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The smart money’s on... B&Bs

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For a few months during the recession of the early 90s, my dad had to leave our home in Bristol to work in London, staying in a bed and breakfast from Monday to Thursday.

We would go to see him every so often, and I remember feeling devastated that my dad had to stay in such a terrible place. 

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't like he was in a mud hut in the middle of Wimbledon Common, but the entire building felt like a mutant version of a my Nan's house. Everything was 20 years out of date, stuffy, cold and still; brown and green floral patterns, musty net curtains and doilies haunted every room. To my 7 year old mind, it was the physical embodiment of purgatory.

But after interviewing Christine Warbrick, owner of Jessop House, a bed and breakfast in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, I discovered just how outdated my views were.

Bed and breakfasts have clearly come a long way in the last 23 years, and public perception (including my own!) is catching up.  The small, dingy guests houses of the 20th century are no more: Jessop House is beautiful, a typical example of the modern day bed and breakfast: providing a 5 star hospitality at an affordable price, offering a charming alternative to the sterile, corporate chain hotels that have dominated the hospitality industry.

This is because while typically, B&Bs offered low-cost, convenient accommodation for travelling businessmen and the like, the rise of budget chain hotels such as Premiere Inn and easyHotels, which offer extremely cheap and often, much more convenient accommodation, have left the standard B&B model widely redundant.

Unique

Holiday makes makers are looking for a unique, once in a lifetime experience, and the modern bed and breakfast is looking to make that happen. 

Operating costs are much lower than a hotel - a B&B employs very few staff, and catering typically only amounts to a breakfast being served to very few guests - so B&Bs are able to offer a service that competes with 4 and 5 star chain hotels at a similar, or cheaper, price, and without being held back by the sterile, copy-and-paste aesthetics of chain hotels, a bed and breakfast owner can use their imaginations and create something truly unique. Travellers and holiday makers spend time seeking out something that will make their stay affordable and unique, so there are niche areas to be exploited.

Marketing

Marketing has always been a sticking point for small businesses, and bed & breakfasts were no different. The internet has completely changed this: In 2012, 57% of all advance hotel bookings were made online, so standing out from the crowd has never been more important.

Word of mouth is a more powerful marketing tool than any time in history, and sites like TripAdvisor , Fordors and Lonely Planet allow even the smallest business gain an enviable, visible reputation.

While a 5 star hotel may be somewhere you would be excited to stay, a 5 star bed and breakfast is somewhere you would be excited to live

 

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