So often when we answer the phone this is the first question we hear. Our heart sinks a little because we know we are not the least expensive bed and breakfast in the area. In fact, we are one of the higher priced but for a reason. So we try to find out what is bringing them to the area, what are they looking for in a room. We quote our room rate and then tell them about our wonderful breakfasts (New York Times stated, “”The elaborate breakfasts are a highlight.”). If you could even find a restaurant that serves breakfast like ours in the Brandywine Valley (and you won’t!) it would cost you at least $20.00 plus tax and gratuity. Ours is part of the room rate. We mention all our special amenities, our fresh baked cookies we put out each afternoon, complimentary port and sherry, free safe off street parking, free WIFI, free guest pantry with snacks and drinks, the list goes on and on. But if someone is looking at just the bottom line, this long list somehow doesn’t seem to influence them. Not when they have called a hotel and been quoted a rate $30-50 less per night.
Problem with the hotel quotes, is they aren’t telling the guest about all the hidden costs. We innkeepers are well aware of how hotels are going the way of airlines and charging for everything. Want bottled water” Thank you, that will be $8.00. Want to use your computer in your room? Another $10-15 a day. And check your bill when you check out. Last time I was in a hotel (for a Professional Association of International Innkeepers conference) an additional $8.00 per day had been added to the bill for the exercise room. Not only did I not use it, I didn’t even know that had one. After some arguements with the desk clerk I was able to get 4 days of hidden fees taken off my bill.
To the rescue is Marti Mayne of Maynely Marketing (www.maynelymarketing.com) who recently did a comparison and wrote an article for Examiner.com entitled “Those pesky hotel fees: a comparison of Boson hotels and B and Bs.” In her article she quotes David Wilkening, a leading writer for www.Travelmole.com who warned travelers to expect more fees when visiting hotels this year. In his article he stated that hoteliers will become more aggressive in collecting fees and surcharges this year. I found the amount of fees collected by hotels staggering — one billion dollars in collected fees and surcharges by US hotel companies last year and he is predicting an increase over that in 2010.
Based on this Marti did some comparison shopping between B&Bs and hotels in the Boston area. Her results show that clearly B&Bs are a far better value. Marti stated, “The B&B savings add up to as much as $150 per day. Add on the extras from Boston’s B&Bs like complimentary snacks and beverages (which will run you upwards of $10-$15 from a hotel mini-bar), complimentary DVDs and movie libraries and it translates into a savings of as much as $175 per day. Consider that most people take a two-day getaway to Boston, and we’re looking at a $325 savings by staying at a B&B. Clearly for today’s thrifty traveler, more than a $300 savings makes the B&B choice a winner. ” Certainly the Boston area is more expensive than our beautiful Brandywine Valley, but the value of a B&B over a hotel is still the same. To see Marti’s complete article, go to http://www.examiner.com/x-18652-Boston-Bed–Breakfast-Examiner~y2010m3d21-Those-pesky-hotel-fees-a-comparison-of-Boston-hotels-and-B-and-Bs?cid=examiner-email. She even has a succinct box with comparisons of hotels vs. B&Bs for those of you who are accustomed to reading USAToday. And next time y’all are thinking of getting away, hope you’ll think of the Brandywine Valley which is just 30 minutes from Philadelphia and a pleasant hour drive from Lancaster County and Amish Country.