Survey Says: Results Summary, Third Quarter (Q3) 2009

BedandBreakfast.com recently surveyed both U.S. member innkeepers and inn-going travelers to gauge travel trends. Thanks to everyone who participated! Here’s an overview of the results.

Innkeepers Survey
Travelers Survey

Nearly 600 innkeepers took our survey covering the third quarter (July –September 2009). Here’s how it broke down geographically:

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Business is improving! Almost 60% of innkeepers reported that business last quarter was up or even year over year, compared to 45% who said the same in Q2.
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Some comments:

Why some inns were up
A combination of marketing and pricing made the difference in occupancy in the third quarter:

  • One innkeeper was ahead by a factor of 4.
  • Another was up 45%.
  • A great CVB created a Heritage Trail that brought thousands of travelers to the area.

Travelers are booking, just differently:

  • Booking with shorter notice.
  • Booking longer stays.

Reviews largest cause of increased reservations:

  • 62% said that guest reviews made guests more likely to stay at their property last quarter, versus 53% who said that in Q2.
  • The largest cause of increased reservations requires NO marketing expense!

Why some inns were down
Weather was a major issue last quarter:

  • Too hot in Texas, too wet in the Northeast.
  • Some said weather was more of a factor than the economy.

Due to the economy, we’re dealing with some price-sensitive travelers.

  • Fewer midweek guests.
  • The less expensive rooms sold before the more expensive ones.
  • Some innkeepers said their occupancy was the same, but they had to discount rooms.

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Replies for “Other” included:

  • Travelers are staying closer to home.
  • Accepting more walk-ins or last-minute reservations.
  • Special pricing.
  • Updated/new website.
  • Increased marketing, advertising and public relations.
  • More repeat guests.

Most innkeepers have changed something about the way they market their property.
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Some ways they’re doing this are:

  • Being more aggressive about pricing, and lowering it when necessary
  • Saying “yes” to last-minute discount requests
  • Dropping two-day minimums
  • Spending more on pay-per-click, SEO, etc.
  • Stressing the value of their B&B and its five-star service
  • More free social networking and online promotions, less paid advertising
  • Increased media exposure, hosting special events, sending e-newsletters

54% of innkeepers said they have or plan to adjust their overall pricing strategy:

chart5

Ways pricing is changing include:

  • Being proactive with great value offers, but rack rates remain the same
  • More aggressive with midweek discounts
  • Yield management: higher prices when demand is strong, much lower at other times to fill the rooms
  • Four nights for the price of three encourages longer stays
  • Reduced business travel rates, but maintaining overall rates
  • Raising weekend prices; keeps occupancy the same, but the revenues now higher
  • Reduced pricing for last-minute bookings
  • Raising prices $10 per night
  • Discounts for local referrals and extended stays

The forecast for the fourth quarter, which is typically slow for almost all innkeepers, is improved over the predictions for last quarter. The overall mood is improving!

74% of innkeepers predict that Q4 will be up or even over same time last year. In Q2, 65% predicted that the third quarter would be up or even.

chart6

Inn traveler demographics
Innkeepers reported they most commonly see Baby Boomers, followed by Gen X and Seniors.

chart8

Travelers Survey

In addition to our quarterly innkeeper surveys, we also send regular polls to the 50,000 consumers on our mailing list, giving you a direct line into what’s important to inngoers.

Does what you offer match up with what consumers want? Somewhere between important and essential to consumers are:

  • Photos: 99% -- and 39% said they won’t book an inn without seeing photos.
  • Consumer reviews: 96% -- almost 12% said they wouldn’t book without them.
  • Online reservations: 89%
  • Professional ratings/reviews: 87%
  • Video: 65%

chartDecidingWheretoStay

Good news! Nearly all B&Bs have what consumers want the most – private baths and free breakfast. Bad news. Some lack WiFi, TV and flexible check-ins.

chart9

80% of those who completed the survey said they’re traveling the same or more as last year.

chart10

 

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When researching and booking a B&B stay, travelers use both directories and individual websites/OTAs like Expedia.com. You need to use both for maximum results.

chart12

Consumers want the booking process to be quick, easy and safe.

chart13

Consumers explain how they search. Here’s a sample of nearly 200 comments:

  • Like to compare available options.
  • Legistimacy of the property can be cross-checked by using multiple sites.
  • Individual websites have better information, once I’ve used the bigger sites to find the property
  • I prefer to talk to innkeepers before committing.
  • Objective reviews aren’t posted on the inn’s own website.
  • We visit BedandBreakfast.com to find B&Bs, then check website photos, then look at price, then book.
  • I like to search by ZIP code, so I can choose a quick weekend getaway not far from my house. I search by amenities like in-room whirlpool and pet-friendly.

Be sure to market to folks in nearby metro areas. Almost 70% of survey takers said they’ll be traveling 150 miles or fewer from home. 
chart14

55% of consumers said that the recession has had an impact on their leisure travel plans, and here’s how:

  • Traveling more due to recession pricing.
  • Traveling as much as before, but being more frugal.
  • Reduced the trip duration but not the frequency.
  • Quick getaways help relieve stress
  • Trips have been cut in half because of the recession
  • Taking short trips more frequently, rather than one long vacation

Nearly 75% of survey takers said they’re more likely to stay at a B&B with a frequent stay program, but only 6% participate in such a program. If you offer a frequent stay program, be sure to market it; if not, start now!

We hope these surveys give you some insight on how your peers are doing, and ways you can increase your exposure and bookings. Please be on the lookout in January for our Q4 survey. The more innkeepers who participate, the more accurate the data we can share with you.

 

 

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