BedandBreakfast.com recently surveyed both U.S. member innkeepers and inngoing travelers to gauge travel trends.
This quarter, most innkeepers defied the recession and watched their businesses grow. Nearly half saw their businesses' revenue increase, and most innkeepers expect their reservations to continue to go up compared to this time last year. Well over half of responding travelers have one leisure trip planned this summer, while many others have two or three upcoming getaways. Only 6% of respondents had no trips planned.
Our results show that private bathrooms and free breakfasts are essential amenities to nearly all inngoers, and half of all travelers desire free wireless Internet and cable television. Gen-X and Gen-Y travelers prefer more modern décor and amenities, but most innkeepers are not making many modifications at this time. Nearly all travelers reported that they require photos before booking a property, and most prefer to see online reviews. Allowing online booking and having a professional rating or review are also important features for consumers.
Over 750 U.S. member innkeepers took our survey covering the first quarter of the year (January–March 2010). Responses to some of the key questions are shown in chart form below. Although space limitations do not permit us to include all of the questions and answers, BedandBreakfast.com members can request a PDF of all responses by emailing Meghan.Scott@BedandBreakfast.com .
The recession isn't officially over yet, but many innkeepers are enjoying increased business almost half (45%) of innkeepers reported a growth in first quarter revenue over 2009. We found that 17% of those experienced a growth of 20% or more in this time frame. Additionally, nearly 48% of owners surveyed expect their reservations for the second quarter of 2010 (April - June) to increase compared to last year.
While many Gen-X and Gen-Y travelers (those aged 45 or younger) now consider B&Bs for their vacations, 76% of innkeepers say they have not changed their décor to accommodate this age group. Only 53% of innkeepers have updated their amenities to attract Gen-X/Gen-Y. Of those who have updated their amenities for the younger demographic, the primary change is adding free wireless Internet.
The chart below shows the changes innkeepers are making to their amenities:
The graph below shows changes innkeepers are making to their policies to accommodate Gen-Y and Gen-X. Flexible check-in times top the list; savvy innkeepers are clearly on the right track here – travelers listed the option of a late arrival check-in as a top amenity, right after such basics as free breakfasts and private baths.
In addition to our quarterly innkeeper surveys, we also send regular polls to over 50,000 consumers on our mailing list, giving you a direct line into what's important to inngoers. Below are some of the replies received from over 5,300 respondents.
How frequently are you traveling?
Vacationers and innkeepers are revving up for the summer travel season. Between now and June 30, 2010, 41% of travelers have one leisure trip planned, 37% have two trips planned, and 11% have three trips planned. For 60% of travelers, they are vacationing as much as they were last year, but a quarter of them are taking more leisure trips than the year prior. Only 6% of respondents said they were taking no leisure vacations this year. There is more good news for innkeepers: Of those surveyed, 72% of these travelers are most likely to stay at a B&B or inn.
Most important booking factors
Most potential guests won't reserve a stay at your bed and breakfast if they can't see photos of the property first. Having consumer reviews is also very important to travelers seeking more information about a property, and the ability to book online is key for nearly half of travelers.
In our survey, consumers noted these elements as being either very important or essential:
- Online reservations: 49%
- Professional ratings/reviews: 47%
- Consumer reviews: 69%
- Photos: 86% -- and 39% won't book without them.
- Video: 16%
Lace and antiques aren't for everyone. In our survey, décor options for B&Bs were clearly tied to travelers' ages. We gave travelers photos (shown below) of four very different rooms and asked them to tell us which they preferred; one room was very modern, while the other three were more traditional. The largest segment (45%) of Gen-Y travelers chose the more modern, chic look and 33% of Gen-X travelers (also the largest segment of this age group) preferred that same look. The majority of 45+ travelers chose a more traditional and ruffled, Victorian décor (Option 1) with 40% of those aged 55-65 selecting a more contemporary style (Option 2). There's no need to destroy the doilies, but innkeepers looking to appeal to younger travelers may want to consider adjusting the décor in some of their rooms to see if it makes a difference. Remember, if you update the décor in your guest rooms, be sure to update it on your BedandBreakfast.com listing and/or website, as well.
The most important amenities
Our findings show that 40% of travelers say free in-room Internet access is an important amenity to them. While this is less than half of respondents, for certain consumers, such as business travelers, having Wi-Fi is vital. The most important amenities to travelers are private bathrooms (96%) and free breakfast (90%). Late arrival check-in is also important to 55% of travelers, and just over half want cable television.
Travelers of all ages indicated that flat-screen TVs, fireplaces, whirlpool tubs, and steam showers would be “nice to have.” Gen X and Gen Y travelers indicated that an adequate supply of electrical outlets was important to them, due in part to the need to charge phones, iPods, and other tech toys for today’s travelers. See the more detailed results below:
What do you want for breakfast?
Unsurprisingly, when it comes to breakfasts at B&Bs, travelers of all ages expressed a preference for a full breakfast rather than a continental one. Organic food is more important to the Gen-X and Gen Y population than to older travelers, with the largest majority of travelers age 46 and up seeing little benefit to organic ingredients. The largest majority across all age groups felt that a low-fat option would be "nice to have." In a parallel survey of BedandBreakfast.com innkeepers, 57% explained that they have changed to breakfasts to accommodate special food preferences and needs based upon the evolving tastes of travelers.
By Emily Starbuck Crone