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Guest house

6 things every successful owner does before starting a B&B

Starting a B&B is seriously hard work. It can be extremely liberating too, breaking free from your day job to pursue your dream. But, if you’re going to be successful, you need to be prepared. Here are 6 things you need to do before starting a B&B business if you want to be successful.

1.    Prepare yourself for what it’s really like running a B&B.

Guests aren’t always grateful, cheery and full of joy during their adventures. Cooking a fried breakfast for 10 people or more is physically demanding, and you can expect to spend around half of your day turning the rooms around and preparing meals.

You should expect your social life to suffer too. However, if this isn’t putting you off, the more successful B&B owners can expect to make around £100k a year. Of course, many more make less than that.

2. Decide whether you’ll be starting a B&B business from scratch or whether you’ll be buying into something that’s already up and running.

Buying an established B&B is by far the easiest option and should start generating revenue faster than a new business particularly for new to trade operators.  If you want to start from scratch you will have to show you have the capital to cover mortgage repayments for at least the first 12 months of trading as well as money to convert the property into a B&B.

3.  Research the area.

What’s the appeal to visitors to come and stay with you? It could be a nearby business that provides a steady flow of contract staff needing a bed for weeknights, or spectacular coastal views and walks. Maybe there are museums and castles that draw visitors from miles around. Whatever it is, it should help you determine the service you’ll offer.

Will you price by the week or offer a separate rate for weekends? Who you are targeting and why they want to be in the area should drive the clientele that you are looking to appeal to.

If you are targeting families looking for a staycation then maybe a games room would add appeal, or if you have the space and the resources, a swimming pool. You can read more on adding appeal  in our article ‘5 ways to help your B & B guests enjoy rainy day holidays’.

If you are targeting local business people, then perhaps a more executive feel with free Wifi in the rooms and shoe polish or ironing boards available may be more important.

4. Consider how you’ll segregate your own living space from the space you’ll offer to guests.

Ideally you should set aside a living room for yourself that guests won’t have access to so you can unwind in the evenings. Having your own space will be essential to making your new business work for you, your family and your guests.

5. Secure finance from a specific hospitality finance provider such as Stewart Hindley.

A specific hospitality finance provider will have a better understanding of your needs and will also have a network of underwriters that fund B&Bs, hotels and restaurants.

At Stewart Hindley, we specialise in B&B finance and can provide support and advice to help you find the right products on the market to fit your individual needs as they stand, and also as they evolve with the growth of your business.

In order to secure finance for your B&B or hotel, you’ll need to be able to present your business plans and marketing plans and financial projections. At Stewart Hindley, we’ll help you pull all these supporting documents together to get you over the starting blocks and secure the finance you need to get your new business off the ground.

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

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VisitEngland announce the 2018 Awards for Excellence

Last week VisitEngland  announced the recipients of its annual awards for Excellence in the UK Tourism Industry.

For the 29th year running, pub landlords, boutique hotel owners, B & B operators and more gathered to find out who really set themselves apart in the experiences they offer their visitors

VisitEngland Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said: “These awards shine a spotlight on our fantastic tourism industry, with the winners showcasing the quality, innovation and excellence on offer throughout the country.

“From an outstanding boutique hotel in the Dales to a guided tour of York’s chocolate-making history, from pine holiday lodges on the sandy beaches of Cornwall to a quintessentially English country-pub in Hertfordshire, these winners provide outstanding and truly memorable visitor experiences.”

Kirstie Allsopp presented the glamour-filled VisitBritain Awards evening at Bath Assembly Rooms, announcing the winners for titles such as Afternoon Tea of the Year, Dog Friendly Business of the Year, Visitor Information Provider of the Year and 18 other awards.

The awards demonstrate how truly individualistic holiday experiences here in the UK can be. Hotel owners, B & B operators and landlords have the freedom and flexibility to offer highly unique, fun and fabulous options for their guests that can not only enhance their experiences of staying in the UK, but can also create really memorable experiences right on their own doorsteps.

The Tourism Superstar Competition winner was Jim Reilly, a customer services advisor with Red Funnel Ferries, who was presented with his award by Daily Mirror’s Travel Editor, Nigel Thompson.

If you have a fabulous idea to offer something a little bit different and stand out from the competition and make a name for yourself within UK Tourism, but need some investment to get started, speak to one of our hospitality finance experts on 01488 393040 to find out how hospitality finance can help you find the funds you need to set your hospitality business apart from the crowd.

 

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Spotlight on the Lake District

The Lake District has always been a popular destination for holidaying in the UK.

With its miles of unadulterated hillsides and spectacular glistening lakes, it’s not hard to see the appeal.

However, it seems that as holidaying abroad becomes more and more expensive, more families head to the Lakes for a bit of R&R.

Here are a few of the great and varied places to stay in the Lake District, all of which have been helped on their road to success by expert hospitality finance advice from Stewart Hindley and Partners.

Wordsworths in Ambleside – 

If you are travelling to the Lake District to soak up the great outdoors then Ambleside, situated right in the middle of the National Park, is likely to be on your radar.

If a fabulously situated B&B in the heart of Ambleside is what you’re after, then Wordsworths is a hidden gem.

Wordsworths is a short walk to the popular Lake Windermere where you can catch a steamer or enjoy the spectacular views. If you’ve had enough of the great outdoors, then you can also head on over to The Salutation Hotel Health Club & Spa as guests receive a free pass.

Forest How in Eskdale Green – 

If you want wildlife at your door, then Forest How, just outside of Muncaster, is a good option. Whatever room you stay inn, you’ll be greeted by spectacular views across fields to the village of Eskdale Green and the fells beyond each morning. The 5 acres of land surrounding the Victorian property are frequently visited by roe deer, red squirrels and even barn owls.

If you want to challenge yourself, then Forest How is just a few miles from Wasdale and Scar Fell Pike and the steep Hardnott pass leading to Langdale.

The Elton Guest House in Grange-over-Sands – 

A great one for families and couples alike, is the Elton Guest House in the peaceful Victorian town of Grange-over-Sands. A limestone building from around 1840, the Elton is a beautiful place to spend a long weekend, or even a full week, as you visit the many sights in the area.

Being so close to Windermere, and a stone’s throw from The Grange Hotel, the Elton Guest House is perfectly placed for wedding guests as well as tourists.

Stewart Hindley are hospitality finance experts. With an extensive network of financiers, we can help B&B and Boutique hotel owners to find the hospitality finance they need to invest in their businesses.

Social-Media-B&B

How to use social media to boost your B&B bookings

You’d be forgiven for thinking social media has had its day. However, an active social media account can be a great way to showcase your business, reach out to a new market and demonstrate exactly what makes your B&B or Boutique hotel special.

Social media is an investment of time, so only use social media if you are committed to getting results. Don’t expect overnight miracles. Your first post won’t land you hundreds of bookings, but with a long-term and consistent approach you can expect:

  • An improved relationship with your own guests
  • Greater awareness of your B&B among potential customers
  • Increased referrals

Here are a few tips on how to use social media successfully to promote B&B businesses.

Focus your efforts

3 posts a week on one platform will be more effective than one post a week on three platforms. Ideally three times a week is the minimum you should be going for.

Identify what sort of people you are trying to target and where they spend their time. Are they Pinterest people or Facebook fanatics? Once you know where to find the customers you are targeting, you can then establish where to focus your efforts.

Think about your message

Maybe you want to promote the homeliness of your B&B, maybe the convenience? Perhaps you’re all about the wealth of things to explore on your doorstep, or the ease of access to major transport routes.

What’s the best way to showcase this? Links, photos, testimonials, your website? Shake it up a bit by using a variety of different types of content. On average, posts with images receive 230% more clicks than those without.

Don’t get caught up thinking your social media page is all about you

Experts say that your social media post should adhere to the ‘rule of 3’.

A third of your posts should promote your business. Think photos of fresh cakes, roaring fires, glowing testimonials. Another third of your posts should share useful content from other thought leaders in the industry. For example, you could link to one of our blogs like this one on Devon, or you could share a blog or news article from a local attraction that guests at your B&B or Boutique hotel might like to visit.

The final third of your content should be made up of personal interactions. Messages to guests who have visited or those about to arrive, guests who perhaps celebrated a special occasion with you the same time last year, or even guests planning trips to local attractions that might be looking for somewhere to stay.

Plan your content

The interactive side of your content needs to be done regularly, but by planning the content about your business, you’ll remove a lot of the strain and effort from social media posting. Maybe spend an hour at the start of each month to write out some posts and, if you’re feeling inclined, you can use a free posting service such as Hootsuite to schedule posts in advance. Just don’t forget to do the personal interaction too!

And, if the extra business this generates leaves you finding yourself needing to improve or refurbish your concern, you can always give the helpful team at Stewart Hindley & Partners a call on 0845 272 4000 to find out about how we can help you with your hospitality finance or B&B finance requirements.

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Up and coming UK holiday destinations

When considering setting up a B&B or a boutique hotel, it can be disheartening if you aren’t in popular UK holiday destinations.

However, as the cost of holidays in Europe and further afield rises, Brits are finding new places to visit right here in the UK. This is opening up all sorts of opportunities for people thinking of setting up a B&B, boutique hotel, or glamping site.

  1. Lake District

What better escape from the 24/7 chaos of our always-on-world than a retreat in the timeless and unspoilt rolling landscapes of the Lake District. Whilst some areas have been UK holiday destinations for many years, other areas are more untouched, more beautiful. The western lakes such as Wast Water are not only some of the quieter more unspoilt parts of the Lake District, they are also without a doubt some of the most beautiful too.

  1. Huntstanton

Norfolk may not be the first place that springs to mind when looking for a UK holiday destination, however, with over 125 miles of navigable, lock free waterways, interspersed with idyllic market towns and attractions such as Bewilderwood, B&Bs in Norfolk are being seen in a whole new light as tourists realise the area has something for every member of the family.

  1. Lee-on-Solent

Lee-on-Solent is often overlooked in favour of more traditional South Coast tourist haunts such as Brighton and Bournemouth, but Lee-on-Solent offers great value for money whilst also being a stone’s throw from Gun Wharf Quays, Portsmouth Historic Docklands and some spectacular beaches and headlands. This makes it a great place to base yourself if you are looking at setting up a B&B that can offer guests opportunities to make the most of the sun and coastline, with shopping and attractions close by for those rainy days.

  1. Fife

Fife in Scotland is almost unbeaten for scenery. It’s great for discovering the array of castles and exploring the Jacobite trail whilst soaking up the nature and rural beauty that Fife has become renowned for.

  1. Camber, East Sussex

Often missing out on consideration as a tourist destination to big brother Brighton, Camber isn’t always the most obvious UK holiday destination, but with the beautiful Camber Sands, idyllic for kite surfing and playing in sand dunes and just a short walk from the quaint and picturesque village of Rye, it certainly should be.

  1. Cotswolds

Miles from the sea, it’s easy to overlook the Cotswolds for holiday opportunities but with beautiful Cotswold stone villages, lakes offering all manner of water sports, endless walks and the unique market towns of Burford and Bourton-on-Water, the Cotswolds are the perfect place for family holidays in the UK.

So, if you’ve been considering setting up a B&B or a boutique hotel and you happen to live in or near one of these areas, maybe now is the time to start turning those dreams into a reality. Our hospitality finance specialists are available to discuss finance options suited to you, and will help you to get started with the investment you need to get your B&B or boutique hotel off the ground. To speak to one of our B&B finance specialists please call us on 01488 393046.

rainy-day-holidays-bb

5 Ways to help your B&B guests enjoy rainy day holidays in the UK

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.

coffee-cup-bandb

7 Ways to impress your B&B guests

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

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Encourage reviews

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

If you have high hopes for your B&B and need B&B finance to make it a reality, give us a call today and speak to one of our specialists in hospitality finance.

bedandbreakfastfinance

Ideas on how to encourage repeat business for your B&B

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

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.

Iverary-Refurb

Press Release from The Inveraray Inn, Argyll: £750k Refurbishment

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.”

Further information: gm@inveraray-inn.co.uk | 01499 302 466 | www.inveraray-inn.co.uk

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