Comment: B&Bs play a vital role in tourism

Ian Hardwick, business development director at booking software specialist eviivo, bangs the drum for B&Bs.

There are more than 3,000 official and unofficial celebratory days in the year.

The British public, should they be so inclined, can celebrate ‘Talk Like Shakespeare Day’, ‘Scout Scarf Day’ or ‘Play Your Ukulele Day’. Why not National B&B Day?

That was the question which spurred the team here at eviivo to launch, in partnership with the B&B Association, the first National B&B Day on March 24, 2018.

It is estimated that there are more than 25,000 B&Bs in the UK.

Up and down the country, these owner-operated small businesses play a vital role in driving tourism, creating valuable jobs in their local communities and contributing more than £2 billion to the UK economy.

Yet, up until now, there had been no official celebration of this original cottage industry and the dedicated entrepreneurs who every year, without fail, lay out the ‘Welcome’ mat for thousands of British and international holidaymakers.

Our aim for the launch of the inaugural National B&B Day was simple.

Fantastic achievements

We wanted the day to be a celebration of the fantastic achievements of the UK’s B&Bs, guest houses and independent hotels but perhaps, more importantly, to shine a light on how the industry has transformed in recent years.

Here at eviivo, we work with more than 11,600 hosts and hoteliers and know that the exceptional and authentic customer holiday experience they provide rivals any hotel chain. In fact, the TripAdvisor guest satisfaction ratings for B&Bs were 10% higher in 2017 than their hotel rivals!

Our customers offer everything from boutique luxury accommodation, gourmet fine dining and private helipad to off-grid, WiFi-free retreats with campfire cookery courses, and everything in between – a truly authentic, unforgettable British holiday experience for individuals, couples, families and larger groups.

Speaking to the B&Bs we work with, we were confident of their engagement and appetite for a National B&B Day – this is an industry that generally receives very little public recognition.

Property owners came up with an overwhelming array of special offers to draw attention to the day, their variety testament to the fantastic quirks of the B&Bs themselves.

The support from the wider industry was also incredibly encouraging, with the list of backers quickly growing to include VisitBritain/VisitEngland, TripAdvisor, The AA, Booking.com and Expedia to name but few, as well as numerous regional and local tourism bodies.

Tourism minister

What particularly surprised us was the endorsement we received from MPs across the country.

During the week leading up to National B&B Day, several MPs took time out of their busy schedules to visit B&Bs in their constituency, including the tourism minister Michael Ellis.

An Early Day Motion was even tabled in Parliament in support of the day.

The final run-up to the day saw a surge of further activity.

We launched our Great British B&B Breakfasts cookbook – with a back-cover quote from Michel Roux Jr – The AA published research on the most family-friendly B&Bs in the UK, a fleet of National B&B Day branded cabs circulated the capital and other cities, and #bandbday trended on Twitter.

Now that the dust has begun to settle, we are delighted with the level of interest the day has generated.

We know from our own analysis that B&Bs are experiencing a renaissance, but it has been really encouraging to see groups of holidaymakers who might have traditionally overlooked B&Bs becoming increasingly aware of the incredible standards and unique holiday experiences that independent accommodation can offer. Roll on 2019!

The Great British B&B Breakfasts cookbook is available from eviivo.com/cookbook/ and proceeds will be donated to the Family Holiday Association.

bandbday.com