Category Archives: News

Christmas-can-help-boost-your-occupancy

How Christmas can help you achieve year ‘round occupancy

Most B&B owners are dependent on hospitality finance or B&B finance to set up, grow or improve their business. The trouble is, hospitality finance needs to be repaid and to do that, B&B owners need to focus on ways to bring in new business all year around.

However, once the nights draw in and the temperatures drop, Brits tend to be much less interested in booking holidays or staycations, instead focused on hunkering down until Spring. However, there is one thing that can be used to draw Brits out of hiding and into your B&B or boutique hotel – Christmas.

Here are three Christmas activities that could help pull in bookings for your rooms.

Christmas Markets

People travel all around the UK to get a hit of that festive feeling, so, with a bit of planning B&B and boutique hotels in Bath, Birmingham, Belfast, Manchester, Glasgow, Exeter, Cirencester and Winchester can tap into a whole new potential market for those colder months.

Christmas Shopping

If your B&B or hotel is based around cities and larger towns, Christmas shopping can be a great appeal for tourists. And not having to drive home at the end of a long day shopping can enable guests to get the most of their day out and allow them to enjoy a glass of wine over lunch or dinner. For extra helpings of festive fun, you could even team up with a local florist or craftsman and offer wreath or gift making workshops.

Christmas lights

If your B&B isn’t in London, Birmingham or another city renowned for its festive lights you could still capitalize on the Christmas months. Castles and stately homes often have Christmas lights, trails or tours, or maybe even a Christmas market evening where they make the most of their homes and gardens. By finding out when these are, you’ll be able to make the most of yours too!

Stewart Hindley & Partners are hospitality finance specialists that can help you find the hospitality finance you need to build the business you’ve always wanted. For more information on how you could benefit from hospitality finance, or to find out how you could raise B&B finance for your business, contact Stewart Hindley & Partners on 01488 393049.

Local-Produce

Why being passionate about local produce could boost your business

If you run an independent boutique hotel or a B&B, you want to stand out from the crowd.

You may not have the advertising budget of a large hotel chain but there are ways you can make sure your guests recommend you and return themselves. It’s not just about greeting them with a welcoming smile, and making sure their rooms are spotlessly clean or serving up delicious meals, there are some things closer to home you can do to boost your business and give your guests an experience they won’t forget.

Here are our top tips:

  • Give your guests a sense of place: Whether your business is based in the countryside, town or city, give your guests a sense of place by using products made locally. It won’t cost you much more than buying big brands, but it shows you care about the area you live in.
  • Buy local fresh seasonal produce: Offer your guests local ingredients in their meals and tell them where it’s all from on the menu. You can offer local eggs, meat, vegetables, cheese, bread, jams, cakes, honey…the list is endless.
  • Buy handmade products: Just like food, you can source locally made products for your guests, such as soap, bubble bath, chocolate, beer, wine and soft drinks.

How to source your new ingredients:

  • First of all, check the internet for local outlets like farm shops. Farmers markets are all about locally grown products and are held regularly in most areas. You also usually meet the person who reared the cow, or made the cake, or produced the cheese. It gives you a great opportunity to talk to them about using their product and starting a business relationship.
  • Go micro: There are lots of smaller companies brewing beer and producing wine. Go along and visit them and see for yourself what they offer.
  • Partnerships: If you decide to serve beer from a micro-brewery or cheese from a local dairy, you could consider teaming up with them to offer your guests free tours.

Finally, make sure you shout about what you do. Tell your guests on your website, in the welcome pack, on the menus, and on your brochures, about your links with local producers. It will make you stand out from the crowd!

The Stewart Hindley Partnership are specialists in securing hospitality finance to enable you to set up your own B&B or boutique hotel. So, if you’re ready to invest in your B &B or if you’ve decided it’s time to pursue that dream, give us a call on 01488 393040 and speak to one of our advisors about your hospitality finance or B&B finance requirements.

recharge-your-business

6 Ways to recharge your business in the low season

As winter approaches you may find that your B&B or hotel bookings dip slightly, but don’t waste this precious down time, use it to your advantage by getting ready for next year.

Here’s six ways you can make the most of the low season:

  1. Menus: It’s a great opportunity to revisit your menus. Why not cook up some new dishes, discover some local food producers or give the complete menu an overhaul? Your guests will remember what they eat, so give them something amazing that they’ll tell their friends about, and want to come back for.
  2. Redecorate: Are the rooms and bathrooms looking a bit tired? Now is the time to redecorate. You could always ask a local interior designer to give you some tips, or if you prefer to do it yourself, take inspiration from websites and magazines. Look at what colours and textures are current and what suits the style of your property and existing furniture, and your budget of course.
  3. Publicity: Now is the time to link into social media, update your website and contact local businesses who could promote you to their staff and visitors, or use your property as a retreat. You could also join some networking groups where you’ll meet other business owners. You could make some useful contacts for future bookings.
  4. Deep cleaning: Your rooms and bathrooms get cleaned after every guest but how often do they and the communal areas get a deep clean? Low season is a great time to call in the cleaning experts and make sure your whole property is spick and span for next year.
  5. Paperwork: When you’re busy running your own business sometimes the paperwork can get put to one side for other unplanned emergencies. Use your downtime to get on top of everything. Check any outstanding loans, licensing or insurance renewals.
  6. Holiday: Finally, you could enjoy your downtime and take a well-deserved holiday. Fly off somewhere exotic or take a city break.

Whatever you decide to do in the low season, go on holiday, or stay at home and re-group, your business will benefit from a newly charged you.

The Stewart Hindley Partnership are specialists in securing hospitality finance to enable you to set up your own B&B or boutique hotel. So, if you are starting a B&B or want to invest to grow your business, then give us a call on 01488 393040 and speak to one of our advisors about your hospitality finance requirements or your B&B finance requirements.

breakfast

Breakfast top tips your B&B or hotel guests will love

If you’re the owner of a B&B or hotel then you’ll know that breakfast is one of the most important meals you can offer your guests.

Get it right and you can boost your ratings. Get it wrong and you may not get a second chance.

Here’s our top tips on catering for all your guests’ breakfast diets, from vegetarians through to gluten free, and what it means.

1) Low calorie: Not everyone wants a full English first thing in the morning. They may be watching their weight, or just not a big breakfast eater, so offer B&B or hotel guests a high-quality selection of low calorie dishes.

Why not serve up a delicious cardamom and peach quinoa porridge, or hearty and healthy kale, tomato and poached eggs on toast? You’ll find plenty of inspiration online and you can tweak recipes depending on the time of year.

2) Vegetarian/vegan: A vegetarian eats grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits, and some eat eggs and diary produce. A vegan doesn’t eat dairy products, eggs or anything derived from animals.

Why not offer your guests dairy free vegan pancakes, using almond milk, or perhaps a smoothie? Being veggie or vegan doesn’t mean breakfasts can’t be brilliant! Get inspired with vegan recipes for your guests online or check out recipes in magazines.

3) Gluten free: If your guest is gluten free then it’s possible they may have coeliac disease and their immune system will react if they eat gluten. Gluten is found in a lot of typical breakfast foods, including bread, pastries, baked goods, cereal and granola. However, there are plenty of alternatives to tempt your guests: gluten free bread, gluten free cereal, delicious smoothies, eggs and meat. Explore recipes online and ask your gluten free guests what they prefer for breakfast.

4) Dairy and lactose free: Lactose intolerance is a common digestive problem where the body is unable to digest lactose, a type of sugar mainly found in milk and dairy products, and some people have an allergy to cows’ milk protein. Fortunately, there are plenty of alternative food and drinks you can offer your B&B and hotel guests instead: soya, rice, oat, almond, quinoa and potato milks, yoghurts and some cheeses. Use these to whisk up some delicious pancakes or smoothies to tempt their taste buds.

Catering for different diets may seem daunting but with careful planning, inspirational recipes and fantastic ingredients, your B&B and hotel guests will be set up for the day, whatever they are doing, and you can be guaranteed of a great review.

Stewart Hindley has been helping B&Bs and boutique hotels to find and secure the right hospitality finance package for their business for more than 13 years. If you’d like to discuss your hospitality finance requirements, give us a call today on 01488 393046.

Young couple standing at hotel corridor upon arrival, looking for room, holding suitcases

Historic houses and cultural cities: why tourists love the UK

Inbound and domestic tourism is on the up in the UK. More people are visiting from overseas and more residents are choosing a staycation over a trip abroad.

According to VisitBritain, 2017 set a record for inbound tourism with 39.2 million visits, and British residents took 47.2 million holiday trips in the UK last year.

So what’s attracting overseas visitors and what’s keeping us Brits here? Is it the beautiful landscapes, the quintessential British pub or our cultural cities?

Here’s some interesting facts which may or may not surprise you from VisitBritain:

1) Visitors love our historic properties, such as houses, palaces, mills, monuments and boats. Visits to these attractions were up by 8%.

2) The British Museum was the most visited ‘free’ attraction for the 10th consecutive year with nearly six million visitors.

3) The Tower of London topped the list as the most visited ‘paid for’ attraction for the ninth year running with 2.8 million visitors. Chester Zoo came second with 1.9 million visitors and 1.58 million people walked around the famous prehistoric monument and cultural heritage attraction, Stonehenge, last year.

4) More people are getting closer to nature visiting farm attractions. Visitor numbers to these family friendly locations are up by 5%.

5) More Brits are taking short breaks of 1-3 nights which accounts for two-thirds of English holidays and is worth £19 billion to the economy. But, according to the stats, we’re visiting our friends and relatives less.

6) 14.2 million overnight business trips were taken last year in England. That’s the same as the year before.

7) Overseas tourists are spending on average £625 per visit. That’s up from £599 from the previous year.

8) Last year nearly two-in-five inbound visits to the UK were for a holiday (39%), whilst a quarter (22%) were for business.

9) The top three countries visiting the UK are France, the USA and Germany.

10) Last year 76% of visitors reached the UK by air. The rest travelled by ferry or the Channel Tunnel.

11)  Interestingly, visitors who fly tend to spend more when they get here.

12) Tourism is worth £106 billion annually to England.

With beautiful beaches, cultural cities and historic houses, the UK has so much to offer both overseas and resident holiday makers. What’s on your doorstep that could be enticing more visitors to stay with you?

Stewart Hindley has been helping B&Bs and boutique hotels to secure the right hospitality finance package for their business for more than 13 years. If you’d like to discuss your hospitality finance requirements, give us a call today on 01488 393046.

 

hungryjobs

Hungry Jobs – Specialists in the Hospitality Sector

What can HungryJobs do for you?

HungryJobs is a UK based job board which specialises in the hospitality industry. With so many job boards and recruitment websites nowadays, it can be hard to know where to post jobs in order to fulfil your recruitment needs. HungryJobs stands out in a saturated market for the following reasons:

  1.  Low cost job adverts. With adverts costing just £20 they are extremely cost effective and also offer discounts when purchasing several adverts at once.
  2. Screening questions. You have the option to set several screening questions meaning you should only receive applications from candidates most suited to the role.
  1. CV builder. Candidates have the option to build their own CVs if they do not already have one. Employers will therefore receive a detailed overview of a candidate’s previous experience.
  1. Social media presence. HungryJobs is active on Facebook and Instagram and often share job adverts on these platforms meaning your advert reaches a larger audience.
  1. Translation of job adverts. HungryJobs is happy to arrange for the translation of job adverts where required and can be contacted directly about this via their website.

Finally, the design of the HungryJobs website stands out as a modern platform which will attract candidates to apply for your positions. Visit the website today at www.hungryjobs.com and see for yourself.

Recommended books for B&B owners

Guest Blog: Prepare Your B&B for a Quick Sale

Selling any business in a rush is never an optimum choice. But if you need to sell your B&B quickly, it could perhaps be that you, or someone close to you, has suffered an illness which makes it impossible to manage the regular commitment the hospitality business demands.

Or you might have experienced unexpected changes which will impact your business prospects.

It isn’t always possible to sell a business quickly, but this is what you should do to prepare for a quick sale and give yourself the best possible chance of securing the deal you want:

Initial preparation

If at all possible, you should continue to accept bookings as normal.

When an owner is in your position and looking to sell, there is a great temptation to scale back your trading – perhaps turning down one-night stays or opening just for the high-season summer months.

This is understandable, given your circumstances, but any evidence of a decline in your trading may make selling even more difficult.

Any prospective buyer looking for finance will find lenders reluctant to commit once they note the downturn in historical profits. Another reason for trying to commit to ‘business as usual’ is that continuing to gather positive online reviews is the best way to ensure you still get to sell for a good price.

Looking at your preparation in broader terms, there would normally be a three-year preparatory period to achieve comprehensive results. But if time is short, you must at least have your financial records in good order and presenting a true picture of your trading over the last three years (or more).

Would-be purchasers will take a close interest in your business records, as will any due diligence team. So, you should be ready to answer a whole raft of probing questions about:

  • Peak business periods
  • Off-season arrangements
  • The profile of typical guest categories
  • Repeat bookings
  • Your cancellation policy
  • Your main local rivals

and much more.

In particular, you will be asked to explain the pattern of trading peaks and troughs that your P&L will reveal.

So, be very sure you can give accurate and relevant explanations of all your trading data.

When responding to seller-side queries, your absolute honesty about all business matters will do much to create an atmosphere of trust and confidence. In fact, experts agree that the truthfulness of your approach is considerably more important than the quality of the information you disclose.

You can also show an interested buyer that you are really ready for a quick sale by preparing a comprehensive handover package detailing all the important information about running your business.

This will help your buyer to conceptualise the ownership tasks, and also reassures everyone that you don’t intend to just disappear into the night!

Valuation and advertising

Your valuation is best completed by professionals who understand the hospitality market.

This ensures your premises will be assessed and valued using the customary methods for your sector. And, your valuers will also be able to highlight all the desirable features of your business which truly support the valuation figure they propose.

Many business brokers will be able to advertise your business for a quick sale and will also be able to discuss how to maximise your selling price. This is especially important, given that you will need good advice on how much you should be prepared to compromise on your final selling price in order to generate genuine interest in a quick sale.

And if you feel sufficiently knowledgeable about your business, are thoroughly prepared, and are confident enough to handle matters for yourself, then you could also advertise your business on BusinessesForSale.com.

Due diligence

At this stage, your seller’s professional team will scrutinise your business in great detail to test whether the sale valuation reflects the true value of your business.

This is where your careful preparation will begin to pay off. You should also respond to any requests for further information as soon as possible, otherwise this can create delays and perhaps cause a buyer to lose interest.

Finding a buyer will reward all your intensive preparation. But do check that any prospective purchaser wanting to buy your business has the necessary finance in place, because this could otherwise cause a significant delay in closing the deal.

And once the contracts have been signed, you can get down to enjoying your future life beyond the B&B.

By Jo Thornley, Head of Brand and Partnerships at Dynamis. Joining in 2005 to co-ordinate PR and communications and produce editorial across all business brands. She earned her spurs managing the communications strategy and now creates and develops partnerships between BusinessesForSale.com, FranchiseSales.com and PropertySales.com and likeminded companies.

 

instagram-social-media-use

Should you be marketing your B&B using social media?

Marketing your B&B using social media can be a double-edged sword. Whilst it can do wonders for your business, if you’re not making the right impression, then social media could damage your business irreparably.

What is social media?

Social media isn’t just Facebook and Twitter, although these are the most established platforms. There are all sorts of other social media platforms that you can use to promote your business. Social media is any method in which you and your potential customers can interact online.

It could be Facebook, but it could also be Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat or one of a multitude of others.

The pros of using social media when marketing your B&B

  • You can reach out to new potential visitors.
  • You can connect to local events, and those attending them, by joining in with topical conversations.
  • It’s a free way to promote your business.
  • It’s visual, so you can get creative with the key selling points of your B&B.

Cook a mean full English? Show them. By getting their mouth watering, your posts will have more of an impact.

  • It’s very fashionable at the moment.
  • It’s versatile. Whether you want to invest some money in paid promotion, promote things to past visitors only, or reach out to a whole new market, social media has the structure in place to do it.

The cons of using social media when marketing your B&B

  • Once you start, you have to keep going. It’s a sustained approach that’s going to win you business.
  • You could spend a lot of time not making any gains unless you have a strategy and stick to it.
  • You may need to develop a thick skin. Comments and feedback aren’t always kind, but most of the time, even the painful ones can be useful feedback. Dealing with these negative comments in an adult and courteous manner, will go a long way to setting you back on the right track.
  • You need to be IT literate, or know someone who is that doesn’t mind helping out, if you are going to use social media.

So, if you want to use social media, it can be a very valuable tool, if you use it the right way. It’s worth investing in a short training course to get up to speed with how to use social media if you’re new to it. Then you can read our blog for hints on how to get the most from using social media to market your B&B.

Stewart Hindley & Partners are specialists in securing hospitality finance to enable you to own the B&B or boutique hotel that you’ve been dreaming of. However, we’re in it for the long run so, here in our blog, we also post articles about how to make your B&B a successful and sustainable business.

To speak to one of our advisors about your hospitality finance requirements give us a call on 01488 393040.

 

alcohol-licence

How to secure an alcohol licence for hotels – key questions hotel owners ask

If you own a B&B or a hotel, then it may be worthwhile offering your guests the chance to buy alcohol. If you intend to sell alcohol, or to offer it on a permanent basis in your premises, then you’ll need to apply for an alcohol licence for hotels.

However, unless you’ve done this before, it can be a bit of a minefield.

Here are some of the key questions asked by hotel owners considering selling alcohol:

Does everyone need a licence if they plan to supply alcohol?

If you are a business or organisation wishing to sell or supply alcohol on a permanent basis, you’ll need to apply for a premises alcohol licence for hotels.

Even if you are hosting a wedding or a party and want to sell or supply alcohol for a one-off event, you’ll still need a licence.

How do you apply for a licence?

You’ll need to complete an application form and send that, together with the fee, to your local council. You can find the right licence for your event using the government’s licence finder here.

How much does an alcohol licence cost?

Alcohol licence fees are set by the Licensing Act 2003. The costs are tiered based on the amount of alcohol you expect to sell or supply, and your primary business purpose. At the time of writing, the lowest level starts at £100 for a new application, and £70 for renewal, increasing to total fees of thousands for new licences at premises primarily designed to sell alcohol.

Does someone on site need to be licensed too?

Yes, you’ll need at least one person to be  a Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) and they’ll need to hold a personal licence. A personal licence requires a separate application by an individual who must be 18 years or over, and hold an accredited qualification. The full list of permitted qualifications can be found here.

Can I choose where to buy my alcohol?

Once you’ve secured your personal licence and an alcohol licence for premises, you’ll need to buy the alcohol. This should be purchased from a registered wholesaler. If you buy alcohol from someone who isn’t licensed you risk a fine, or worse, imprisonment.

What does a designated premises supervisor do?

A DPS is responsible for the day to day running of the business. They don’t need to be on site at all times, but they will be the first point of contact for the police and local government. Therefore, they will require a sound understanding of the potential social impact of alcohol sales and consumption.

Can there be more than one DPS?

There’s no need to have more than one Designated Premises Supervisor in your hotel or B&B, but the good news is, that if you do have more than one hotel or B&B, the DPS can be the appointed representative for all premises.

Of course, not all premises have the space for a bar area, or even a reception area where drinks can be served. If you’d like to raise finance to give your business that extra option, contact our hospitality finance specialists on 01488 393040.

 

torquay-harbour

Why Torquay B&B is a popular option among tourists

If you’re thinking about setting up a B&B, the area you choose is an important part of the decision making process. It’s no wonder Torquay is such as popular place for B&Bs and boutique hotels.

Nicknamed the English Riviera, Torquay has cliffs to clamber over, a seafront to stroll down, beaches to bask on and a marina to mooch around.

In fact, as far as an area for a boutique hotel or a B&B goes, Torquay, whilst pricey to initially invest, is a popular hot spot for tourists.

The region even boasts its very own ‘Seaside Award’ too … with its very own sand sculptor to carve the logo for the award in the sand!

As if it’s not enough to have all this to hand, there’s even an organisation that promotes the area to tourists. Their website www.englishriviera.co.uk is a great place for potential visitors to find out about all of the events and activities that take place in Torquay during the tourism season, as well as out of season too.

These are the sorts of things that make particular regions appealing to those looking to set up their own B&B.

Finding a B&B or hospitality business where there is already a large draw for visitors to come to the area, is always a good plan. And it’s certainly one of the things that appealed to Elaine and Lee who bought Blenheim House, their B&B business,  in January 2017.

In the last 18 months, their business has gone from strength to strength with guests returning regularly for their own dose of the English Riviera.

Just some of the events and attractions that draw in the 1.45 million staying visitors and the additional 3.8 million day visitors each year, include:

  • Visiting the beautiful beaches
  • Babbacombe model railway
  • Dinosaur world
  • The Air Show
  • Paignton Zoo
  • And endless eateries and restaurants that range from family-friendly fish and chips to a Michelin-starred dining experience.

So, if you fancy a visit to Torquay, either to scope out the potential for an English Riviera B&B, or to look for somewhere that you’ll feel right at home, we’d highly recommend Blenheim House. To find out more about what it’s like to run a B&B in a tourist haven like Torquay, you can check out our blog.

The Stewart Hindley Partnership are specialists in securing hospitality finance to enable you to set up your own B&B or boutique hotel. So once you’ve found an area you’re interested in settling in, give us a call on 01488 393040 and speak to one of our advisors about your hospitality finance requirements.