Luxury Bed and Breakfast magazine recently spoke to Stewart Hindley & Partners senior partner Chris McDonagh on striking the best deal. You can read the full article below:
The British weather is one thing that can make or break your guests’ stay that you have no control over. However, if you can weatherproof their holiday, not only are you more likely to benefit from referrals, but you’re also more likely to be welcoming them back for return visits.
Weatherproofing your B&B experience also has the added bonus of extending your season, spreading demand throughout the year. But what can you do to weatherproof your guests’ stay?
1. Ensure your B&B guests are equipped for bad weather
Whilst jokes are about UK holidays being the only holidays that require swimsuits, rain coats, shorts and woolly jumpers, packing limitations sometimes mean that’s just not possible.
Make sure your guests have the essentials to get out and about when it’s teeming down outside.
Chewton Glen provide a pair of wellies for guests wanting to take a stroll around the grounds in inclement weather, whilst many hotels and B&B’s have a selection of large golf umbrellas to keep guests dry.
2. Keep the kids entertained when it’s rainy
There’s nothing worse than children getting bored and climbing the walls when you’re stuck indoors, but rainy days can be a great opportunity for families to bond and to discover new (or forgotten) pastimes.
Have a small library of children’s books, board games and card games that families can enjoy together, like Gwel an Mor in Cornwall. Depending on your guest demographic (and the space you have available), you may choose to set up a games room with a games console.
3. Invest in indoor appeal for days when the great outdoors doesn’t appeal
By giving your guests opportunities to make the most of a rainy day, you can turn even the wettest of days into a fun memory. We can help you find hospitality finance solutions to make your spaces special and create features for your hotel or B&B that can really help to extend your busy season. Clydey Cottages in Wales had enough space to build an indoor pool and soft play area, so when the clouds roll in, their guests don’t have to turn in.
4. Help your guests find rainy day alternatives
Even if you can’t create a rainy day appeal at your B&B or boutique hotel, you can still help your guests out. Keep a variety of leaflets available for guests that include things to do on rainy days. Aquariums, museums and local swimming pools can all be great ways to spend a few hours doing something you wouldn’t normally do at home, so help your guests find things they will enjoy.
5. Make every moment memorable – even the soggy ones
There’s nothing better than returning from a cold, wet outdoors to a warm fire, a hot drink and cosy blankets to snuggle into.
Provide drying facilities for coats and boots. This will reduce the risk of water and mud from being traipsed through your rooms, and your guests will appreciate taking home dry clothes, rather than plastic bags full of damp, smelly clothing.
If you are looking for investment to extend the appeal of your B&B or hotel, and help guests to make the most of every day of their stay, speak to one of our hospitality finance experts on 01488 393040 to find out how hospitality finance can help you find the funds to invest to give year-round appeal to your B&B or boutique hotel business.
These days finding a B&B is much easier than it ever used to be. Trip Advisor, Airbnb and HomeAway make finding a bed for the night a breeze.
Whilst this is great news for many B&B owners, it’s most definitely a double-edged sword as it also means that for potential guests looking for a room for the weekend, or even just a night, there’s lots more easily accessible options out there.
This means that standing out from the crowd and adding that extra warmth to your service is more important than ever. I’m not talking about an extra blanked at the back of the closet in their room I’m talking about that added personal touch that says ‘we’re really pleased you chose us’.
Here are 7 ways to deliver a personalised B & B experience
Send a text
Isn’t it great not to have to scribble the address of where you are going on a piece of paper before keying it into the sat nav? Text your guests either on booking or the day before they are due to check in. Point out how you are looking forward to welcoming them to your B&B and send them your postcode or directions. It’ll also help them avoid any ‘lost in translation’ issues from addresses copied down incorrectly.
Using texts doesn’t have to stop there. Text them the address of any restaurants or takeaways they ask you for, and even invite them to check in or out by text too for some ultra-flexible checking in options.
Make your photographs stand out
Invest in getting professional photographs taken. Most B&B guests put a large focus on the way that a property looks. A professional photographer will be able to use the right lenses and get the best angles to show your property in its best light, making it look oh so much better than all those amateur photos you’re competing with.
Before visitors make their mind up on where they’ll stay, they almost always look at reviews.
Whether they look at the individual reviews or the overall rating given out of 5 stars, encouraging your visitors to leave positive reviews on your chosen site or sites, will mean you’ll be streets ahead when it comes to return bookings and new bookings. Many algorithms will prioritise those properties with positive reviews in searches too.
To encourage reviews you can incentivise your visitors with a free gift, entry into a draw to win a prize, or a discount on their next booking.
Make their experience a personal one
Get to know your guests names and use them. Chat to them and find out about what they’ve been doing whilst in the area. Not only might you be able to offer useful information or additional suggestions, you’ll also pick up tips and advice that you can pass on to other guests to help make their stay memorable.
Something to remember you by
Consider what brings your guests to the area and make it easy for them to take back a little souvenir. Partner with some local businesses to offer them some cheese from the region, maybe some biscuits or cakes that are typical of the area, or perhaps a book inspired by, or written about where you are based. One of the best B&Bs I ever stayed in gave me a couple of biscuits and a bottle of water for my return journey – perfect.
Make sightseeing life easy
Make picnic lunch options available – not only is it another way to upsell your guests, you’ll also be doing them a favour, saving them from having to hunt out overpriced (and often overcooked) tourist food, so they can spend more time making the most of the sites they’ve come to see.
Nothing says welcome like a fresh pot of coffee
After a long journey, there’s nothing quite like a fresh coffee, so offer your guests a complimentary coffee and snack on arrival and help them to start unwinding right away.
Stewart Hindley are Finance brokers specialising in B&B finance and hospitality finance. With a comprehensive network of affiliates and partners, Stewart Hindley help provide the B&B Finance that owners are looking for to transform their B&B into something really special.
It is tempting to focus on attracting new guests to your B&B, but don’t forget the people who have already stayed with you.
Our team at UK hospitality finance experts, Stewart Hindley, spotted an article on www.bedandbreakfast.eu and have taken some of the points from the article which is full of practical tips for how B&B owners can encourage guests to return and, in turn, spread the word to others: (however we do understand that not all B&Bs can afford the upkeep of such marketing activities)
Exceed expectations by going that extra mile to demonstrate how you appreciate their custom, by offering delicious extensive breakfasts, small welcome gifts, and ensuring guests receive excellent service.
Make their stay with you memorable by showing an interest in them
It’s worth spending a bit of time getting to know them, so when they re-book with you, it’s like ‘coming home’. You could explain the personal touches around the place and perhaps a bit of its history.
Let guests know you are looking forward to their arrival
You can start building a relationship with your guests, for example, by sending an email a few days before their arrival for example. With a picture of your B&B, or a tip about what they can do in the area and that you are looking forward to their arrival.
Your B&B will then start to become real to your guests in advance.
Maintain contact with guests after their stay
Customer loyalty can be encouraged with regular, personal communication Keeping them posted with any events coming up in your area which could tempt them to return and any special offers you may be running.
Let yourself be heard through social media
Social media platforms are the perfect way to retain close ties with your guests in a casual way. You could post new images and videos of your B&B on Facebook for example – The first al fresco breakfast after winter, your cat/dog, a cup of lovely coffee to start the day with, your B&B in the snow.
Personal messages – as well as ‘corporate’ ones are good. Every now and then you can post a promotion, such as an offer, but don’t let this be the majority of posts on social media. In this way, guests will keep seeing nice messages about your B&B popping up on their timeline and ‘front of mind’ next time they look for a place to stay., you stay in the back of their minds, and they keep getting to know you better. You can send your regular clients exclusive news and discounts through Facebook. Don’t forget to ask your guests to ‘like’ your Facebook or Instagram pages.
Treat your regular guests as VIPs.
Your past customers like to feel appreciated and what better way than giving them a special or discount offer which is just for them.
Give your regulars extra attention on social media as well, for example by starting a conversation with them, or after a renovation or when you’ve expanded your service. You could send them an invitation to come and see the results and sleep in a new room. Your guests will feel special and highly appreciated and will want to revisit your B&B.
Need a helping hand?
If you are looking to start or grow your bed and breakfast or hotel business, the chances are that, at some point, you will be seeking out B&B finance.
At Stewart Hindley and Partners, we are in an ideal position to help you as we understand the hospitality business through and through. We are long-established specialists in securing hospitality finance. Our experienced team will be able to offer you friendly and informative advice to help you build and improve your business.
Browse our site for case histories and more information about the process involved, or call us now to speak to our team of experts.
Inveraray’s oldest hotel, The Inveraray Inn, has recently completed a threequarter-million-pound refurbishment, reopening to the public on the 31st of January 2018.
The comprehensive refurbishment was carried out in phases over a two-year period with phase one completing on the 1st January 2017 and phase two completing on the 31st January 2018. The works included full refurbishment of all bedrooms, bathrooms and common areas, re-naming and re-branding, replacement of the electrical heat and hot water system with a biomasspowered solution and re-roofing. The work was carried out in order to restore the hotel’s reputation as one of Scotland’s and the west coast’s premium rural hotels.
Drew Anderson, General Manager of The Inveraray Inn said: “The Inveraray Inn is the oldest and most historic hotel in Inveraray and is one of the most iconic hotels in the west of Scotland. Originally built to accommodate officials visiting Inveraray Castle and now lovingly restored, each day we strive to offer standards of hospitality that might live up to the inn’s illustrious past.”
Devon and Cornwall remain some of the most popular holiday destinations in the UK, offering some of the best coastline, countryside and varied towns and cities in the country.
Here we highlight below some great and varied places to stay in the region, all of which also just happen to have benefited from the expert advice of our specialist hospitality finance advice team at Stewart Hindley and Partners to put them on the road to success.
- Torquay – famous for being the largest town on the “English Riviera” and a popular choice for thousands of visitors to Devon.
Blenheim House B&B in Torquay has everything proprietors Lee and Elaine Ratcliffe were looking for – a good location close to the seafront and train station and accommodation which had just been recently refurbished (so wouldn’t need a lot of money spending on it) and a manageable 5 guest rooms.
From the start of their search they were in touch with us at Stewart Hindley & Partners and we were able to provide them with a judgement on whether their B&B finance application would be successful or not. It was a pleasure to work with Lee & Elaine and to see their hopes and dreams come to fruition, they are now welcoming guests and starting to build the trade to its max. https://www.blenheimhousetorquay.co.uk/
- Exeter – The Exeter Townhouse is a lovely boutique B&B is set in a quiet corner of Exeter city centre yet just a few minutes stroll from the Cathedral, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, the Quayside, shopping centres, restaurants, university and train stations.
The Grade II Listed property has been brought up to date with period and contemporary features offering 9 stylishly decorated rooms. They were awarded a Certificate of Excellence by Trip Advisor in 2016 and 2017 and a 5 star rating from the Food Standards Agency – the highest possible food hygiene rating in the UK.
- Bude - Wyvern House Bed and Breakfast is located in the popular Cornish town of Bude and
is just a few minutes walk from the beach and town centre. The property has 6 en-suite bedrooms and spread over 3 floors and has proved an ideal location for our clients, Paula & James, to set up their new bed and breakfast.
Paula & James had owned and operated a bed and breakfast business so had plenty of experience on which to build their new venture in Bude. Having found their perfect property they soon realised the benefits of using a specialist finance broker to source the necessary funds to purchase it. Having contacted us at Stewart Hindley & Partners we worked with them to secure the best B&B finance deal available to them and took them step by step through each stage.
Paula and James are now welcoming guests to Wyvern House and enjoying life in Cornwall. More info at https://www.wyvernhouse.co.uk/
Penvith Barns has a 4 star rating on Trip Advisor, offering beautiful accommodation just outside Looe with access to lovely walks including the South West Coastal Path to Looe and Seaton Beach. Guests can come and as they please and relax in the tranquil surroundings with views over superb countryside. It’s also close to some of Cornwall’s best beaches and makes a great base for exploring Cornwall’s Attractions.
We are proud to have offered the B&B finance to put Penvith Barns on the map.
f you are looking to start up, or purchase an existing hospitality business, wherever that may be, then why not contact our friendly team of specialist advisors now for advice and information on the best hospitality finance packages available today.
The market for UK holiday lets is booming so, if you own additional properties to your home you may well be tempted to go into the holiday lettings business. Or, perhaps you are looking to buy a property for holiday letting.
As hospitality finance experts, we receive many enquires and have helped a significant number of people to start holiday lettings businesses. Based on our experience, we have come up with a few key things you should consider:
- Is the property in a good location? Are you going for a rural retreat cottage offering or a seaside or city location?
- How will you furnish the property and have you set a budget aside for this? It has become a very competitive market in recent years and those renting holiday cottages are becoming more discerning so it is best to equip and furnish your cottage to the highest standards.
- Can you make broadband available? Again this is increasingly the expectation these days.
- Are you going to allow pets or not? Many people specifically choose a self-catering holiday in the UK so that they can take the dogs too. To maximise your market it is best to allow pets and some people charge extra and/or a deposit to cover increased cleaning and potential damage.
- Are you in a position to invest time in gaining accreditations from local tourist boards, green organisations (if applicable) and encouraging online reviews like Trip Advisor?
- Who is going to do the cleaning? Hygiene and cleanliness are all important.
- Similarly, who would be the emergency contact for guests?
- How much are you going to charge? The best way to decide where to pitch your pricing is to look at similar-sized properties in your area and use that as a guide.
- Are you aware of the safety rules and regulations covering upholstered furniture and gas and electrical appliances?
- Have you factored in insurance? Holiday lettings owners will need public liability insurance as well as building and contents insurance. There are specialist policies available for self-catering properties and insurance brokers can be a real help here.
- Do your business plans factor in the fact that tax will be due on profits from holiday lettings and that Council tax for your holiday cottage only applies if it’s just your second home and not rented out commercially. If you make it available for holiday lets for 20 weeks (140 days) or more, then it should be registered for business rates rather than council tax. Small business rate relief and Furnished Holiday Letting (FHL) tax relief may be applicable.
- Who is going to the market your property for holiday rental? Are you set up to respond quickly to enquiries and bookings and take deposits and payments? Or, are you going to employ an agent to do that for you?
Do you need hospitality finance to build your holiday lettings business?
If you need a mortgage for a holiday letting property, you will need a commercial mortgage and our team at Stewart Hindley are in the ideal position to advise you.
If a lender realises that you are trading on a residential mortgage they can call in the loan due to breach of covenant. Trading on a residential mortgage can have serious consequences. You could be forced to re-mortgage and in some cases, if your trade income is not enough to cover the amount of debt involved, this may not be possible. The worst case scenario may be that you lose your home.
We strongly recommend that you don’t wait until it’s too late. Contact us now for friendly and professional advice based on many years of experience in the hospitality finance sector.
It is important that Bed & Breakfast owners continuously look for ways to grow their business. This is a matter we here at Stewart Hindley always stress the importance of. As we are committed to being as supportive as we can to our clients we always highlight opportunities for achieving growth.
One of the strongest such opportunities at this time is the electric vehicle market. The rapid growth in sales of electric charged cars over the last 4 years has been quite remarkable. In this article we will look at the facts and figures of them, and the ways in which your Bed & Breakfast can be made an attractive destination for owners of them.
Electric Vehicles – The Rapid Rise in Popularity
Earlier in this article we mentioned that grown in this market had been rapid. This, if anything, is an understatement. In 2013 there were 3,500 registered electric cars on the roads in the UK. By November 2017 this had risen to 125,000. The universal expectation across industry analysts is that 1,000,000 registered electric vehicles shall be reached as early as 2022.
The main challenge to reaching this figure is the number of charging points. At present there are 14,000 charge points for electric vehicles in the UK. Whilst that figure in itself sounds high, it is considerably short of meeting the growing requirement for them. Despite incredible advances in the technology behind them it remains the case that the average fully charged electric vehicle has a maximum range of some 150 miles.
A high level of support is available for businesses wishing to install electric vehicle charge points. This is something all Bed & Breakfast businesses must give consideration to.
Electric Vehicles – Bed & Breakfast Charge Points
From the above it is clear that offering a charge point at your business is a highly attractive feature. Having an electric vehicle charge point available at your Bed & Breakfast could be the determining factor in guests choosing to use you rather than a competitor.
One of the concerns about this which Bed & Breakfast owners will have is the cost of installation. These can, as you might imagine, be quite high. There is, however, considerable financial support available for businesses looking to install electric vehicle charge points.
The UK Government is highly committed to ensuring electric vehicles are a success. One of the incentives in place to encourage this comes in the form of financing for charge points. Grants, subsides and shared cost initiatives are available from a number of Governmental departments, in particular the Office of Low Emission Vehicles and the recently establish Workplace Charging Scheme.
With support in terms of financing and expertise in place at Stewart Hindley we firmly believe now is the perfect time for Bed & Breakfast owners to explore the business potential offered by installing electric vehicle charge points.
The specialist financial experts here at Stewart Hindley are here to help you secure the best commercial loan for your Bed & Breakfast business. We always seek to go beyond this, offering as much comprehensive advice for success as we can. Highlighting the potential for success with electric vehicle charge points is just one of the ways we deliver this.
For more information on how we may be of service to you please get in touch. You can call us on 01488 393042, or drop us a message through our website. We’d be delighted to discuss your plans and requirements, exploring the ways we can help you achieve them.
Wales is a particularly good location to run a hospitality business, according to official tourism statistics* which showed a rise in occupancy figures across all accommodation types this Summer.
Wales – an increasingly popular hospitality business choice
The figures revealed significant growth in the number of people using hotels, hostels, guest houses, bed and breakfasts, and self-catering units between July 2016 and June 2017:
- At 68% the occupancy rate for hotels rooms was the highest of all, increasing one percentage point when compared with the previous 12 months.
- Guest houses and Bed and Breakfast occupancy rates stood at 40%, a 2 percentage point increase over the same period.
- Self-catering units increased by 4 percentage points to 56%, and hostel bed space increased by 3 percentage points to 52%.
Economy and Infrastructure Secretary, Ken Skates commented : “In what is an extremely competitive market place, these latest occupancy statistics show a strong picture for tourism in Wales and continue to reflect the success we have experienced over the last two years.
“We will continue with our campaign work to promote Wales to both domestic and foreign markets to ensure that we make the most of the opportunities to attract overseas visitors and those looking to holiday at home due to the weak pound.”
Hospitality finance for Wales
As specialist hospitality finance experts, we have helped a number of proprietors to take advantage of these trends and establish guest houses in Wales over the last couple of years, including:
- Tir-y-Coed, Rowen, North Wales
Chris and Sandra decided that they wanted to run their own bed and breakfast business and set about looking for a suitable business to buy. After looking at several properties they eventually came upon Tir-y-Coed in North Wales.
Tir-y-Coed Country House is a beautiful former gentleman’s residence built in the late Victorian era. The property is located in the village of Rowen inside the very popular Snowdonia National Park. The property nestles in over an acre of beautiful, mature landscape gardens and provides a peaceful 5* experience for its guests.
The bed and breakfast has 6 en-suite bedrooms all furnished and decorated to a high standard. The rooms are spacious and light and situated on the first floor. On the ground floor there is a modern garden room, bar and balcony all enjoying a South facing aspect overlooking the grounds. Tir-y-Coed is one of the finest country houses in the area, with an established trade, offering guests free WiFi, a fully licensed bar and restaurant.
- Morwendon House – A dog friendly B&B in Barmouth
Our client Kate found a beautiful bed and breakfast in Mid/North Wales located just outside the popular holiday destination of Barmouth and situated right next to the beach.
Morwendon House had been a bed and breakfast for a number of years and the owners had decided it was time to retire, providing the perfect opportunity for Kate to purchase a going concern but one which she could also put her own stamp on and develop the trade going forward.
Kate had never run a bed and breakfast before and sensibly invested in attending a B&B course to learn the ropes. She also sought the advice of our specialist hospitality finance team at Stewart Hindley & Partners. Although it wasn’t all plain sailing, we were able to negotiate on her behalf with the lender, valuer and vendors and eventually secure a hospitality loan agreement acceptable to all parties so that the purchase could move forward.
- A dream comes true in Llandudno
Lee Scott found his perfect property in Llandudno, close to the Great Orme Railway and town centre. The business had been trading but, in the past year or so, the owners retired and ceased trading the concern. They did, however, leave the guest house in a state where it could be traded almost straight away bar a few immediate updates.
However, the lack of recent business accounts meant that the hospitality loan application would be mainly premised on projections, which is always a more challenging position from which to apply for a hospitality loan. The fact that the property was located in such a popular holiday destination helped and, with Stewart Hindley & Partners’ experience, we were able to make a successful application on Lee’s behalf. We supported Lee with his bank meeting and commercial valuation arrangements and made sure he was kept up to date on progress throughout the purchase.
Lee took possession of The Capri Guest House (May 2017) where a warm, friendly welcome awaits those looking for a seaside holiday in North Wales.
If you are looking to start up, or purchase an existing hospitality business, wherever that may be, then why not contact our friendly team of specialist advisors now for advice and information on the best hospitality finance packages available today.
First impressions count and nowhere is that more true than for the breakfast you are served at a B&B or hotel.
So, our team at Stewart Hindley & Partners, specialist B&B finance and business advisors have put together a few ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ if you are B&B or hotel proprietor looking to offer breakfast to impress:
- Offer a variety of fruit juices and tea and coffee styles
- Make sure the tea and coffee is served hot and not going stale and cold in a thermos
- Consider introducing Continental pastries like croissants and tasty pastries and serve them warm.
- Consider offering a choice of eggs, such as poached, scrambled or fried? Guests will be so impressed that you have gone that extra mile.
- Consider some more à la carte options – even if they don’t order them, guests will be impressed at a wider choice of more unusual choices that they might not cook at home for themselves. Think Eggs Benedict and Kippers, or an omelette.
- And why not offer guests the option to take breakfast in bed? This ‘room service’ option represents a nice ‘added value’ touch and all you need is a tray and a system for booking it in advance. Guests looking for that extra bit of privacy will usually happily pay a little extra to enjoy this extra slice of luxury.
- Train your staff to offer prompt and friendly service. Streamlining the serving and clearing away process can make a real difference to guest satisfaction, particularly if they are in a hurry to get going in the morning.
- Just play safe – Think beyond the old fashioned one ‘trick pony’ of full English breakfast and cereals to create a mouth-watering and varied breakfast menu
- Don’t forget that, no matter what menu you finally offer, the ingredients you use are of paramount importance.
You might be able to save money by stocking your fridge with your local supermarket’s basic range, but these days, guests will recognise and appreciate quality ingredients. And it is just this sort of thing which will get you glowing reviews on Trip Advisor, word-of-mouth recommendations and repeat visits.
- It’s not all about the food, so don’t leave your breakfast restaurant layout to chance. Make sure that there are small and larger group settings to accommodate all parties; offer a good selection of the latest newspapers and magazines and put jugs of iced water on the table for guests that might need to hydrate after the night before!
Did you find this helpful?
If you are looking at starting a bed and breakfast, or building up an existing guesthouse business; wherever it is, we can help. At Stewart Hindley and Partners, we understand the hospitality business through and through.
We are long-established specialists in securing bed and breakfast and hotel finance. Our experienced team will be able to offer you friendly and informative advice to help you get the best rates and business support and hold your hand through the business planning required to secure finance.