Who Stays In B&B's

Where To Stay - Does Ambience Make A Difference?                      Monday, July 25, 2011

By Rich Steck and the research team at Ypartnership.*

Do the terms "B&B" (bed & breakfast) and "Inn" conjure up romantic images of stately Victorian houses nestled among majestic oaks, graciously operated by entrepreneurs we secretly admire because they finally decided to follow their dream?

Maybe, but do these seductive images translate into market appeal? Do they make you want to consider a B&B or inn for your next trip or vacation?

"Portrait of American Travelers," a comprehensive survey of the travel habits, preferences and intentions of today's Americans, was just released by Ypartnership/Harrison Group 2011 and reveals the answer nationally.

But what about you? Where do you stack up in relation to the rest of U.S. travelers?

Start with last year. One out of every eight American leisure travelers stayed at a B&B or inn at least once during the previous year, according to the survey. Among leisure travelers with an annual household income of $125,000 or more it was slightly more popular at one out of six. And a remarkable eight out of ten leisure travelers were interested in staying at a B&B during the year ahead. That's almost 80% of all leisure travelers might actually pick a B&B or inn as their accommodation choice

See yourself in those numbers? Why do you suppose this notion of staying at a B&B or Inn is so appealing? Not surprisingly, it turns out that the idea of the distinctive ambiance of B&Bs and inns is what's driving the travelers' choice.

When asked why they patronize B&Bs and inns, leisure travelers who did so during the previous year cited reasons that point to the unique, authentic experiences they enjoy during their stay. Nearly 64% of patrons preferred the private, less crowded, quiet atmosphere of small inns and B&Bs. More than half felt B&Bs offered a better sense of local culture. Personalized service delivered by the innkeeper, unique architecture and décor and home-cooked food were also cited by just over 50% as appealing aspects of B&B travel.

When compared to a traditional hotel/motel, 47% percent of travelers more found B&Bs more romantic (not surprising) and 45% felt they were more pampered, while slightly less enjoyed socializing with other guests but did feel B&Bs were a more affordable escape. Only 19% appreciated a general pet-friendly policy maintained by most B&Bs and small inns.

Among leisure travelers who expressed interest in staying at a B&B or inn on a future trip, the home-like ambiance and amenities they expect to find in these properties are the primary motivators. The majority of survey respondents cited comfortable beds/linens (92%), friendly staff (91%), complimentary, fresh-made breakfast (88%), free time to relax and unwind (87%) and knowledgeable innkeepers (80%) as desirable attributes of B&Bs. Other aspects included the opportunity to taste different or unusual cuisines (68%), free Wi-Fi availability (67%), romantic ambiance (63%), distinctive theme or atmosphere (59%), unique architecture (55%) and the ability to reserve a specific room with unique décor (53%). Two in five travelers were eager to socialize with other interesting guests (41 percent).

Clearly, consumers believe B&Bs and inns offer an alluring residential ambiance not found in most conventional hotels and resorts. When combined with the personal touches of the host innkeeper, this appeal is very alluring. Do you fit the pattern?

Enjoy your stay - wherever it is.

* Ypartnership is a marketing services company for travel, leisure, lifestyle and entertainment clients. The agency is a preeminent source of market intelligence on leisure travel trends. Their "Portrait of American Travelers" is a February 2011 national survey of 2,539 U.S. households with an annual income of $50,000 or more. For more information, click the Publications tab on http://www.ypartnership.com.