Until recently, bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) and business travelers rarely overlapped in the hospitality sector. However, current trends have suggested that this is fast changing and becoming the norm in the industry. Property descriptions and reviews on multiple OTAs specific to B&Bs and the various stay trends reported by jetsetting CEOs and employees bear testimony to the fact that B&Bs have found a sweet spot in the journey of business travelers.
In my opinion, there have been quite a few factors that have led to this rise and empowered B&Bs to extend their positioning.
1. With more platforms promoting B&Bs than ever before, B&Bs now enjoy higher online visibility and a level playing field to compete with other hospitality businesses. This has given them the confidence to expand their guest profile.
2. In my interaction with B&Bs, I have come across even four- to five-room properties which are committed to running their property with the highest degree of professionalism. They utilize the latest tools that help them compete with five-star hotels.
They are committed to upholding professionalism in every way – be it upgrading their services to meet the demands of the changing times or adapting to technology. These changes have given B&Bs complete capability of competing with other lodging types in the space that was traditionally not their own.
This empowerment has also resulted in the business traveler being more confident in booking a B&B.
3. The business traveler is focusing more on increasing relaxation while travelling and now looks at those little things to de-stress on an official trip. The personal touch and small elements of surprise (like a complimentary gift or a meal cooked to suit their taste) that a stay at a B&B can offer are usually seen by business travelers as a welcome change from the rigidity of a business hotel.
Many B&Bs have been smart in catering to the rising demand by altering their existing services to work for business travelers. For example, a television set that doubles up as a computer monitor, thus appealing to the corporate audience without losing the leisure aspect.
4. A few B&B owners that I know have also indicated a rise in women business travelers choosing their property over hotels, with the reasons ranging from safety that an owner-operated property ensures to superior quality service.
5. Businesses are becoming increasingly global, with more and more entrepreneurs and smaller-scale start-up employees travelling for work. Such travelers typically look at reducing expenses in every way and B&Bs offer a cost-effective option. Certain taxation rules for business travelers in Europe like the recoverable VAT also favor them, which B&Bs are cashing in on.
This shift looks like a win-win situation for all – the B&B, the business traveler and the travel manager.
For B&Bs, the draw card is the guaranteed return visits from business guests.
For the business traveler, staying in the warm and friendly atmosphere of a B&B with a chance to get the local experience makes it the right mix of business and pleasure. It could also lead to more productivity during the trip.
The convergence of a business traveler’s expectations with what B&Bs offer works perfectly well for travel managers as they are constantly looking for value accommodation to cut expenses as well as means to increase employee satisfaction.
This trend is here to stay as a large part of it has been fuelled by the demand from evolving business travelers who want to experience something different, while B&Bs have been agile to adapt and offer the best services at a cost-effective price.
(This article was originally published on Business Travel IQ)