The importance of branding (with an angle of the Bed & Breakfast market)

One of our clients, Creating Bookings, provides tailored solutions to help Bed and Breakfast owners and delivers a newsletter to their database on a quarterly basis. We were kindly asked to write a guest piece, with the angle of raising awareness of how important branding is in the Bed and Breakfast market. Here it is…

Have you seen the current TV advert for the Volkswagon Up, their small, city car?

It focuses on a tall 30 something lady who goes on a number of dates only to meet guys a lot shorter than her. As she waits for one date, along comes a VW Up. Her heart sinks. Until the gentleman gets out and…yep, you guessed it. He’s tall. Love is in the air.

However, throughout the most of the advert nothing of the car model or VW is mentioned. Why? Because VW trusts you already have an accurate perception – reliable, efficient, well built, etc – of the VW brand. You might even wish you owned a VW.

It’s not until the very end that they leave you with a single message – the VW Up is ‘surprisingly spacious’. For those in the market for a city car that is a MASSIVE selling point. Job done. And for the majority of us, who aren’t looking for a city car, it more than likely adds another positive layer to our perception of the VW brand. Once again, job done.


What does that all mean when it comes to your B&B’s brand?

Admittedly branding can sound scary. Marketers have a tendency to make it appear complicated. The main reason is that branding and marketing are not exact sciences. There are no magic formulae to guarantee that by doing ‘this and that’ you will enjoy 100% occupancy and early retirement!

But, and this is a very important, the essence of branding should be kept simple and it must never, ever be an afterthought – far from it. It is a key tool that enables you to create an accurate picture of what you offer, to set you apart from others and to attract the right type of guest. Something VW have been consistently good at.


So, where to start?

Your brand and marketing must be an authentic representation of your B&B. So, like with most things, a bit of leg work at the beginning can pay dividends.

  1. No business can be all things to all people. Identify who your core guest group is and understand what they are looking for.
  2. Who’s your competition? What do they do well or poorly?
  3. Review what you offer. Get feedback from guests. Be honest – what’s missing or can be improved?
  4. Implement the necessary changes and perfect your service delivery.
  5. Identify a number of key benefits that mean the most to your core guests and make them as compelling as possible. These will be the bedrock of your brand communication.


Develop your brand collateral:

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but each is key in helping your brand to grow:

  • Logo: A poorly designed logo can undermine your brand, so if it’s looking tired or doesn’t match what it is you offer do get it professionally designed.
  • Signage: Ensure your signage is clear in terms of design, print and where it’s located.
  • Imagery: A picture does tell a thousand words. Invest in some good photography of your B&B’s exterior and key guest areas. It will help no end.
  • Guest testimonials: Build a growing library of positive testimonials. They provide immediate reassurance to prospective guests.
  • Website: Your website is your key marketing weapon. Make sure your target guests can quickly identify with what it is you’re offering. Make the argument so compelling that they know you are the B&B for them.
  • Printed material: From stationery and feedback cards to advertising and offer mailers – ensure they are professionally designed and printed. It shows your B&B offers a quality service.


All of which brings us back to the VW Up advert.

If you’ve seen the advert you may recall the sound track that supports the story of our 30 something lady – ‘It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack…’. Have these words ringing in your ears when you consider your B&B’s brand and how you market your business.

Your potential guests, with a quick Google search will be hit with an extensive list of B&Bs, and will have a predetermined set of criteria – location, bedroom quality, en-suite requirement, parking, breakfast options, room rate, to name just a few – by which they draw up a short list and then make their decision.

The job of your brand and marketing is to prove your B&B provides THE ANSWERS to their needs. Done in the right way you’ll not only make that haystack a lot, lot smaller but you’ll also provide your prospective guests with a magnet that helps them find you in it.

If you invest in your brand (it needn’t be as expensive as you may fear) and look after it then it will help you generate more business.