Thursday, 23 October 2014

Renovation Project - Is it worth using Trip Advisor for my B&B

Renovation Project - Is it worth using Trip Advisor for my B&B

The best way to have customers arrive at your B&B is by direct booking, this way you do not have to pay any commission to anybody, but it is also more difficult.

We have a website, that has generated interest, but you must get your website to appear on the front page of Google searches, this is more difficult, especially if you are in an area with established B&B's
there are a number of ways to do this and I will discuss a few of the ways that we used and which worked best.

Trip Advisor

Try to ensure that all your guests write a review on Trip Advisor, I explained that we were new and needed the reviews to ensure we were successful, I also learnt to request this in more than one language, this really does make a difference.

We will never be number one on Trip Advisor (or at least not for a couple of years) as there is a much bigger B&B that has been established for many years and has well over a hundred reviews, but we did make it to number 2 in our first season, which I am really pleased about.

Tips for Trip Advisor
  • Be the best you can be, provide an excellent service, so that you get a good review.
  • Ask your guests if they enjoyed there stay and if they did please would they write a review.
  • Learn to ask in other languages, this shows you have made an effort
  • Chat to your guests each morning, check if they need anything
  • Respond to any reviews straight away (if somebody has taken the time to leave you a review, thank them)
  • Make your response individual so that they can see you have taken the time.
  • If you have a bad review, don't panic, do they have a point? If so address it in your response, this way any other potential guest can see how you handle any complaints, this can be more positive than just good reviews.
  • It is relatively easy to add your listing to the Trip Advisor site
  • Enjoy what you are doing!
The bad points from Trip Advisor
  • Family or friends can not leave reviews, this means that you can miss out on reviews
  • Anybody can review you, they do not need to have stayed at your establishment
  • Not all B&B/hotel owners are as honest as you, some may have bogus reviews that improve their rating (we do not know of anybody that has done this but it is a complaint from one of the support groups I joined)
  • The business listing option (where guests can book directly is expensive)
  • There is the opportunity for people to leave bad reviews simply to give you a bad rating, these can be removed if proved to be malicious, but this does take some time

Most people use Trip Advisor to see what is written about your property, this is something you cannot escape, however most people will be realistic whilst reading. If you have a great property and provide a great service, taking time to speak to your guests and take an interest in their holiday and help with recommending local restaurants and places of interest you will get a good review.

But also don’t be upset if you have a great guest and they don't leave a review, how many times have you thought ' I love this hotel, I'll make sure I leave a great review' then you get home and life takes over again, just be happy that you made somebody's holiday so special.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

FrenchEntrée Launches Photo Competition to Find Essence of France

FrenchEntrée Launches Photo Competition to Find Essence of France
Travel and property specialists invite photographers to share best holiday photos on new-look website
20th October 2014: FrenchEntrée, the French travel and property specialists for overseas buyers, is launching a competition to find the best images of France taken this year.
Photographers of all ages and abilities are invited to upload pictures of their French travels to FrenchEntrée to win a high specification camera from the Olympus Travel range.
The competition celebrates the 10th anniversary of the website, which has been re-designed to appeal to increasing numbers of users accessing it from a tablet or smartphone.  
The winning photographer will receive an Olympus SH-60. The winning image will be publicised via Twitter, as well as printed in the January edition of FrenchEntrée, the beautiful magazine version of the site. Runners up will receive a subscription to the magazine.
Justin Postlethwaite, Editor of FrenchEntrée, says, “France, through its glorious beaches, villages, cities and immensely varied and beautiful countryside, continues to attract artistically-minded visitors who want to discover its authenticity.
“We are looking for images that sum up France, from quintessential scenes, landscapes, festivals, events or even cityscapes - pretty much anything that would inspire friends and family to try out this wonderful, and still changing country.”
Olympus SH-60:
Thanks to the Hybrid 5-Axis IS normally found in D-SLRs, the compact SH-60 effectively counteracts blur in all five directions.  So effective, you can actually make a movie as you run.
The SH-60 has a high-zoom lens that lets you get close to the details from up to 40cm away – perfect for creating fascinating still shots or smooth 1080 full HD movies. Packed with Photo Story, this pocket-sized wonder lets you create an artistic collage for sharing on social networks or printing.
Competition details:
Participants are asked to register on the site. Once registered, they should submit photos to, along with their name, plus their FrenchEntrée user name, email address and a brief caption about the photos (i.e subject, plus details on where and when it was taken).  
The closing date is Friday 14th November. The winner will be announced on Monday 1st December.
For more information, or for camera images, please contact Sarah Chidgey via or via 07805034477.
The French property market specialist for foreign buyers, providing impartial advice on everything from French property buying and living in France to planning a holiday in the country.
Launched in 2004, FrenchEntrée has grown to become an invaluable source of advice and inspiration for hundreds of thousands of people, with a team of property consultants, a database of over 14,000 properties, a lively online forum aimed at helping members get the best out of living in France, as well as a beautiful magazine focusing on French culture, property and lifestyle.


This is a featured post on behalf of Sarah Chidgey

Thursday, 16 October 2014

AirBnB - How does it work?

AirBnB - How does it work?

AirBnB is a platform for B&B's, Hotels, but also for those who have a room to rent in their home or a house to rent out. When I first heard about them they seemed like a really good option, the commission is very cheap and the sign up process is very easy, guests and owners review each other.

Sounds a bit too good to be true? Well that was the advice I was given.

There is a lot of bad press about AirBNB and a number of support groups that I joined have warned against joining this platform.

We have used them and to be honest we found them great, we did not get many bookings from them but the bookings we did get were really nice people. We would definitely use them again.

I will now detail the pros and cons of using AirBnB

  • very easy to sign up too
  • the commission per booking is only 2%!!!!!!!!!!!
  • guests will send you an e-mail request and you have 24 hours to reply
  • once you accept a guest, AirBnB collect the cost of your booking
  • AirBnb pay you after the fist night that the guest has stayed
  • you can choose your payment method (paypal or bank transfer)
  • all guests are reviewed by the accommodation provider
  • you have the option to look at reviews of potential guests before you accept the reservation
  • all guests review the accommodation provider
  • there is the option to send a private review to each other, in addition to the public review
  • phone numbers and e-mails of your guests are sent to you so you can stay in touch
  • you have to keep your calendar up to date (but if it is not you can just refuse the guest with no problem or penalty)
  • We didn't actually find any! But other people have mentioned the one below
  • not all accommodation providers are registered, but this is no different to any other platform that advertises accommodation
This is she smallest con list I have had for any thing and the only con, is one that is circulating from other countries (we are based in France) saying that AirBnB is not professional or the clients or accommodation that use them are not of the same standard, I do not see how this can be justified as we are a registered B&B (of a high standard) and the people who booked via AirBnB were all wonderful and treated our B&B with the utmost respect.

AirBnB is an online platform, I can not say what the complaints process is like, because we have never had cause to use it.

Please bare in mind the above is our personal experience during June – September 2014 in Brittany, France (it may be different for different countries) this is not a paid post by AirBnB, just a summary of our experience.

Good luck

Wednesday, 15 October 2014 - How does it work? - How does it work?

As a new B&B you have to decide how to advertise and it is a minefield out there, there are so many options. Are you going to have a website and wait for the bookings to come flooding in? To be honest you may have a long wait and if you are in an area that only has a short season you need to optimise your bookings.

But how do you do this? There are many options and one that we considered was (amongst others but I will review them separately)

You will hear good and bad reviews of using a platform such as this, to be honest we found it great. But there are pros and cons and I will tell you about our experience and then you can make your own mind up.

When you first contact you can not find out how much they charge you, you fill in the contact sheet, which is concerning as you have to put all your B&B info in there and you still don't know how it works, I could not find a telephone number to contact as we wanted this information first.

However just because you have put our info in, it doesn't mean you are committed to using them!

We received a telephone call from one of the agents, as we are in France it was a French speaker, but once I explained my French wasn't that great, she spoke fantastic English, so first big plus!

The agent explained how it worked and we signed up, provide a calender (which we are responsible for, if you do not keep it up to date you will be liable for any mistakes)

We had guests almost immediately and regular bookings all through the season.

The pro's
  • Regular bookings (we were full for a season)
  • Easy to use calendar
  • Easy to use system
  • Good back up support from the company
  • You can choose your rates (but these must be same for every advertised site, this is very important!)
  • It is very easy to book dates out if you do not want certain dates not to be available on (e.g. if you get a direct booking)
The cons
  • You do not know the commission rate until you have been though the sign up process (but for us during 2014 it was 15%)
  • You must keep your calendar up to date, if you have a double booking you are responsible for finding the guest alternative accommodation or the cost!
  • Bookings can come though day or night, so DO NOT ACCEPT any other bookings with out checking your e-mails from
  • Do not advertise more cheaply else where
  • Unless you have the option for credit card payments you cannot take a deposit, so if you have a no show, you may not get paid (this only happened once)
  • New dates are added regularly, so if you do not want to be advertised next year or want to change your rates, remember to book out the new dates
More tips

These do not fall into either the pro's or cons but you do need to know.

If you have a no show, it is your responsibility to let know in a specified amount of time or you will still be charged the commission.

Be very careful if you use 2 companies that take direct bookings for you, you can get double booked.

Be very organised with your calendar, keep it up to date.

In summary we used even though they do charge a high commission, we decided that 85% of total room cost was better than 100% of nothing. Many people warned us against using such a big company but we found them to be really helpful and they kept us busy which is the most important thing.

The big is question is would we use them again? and the answer to that is, YES, most definitley

Please bare in mind the above is our personal experience during June – September 2014 in Brittany, France (it may be different for different countries) this is not a paid post by, just a summary of our experience.

Good luck

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Renovation project - Our first B&B season is over

Renovation project - Our first B&B season is over

Well summer is over, and it has been the best summer yet, the sun has shined on a daily basis, we have been full at the B&B and everything is going well.

It is going well that we are now number 2 on Trip Advisor!

We can not believe how busy the B&B has been and the wonderful people we have met.
it has not been what we expected, I thought it would not bother me in the slightest and that John may have had a problem with people in our home but actually it was the other way around.

It is something you don't actually consider. But something you should think of before doing a B&B, you do not have any real privacy, there is always somebody in your house, you do not get any lazy mornings, any lie ins or just slob in front of the TV of an evening, your house has to be immaculate all day, every day, and those that know us well, will know that we are not always the tidiest of people!

We settled in to a routine quite quickly though.

I was responsible for the bookings and making sure that the website was up to date and that was kept up to date and John was responsible for doing the room changeovers and cleaning.

we also used AirBnB, again there are many warnings about this company, but we found them to be great.

I will write a separate post about how to use and AirBnB with the pro's and con's.
The easiest way to work it, was to get the breakfast tables ready of an evening and then I would get up and stroll to the bakery to buy fresh breakfast ingredients. We provided a traditional French breakfast of fresh orange, coffee, breads, croissants and jams with cereal and yoghurt.

This went down really well, we do have some friends that suggested that we provided a cooked English, but we are in France and to be honest when we go away, we want a local breakfast, it seemed to work well.

The biggest surprise we had, was that we did not have any English people stay with us, we had mainly French, Spanish and Belgium guests, which did make breakfasts fun. My French classes really helped and I was able to speak to people in the morning, this was amazing, but also fun when we had people from other countries who also had a spattering of French and English. The conversations were hilarious!

One of the other things we did (when we remembered) was to take a photograph of our guests to add to our face book page, this gives us and them a lovely reminder of their stay.

Some people really stick in our mind as they were just so nice or funny, but I will give some anecdotes later in the week.

All I can say is, if you are thinking of doing this, go for it, it is an amazing experience! But remember to book a day off for yourself or you may become exhausted!

Top tips

  • be prepared for no lazy mornings during the summer
  • make sure you book a night off every so often to recharge your batteries
  • learn your host countries language (and how to say hello in every other language imaginable)
  • decide who is responsible for doing what and stick to it
  • enjoy your self and have fun meeting new people