What are they and why are they important?
Packages are an integral part of the accommodation and travel industry. Yet they are also seen as one of the more underutilised elements in B&B promotions. What can you do as an owner managed B&B to maximise revenue through packages?
Donna Brooke, October 2021
Firstly, what is a package?
A package involves the pre-arranged combination of two or more components bundled together and offered for sale at an inclusive price.
When offered by a B&B this tends to be a combination of accommodation and an experience in the destination or at the B&B itself.
Why are B&B packages so important?
1. A popular product with high impact
Packages are popular. And typically the guests that book packages tend to book in advance. They also tend to spend more and stay longer. And as packages are mostly non-refundable due to the value they offer, cancellations are low. There is also evidence to indicate that the average length of stay for packages tends to be higher than those who book room only stays. This, in turn, has an added bonus for a B&B that has add on services and experiences like spa and wellness or other experiences.
Of course, the impact of packages is location-dependent and tourist destinations will tend to have a higher volume of package bookings. So if you are a B&B, then well-designed packages can have a high impact.
A good example of this is my Elopement Package. In COVID times, the offer of eloping has become very appealing. I don’t have to do all of the work as I get in suppliers with the expertise needed. Hair and make up, photography, flowers, dining is all outsourced but provided in-house. My return on investment is high and it is based on a 2 night stay.
It can also help increase occupancy during low season.
2. Community and Partnerships
Building unusual and authentic packages require working closely with the community and develop partnerships that help spread the message about your B&B wider and also offer additional opportunities for cross-selling.
At the moment there is a young woman in town that has created gift boxes for pregnant mums-to-be. This has help me create my Babymoon package by including her gift boxes, the opportuning to cross sell and create very targeted social media marketing.
3. An opportunity to emphasise authenticity
With more guests looking for an experiential stay, B&Bs can showcase their creativity and authenticity by designing special packages that allow guests to experience the B&B and destination in a way that differentiates you from the competition. Whether that takes the form of wine tasting or food tours or a destination-specific cultural immersion experience depends on your B&B and destination.
4. A story to tell
Unique packages allow you to tell a story and weave in a narrative that appeals to your target audience. Setting the scene as it were. This helps achieve wider visibility through social media engagement and word of mouth. Ultimately, the added value a package brings to your B&B will be driven by how appealing and relevant it is for the booker. As a B&B, you have the opportunity to enhance and change these to encourage repeat visits too.
Guests seek convenience and time-saving opportunities while arranging a holiday. It needs to be a no-brainer.
If you were to analyse the average number of purchases that guests make during a stay, what will you find? The average guest may need transport, dining out options, possibly wellness or activity related outings and more. Which of these can you bundle in a way that you can sell more while saving guests time?
Think about the number of times that guests ask you about where they should eat or where the most popular restaurant for locals food is. My trick around this, is to always book under your B&B name as opposed to your guests name. This way your local supplier will know that it is you and your business that is supporting them.
6. Enhanced value proposition
As a B&B, packages offer an opportunity to promote value adds without taking a discounting approach.
How to create a B&B package that works:
1. Identify a clear audience
As a B&B, you already have a niche. However, you may need to further identify the target market for each package that you develop. You should look to your top source markets, both domestic and overseas (when the ‘norm’ returns). Remember the B&B’s ability to promote a package to any audience and its marketing costs are a crucial factor as well.
2. Segment the audience by behaviour patterns
You could also break it down further to segment their behaviour at the property – what are their patterns? Where do they go? How do they spend their time? How many transactions do they have once at the B&B? What are the most frequently asked questions?
3. Study travel patterns
Understand the key booking and travel periods for the main source markets. I know that with my packages there are definite seasons when I need to promote them.
4. Choose the right partners
Based on your understanding of what your guests are looking to do and their lifestyle needs, choose appropriate partners with a similar niche approach.
5. Consider B&B level add-ins
Identify a set of add-ons that the B&B can provide that can enhance the value of the package at a lower cost. This could be meal inclusions, access to a spa or high-speed Wi-Fi.
6. Time it right
B&Bs will do well to look at airline-related package trends, community event trends and marketing campaigns by your Regional Tourism Office or Tourism NZ. Swing your package on the back of these trends. Make sure you tag the ‘trend’ or ‘campaign’ in all of your social media. At the time of writing this blog, I know that Tourism NZ will be launching a huge summer campaign on the 1st November. Keep an eye out for what the focus of this campaign will be.
7. Price it right
NZ.com tell me that packages of $600 or under sell the fastest. Load these in their ‘Deal’ section. Remember, a NZ.com ‘Deal’ doesn’t have to be a discount. Select a ‘Price Point’ deal as they are the most popular.
The old ‘9’ trick still applies in this day and age. So a deal of $299 or $359 etc will get the most attention.
8. Imagery is so, so important.
Not only should your images be of a great quality, it should ooze the experience that the guest is about to have. Long gone are the days of photographing the bed and being done with it. When you package up, the supplier you are using may have better imagery to depict the package you are marketing.
Be aware, that not all packages DO work. Don’t be afraid to hibernate or completely get rid of packages that do not have any traction. For us here at Sunlover, I create the package and have a really good run at promoting and marketing it. If there just doesn’t seem to be any uptake, I simply take it off the menu.
As with all marketing, marketing your packages becomes a bit of trial and error. Don’t be afraid to be creative and do your research. Most of all, include packages in your overall B&B offering. You’ll be surprised at the results!