An excerpts from an old forum:
Is your gift shop open to the public or is it restricted to guests at your B&B? Are the locals even aware that your facility has a gift shop?
To promote your gift shop, consider the possibility of holding an open house. The open house will introduce your products to locals who will also enjoy refreshments and have the opportunity to socialize.
Locals who have never set foot in your B&B before will have the additional opportunity to tour your facility. If they’re suitably impressed, the next time friends and relatives come to town, they might be referred to your B&B instead of having to bed down on the sleeper sofa.
What are some factors to consider in hosting an open house?
Set a date and time for your open house. Think about your target market and choose a date and time that best meets their needs.
After you’ve selected a date and time, place an ad in the local paper. Print up flyers to post around your community or to hand deliver. Include your address, the date and time of the open house, and any incentives you plant to offer such as gifts, refreshments, discounts, and drawings for prizes.
INCENTIVES AND PRIZES
Most open houses of this sort offer some sort of gift. The gift makes your customers feel appreciated and it gives the merchant the opportunity to distribute product samples. If you cannot provide samples of your products, consider the possibility of offering discounts. One or more door prizes offered through random drawings would also be appreciated.
SET THE TONE OF THE OPEN HOUSE
Consider having some music (appropriate to your inn and gift shop theme), playing in the background.
Think about how you will display your merchandise. If you have a small gift shop and want to avoid the possibility of overcrowding, set up a display in your foyer, the dining room, or some other room that’s convenient to the gift shop.
Dress for the occasion. If customers don’t know who you are, they won’t know who to talk to. If your facility has staff uniforms, wear a staff shirt. The addition of an apron will help you stand out. Aprons with pockets are particularly useful as this gives you a place to put pens, business cards, and receipt pads.
Instead of hiding behind the gift shop counter or display table, be proactive. Circulate among your guests. IChat with them. Put them at ease. (Avoid making sales pitches unless customers have questions about your products). If you have friends or family who can help, put them to work at the refreshment table. Have someone supervise the gift shop.
Include signage with your displays. The signs can highlight the merchandise being offered along with their prices.
Consider offering refreshments to your customers. Coffee, tea, water, juice and some light snacks such as cheese, crackers, cookies, and fruit are generally all that’s needed. If your merchandise includes food products, offer some of these products with your refreshments.
Make sure you have someplace for guests to leave their plates, coffee cups, and glasses – or to discard paper cups and napkins. half eaten cookies and used coffee cups left on the refreshment table are unattractive.
If you’re in a small community, contact your local paper and invite a reporter to attend the open house. If a reporter attends and writes a story about your facility, you’ll be getting free publicity!
Don’t forget to highlight the open house on your B&B website. Remember to include the date and time.