Look for opportunities to link in with the existing culture. If you have a great book store maybe you can co-host book-signing and reading events and put up the author for the night. You could use your space as a gallery for local artists and put on a wine and cheese tasting for the public. Work with a local booking agent to host intimate music gatherings for the community. What local events happen in your area? Larger festivals may be obvious, but there are likely many small events as well that may not get any press. Get to know the people who plan and work these events as there may be opportunities for discounts on referrals back and forth or other mutually beneficial arrangements.
Weddings are always a huge potential opportunity and forming relationships with local wedding planners is sure to pay off. If you have the space to host the wedding ceremony there is enormous exposure for potential future guests. You may also become the anniversary destination for the happy couple for years to come. Regardless, you should get listed on local wedding webpages as lodging for out-of-towners.
- Fun Local Activities
Travelers always appreciate the knowledgeable local guide, but can you take this to the next level? A recommendation for a favorite hiking spot could be complemented by a backpack filled with the perfect picnic provisions. A hill nearby could become a way to offer a loaner sled when it snows with hot chocolate and s’mores afterwards. If there is great bird-watching in the area then have spare binoculars on hand. Form a relationship with the bait and tackle store if fishing is a big draw.
- Complementary Businesses
Is there an excellent winery or brewery nearby? You could offer a package that includes a few of their products pre-stocked in the room and a special tour of their facility. They may be able to reciprocate by highlighting your service to their guests in need of a place to stay. If your area has an amazing Chocolatier or Confectionery, consider a Willy Wonka style package. Arrange a discount with a local creamery or ice cream/frozen yogurt stand in the summer months
- Business Services
Larger businesses and chains often are looking to do business lunches or strategy planning retreats. Do you have the space to host these? Maybe you could set up a screen and projector to transform a dining room into a temporary conference room where you could easily provide lunch. Travelers from the corporate headquarters and other locations will have built in lodging.
- In Closing
Most importantly, spend time in the community and patronize the other local businesses to get to know what they offer and how you could support each other. Be a good neighbor and champion for the area and it will likely support you in return!