Is there anything you can do that doesn’t involve simply cutting the price?
There are plenty of ways that you can control how your guest house or hotel is perceived. There are also some factors that you can do little, if anything, about. If a customer is looking for a guesthouse with a sea view and you are based inland, then short of moving your property brick by brick to a new location, there’s really not much you can do about it! So for a start, ensure that you focus on the things you can influence.
What does your guest want?
It often pays to cater to the masses, but it is also worth considering that there are many travellers who are looking for something very specific in their hotels and guesthouses. They might be looking for a hotel geared toward work, and therefore would prefer high-speed Wi-Fi, multiple media ports in the rooms, and large desks. They might be looking for rest and relaxation, complete with hypoallergenic sheets, mood lighting, powerful showers, and whirlpool baths. Some guests may look for hotels that are decked out with environmentally friendly features. They may want to enjoy re-used or sustainable building materials, renewable energy, and a total commitment to being green.
These travellers are obviously small percentages of the mass market. Providing this kind of specialist option may limit your appeal to the majority. But imagine if you are the only guest house in your area accommodating this niche. You may appeal to a small slice of the mass market. But you are almost guaranteeing that 100% of the people in it will come to your property.
The Waves in Scarborough
The Waves in Scarborough is a good example of how focusing on a niche can produce successful results for a hospitality business. It is a large Victorian semi-detached house that has combined many original features with contemporary design. It combines bespoke, handmade furniture and locally made pottery with features like a vintage 1970s lounge complete with jukebox and a collection of vinyl records.
The owners, Phil and Christine, describe the look as “retrolicious”. They say their intention is not to just create a guest house, but create one which has space where you can enjoy being with other people.
The Waves also focuses on their breakfasts, specifically providing a wide choice of food options for vegetarian and vegan guests. Alongside the traditional full Yorkshire breakfast and veggie alternatives, they also offer Vegetarian Kedgeree, Superfood Smoothie, and Spinach and Red Pepper Frittata, along with boiled egg and Marmite soldiers and mushrooms and eggs on toast. Unusually for any menu, vegetarian and vegan options outnumber the traditional.
Owner Christine estimates that “…75% of our guests contain at least one member of their party who is a vegetarian”. This is now something that the Waves is now actively being sought out for.
People are becoming more interested in healthy eating. The Waves ensures that their ingredients are organic, free range and local. They also make provisions for customers with special dietary requirements, such as gluten or lactose intolerance.
Finding the right niche
Finding the right niche for your guest house or hotel can be vital in differentiating you from your competitors. It’s all very well to cater to a need, but how about providing something that people want? If people just need a bed for the night, then they might stay with you one year and somewhere else the next. It won’t matter to them unless they have a reason for specifically preferring your accommodation.
However, if you have accommodation that people want for specific reasons, then you will see them come back year after year. They’ll talk about you, write about you, and get you to stand out from the crowd.