In my last article I wrote about the changes B&Bs have experienced in recent years and how that has affected us, in particular having to embrace new technology and the need to re-engineer our businesses accordingly. Even though we have moved with the times, like many small to medium sized businesses in New Zealand, we still feel we’re lagging behind.
The Bed & Breakfast Association New Zealand has a duty of care to its members to help them manage the consequences of the unprecedented growth in international tourist arrivals. The Association is the connection point for members, and is well placed to provide them with all the information they need to run their businesses successfully; this includes helping them keep up with technology. Most B&Bs have enthusiastically embraced the increase in guests, especially when those travellers choose to stay with them because they know they’ll get a unique experience. It is fair to say that all players in the accommodation industry struggle to get direct bookings and B&Bs are no different. To be in the running for any direct bookings, our B&B members have to fully embrace technology and be prepared to factor in the cost as an everyday business expense. Like it or not we accept that some of our bookings will come through the OTAs and now that we no longer have print advertising as an expenditure we accept that our marketing budget needs to include OTA commissions. They provide a service to the accommodation sector and guests alike, and given their deep pockets and broad reach they will remain a part of our distribution strategy. It is therefore necessary for B&Bs to continue working with OTAs but there is no reason why we should not pursue direct bookings.
Recognising that travellers have changed the way they are booking and the types of devices they are using, in an effort to market their B&Bs we looked at options to help our members get noticed more and to get direct bookings. By working with Welman Technologies in Wellington, the Bed & Breakfast Association New Zealand upgraded its own marketing website and launched www.bedandbreakfastnz.co.nz solely dedicated to marketing our member properties to potential guests, allowing them to make direct bookings online with instant confirmations. We didn’t stop there though. Given the demise of print publications and the increase in bookings made from mobile devices we saw the opportunity to develop a mobile app, and once again, working with Welman Technologies we were able to create an app which has been released on both android and i-phones. Now our members have access to affordable products that allow them to connect using the Welman systems and provide travellers with the option of making instant bookings via the bedandbreakfastnz.co.nz web site or via the mobile app B and B NZ. If we can be instrumental in helping our members connect with guests in this way then we will be able to say “job well done”.
We feel very satisfied that we have provided our members with a high tech marketing web site and mobile app giving their guests a first class quality experience from the time they start thinking about booking their stay, through to the day they leave. If the travellers choose to book direct with our members via the bedandbreakfastnz.co.nz web site or mobile app B and B NZ, they are at the beginning of an incredible journey – and we couldn’t be happier to know that we’ll share in the big memories they’ll be creating of their visit to New Zealand.
Association President, Bed & Breakfast Association New Zealand