Archive for the ‘Bookings’ Category

Another year, another potential documentary: this time setting up a B&B in Northern Ireland

It’s been over a year since our last enquiry re participating in a documentary so we were overdue for this one.

Thus far we’ve been getting enquiries from the various “moving to France” TV series producers but this time it’s in connection with the possibility of us setting up a B&B back in Northern Ireland.

As with the French series, there are surprisingly few people who meet the criteria for the series. For our first one for instance, we met all the criteria but weren’t able to move in January so missed the time slot for the filming.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

It’s August, so nothing non-essential gets done

Once we get into August the number of guests starts to rise quite rapidly and with that rise comes an even larger rise in the work associated with it.

Surely the work rises in proportion to the number of guests? You’d think that it would but it rises much more than that thanks to a number of factors. First, the number of overnight stays increases quite dramatically so it’s commonplace to find that one is completely full on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night with a completely different set of people in place of the smaller number staying several days at a time earlier in the year.

Next there’s the rapid rise in problem guests. In August just about all the accommodation for miles around is full and in particular the beach accommodation is almost all full for the bulk of the month. Thus we get a lot of people who really wanted to stay at the beach but find that they can’t and are staying in a place in the country instead. Moreover, prices are higher in August generally and dramatically so in the case of beach resorts. Whilst most people accept this situation, a small minority don’t and frequently end up taking up a lot more of our time than is reasonable.

Finally, we find that pretty much all of our slack time of earlier in the year is taken up by the much larger number of guests and the work associated with them. Thus we end up spending the whole morning and right through lunch getting the place reset for the next guests, we’ve lots more restocking trips for supplies, and so on.

Overall this means that in many cases even much of the “essential” admin doesn’t get done… don’t expect us to reply to emails too quickly over this period!

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

The first drive-by of the year!

Not so long ago, drive-by guests made up a substantial proportion of our bookings but with the combination of a rapid rise in the profile of online reservation systems and mobile internet the drive-by is very much a dying breed.

Over time this trend seems sure to have a substantial impact on the “ideal” locations for hotels. After all, when drive-by guests are less important there’s not so much need to build your hotel right on the highway as used to be the case. Nowadays, it’s much more important to be findable by a satnav system so we’re quite fortunate in being a place on most of the systems in current use.

The other notable effect is that, on the whole, you don’t need nearly so many signs to your place as you used to. Locally it’s quite noticeable that those hotels with the most signs tend to have the least number of guests. That’s down to their concentration on signage to the expense of an Internet presence.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Another full weekend thanks to the Spanish resort accommodation

As we move through August the number of people in the place has been steadily increasing and, of course, we’ve had the usual spikes in occupancy at the weekends.

Unfortunately those weekend spikes have become even more pronounced this year. That causes us severe complications in terms of the logistics of getting the rooms sorted out as we end up using nearly all of the bedlinen over two or three days worth of over-night stays.

The reason behind those spikes is quite simply the Saturday change-over day for the self-catering accommodation in Spain where many of those people are heading to or coming back from (hence the three day spike). Packing all that change-over work must be even more of a nightmare for the villas further south than it is for us and it seems crazy that almost everyone sticks to the same change-over day which causes everyone upstream of them problems too and bumps up the flight and ferry costs on those days too not to mention causing a major backlog of traffic at the border.

Surely it would make more sense for everyone to stagger the change-over days?

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Managing the reservations

Last year managing the reservations coming in became an almost full-time job at times as we ran right through the summer with the rooms over-listed and bookings were coming in at a fair pace over most of that time.

With the economic mess around the world it’s quite a different picture this year. Bookings everywhere locally are well down and so it’s even more important to over-list the rooms but in addition there’s much more work to be done in adjusting the prices in an attempt to fill the rooms.

Unfortunately, there are practical limits to the amount of over-listing that can be done. Typically we list about twice the number of rooms that we actually have but going much beyond that drastically increases the chances of double bookings at the peak of the peak times which would create much more work in proportion to the income that they might bring in.

You might think that when I say “adjusting the prices” that I mean lowering them. However, we’ve found that raising the prices can bring in more bookings than lowering them does and, of course, it brings in a lot more money too. In fact, it’s really only worthwhile to lower the prices of the cheapest rooms as that means that you come up on top of some searches. What raising the price does is to improve the image of the place in the minds of potential guests. After all, arguably the only “real” way they have of judging the quality of a hotel is by the prices of the rooms; some hotels rely on that false perception quite a lot as I’m sure some of you will have already discovered.

So, in practice, what we’ve been doing this year is lowering the prices of the cheapest rooms and raising those of the more expensive ones. It’s not bringing in quite so much business as last year (there just aren’t as many people around) but it does seem to be improving the occupancy numbers.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.