Searching For Ideas...

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Generic's picture
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Okay, I think my prices are pretty much set. I don't think I have much room to move them in any direction. We are discussing a slight increase in price, but that's about it. But where I really want to increase my income is packages and amenities.

I noticed that on a few reservations systems they now offer "In Room Goodies" which is exactly where I thought that I could bring in a little more business. I was wondering what you think people would want in a "goodies" basket that might entice them to buy. Or if they might be interested in a daily basket. For example, do you think people would pay $5 a day for a daily baked treat left in their room. Or $10 a day for a daily home made baked treat, some bottles of water or soda, some mixed nuts and maybe some home made chocolate truffles? Anyone have any ideas on how to maximize sales of this treat or amenity basket and how to price it so that guests don't think about it, they are just so interested that they order it?

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Breakfast Diva's picture
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Sounds good. What the heck, might as well try! If they don't sell, you get to eat them.

Generic's picture
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Okay, so far what I have come up with is...

Beer or Cider & Munchies - We have a lot of local microbrewries and most guests wouldn't even know where to go to get them, since only three or four stores in town stock them. So I figure a choice of either beer or hard local ciders with some munchies, likely something salty like a local brand of chips/snacks or a home made Che>< mix, some nuts and some home made truffles.

A packed lunch - They can take it as a picnic or they can take it for the long drive home. I'm thinking something built on a bento box with a twist. Packed together, nicely. Maybe one small French bread, cut in two and made into two sandwiches. Something sweet, something salty and some drinks, with one frozen bottle of water as the cooling system.

These are the first two that I'm going to try, besides my usual macaron. Still trying to avoid anything that I have to run out for, since I'm often alone in the summer and can't just go running for stuff.

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How about a micro-brewery tour routing package?

Generic's picture
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You mean the bars that are owned by the Microbreweries? Do I point out the buses to get there? One of them does a tour (most don't) but you have to reserve a week in advance and of course, be here on the one night a week that they do the tour.

gillumhouse's picture
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Actually, no. I was thinking more like the wine tours like Rikki does only theway I do it with printed routing to the micro-breweries. Do they do tours and tastings? The breweries in Milwaukee did tours and a sample tasting of their beers for those of legal age back in the day. I think the Bu dw eiser breweries still do it (Bu sh Ga rd ens). Intellectual property has value in apackage.

Generic's picture
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Micro-brewries around here don't do tours, because generally the brewries aren't around here, they are up north. Only one offers a tour online and in the summer only with a week's notice.

What I can do is make a map of the bars that serve their own microbrews. A few of them are quite famous. It's more of a pub crawl than anything else.

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A pub crawl sounds like a good idea.  We have a microbrewery that has a restaurant here and it's pretty popular.  Next closest one is 100 miles away in the "big" metro area.  You could package that with your brews in the room and snacks or something. 

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Generic's picture
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Well, I started to work on this map http://www.urlgone.com/1881e8/

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Eric Arthur Blair wrote:

You mean the bars that are owned by the Microbreweries? Do I point out the buses to get there? One of them does a tour (most don't) but you have to reserve a week in advance and of course, be here on the one night a week that they do the tour.

We have a great tour here that a lot of guys really like. I tell them about it and strongly recommend going to the website and buying their tix in advance. (We don't sell the tix for that one.) Rarely do I get anyone who does that. It is full for every tour. So I get grouchy guy whining he wanted to go on that and can't believe it is full! Right, no one comes here in the summer...

 

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Come up with add-on packages that will suit your market.  For example, offering a honeymoon or anniversary package won't sell if you don't get those kind of guests.  Offering a fancy gourmet cheese & fruit tray won't sell if your guests really want chips, Cracker Jack, or trail mix. Smiling

Also if you can offer something unique to your city - local chocolates, etc.

Our biggest sellers were chocolate covered strawberries and our fancy cheese & fruit tray.  Mostly by folks who were arriving late.  They already had complimentary baked goods and soft beverages in their rooms.

 

Madeleine's picture
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Have you tried adding on tickets to local museums or anything like that? Something you can get at a discount that you can either print a pass or have passes on hand? We have a few things like that here. It requires nothing more than a printer and a working relationship with the destination.

If having free stuff out is not what is done where you are then I would do a 'welcome' basket. One time. Rather than a daily thing. Like you said, things you can store and maybe a few of your macaroons. With a good photo it will sell.

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The local museums sell their own tickets online, etc. They do offer a museum pass. We tried it, sold two in three years. It doesn't offer great value considering it's price. We do a few bucks worth of bus tour reservations. It's the big city, there is lots of competition and we are a small fry around here.

I like the idea of a welcome basket. Got to think of what to put in. I guess I'm more inclined on baked goods because it's something I don't have to worry about competition with anyone else, they are unique and they can't really find them elsewhere. What would you put in, because the macaron. If you were to put in water, would you put in small 1/2 litre or a large bottle? Cans of soda? Which brands and how many? Juice? Energy bars? Truffles?

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Eric Arthur Blair wrote:

The local museums sell their own tickets online, etc. They do offer a museum pass. We tried it, sold two in three years. It doesn't offer great value considering it's price. We do a few bucks worth of bus tour reservations. It's the big city, there is lots of competition and we are a small fry around here.

I like the idea of a welcome basket. Got to think of what to put in. I guess I'm more inclined on baked goods because it's something I don't have to worry about competition with anyone else, they are unique and they can't really find them elsewhere. What would you put in, because the macaron. If you were to put in water, would you put in small 1/2 litre or a large bottle? Cans of soda? Which brands and how many? Juice? Energy bars? Truffles?

When we get a request for a welcome basket I add these things to it (I cannot add home baked anything, it all has to be prepackaged, but you can sub what you have!)- local chocolates, nuts (not in anything just in case, just a nice bag o nuts), a liter bottle of sparkling lemonade (Trader Joe's- we buy a half doz at a time), whoopie pies and a couple of pieces of nice-looking fruit. Granola bars would be nice, too.

I try to think what would someone be able to take along for a day trip or what would I want in the evening. (Nuts & chocolates! And something fizzy to drink, but not soda. Unless it's Italian soda, San Pellegrino, Orangina.)

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Eric Arthur Blair wrote:

I like the idea of a welcome basket. Got to think of what to put in.

How about a small jug of maple syrup (volume suitable for taking on airplane).  Can do in a souvenir bottle, or maple candies.  Some people would take that sort of thing home to the kids...Not as the sole thing in the basket, but one of the things.

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see I was going to say - is there anything really canadian! of course maple syrup - or anything that is a local speciality? we have fat rascals!

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Breakfast Diva's picture
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A cheese/fruit tray is always a popular item. Be prepared to also offer it on the fly at check-in. Our food extras are very popular. I don't do the cheese/fruit tray because I'm too far from a store and don't want to always take at least an hour out of my day to go to the store for just some pretty fruit. You're in a big city, so you won't have that problem.

If you focus on the really small stuff it turns out to be more hassle than what it's worth. You just can't charge enough to make it worthwhile.

Location and area specialties will be different, but here are the add-ons that really work for us:

Anniversary/Honeymoon package: champagne/sparkling cider, chocolate truffles, keepsake engraved champagne flutes, personalized card and silk rose petals on the bed. ($55.00)

Cheese Fondue ($35). It only takes about 15 minutes to prepare and about $8 of product

Picnic Basket ($45)

 

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Okay, like the idea. Where do you get the silk rose petals and the flutes? Fondue sounds nice, but messy and not all the rooms have space to eat. The picnic basket, can you expand on what you put in? Do you have a real basket? cutlery?

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We get our silk rose petals from a large chain craft store (they're in the bridal section) and we get our engraved flutes and wine glasses from dis count mugs.com  They are very inexpensive. I think the last time we ordered they were approx. $4.00 per. We sell a pair of them for $20

With the fondue, do you have a private area you can block off for a romantic time? You could even offer it in your breakfast room and use private screens to block it off, set the table with candles (real or fake), lower the lights, etc.? Cheese fondue isn't really messy, the most we get is a few bread crumbs on the table. Do NOT do chocolate fondue...talk about messy!

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We use a real old fashioned wicker picnic basket and has plastic returnable plates & cups with real picnic style utensils. Being that you're in an urban center, is there a park where they can explore? For you, I would probably use one of those picnic backpacks so they can take it with them after breakfast, give them directions to a few beautiful locations to have lunch. Everything in our basket is returned back to us minus the food.

Our basket has local cheddar cheese, choice of sliced meats or smoked salmon, hot soup in a thermos, loaf of crusty bagette, chocolate truffles, sparkling cider and a choice of potato or macaroni salad. They are all items we can easily keep on hand or make.

JB has a similar basket, but it's not a big seller for her. Depends on your demographics. Before we got our restaurant license and started selling in room dinners, guests used to order a picnic basket for their dinner and just eat it in their room.

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Breakfast Diva wrote:

We use a real old fashioned wicker picnic basket and has plastic returnable plates & cups with real picnic style utensils. Being that you're in an urban center, is there a park where they can explore? For you, I would probably use one of those picnic backpacks so they can take it with them after breakfast, give them directions to a few beautiful locations to have lunch. Everything in our basket is returned back to us minus the food.

Our basket has local cheddar cheese, choice of sliced meats or smoked salmon, hot soup in a thermos, loaf of crusty bagette, chocolate truffles, sparkling cider and a choice of potato or macaroni salad. They are all items we can easily keep on hand or make.

JB has a similar basket, but it's not a big seller for her. Depends on your demographics. Before we got our restaurant license and started selling in room dinners, guests used to order a picnic basket for their dinner and just eat it in their room.

I saw a picnic package recently with the picnic lunch being twice what we charge, so then I wonder if I am underpricing ours?

I sell about one per month. Now that is pathetic, since we have waterfalls, mountains, lakes, scenery galore. I will keep working on it, the inside of the basket is super delicious, and people have no idea what they are missing!

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Breakfast Diva's picture
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JB, what about adding in your description that with the basket you receive an itinerary of secret/special spots only revealed with the picnic basket? Something to make them feel like they're getting things no one else gets.

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Breakfast Diva wrote:

JB, what about adding in your description that with the basket you receive an itinerary of secret/special spots only revealed with the picnic basket? Something to make them feel like they're getting things no one else gets.

I do have that, here and there and it didn't seem to work. And in fact the places I use in my photos are not well known, but on THAT list. Smiling  But tis true! 

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Do you have any reviews from people who have bought the basket?  I would think that adding a review from a guest to the page where you have the basket advertised or having it prominent on TA (like a mention of it in the header) that would help with sales.  Guests who are very complementary are also open to helping out your business and could be swayed to fashion a review to help you with this.

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Special occasion basket is what may work. Most people don't order the add ons here. Very few. 

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What kind of price do you think they will pay for a special occasion basket? And what would you put in? I'm trying to stay away from Flowers or anything I have to run to the store for. (If I can store it, fine, but running to the store just takes more of my time.)

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Sorry I provided daily baked goods to our guests for free. Same with drinks. Just part of my service. If you put together special occasion kind of things, you could have folks add in a "goodie basket' for birthday, anniversary etc etc.

Lots of folks do Choc.covered strawberries. What about your macarons? do you get takers on those?

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Pretty much at the top bracket, so throwing in extras will just lower my profit. I can't really add much to my price. So I think adding it as an add-on is the way to make money.

Sell quite a bit of macarons, not as much as I would like, but we even have guests taking boxes home. Or ordering a second set. I want to stay away from anything that I have to run to the store for, like flowers. But I can produce home made tuffles. Other baked goods like canale, madelaines, lemon bars, pumpkin bread, banana bread, pastries. I don't want to give anything more for free. I'm pretty much fully booked and earning my top dollar room wise. I just want to make more money by selling things they may want to make their stay better.

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I wont go into detail about free things because I think you have made up your mind all ready. Nothing wrong with having addons. In the last few years we have been offering a ton of freebies and it has increased our room rentals by over 20%. So I see it has a big plus. But we also offer Gift baskets with many different things in them. Sparkling cider, meat, cheese, choc, crackers, fruit and so on. We sell them for $79 each and sell a lot of them. We also offer in room massage and make a nice bit off of those for not really doing anything except setting it up with the massage lady. Our biggest shocker money maker is Early Check in fees. This really does not cost us any money and we made enough to take a really nice family vacation for 5 of us last year for a week. This vacation money was just from early check ins. We charge $35 for this and its crazy how many people buy this. Just some ideas for you.

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Generic's picture
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It's not about making up my mind, it's about the fact that I'm already pretty high on the bracket for the other properties in my class. So, if I add something I have to put up the price. We have thought about it, but we have to be careful on price. (To give you an example, my cheapest room is a few dollars more than my competition's least expensive room.) And maybe I can put my rates up by $5 to $10 a night. (We do this in May, usually). But I need to be careful to not price myself out of the market as I have seen some of my competitor do. Remember, I'm inner city and B&Bs outside of the US are usually considered the alternative to hotels, below hotels in stature.

What do you put in your gift baskets and how do you store it? 

Hillbilly's picture
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I understand where your thoughts are coming from. You are doing it right by looking at your competition. But take a step back and think for a min. If you are a customer and you are looking at several Bed and Breakfast to stay at and they are all priced the same within $10-$15 how will you decide? Easy, you decided on what you will get for the money you spend. The more you offer, the greater a customer will pick you over other properties. Then while they are making a reservation you offer them pkg. Then they end up booking add ons. More reservations = more income. Anyway, its kinda scary to think about giving freebies away but it really works. People love Free Gifts! For the baskets, we have most everything already and all I need is fruit. Most of the time we have that for breakfast anyway. So Its not really that big of an issue. The baskets are about a %50 return. We are always trying to think of extra was to make money and some work and some don't. But like I said, it needs to work for where you are and who you are selling to. It also needs to work for how much time you want to spend on them. I hope this helps.

Generic's picture
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I see your point, but especially in the shoulder seasons it's all about price around here. A $10 difference can make all the difference. In the summer where I'm over 90% booked that's one thing, but in the winter, I have to be on price. It's not the same guests at all. I can put up my summer rate and pretty much guarantee that I'll be booked. Some summers it's a competition to see who can book. In the winter, those giveaways would cost me money. I can't get my average price up.

Two other things, I'm very urban, so everything is in walking distance. The other thing is that I attract a lot of foodies. I make a lot of reservations for some of the best restaurants in town. For the most part, these people aren't going to skip a meal out. So, what I need is for things that will be either be for when they get back and before they go out for dinner, or for after dinner. I can keep a few bottles of wine and sparkling cider around. I can even keep some specialty beer around as well, which they may not be able to find since only a few stores stock the local microbrews. But I also have to be realistic. That's why I was thinking that maybe something that they can add themselves, like a basket of goodies for the room...

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This is where I am on this issue. When I stay at an inn or hotel for that matter, I don't WANT to go back out. I would love to having something convenient. But, I wouldn't order it in advance, just like I will forget to pack a snack of almonds or something for a road trip at times. Then I stop at a pit stop and see pretzels and all sorts of savory salty stuff to buy and buy it!  I think those slim jims and doritos companies count on that!

 

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That makes sense.  I see your point also.  Maybe you could sell a Romantic night out for 2. Limo ride to a 3 different choices of dining.  Get with some local dining places and work something out with you.  Get them to sell you a certain dollar amount for less  so you make a little off of it. Maybe even get the dining place to do something extra for your guests.  After all, you are bringing people to them.  They should work something out with you.  Then a nice drive around the city and back to your place.  The limo driver can let you know what time they will be back.  Then have a turn down service in their room.  Run the bath, have some LED candles going and some choc covered strawberries, Romantic music playing and so on.  Make it a whole night experience.  Sell a royal treatment experience where they are treated like a star.  This will take a little time in advance but you could make some nice money off of this pkg.  Talking about this has my head spinning for something we might try.  Its fun talking about it anyway.

Breakfast Diva's picture
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Your macarons are a great item to sell, but that's the type of item I wouldn't add on at the time of making the reservation. I would buy them once I got there and saw how wonderful they are.

Another thing I get asked about is massage. I will refer them to places near by. Is there a local place where you could do a deal with a day spa? For every guest you send you get a referral?

Generic's picture
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Okay, how do you think I should add them, here. Do you think I should put one "free" in the room? A sign with a beautiful picture? A box in the room with a tag explaining the price, like the hotel bar?

 

Breakfast Diva's picture
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I would probably buy some really nice small bakery boxes with the cellophane window so you can see them. We do well with an 'honor' area where our guests can purchase items. Fill out the slip, take the item and we put it on their room charge. I do understand this wouldn't work for all properties. If an honor area works for you, put just a couple of the bakery boxes on display with an enticing description of them and how they make wonderful gifts. You could even have a sign up sheet so that they will be in their room that evening.

A small plate with a macaron cut into small pieces for them to taste could work also. As long as nobody scarfs them all and doesn't just take a bite.

Generic's picture
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I make some that are petite (less than an inch is size) that we sometimes put out with breakfast. I definitely need to market them better.

For honour, we usually ask them to leave the money. But I do like the idea that they can order them. We have hooks for the keys. Maybe I can make something that they can put on the hook to order them up to their room for that evening. That sounds like a good idea. That might work well. And maybe one of the "petite" ones around so that they can try. I could be "plasticized" versions in a box, but real ones would go stale quickly.

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