Worst April in 12 years!

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Hillbilly's picture
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Looks like this April will be our worst one in over 12 years.  We are in a busy tourist town and business is very slow for us. I’m not sure what’s going on. Every month this year has been down. This month is over 40% lower than last April. Really starting to freak out a little. Anyone else having issues?

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We're in Missouri and we've had a slow start as well.  Haven't been able to float - the river is too high and the turkey hunting was slow as well.  Reservations are strong so here's wishing you a busy season to come!

Arks's picture
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innovermyhead wrote:

Reservations are strong...

Yes, they've picked up nicely here. But Jan. through April were horrible.

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Momma Smurf's picture
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Arks wrote:

Yes, they've picked up nicely here. But Jan. through April were horrible.

Yes, Jan-Apr were mediocre here too, but rest of the year is second best bookings in 14 years. 

No OTAs!

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TinaC's picture
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Hillbilly!  Maybe I  can help a bit.  If you've a property with wonderful snowscape in winter and allow small pets or have a mascot of your own, write me on this page.  Mail not getting to me.  Best!

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Highlands John's picture
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This April has been very good for us, it's our best since 2011 and our 3rd best ever (15 years), however May is looking horrible. Normally I'd expect pretty much 95% occ in May, we're barely at 50% so far.

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gillumhouse's picture
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I just looked at April 2018 and April 2019. 2019 is double 2018 (2 nights instead of 1). 2018 and 2017 were even. That is why I never sweat the reservations. They come in when they come in.

Last year, I got my first pipeline guy in May and had a scattering of other nights. This year May starts with an elopement + 3 more nights. I live on my savings and my City pay for the winter. Same thing every year. (and I am NOT debt-free-YET!)

cloudbedsna's picture
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gillumhouse wrote:

I just looked at April 2018 and April 2019. 2019 is double 2018 (2 nights instead of 1). 2018 and 2017 were even. That is why I never sweat the reservations. They come in when they come in.

Last year, I got my first pipeline guy in May and had a scattering of other nights. This year May starts with an elopement + 3 more nights. I live on my savings and my City pay for the winter. Same thing every year. (and I am NOT debt-free-YET!)

 

In my 15+ years in the business I found this was true as well. I've always been in very popular touristy areas but I found that, from year-to-year, it was nearly impossible to predict which months would be "banner" months. As diligently as we tried to predict market trends, or as much as we focused on marketing, it would change. One year June would be phenomenal, and then the next, meh. Never failed. I learned to give up trying to figure it out and just kept my business running tip-top, and my marketing very consistent, and found out that over a year's time, my numbers would always increase just a little (unless the economy tanked of course, but that's a story for another post). 

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ChrisandShelley's picture
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I almost hate to be the shiner here, but our February and March was exceptional this year. Now we put on our own workshops and concerts to attract people since it is officially off season, but we are looking at a great year. Except for a couple of rooms mid-May, our weekends are fully booked through Memorial day weekend. Although the Arkansas Folk Festival (official start of the season) wasn't as crowded as usual due to it being Easter weekend, we were still full.

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Hillbilly's picture
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We are in a tourist town and have been in business for 20 years.  I would hate to be a new owner just getting started and trying to make it in this industry at the moment.

cloudbedsna's picture
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I agree, the travel industry can be brutal! That being said, there are more tools and resources than ever for small inn and B&Bs, many of them totally free and others, if selected wisely, truly affordable. Example: a superstar PMS will add value to every transaction if utilized to its fullest. Technology is, in my opinion, one of the best investments for high returns. Things I wouldn't necessarily recommend, and which are often a waste of hard-earned dollars, would be paid (print) advertising (no metrics? no thanks!), high thread-count linens (they no longer matter to the average traveler), and chamber of commerce memberships (tourism boards and industry associations can be great, on the other hand).

Having been a successful hotelier for many years, I now consult with many innkeepers, and I'm happy to report my clients are all doing well, startups included. Of course I can only hope my advice has contributed in a positive way.

Keep up the great work out there! Message me if I can help in any way. Having been there myself I'm always glad to assist my friends in the business.

 

OnTheShore's picture
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We won't be open for our season for another month, more or less, but so far this year advance bookings have been lagging behind last year by about 15 to 20% 

At this moment, we only have one wedding on the books, compared to 4 last year, so that may be a contributing factor -- perhaps wedding couples are looking more for all-inclusive options (we don't do the food or drink), or everybody and their uncle is turning their old barn into a wedding venue so there's a lot more competition?

There may be other factors as well, e.g., perhaps our marketing effort not being up to date, were having a seven-year slump, etc...

Or from what some of you all are saying, there may be something external, more universal, going on... This article discusses tourism trends in our state: https://www.pressherald.com/2019/04/10/tourist-visition-trends-down-in-m...

What I think might be the key paragraphs in the article (for us at least, since our business has relied heavily on returning guests who book in advance):

Travel preferences now trend toward spontaneity and new experiences, so visitors who loved Maine the first time for an impromptu weekend are likely to look for the next adventure, instead of coming back next year.

“There are so many places to go,” Lyons said. “Now people can say ‘I’ve been there, done that, now I want to do something different.’ ”

This is consistent with AirBnB pushing "Experiences" (and our AirBnB guests who tend to be more spontaneous in their bookings, too)

 

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cloudbedsna's picture
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You hit the nail on the head @OntheShore! The experiential factor is one of the reasons I encourage my clients to consider 'add-ons' and packages. Every B&B out there, with rare exception I imagine, has something truly very special to offer, and partnering with a local tour provider, museum or attraction to create a package that's mutually beneficial and can drive both new business and is something that can be offered to repeat guests as a reason to return. Millennials tipped the scale on this experiential push, but guess what? The next generation, Gen-Y, will only take it to the next level.

Here are a couple of articles that can provide some invaluable insights:

 I do a lot of research on this stuff, so if anyone would like a few ideas on how to take advantage of these trends, do get in touch. Having been in this industry for a good long while myself, I'm always happy to help you!

 

Hillbilly's picture
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I hate that.  I guess thats the way its going to be.  The new gen I think are scared of a B and B experience. I have a feeling its going to get a lot worse.

cloudbedsna's picture
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Hillbilly wrote:

I hate that.  I guess thats the way its going to be.  The new gen I think are scared of a B and B experience. I have a feeling its going to get a lot worse.

I know it may seem like the younger generations aren't in tune with your charming inns and B&Bs, but this (and many other articles like it) would suggest otherwise, https://www.contentedtraveller.com/millennials-discovered-b-bs-loving/

I think it's just a matter of positioning yourself in a different light and also making sure you're using the right channels. If you'd like, I'd be happy to share a few ideas and help you come up with a strategy on this, @Hillbilly. No charge!

Arks's picture
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My business has been horrible since January. Worst ever. Hope this isn't a sign of things to come, but the experts keep saying we're due for a "correction". I think we are already in one!

Hillbilly's picture
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Arks, Im not more than an hour or so from you.  Our town has been dead this Spring.  Everyone is looking for the best deals and the Air B an d B is killing us I'm afraid.  They have rates for $40 a night.  We are now posting rates we had 15 years ago.  This is really bad.  We can't afford to hire any help.  So we are doing everything now.  Last year we had 2 employees working with us. Weekends aren't even full anymore. 

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Hillbilly wrote:

Looks like this April will be our worst one in over 12 years.  

Our first quarter seems to be in line or slightly above the last couple of years, but definitely down from a few great years ten years ago, however our winter season depends heavily on the weather and recent years have not been friendly to the ski slopes.

April seems average thus far, which means down from a good April a few years ago, but I might consider rather dead an average April. 

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