They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery.
I find it interesting how the tourism landscape in Torquay has changed since we moved here and opened The 25 Boutique B&B and the effect we've had on it.
I want the English Riviera to be an internationally renowned tourism destination, and I’m happy that we’re having an influence on that. If the quality of accommodation available increases then that has to be good for everyone.
When we moved in, there were a very small number of five star properties, and of those, not one described themselves as "boutique". Not surprisingly, others have seen our success and it’s amazing how many other B&Bs have now added the word “boutique” to their name or their strapline.
Unfortunately, just adding the word does not necessarily make you boutique, any more than me saying “Andy Banner-Price – boxing champion” is going to help me win a fight where in reality I’d be knocked out cold in the first round. You can read my previous blog here on “Boutique – an over used term?”
Becoming “boutique” often involves a major refurbishment and it’s a whole ethos to your business, not something that can just be changed in name alone.
It’s obvious that other B&Bs are watching us closely and emulating our strategy. We reward our direct booking and repeat guests with our VIP Guests programme which is hugely popular and not only gives you a permanent discount on the price of your room, but lots of other benefits too (check it out here). I noticed the other day that another Torquay B&B is now also offering a discount if you quote "VIP" – too much of a coincidence?
Of course, with my training courses, my aim is to help support newer and inexperienced B&Bers so that they have successful businesses. I have helped many of our friends locally who have come to me for guidance and advice. At the end of the day, we all have our own uniqueness and should have our own niche so that there’s enough business to go round for everyone. It still amazes me the amount of B&Bs who feel competing on price alone is the best way to gain customers when in reality that never serves anyone in the long run.
There are more five star properties now than when we moved in four years ago (four years and two days to be precise!). That’s a good thing though – the higher the quality of accommodation locally, then the more we’ll attract the right sort of guest who wants to support our local economy by spending money in the shops, bars, restaurants and in the tourist attractions. They’ll pay for parking to support the council, and all that money gets re-invested into the area making it even better and supporting those in the wider community.
It’s difficult to keep anything a secret nowadays and if any of our “competitors” want to find out exactly what we do or how we do it, it’s fairly easy. They could start by reading all of our on-line reviews, some of which go into great detail about what we do and what the guest experience is like, and many are accompanied with photos. It’s unfortunate for our guests in a way as there’s nothing to surprise them with – at one time it was lovely to see a guest’s eyes light up when they found out they’d been given some homemade chocolate brownies with their welcome drinks. Nowadays, when I walk in with the tray, they’ll often say “These must be your famous chocolate brownies!”. Then there’s our website. Comprehensive does not do it justice! It could take you a week to read all the information on it.
So am I bothered that other B&Bs have copied us? No. As the famous saying pronounces, I should be flattered that so many B&Bs in Torquay have recognised our success and strive to be more like us. I wish them all luck. As long as we all continue to attract guests to the beautiful English Riviera, it doesn’t really matter where they are staying and we should all work together for that one common goal, whatever type of accommodation we are offering.
Want to join our VIP Guest programme yourself? Simply fill in the form below: