Thursday, February 23, 2012

Why we depend on the success of hotels: a look at the B and B industry through the lens of hotels

As a bed and breakfast owner since 1991 operating in North America's most competitive market (Manhattan) I have learned to accept that we will always play second fiddle to the behemoth that is the hotel. We simply don't have the budget or scale to compete with them and by competition I mean marketing. With the advent of the internet it has become increasingly difficult to get noticed. As an innkeeper I have tried everything from studying the mechanics of SEO to web design to phone manner to the power of the special offer, to of course loyalty.

There is no doubt that every little move we make or new strategy that we implement has an impact on the success of our businesses but in the final analysis nothing is more integral to our success than the success of the hotels, in as much as the more hotel rooms that are booked the greater the likelihood that tourists or business travelers alike will look elsewhere. Demand drives up rates and when rates get high travelers are more apt to seek out alternatives. When this occurs (particularly during the busier periods in the spring and fall) travelers get more creative with their searches which creates a greater opportunity for the likes of ourselves

Ultimately in order to thrive in an environment as competitive as New York where the number of hotel rooms has increased dramatically in the last several years, we have to, as a small player, provide more for less. To alleviate the manifest financial burden we have to cut corners of course, and as noted in previous blogs, service is chief among them. Unlike the majority of hotels, we provide limited services while increasing the amount of space and quality in our suites for a price that is below the hotel average and considerably below similar hotel suites. We don't do this because we want to beat them at their own game, we do it because we have to. Hotels will always get the lion's share on account of their greater reach. However, if the numbers of travelers coming to New York City was to revert to the previous highs none of this would be quite so critical.

As alluded to in previous blogs we (hotels and b and b's alike) are all dependent on the number of travelers coming into the city. Statistics have shown that foreign travel is down considerably as a result of post 9/11 restrictions. Before 9/11 the total US share of the worldwide travel market was 17 percent. If is now just 12%. Marriott's new CEO in Arne Sorenson is trying to change this, claiming that if the US had the shame share as it did pre-9/11, it would translate into 500,000 more jobs. Sorenson is focusing on visa reform to help boost international tourism to the US. Long visa wait times in the wake of 9/11 are a major reason international travel to the US hasn't rebounded. Chinese travelers, for example, have had to wait as long as 100 days for a US visa, prompting many to go elsewhere such as Europe. Sorenson estimates China will send 100 million travelers to foreign countries in the next 3 or 4 years, up from 1 million a few years ago. Happily, after years of political bollixing, President Obama is starting to demand visa reform as well.

We are Country Inn the City are not alone in hoping that the likes of Sorensen and Obama will prevail...more hotel rooms booked means more action for the small but invaluable players such as ourselves.


  1. hotels are the image of a city or the town because it directly impacts to the mind of the visitors to the city.the hospitality and comfort provided by the hotel keeps a mark on their mind as indicating to the nature of the citizens of that hotels are plays a vital role in defining the morality of the citizen where the it stands.
    so serving guest is not only for business but for culture also.thanks.

  2. As I say several times in my posting, it’s amazing how few hotels are using these strategies. Maybe it’s because I joined our hotel from another industry sector & have a fresh approach,

    Reservation Software

  3. This is a great read. I especially like the section where you go into travelers looking for more attractive alternatives due to high cost hotels in the city. When I visited NY a few years ago, I shunned the hotels, not only because of price, but because I wanted to stay in a neighborhood and get a better idea of the culture surrounding it. This is especially attractive to a huge cultural gateway such as NY. Ultimately, word of mouth may be the B&B's biggest marketing tool; I had such a great time in the city staying at a furnished apartment, that I tell all my friends who are looking to travel to look into hotel alternatives, as they are generally a more personal experience, with a lot greater customer service.

    1. Dear Mr. Zee,

      I was delighted to see that you enjoyed the piece and that you are supporter of this segment of the industry. We hope that you will give us a try next time!