Charging a fair price?

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04/24/2014

Hi , new to this site but here goes.

 

      We have been running a B&B/Guesthouse for almost 10 years. We've tried several different advertising sites but have cut back to a couple that seem to be sending the most inquires.  The problem is, we get lots of interest but are getting fewer bookings this year. Is it the economy or are we charging too much?  Having compared our facility with others close by that offer similar accommodation , we seem to be pretty close, and in lots of cases are charging less than ore competitors.

      We have a pretty decent house that is dedicated to guests, (we live on the next lot with trees and gardens separating the 2 houses) Our guests have complete privacy, nice bedrooms, wall to wall carpet in all the bedrooms and living area, large kitchens with full size appliances including a dishwasher, we don't have TV's in the bedrooms just in the living areas. The first morning breakfast is complimentary (continental style) there are lots of choices and we are very generous with our servings. Other meals are available at a small additional charge but most people prefer to go self catering. 

      we are not on the water but close to it, we offer a swing set and play area for the kids and a huge back lawn for games etc., They have the use of a large propane BBQ as well as a fire pit. We offer a free pass to the local beach and a $25.00 complimentary gas card for bookings of one week or longer. Our Guest house can be divided into 2 separate suites to accommodate small families or larger groups. We can sleep up to 14 people. Our cost is based on 4 people in each suite  (8 people if they take the whole house) and then we charge $25.00 per person for any extra people over the base number. When it is averaged out the cost per person varies from $33.00 to $44.00 per person per night. Having done some cost comparisons we seem to be in the ball park for what we offer.

      Can anyone shed some light on the slower than average bookings this year and can you see any improvements we might make. Thanks for any input you might share with us.

             Sandie (owner/operator of Swingate Gardens)

www.swingategardens.com

     

happykeeper's picture
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12/11/2008

Aloha Sandie,

I am so impressed with the amazing amount of valuable tips my fellow inn mates have provided.

What I got from your initial post and follow up was that there are a lot of mixed messages. Consequently, it caused me to reflect upon our business growth over the last nine years. In particular, I am reminded what happens when we sit back without a plan compared to when we create an active business plan with goals. It has taken all the guess work out of what we should do next. Then it is just a matter of time and resources to implement what's next. I know it's an oversimplification, but I do think backing up and developing a quick and simple business plan will go a long ways towards what to do and how to prioritize it all.

 

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04/24/2014

Thank you everyone for your comments. Several of you have touched on things that I know need some attention..(clearer pricing, online booking etc.,)  I do struggle when it comes to updating my website. I have had "help" with it but obviously not the right kind of help. I have tried to learn how to do upgrades and alterations myself but I do have a struggle as I lack the necessary computer skills it seems.

      Some of you have made some really good suggestions and others have opened my eyes to how my potential guests see me. I made some minor alterations to my web site back  in the winter but see now there has to be some major changes made.

      I have to say, I was very disappointed with my web designer and am seeking help to revamp things as we speak.

      Due to some major health issues (Lyme Disease) I have limited energy so things don't always get done when they should be done as regards to advertising and keeping my web site updated.

      I have considered packing everything in and selling out but I would really like to keep things going for a couple more years if I can.

      I welcome further comments and input if anyone out there has something to add.

      Anyway, thank you all again, I will be giving every comment consideration and making some of the changes you have suggested.

        Sandie.   (Swingate Gardens)

 

  

Innkeep's picture
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06/04/2008

Sandie,

I love your uTube video.  It shows a wonderful place.  Don't pack it in yet.  

Make getting the pricing conveyed in a simpler way your top priority, then work on your website.  I'm a digital ignoramus, so I don't think I'd tackle the website on my own.  Web savvy people all seem to say that Wordpress has made web building much easier which may mean that your web guy needs help with the specific content you need.  If you make a specific list of the changes that need to be made, all in writing, you should be able to hold your web guy's feet to the fire.  Write out exactly what you want each page to say, then pick out the photos you want to add and if they need to be cropped, he can do that. 

If you detect push back from him then look for another web person.  

There are online booking programs that are inexpensive enough for you to add to the website if you can figure out how to make the reservation process clear enough.  Right now the best support (that is, the reservation computer guy talking to your web builder guy) comes from Reservation Key.  If you can't figure out how to do it online, make it clear on the website that your property is so special that it's worth their time to call you to reserve exactly what parts of the house they need.

Best of luck to you

Joey Camb's picture
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04/02/2010

the main thing you have to remember is - people have a very limited attention span as well as limited time - this is why Online Travel Agents like Boo ki ng.com do so well they lay it all out for the customer (might be worth looking at their site for ideas)

If they have to fight your site for pricing info - they will simply leave, and the number of people willing to pick up the phone nowadays is falling ie we get maybe 1 call a day for bookings as opposed to 8 online.

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Kay Nein's picture
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02/13/2012

I'll agree with others that the pricing is too vague.  As little as $27 per person if you book 7 people for one week - that really doesn't tell us anything unless you really do want the garden suite for a week for 7 people.  I assume that includes a base rate, an extra per person charge and maybe a discount for booking a week.  Start by advertising your base rate and what's included.  Then list the add-ons (extra ppl) or available discounts.

A few other marketing observations, since you're asking about how to increase your reservations - shared with love, I promise  cheeky

  • You only have 50 fans on Facebook and haven't posted in 5 months.  There are only 15 posts total since April 2011, but you said that you've been running this guest house for 10 years.  In July, you grumbled in a post about a caller asking questions that are already answered on your website.  That's a huge put-off - you should probably delete that post because they might expect to receive that same attitude when they stay with you.
  • TripA dvisor shows that you've been listed for 2 years, yet you only have 1 review from last summer.  Most of my guests say that they found us through a generic internet search, but then went to TA to see what others were saying.  Those reviews have filled my rooms time & time again.  You should encourage TA reviews from everyone that leaves your B&B and even contact (by email with a quick link) the previous guests that enjoyed their stay asking for a TA review.  Do it in a personal way, not using the TA cookie-cutter review-requesting forms.
  • Post a link to your TA review on your FB page.  If someone is only using FB to check you out, give them everything you have right there to make it easy on them.
  • On TA, you have your title/name as "Guesthouse/B&B in Beautiful Prince Edward County".  That title is hurting your searches.  I had a hard time finding you because I was searching by your actual B&B name and it did not come up.   The listing that has Swingate Gardens is actually the Owner Profile, not the business page.  And it looks like you might be paying to be a Business Listing.  You're not making the most of this expense.
  • TA says your rates start at $172 a night.  Is that correct?
  • You have a beautiful You Tube video that you posted about 2.5 years ago, but I don't see it linked on your FB page or on your website.  

 

Hope this helps a little.  Best of luck to you!! 

 

OnTheShore's picture
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08/28/2011

Huh.... For some reason I couldn't find her FB page or TA listing this morning? ---  Oh, on TA it's a FlipKey Vacation Rental listing.... Sandie, you might look into getting listed as "Specialty Lodging" on TA (in addition to the FlipKey ad). You live next door and presumably are readily available to your guests should they need you, so one might argue that could qualify as "staff on site daily."

Still can't find the FB page.... edit: finally found it.

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seashanty's picture
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06/02/2008

Hi Swingate.

I would say -- it's time to revamp your website. These are my ideas ... just off the top of my head.

There is a really nice, inviting picture on your site.  This one.

I'd put that BIG on the homepage and a little closer view if you can zoom in a bit. 

Your name BIG and then

I would start right away with an awesome description of your place in print. A few paragraphs of all those nice things you say in the video underneath.  You need your tagline right under your name ... maybe a variation of what you have ... " A luxury vacation retreat in Prince Edward Country "  Nice video by the way.

If I click on what guests say, I don't see any comments ... I see a form for me to write one. That doesn't draw me in to want to book. So I'd get that off center stage.

People are very very visual ... they want bigger pictures, focusing on the really fine attributes of the rooms. Put one up of folks around the firepit - kids at play on the grounds (with the note that you're family friendly)

Empty Nest does web design ... whatever she says, I'd listen real close to.

Good luck!

 

 

Joey Camb's picture
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04/02/2010

2 weeks in advance booking? I wish just got a booking (its Friday) for Monday - this is about average.

TheBeachHouse's picture
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06/24/2013

Joey Camb wrote:

2 weeks in advance booking? I wish just got a booking (its Friday) for Monday - this is about average.

 

we are almost booked for August.  July is almost all open.   every day is a learning experience.

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Joey Camb's picture
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to be fair for any events we are full + weekends its just the bitty spaces in between.

Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

Welcome

I have to agree with the folks who are saying it's confusing to figure out the pricing. You have 'sample' rates. But what will it cost ME? That's what the guest wants to know.

I see why you have a request form. You can't have auto booking because of only having the one building divided up into 3 ways to reserve.

So, what I would do is create a chart that shows the pricing:

Whole house is this flat rate for x guests (you decide if that is 8 or what number) for y nights. Then the chart shows the price for each additional person. You can show at the end that the 'best rate' is for x guests staying y nights.

It's what you already have in a way but easier for the guest to see the price before filling in the form and waiting.

Saying the pricing is flexible makes me think I can negotiate the price which I don't want to do.

Some better photos would help also. You have a lot of stock photos of the things to do so it's not what I'm really going to see.

I know your system probably worked well in the past but guests are much more impatient now and they want everything laid out for them.

 

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gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

Welcome Sandie. Sorry to be coming in late - poll worker training this morning. I agree with the size of your photos - you have all that real estate on your web site, use it! I also want to know the rate - I do not care how little it can be if I have a lot of people, there are 2 of us - HOW MUCH? Not yelling, emphasis. Post a price based on 2 people and add how much per person extra. Your Picton link goes to the Picton site but a blank page so you may want to change it to the events page.  You definitely need real-time online reservations - it is wonderful to wake up to a reservation. and you can set it up to not do a same day or whatever you want it to be.

I knew Prince Edward County was not the Island because I knew Carolyn Grondin when she had Tall Pines B & B in Picton - she has retired.

Here, reservations rarely are made more than a week or two in advance - although I do have a few. For me it is probably location and the fact that people are uncertain about jobs and income right now.

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05/22/2008

Welcome.

I didn't look much at your website as it had no appeal to me...so I wonder if others feel the same way. We have just been having the discussion about the need for your website to be the best it can be. I think yours needs some help. Pricing should not be an issue. It is perceived value for what they are getting.

How long has it been since your "refreshed" your rooms?  And your website for that matter.

Your rates / rooms / cottages what ever...is very confusing to me and I expect others don't understand either. Are you a B & B? I don't see anything mentioned about breakfast. I also don't see any photos of the bedrooms or bathrooms. That's what I want to see.  

Generic's picture
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02/24/2011

Welcome.

If you stick around, you will get a lot of help....

Let's look at this a different way... if it's not the price, what is it?

Do you want to know?

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10/07/2008

I think it is evident that you are one of the innkeepers, such as myself, that has a hard time seeing the forest through the trees. Your title is about the price being fair. That is not what any of us are even responding to.  I hope you will consider the comments here and stick around Sandie!

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Hillbilly's picture
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10/22/2011

Joey Bloggs wrote:

I think it is evident that you are one of the innkeepers, such as myself, that has a hard time seeing the forest through the trees. Your title is about the price being fair. That is not what any of us are even responding to.  I hope you will consider the comments here and stick around Sandie!

Your price might be just right, but your not delivering your property to reflect your prices.  I few changes might make all the difference.  Your website is the front door to your property.  If it is confusing and does not look inviting, you could be the lowest cost property in town and people still wont stay.

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10/07/2008

Welcome Sandie!

Without stepping any further into your website, your photos. I mean the room photos, they are really lacking. 

GET THEM BIG GET THEM BOLD and SHOW THE GUESTS WHAT THEY ARE PAYING FOR!

I am positive your place is lovely, but your photos do not do it justice, at all.

 

Then the pricing is really difficult to work out. Just give the base rate and then additional per person price. It appears once I go to the end on Webervs then I can see a nightly rate, why dont you share that on the rooms page AND the Booking page?

"Our Rates are very flexible, and, depending on the number of guests, can be less than $27.00 per person per night. (based on 7 people in the Garden Suite for a one week stay) You can rent the entire Guesthouse (accommodating up to 14 people) or your choice of either one of the cozy suites which can sleep up to 7 people each."  WHAT THE!

 

You have come to the right place, you will get valuable advice here. yes

Ice
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Welcome Swingate!

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Joey Camb's picture
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04/02/2010

just  had a quick look at your web site - don't think its a product problem its a "they can't find you problem"

First thing - live online booking - I want to know right now if you have a room - I don't want to send in an enquiry and hear back also I think your rates might be too cheap - people then assume there is something wrong with you.

OnTheShore's picture
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08/28/2011

She has online booking, it's just not prominent on the homepage.

Sandie, you might replace the contact form with a booking button (move the contact form to another page, maybe a dedicated page).

But yes, getting found.... You are not listed on TripAdvisor, Yelp, Facebook, Bing Maps, etc... All of these are free for a basic listing, and are places where people search.

You might also consider getting your business listed in some of the big general business directory sites, such as Manta, MerchantCircle, and Hotfrog ... these aren't necessarily places where people will search for accommodations, but they are additional mentions of your business on the net that should help you be found (e.g. "link love," maybe not as important as it used to be, but I think it does still help some, and again basic listings on these sites are free).  In general, search the net for you business phone number and/or name, and then "claim" any listings you find that you didn't set up yourself. Make sure they are all up-to-date and consistent.

Have you considered advertising on Vacation Rental sites like VRBO, HomeAway, FlipKey, or Vacation Home Rentals? I looked quickly on one but didn't see you there. These sites are where people looking for a self-catering property would be searching.

Arks's picture
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05/22/2010

Welcome swingate!!

Not much action here either, but it's slowly picking up. I don't think it's the economy. That's a bit better, not worse, than last year. Maybe it has something to do with the rough winter. Lots of school days missed means schools will be in session longer. It seems school vacations can have an effect even on people who don't have kids in school!

Harborfields wrote:

She has online booking, it's just not prominent on the homepage.

Look again. The online booking page says "we try to keep this calendar up to date". When you finally click to make a booking for the room you want, you get a contact form. You have to send in an inquiry and wait for a reply to verify availability and actually make a booking. Cambs said she needs LIVE online booking. Real time, not find out later.

A lot of guests will just move on if they can't make a confirmed reservation on the spot. I would.

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