How much is TOO much?

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Aussie Innkeeper's picture
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So, I get e-mails from Groupon and Living Social on a regular (daily?) basis. Some of the deals look really good and I've been tempted to give one or two a try (especially those cleaning offers!) 

Anyway, I've not been inclined to run a LS or G offer for my inn. If I did, it would be just for our slow season and I'd most likely black out any holidays, etc.  We are in a very competitive B&B area (over 150 in the County). There's a B&B around here that runs these flash-sale specials continuously! I mean, like 4 at a time with different vendors!! Doing the math, they can't be getting more than $40 - $50/night and they're starting to get bad reviews on T/A with people complaining that housekeeping is lacking and people cannot redeem the coupons for times that they want because there are more coupons than rooms available at desirable times. I'm wondering how they're going to afford to heat the place.

I think this B&B is being run right into the ground and burnout is certainly not far around the corner. But my bigger concern is that this property is giving all of us a bad image and 'cheapening' the brand overall. These people don't seem to care at all about the image they're creating, they just want to fill rooms at any cost. Not good.

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Aussie Innkeeper's picture
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Here's the latest review for the place that I mentioned in the original post: 

"I can't argue much with what other travelers have said. Yes, the dog would be an annoyance if you don't like dogs. Yes some of the wallpaper looks ratty. Yes, the steps squeak. Yes, the male innkeeper and his girlfriend are a little more intrusive that most B&B folks.

The rooms get almost uncomfortably cold at night, but that's what the spare blankets are for.
Yes, the breakfasts are copious, but I can do a better job of cooking and presenting. And I realize that it's difficult to have food hot and fresh during a full hour for breakfast. I'm sorry folks, but there's something lacking when eight bottles of syrup are just dumped on the table.

Was it a nice place? Yes. Was it a great stay? Not particularly. Would I stay there again? Don't think so."

 

This was from a senior reviewer who has stayed at other B&B's. I find it kind of interesting that he says that the place was 'nice'.  This particular B&B is ruining it for the rest of us, locally speaking, anyway. GRRR!!! I just hope he crashes and burns soon so as to minimize collateral damage to the rest of us trying to do a good job. He bragged that he had 90% occupancy one month lately. Well, it's hardly worth it if you're only getting $35/room. No wonder he can't pay for heat! angry

Oh, and the innkeeper has not responded to one review!

 

Joey Camb's picture
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To me Groupon smells of desperation - we have a property nearby who has either taken on a new leaseholder or been bought we can't get to the bottom of which - as a fellow accommodation provider I have tried to extend the hand of friendship but have never received the curtisy of even a reply - they are doing groupon and frankly are being slammed all over the internet - but what baffles me is they are doing nothing about it

(1) their own facebook page ie has complete control - really bad write up havn't done anything

(2) bad write ups on trip adviser - nothing done

(3) we have a sort of local facebook called neighbours united - totally slammed - done nothing

I can understand if people are new and finding their feet and struggling for money - however to do nothing in the face of this seems like suicide? Plus they are really doing nothing to help themselves - no online booking at all you have to email as no one answers the phone - and hope someone gets back to you - sorry they will have booked somewhere else.

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Generic's picture
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Are you talking about the hotel that still has "Seasonal Offers 2009" on their website?

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Iris's picture
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Yes, the people that inquire and want information about the area, leave their email addresses in order to get info from lodging. I can even see what exactly they have been searching. So, if someone want the chain lodging, I. Am going to send them something, if they are looking at places with something I just don't have, I don't . After all, I don't want to jam heir mailboxes with things I don't think they are interested in. 

Please also remember, we are a very small market. All of the voices are heard and needed to work together. 

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Generic's picture
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The problem is manyfold. Are these people going to come back to you, or look for you to put up another deal on that website. They buy them with certain expectations and dates and don't think about the fact that others have the same idea and of course same expectations. 

My question is... if you are so willing to get 35c on the dollar, why aren't you advertising using part of that money. If you sell a $200 room for $100, these sites pay your $50 to $65. Seems to me you can sell the room for $100, use $25 to advertise it and still make more money. Sure they have a giant list that they market to... but there are other giant lists out there, some you can buy into. Some places you can spend the money and get the impact.

My winter guests are different than my summer guests and obviously the summer guests are more profitable. The winter guests drink more tea, linger longer and pay less. But not too much less, or what you end with, isn't pretty.

Iris's picture
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Eric Arthur Blair wrote:

... Sure they have a giant list that they market to... but there are other giant lists out there, some you can buy into. Some places you can spend the money and get the impact.

My winter guests are different than my summer guests and obviously the summer guests are more profitable. The winter guests drink more tea, linger longer and pay less. But not too much less, or what you end with, isn't pretty.

If you are a member of your Chamber of Commerce or your CVB or any other travel group, they provide email leads.  They are "free" with your annual dues. All you have to do is look for them. Then you, Constant Contact and your computer can send out advertisements

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IrisoftheWayfarer wrote:

If you are a member of your Chamber of Commerce or your CVB or any other travel group, they provide email leads.  They are "free" with your annual dues. All you have to do is look for them. Then you, Constant Contact and your computer can send out advertisements

Our privacy laws make this almost impossible. The law stipulates that information can only be used in the way that the person providing the information expects it to be used. In other words, I can't email a guest a newsletter unless they opt-in. And they would have had to have given the Chamber of Commerce explicit or implied permission for them to give me the address. It certainly has ended my cable company selling my name, address and phone number to everyone for a dime.

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IrisoftheWayfarer wrote:

Eric Arthur Blair wrote:

... Sure they have a giant list that they market to... but there are other giant lists out there, some you can buy into. Some places you can spend the money and get the impact.

My winter guests are different than my summer guests and obviously the summer guests are more profitable. The winter guests drink more tea, linger longer and pay less. But not too much less, or what you end with, isn't pretty.

If you are a member of your Chamber of Commerce or your CVB or any other travel group, they provide email leads.  They are "free" with your annual dues. All you have to do is look for them. Then you, Constant Contact and your computer can send out advertisements

If you read the CC terms of service you CANNOT use group lists obtained by other organizations. Absolutely not. I tried to use one and I had to verify that I had buy-in from every person on the list. ME, not the Chamber. They asked me where I got the list and I told them from the Chamber and CC said the Chamber could use that list but I could not.

You could certainly use it personally to send emails, but not thru CC.

If you get a certain % of your outgoing emails marked as spam they suspend your account. And it's a really small %.

Other emailers may not have the same rules.

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Eric Arthur Blair wrote:

The problem is manyfold. Are these people going to come back to you, or look for you to put up another deal on that website. They buy them with certain expectations and dates and don't think about the fact that others have the same idea and of course same expectations. 

My question is... if you are so willing to get 35c on the dollar, why aren't you advertising using part of that money. If you sell a $200 room for $100, these sites pay your $50 to $65. Seems to me you can sell the room for $100, use $25 to advertise it and still make more money. Sure they have a giant list that they market to... but there are other giant lists out there, some you can buy into. Some places you can spend the money and get the impact.

My winter guests are different than my summer guests and obviously the summer guests are more profitable. The winter guests drink more tea, linger longer and pay less. But not too much less, or what you end with, isn't pretty.

Agreed.

They will try to sell these promotions as marketing, that even if no one bought one everyone saw your inn. So the value is there.

I do not believe it makes a difference. Sheesh the amount of people who have heard of our B&B, and never stayed or referred is massive. So yes, trying to market and get our name out there is important, but does it increase the chance the bargain shoppers will stay with you full fare? I highly doubt it. Or instead of spinning our wheels, realize that the off season is just that, the off season, and we need to not fret and feel we must have 100% occupancy, it is not realistic. People don't travel in the colder months as much, unless you are in ski country.

I realize it is one bird in the hand...and all of that, but an INVESTMENT would be a great website with great photos. 

Work smarter, not harder.

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Iris's picture
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true dat.  When I look around, I see so many useless websites. 

Back to the groupon  and social living thing.  I don't discount my rooms.  It makes me afraid that people will only book if there is a discount. All of us go out of our way to make the guests happy. And we are all looking for a certain caliber of guest!

We are not Motel 7, our services and all the little extras should be valued rather than discounted. No, I am not charging more when I am asked to put a DVD player with a particular movie which should start at a particular scene (this really happened). I actually enjoy this sort of thing.   

Don Draper's picture
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We found out our first winter than discounting brought in people we just would not normally ever get here, and we didn't care to have them.  Basically treated the place like a motel.  Would we like the income?  Yes.  But in the long run the extra cleaning/damages were not worth it at all, nor the stress of worrying how our home was being treated the whole time the people were here.

We have about the same season as you, and we need those few off months to recharge ours and the Inn's batteries.  But we see it here too, lots of Inns and some of them running 6 different specials at a time, and even one of the "nice" ones deep discounting in the winter.  I think it does cheapen the brand, but you're never going to stop someone from running their business the way they see fit.  I think the bad reviews will ultimately drive people to the nice places, like your own.

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Iris's picture
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Gosh, If I had read on, I would have seen your post, which is saying what I am saying angel

Madeleine's picture
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I've been getting 'last minute' specials from an inn I stayed at last year. Would I take them up on it? Absolutely! $300 room for $149? Ocean views, fireplace, Jacuzzi. In a heartbeat. Just waiting for one to show up when I have time off! 

Would I ever stay there at $300/night? Never. But, they have staff they have to pay so this may be the way to go.

I will say that if I already had a rez at $300/night and I got this email for the room next door at half price I'd feel pretty awful. And I know if I did it here, those other guests would have the phone in hand immediately to get the same discount. No matter that the promo says 'new reservations only'.

Joey Camb's picture
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my problem is my chamber maid is paid by the hour- no hours = no money and I cannot expect to keep her with no wages its that simple. I will discount a bit to get people in but only so much as you end up with people you just don't want which is mess and damage and stress and hassel.

I find the way to combat this is marketing as hard as possible so that we are busy year round and hope the gaps naturally fill themselves - ie this week mon, tue wed only had 1 room in - picked up 6 rooms with people randomly phoning, overflow from a neighbour and so on.

Trouble is everyone is booking right last minute which makes it hard to plan laundry, food and chamber maid hours who now and again wants to have a life!

Arks's picture
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Madeleine wrote:

Absolutely! $300 room for $149? Ocean views, fireplace, Jacuzzi. In a heartbeat. Just waiting for one to show up when I have time off!

Hey, I can set you up with a place like that for $149. Fireplace, Jacuzzi, Johnson Grass views.

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Madeleine's picture
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Arkansawyer wrote:

Madeleine wrote:

Absolutely! $300 room for $149? Ocean views, fireplace, Jacuzzi. In a heartbeat. Just waiting for one to show up when I have time off!

Hey, I can set you up with a place like that for $149. Fireplace, Jacuzzi, Johnson Grass views.

Sorry, it has to be 'ocean' view not 'ocean of grass' view!

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Booked this place on a LS deal - I like the tidewater view, too!  I have booked a couple of B&Bs/inns on LS and would definitely return.  I'm not just looking for a great deal but someplace that I wouldn't know to visit.  So there are marketing opportunities there to garner guests like myself. 

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Arks's picture
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Madeleine wrote:

Sorry, it has to be 'ocean' view not 'ocean of grass' view!

I was afraid that would be a deal breaker.

If you must have the water, I have a nice cistern you can gaze down into, but that's the $155 apartment. I'm trying to clear a line of sight through the Johnson Grass so folks can see the city water tower.

Don Draper's picture
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I would probably take it too, but then it just makes me think that it's really not ever worth $300/night in the first place.  We finally decided it actually costs MORE to offer the rooms in the off season, not only because of heating costs but also because in cold winter months guests USE the Inn much  more than in nice weather...they stay here the entire time and that is just not what we are set up for.

Madeleine's picture
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Supply and demand. There are places around here that go from $125 in January to $400 in July. Worth it? It is to the person paying it. Some places never reduce their rates. Worth it? In January? No, I don't think so. It's only worth it if you want to brag you can spend that kind of money!

We always wait until the off season to go away. But some places we want to try are pretty stubborn about the rates even when there is absolutely nothing to do and all the restaurants are closed. Oh well. Not meant to be.

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Madeleine wrote:

Supply and demand. There are places around here that go from $125 in January to $400 in July. Worth it? It is to the person paying it. Some places never reduce their rates. Worth it? In January? No, I don't think so. It's only worth it if you want to brag you can spend that kind of money!

We always wait until the off season to go away. But some places we want to try are pretty stubborn about the rates even when there is absolutely nothing to do and all the restaurants are closed. Oh well. Not meant to be.

So come see me! Our restaurants are open, covered bridges, antique shops, rail-trails wineries - lots of things open year round! And I challenge you to beat the rate!

Joey Camb's picture
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long and short - behaving this way is like pouring blood in the water - its a sign of absolute desparation. If you have other things you can sell them ie like a hotel does then it is worth it ie get them in for a cheap room but you get bar drinks, dinner, spa treatment, parking and wifi out of them - then yes it is worth it in your quieter months. Goupon were here to see my next door neighbour and accidentally rang my bell - so she tried to sell it to me while I was showing here the way round - I told here groupon only breeds loyalty to groupon and i don't want the hassel of right cheap people when I can sell my rooms full price. It also makes a difference if your staff are on a set salery or are paid by the hour. If you have to pay them anyway then it is worth having something comming in - otherwise

For me it is not something I would do

Aussie Innkeeper's picture
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camberleyhotelharrogate@yahoo.co.uk wrote:

 I told here groupon only breeds loyalty to groupon

 

That's a great point! SO TRUE! yes

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Sounds like they might just be hurting themselves.  With as many B&Bs in your area and only one that's in coupon overload, I don't think it should hurt B&B reputations in general.  They are cheapening "their" brand, not yours.  When they fold, it will be more business for the rest of you.  

Madeleine's picture
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You may have answered your own question by highlighting the deals this one place is running. How much can YOU afford? If you would be getting $75/night is that viable for you? Is it really better than nothing? How will it impact you when guests see that you really CAN afford to discount quite a lot and then they want that same deal in peak season? (Sure you can say it was an off season deal, but if you can run at $75/night off season why not IN season?)

I realize that individually we don't have the big net to cast but how has it worked in the past when trying to do a 'sale' on your own website? Do you find you get takers? Why not try posting it on whatever directory you're on? 'Plan ahead- 50% off in February! Book now!' At least you get to keep more of the money yourself and you don't have hundreds of unhappy people wanting the one weekend you blacked out.

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