From “Ask Kit!”:
Q: I’m putting together a plan for a small hotel, cabanas style, in the Yucatan peninsula. I know the occupancy rate is good, I know this is the type of hotel that is prevalent in the area, but how do I find out what type of people will be interested in a place like mine? Who is the target market?
A: I take the exact opposite approach to your question that you have. I determine who my market niche is and what experience they want. Then I design my property around that. You can’t be all things to all people but you can be great with the people you relate to most. So figure out who that is and create an environment that will give them the experiences they will flock to you to get.
Does that make sense? If not, keep asking questions here on the forum.
3 thoughts on “Who is my target market?”
The Inn at Elizabethville used to be a cheap flop house. Built in 1883, it was converted into a B&B in 1990. Rooms were let for $40/night though the onwer would negotiate down to $25.00. Services were limited. The parlor had cable television but the rooms didn’t. Breakfast consisted of coffee, orange juice, milk, and cereal.
The innkeeper made a nice little profit running this facility as a cheap flop house because there were few lodging accomodations in the area.
When the local golf course built a motel, business began to die. The motel was competitively priced. $40 got you a room with TWO full sized beds and cable TV. Breakfast in the clubhouse consisted of coffee, orange juice, danishes, and cereal.
The first innkeeper sold this facility to a woman who ran the business into the ground. When I bought this bed and breakfast in 2004, business had dropped from a stunning 80% rate of occupancy to 11%.
The woman I had bought this facility from had tried to emulate the first innkeeper/owner and had failed. The bed and breakfast was now competing against TWO motels. Each motel offered slightly better service for the same rate of $40/night.
After studying my competition, I decided to reinvent this business. There was no way my facility with seven bedrooms could compete with two motels. One motel has 14 units. The other has 10.
Since I couldn’t compte in terms of cut rate prices and sales volume, I changed the equation.
I capitalized on the fact that this building was constructed in 1883 and refurbished the entire ground floor using a Victorian theme. The bedrooms were refurbished using vintage furniture from the 1930’s. Everything about this facility was changed from the JC Penny lamps that were replaced with antique hurricane lamps converted to electrical usage to the draperies. The ugly “hotel art” framed pictures were replaced with old frames of antique portrait photographs. The solid “functional” curtains were replaced with Chantilly string curtains or lace curtains. The white walls were covered with old fashioned white paper.
Televisions with DVDs were installed in most of the bedrooms. A DVD library of 200+ movies was made available to guests.
Complimentary snacks and beverages were introduced. Guests now enjoy a selection of dried fruits, fresh fruits, homemade cookies, freshly baked pies, a selection of teas, a microwave for heating coffee or tea, and a guest refrigerator filled with bottled water, sodas, and diet sodas.
The breakfast offerings were expanded to include yogurt, cereal, a variety of breads with Amish jams and jellies. We now offer a hot made to order breakfast of stuffed French toast, speciality omelets, hashbrowns, and the like.
A DSL wireless internet network was installed.
Since I couldn’t compete with the motels in terms of low prices, I decided to compete by significantly upgrading our services.
The Inn at Elizabethville is no longer a cheap flop house. We’re a rather elegant Victorian B&B. Our rates are much higher than the local motels, but we offer superior service and guest amenities that are not available anywhere else in the Lykens Valley.
Business has really picked up. Last June we sold 180 rooms!
Kit is right. You have to define who your market is. Your business can’t be all things to all people.
For example …
Children. Will your facility allow young children on the premises? We tend to discourage families with young children because the rest of our guests tend to not appreciate the scream of young voices and the patter of footsteps in the halls. (Many of our guests come here for a romantic getaway. Some have come from neighboring communities that are only 8 miles away on the premise that having the opportunity to get away from their kids IS a romantic getaway. Such guests do not appreciate leaving their children behind only to find children at the inn).
What about pets? Will your facility allow pets? Some guests are allergic to pet dander. Other guests may have phobias. There is also the possibility of having “accidents” occur in your guest rooms – on top of guest bedding or on towels.
Will your business be friendly to business travelers? Business people tend to like early breakfasts. They want desks in their rooms, internet access, phones, and other service amenities that help them perform their jobs while on the road.
I thought I would also take a moment to mention who our target market is NOT.
This building was constructed in 1883 and served as a single family residence until 1990 when it was acquired by a contractor who converted it into a bed and breakfast for his wife.
His wife subsequently divorced him, (not because of the inn), and the contractor/owner wound up hiring a succession of innkeepers to run this facility.
The last innkeeper he hired was an alcoholic.
During this woman’s tenure as the innkeeper, she allowed police officers from a neighboring community to rent bedrooms at the inn to use for liasons with underage girls.
Word got out and the inn was raided by the State Police who arrested all of the officers for statutory rape.
The contractor/owner decided at this point that he wanted to divest himself of the inn and the property was put on the market and sold.
So, who does our market NOT include?
Police officers who meet with underage girls.
Inn at Elizabethville
It always interests me to see who innkeepers discriminate against. At least there’s not a law protecting this group you have chosen!
This is not a question of discrimination. We’re perfectly willing to accomodate police officers but under the Innkeepers’ Rights Act of Pennsylvania, specifically Title 131.3.3, we have the right to refuse accomodations to persons engaged in unlawful activities.
Bedding underage girls is most definitely illegal regardless of who does it.
Inn at Elizabethville
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