revenues 25% down

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Tom
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The past few years our revenues have held steady: holding our own despite a lot of high end hotel construction and the arrival of Airbnb in the area.  This year Air hit hard, and our revenues are down 25%  ;-(  Personally, I don't mind a little slowdown, but this is a bit too much.

For the most part, I don't see this is a result of increased direct competition -- I estimate that about 20% of transient lodging rooms here are on Air and HomeAway and the rest hotel/motel, but we are nicer than most Air offerings.  I see the drop resulting from a major change in how travelers in our demographic look for alternatives to traditional hotels.  Before, if you didn't want a hotel, you'd look for a B&B.  We used to have a few local B&B, but over half the B&B here when we opened 9 years ago are gone.  Real B&B are few and a search for "B&B" is just as likely to show chain motels, so the traveler looks to Air and we're not there. 

Last few years, our guests would have heard of Air, but never tried.  Now they have tried (and usually have had some really sketchy experiences): it's on their radar.  I am beginning to hear "airbnb" used as a generic for B&B, the way Kleenex and Xerox became generic titles.  A local realtor visiting our 8000 sf, 5 king bed, fully ensuite Inn told me "you have a really nice airbnb" (bite tongue).

I'll probably have to sign up, particularly as Air seems to be moving to accommodate professional B&B as well as the usual residential style.  And work on the web site, and join an allocator, and  ... 

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In our case, each of our cottages is very unique (with different capacities, bed arrangements, etc...); there is really no way we could do a generic booking where we assign the guest to whatever cottage is available.... So to the extent that we list on 3rd party sites, we have to list by specific unit....

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OnTheShore wrote:

In our case, each of our cottages is very unique (with different capacities, bed arrangements, etc...); there is really no way we could do a generic booking where we assign the guest to whatever cottage is available.... So to the extent that we list on 3rd party sites, we have to list by specific unit....

We've got 'standard queen' as the description. One bed, two person max. You might get a king if all the queens are taken.

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I don't want my comment to sound like an advertising or something, but I do have to stress this: your website is very, very important!

For example I have some customers that were doing really, really well until ~2014, when they had a strong position on TripAdvxxxx... Things were going so well that they didn't pay any attention to their website almost since day one (for ~5 years at least). Then a small algorithm change on TA dropped them a little bit and things went downhill from there.

Now I have friends with two hotels in my hometown, where boo!k!ng has a market share of ~50%. They are doing well, over 70% occupancy for the year, but almost half of their individual bookings go through the OTA. They pay around 40K per year to boo!k!ng in commissions, and guess what? They don't give a Potty Mouth (auto filter) about their website. They have been out of Google completely for over a year and they don't care. They are making $X amount of money and they pay $Y amount to OTAs.

As long as the income is sufficient, people don't care.

When someone explains that you can be earning 1.25x instead of 1x, hoteliers and innkeepers are suspicious and full of skepticism. They ignore their own storefront (website) for as long as they can, until they have to start applying for multiple loans. And that's when people turn to website developers, like we are magicians or something. Your problems can't be fixed in a day, but you can surely start working on them TODAY.

So please, for the love of God, please start paying more attention to your websites.

There are so many ways you can do better, but usually you have to start early to see the benefits later, maybe 3-6-9-12 months from now. 

Don't wait for airbnb and other OTAs to just nudge you out of business. Anticipate!

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Hillbilly's picture
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We are way down and have decided to list with ex pe dia.  For those of you who list and have themed rooms are you able to move guests reservations around to maximize occupancy?  We are going to price our rooms all the same in hopes that we can do this.  Just wanted to find out if anyone else does or has tried this?  I'm nervous to use Air as I hear they do not populate their site but every 4 hours and this could lead to double bookings with expe di a or air.

 

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We have always sold the room individually, I sometimes think guests like knowing what they will get because when they check in to a specific room they immediately feel like they are where they should be and want to be. It may be more selling specific rooms but to me, that individuality of the room styles is what sets us apart from the big boxies. Sometimes, quite honestly, I may offer a guest an upgrade just to get them further away so my dogs don’t get excited with every noise they make (I’m sorry.. ) but I am surprised how many stick to what they booked even though the upgraded room is way bigger and nicer!

Morticia's picture
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If someone books thru an OTA and then calls to verify they got x room I let them know they can have x room if they book directly. Otherwise, the room selection is my choice and based on what is left at arrival. Some have panicked and said they don't want the room with the detached bath so I know they have looked closely at our room choices but opted to use BDC instead of direct booking.

And again, book directly for choice. Hotels do the same thing.

JimBoone's picture
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Folks have their own reasons for liking a certain room, years ago mine was that a certain room at a motel we visited had its own little parking spot.

For business present day, I do state that I reserve the right to change a guest to an equal or larger room. Now our rooms differ by color and decoration, but pretty much uniform other than that, I will alway try to avoid moving someone that desires something specific, but it does give us an out if needed to use rooms more efficiently.

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Generic's picture
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We've had guests ask to downgrade too. I have a room that is particularly large and grand and have had guests ask about moving down to that room.

But the point here is that booking direct should be an advantage. If you want a specific room... book direct. 

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Hillbilly, I have been using OTA's on and off for years.  

I do not post all my rooms and I use generic room names "standard queen" "deluxe queen"  etc.  The pictures are of all rooms. 
If someone books, they get which ever room of that room type that has not been taken by those booking direct.   

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Copperhead wrote:

Hillbilly, I have been using OTA's on and off for years.  

I do not post all my rooms and I use generic room names "standard queen" "deluxe queen"  etc.  The pictures are of all rooms. 
If someone books, they get which ever room of that room type that has not been taken by those booking direct.   

Well that makes me feel a little better. At least you can move them around so to speak to get the most out of the calendar.  So do you use myall cator  to populate your RK calendar?  If so, how does the systems know what room to populate in your RK?  Not sure that makes sense.  Hahaha.

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We have 3 types of rooms and have it set up with generic descriptions for the OTAs. I move them around at my will... but RK sets it as a sale of a specific room.... I just move it for personal convenience.

Hillbilly's picture
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Oh thank you so much.  That's very helpful.  I thoughts that's how it would work but I wanted to make sure.  So you just tell guests that they will be assigned a room at check in? 

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Hillbilly wrote:

Oh thank you so much.  That's very helpful.  I thoughts that's how it would work but I wanted to make sure.  So you just tell guests that they will be assigned a room at check in? 

  Sorry I didn't get back to answer before Generic chimed in but I do it the same way as Generic mentioned.  It works, and has worked for me for years.  

Generic's picture
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Absolutely. And I sometimes get a call (or email) asking for a specific room, at which time that we tell them that rooms aren't assigned until the morning of the reservation. We have even moved them around to give our direct guests upgrades.

We also get requests for things like "low floor" or other specific things, to which we reply that it's not an option that we offer and usually we offer a way out to cancel.... we find that those people are problematic anyway.

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All of our rooms are different. Give very generic descriptions and put the guests in whatever rooms you want. IE - standard queen room. That's all I say. Sometimes you get a queen, sometimes a king. Luck of the draw.

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Yep, we use Air for our benefit and require pre-approval - and choose not use "Instant Book" option for the very reason that most who use Air have no clue how an actual B&B runs, they do not understand the fun it is when they actually engage with others instead of secluding themselves in between their coming and going (mostly millennials!), and besides my calendar only syncs one way...oh well - keeps it manageable anyway!

Since we require pre-approval, this way when a guest requests dates, I can reply with my pre-set script of how we are  a fully-functional, professional Bed & Breakfast and then go on to list the basic amenities, our unique features, that we serve a fresh, multi-course breakfast each morning, (again which some folks had no idea we served breakfast before I started sending that info...!?!)  and welcome them to our "community" of travelers for the dates they request. I can't put in our website in the response, but have been know to mention there is a savings if they book directly through our website (and had a few mention to us upon arrival that they did that and saved!)

I like the idea of imposing the B&B name on our photos!!!

It ends up being about 20-25% of our bookings...so we'll take it.

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I have a photo of the building that includes our sign. Pretty straightforward.

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I just say who we are in the title!  Air hasn't made a peep.  I

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OnTheShore's picture
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If you want to be found, you've got to show up where people are looking...

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We use airBNB to our advantage.  For example, I have a picture on AirBNB of our B&B where our B&B Name is displayed in text overlaying the picture.  Air can't suppress that text.  So it acts like a free Ad.  A lot of people will find us on air and then google and book direct.

We will be adding "experiences" on air where people can book a room and have an experience (like eagle watching).  The experience will allow us to double the room rate and make more money by throwing in the add-on experience.

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MidwestBB wrote:

Air can't suppress that text.

I'll bet they could suppress it if they wanted to, once they notice it. Instead of your inn name as text on the image, how about putting your website URL so people can go book directly through you. I'll bet they'll suppress that in a heartbeat!

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Morticia's picture
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I do not bite my tongue when someone refers to my property as an Airbnb. I'm more likely to bite their head off. Air b nb coopted our business name and trashed it. I don't let that slide.

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I am singing the same song Tom.  

I have been blaming the Air and other STR properties for this as well, I do feel they are a large contributing factor but this summer it took a nose dive even more with the Google changes, especially in the maps searches.  

Since Google has gotten in bed with the OTAs and have changed their algorithms, map distance setting, etc., we are not being seen in search results as often as we use to be.   So we are seeing a decline in website stats as well. 

 If you use TA's Tri pCon nect you should be showing along with those OTAs, that is if your property is in the perimeters Google has set for the map in your search area.  - or at least the $ flag will show with your location dot for those that will move the map search.  

Other Google changes are affecting organic results too such as http vs https and now Google is using Mobile first for results and if your site is not responsive you are getting dinged.  And by responsive it means that your site needs to transform to mobile (same site just different format), not a different mobile responsive site.  

Highlands John's picture
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We've been with air for the past 3 years, first two years I could count the bookings on two hands, this year a big jump, in the busy season probably around 30% of our bookings.

Gotta move with the times.

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