Repeat Guest Percentage

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SecondAct said:
What percentage of your business would you say is from repeat guests? I'm particularly interested in those inns that may be off the beaten path a bit. The innkeeper may have really pulled out all the stops to market their inn to sell people on the fact that it's worth going out of their way to stay there. Maybe they create a draw where one did not exist and that brings people in the first time around, but is it equally effective in bringing them back again? On the other hand, if your inn is in a tourist-y area that people tend to return to, do you get repeat business due to this or do you still have to market as hard to get the repeat guests?
35-40% of our business is from repeat guests.
We are definitely off the beaten path here. The 'big' town near us (20-25 minutes away) is a popular tourist town; and the big park near us (45 minutes) is a very big draw. BUT there are many B&B's in town or closer to the park or cheaper or finer or whatever... so we do work to draw people here and we court and we love our repeat guests.
Only one of them was from the previous owner. We very rarely get business travellers since we are not near any businesses. We're not near a university, college or summer camp, either.
So most of our repeat business is not from people who are returning to the area for external reasons. Some of the reasons we've found they come back here:
  • to experience a different season here. There are many different seasonal activities on site and around the region, most of them outdoorsy/light-adventure. Folks who go canoeing in the summer want to go hiking in the fall and snowshoeing in the winter.
  • to unwind in familiar surroundings. This is the "Cheers" factor that we discussed in another thread. These guests often come at the same time every year. They know what they like and figure "if it ain't broke don't fix it". For those of us who never go to the same place twice, this is almost incomprehensible, but there are MANY people out there like this. Think of them as low-risk folks who don't want to blow their precious vacation time on an unknown entity.
  • to showcase the country to visiting friends or family. They have friends/family visiting from overseas and want to give them an experience different from home, different from the city they are visiting. Again with the low-risk factor, they want to give their visitors a great experience; they don't want to take the chance on an untried destination which might not live up to expectations.
  • to bring friends or family for a party or reunion. They want to share their great find (us) and come back with a friend or two. We've had a number of guests who came here the first time just with their partner, then book the whole place for a girlfriend's getaway or family reunion. We also sell most of our GC's to people who have stayed here already and want to send a friend or relative.
  • to experience cottage country without a cottage. We have some multiple repeats who come back over and over, throughout the year even, because they love the cottage country area but don't want the hassle or expense of owning a cottage. Some have told us they don't even want to rent a cottage because the cooking/cleaning/shopping that goes with it is not their idea of a holiday.
  • to visit our dog.
These are the main reasons we've found. Depending on your location and setup, some of these might work for you too..
I have been meaning to answer and have not had a moment. We have a very high percentage of return guests. I would guess 40-50%. They come for a variety of reasons, family returning because of a mom or dad in the nursing home, corporate people (esp women the safety issue) come every year for a get away, etc. It is wonderful, like old friends and relatives coming home. I breathe a sigh of relief. These people know the drill.