Why you must look at your B&B competitors
I see so many accommodation providers constantly worrying about what their competitors are doing and spending all their time watching them when that time could be better spent building their own business.
That said, however, it is still important that you evaluate the competition BUT it needs to be done properly.
It’s important that you study exactly how they are positioning and presenting themselves. It’s important to explore what they are doing and finding out what their strengths and their weaknesses are.
You need to understand exactly what your competitors are offering to see if there is anything more that you could learn and if there is anything you could do better or different than them.
Your challenge is to find out as much information on your competitors as possible.
And I mean to take the time to seriously discover what they are offering.
Whilst it’s probably not possible for you to become a guest and experience everything for yourself as they know you, you can always ask a friend to go through the whole process of booking and staying or you could call in a mystery shopper to investigate everything for you.
I carry out “secret stays” for my private clients and stay at their competitors’ establishments. During during a “secret stay” I focus on all the key areas of the guest experience. At the end of a visit I produce a lengthy and detailed report for my client on every aspect of the stay even down to copies of the room books!
Studying your competitors isn’t something that can be rushed. It needs to be done in a systematic way to get the best out of the exercise.
You first need to consider exactly who your competitors are and please don’t just say everyone in the local area who offers what you offer. Seriously think about who your competitors are. Just because someone else offers accommodation, it doesn’t mean they are actually a competitor!
It’s time to take action!
You need to compile a list of every establishment of your standard, in your area and then go through it in detail and work out which of them are really your competitors.
Once you have decided who your competitors are, then it’s time to start learning everything you can about each of them.
I encourage you to take a sheet of A4 paper for each competitor, write their name on the top and then start making notes on each one. Start with where they position themselves in the market and what their USP is.
Discover exactly what their competitive edge is.
Secretly request their advertising and promotional literature and spend time reading it. Visit their website and make sure you know every nook and cranny of it. Subscribe to their newsletters and request their free downloads, remembering, of course, to use an email address that isn’t linked to your business!
However you decide to do it, you need to find out what the inside of their place is like, what it offers and the standard of their service.
And then you need to find out what they charge. Don’t just check their rates online – make a phone call, pretend you’re a prospective guest and discover exactly what their sales pitch is and what really is their best price. You might be quite surprised!
And how good is their marketing? Do they have a clearly defined target market and is their marketing message talking their language?
You need to discover what your competitors are offering that you’re not and write that down as well.
And when you’ve figured all that out then you need to start putting things in place to ensure you offer the same or better if at all possible.
The more you know about your competitors, the better placed you will be to make decisions about the best way to position and promote your business. The more you know about your competitors, the more you can do to make sure that you really do stand out from the crowd.
Learning everything about your competitors isn’t something that you just do once.
You need to put a system in place to ensure you regularly overview their marketing materials, investigate their website and find out exactly what they’re up to. Then twice a year block out time when you can concentrate on reviewing everything you’ve learnt about your competitors and discover whether or not they’ve raised the bar.
Until next time, remember…
Whilst you don’t want to be counting how many cars they have in their car park, stalk them on social media or be constantly looking for their guest reviews, you do need to take the time to seriously evaluate your competitors.
It’s vitally important when you are trying to build a successful business because, at the end of the day, your competitors can and will take all of your guests if you let them!