Article originally published in Propel Friday Opinion on Fri 29th Jul 2022 and written by Mark Marshall.
Whilst most areas of hospitality are currently contracting (when compared to pre-Covid data from 2019), UK Hospitality have noted that those offering accommodation are bucking this trend to the tune of + 10% growth. As reported in Propel this week.
Clearly, this has been massaged by the staycation psyche created out of necessity by Covid but also, currently, those who simply don’t fancy the almost inevitable scenario of sitting on an airport floor for 10 hours caused by insufficient staff, their flight being delayed or cancelled.
Which is why those pubs and inns that offer accommodation - be it 5 or 50 rooms - have a golden opportunity to ride this positive wave.
Setting aside the thorny question of the hardships of recruiting people to deliver this experience for a moment, it’s important to understand the key drivers at play here.
Qualitative and quantitative research conducted by Service Monitor (with accommodation guests of clients such as Fuller’s and Hall & Woodhouse) in recent times, has shown the strengths pub and inn accommodation can offer. Things guests really like……
Small is good.
Small is cosy and intimate.
The fact that you ‘only’ offer a few rooms is a massive positive - not something to be embarrassed about. While this is a more prevalent view with leisure guests, many business guests feel the same.
Small means more intimate, more personal.
A cheery check in, a face or two behind the bar and in the restaurant is so important to guests staying in such accommodation. It’s a huge advantage to offer this personal touch.
I recently had to check into a 200 room hotel in London & from start to finish was not given the opportunity to engage with a single member of the hotel team. Call me old fashioned (which many do!) but this is not for me thanks ever so much. And with the vast majority of guests we surveyed.
That each bedroom is a bit different - be it size, decor etc. And, equally importantly, that there is a bit of ‘quirke’ going on. This could be a decorative quirk or things like a book to read, a hot water bottle - anything. It gives the house the opportunity to be a little bit different, to set it apart from the norm and make guests smile. And equally importantly, make them remember this difference.
Food & Drink.
Guests staying in pub based accommodation really appreciate the chance to enjoy something different when it comes to food and drink - as opposed to the standard type menus most travellers kind of expect. Signature ales, locally sourced (if possible) food and specials. It all goes towards that feeling of individuality. Something not stamped out of a mould. And smaller properties are nimble enough to offer this.
There is much more.
Welcome dogs (with a water bowl outside). Welcome cyclists (with a cycle rack). Walkers (with boot scrapers). Kids (with sweets - something they will never forget). Aliens from the planet Tharg (with whatever rocks their boat - or space ship).
And let guests pay for it.
They won’t bat an eye if they experience these kind of things. And this is their sentiment not mine!
Above all, make the most of being small, individual, nimble, unfettered by scale and wonderfully special.