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Yarmouth B&B owner lifts lid on secrets of the trade in revealing blog

PUBLISHED: 17:03 28 March 2019 | UPDATED: 17:03 28 March 2019

Gary and Julie Smith run the top-rated B&B for Norfolk (from 700) on TripAdvisor.
Kilbrannan Guest House, Trafalgar Road, Great Yarmouth.

Picture: James Bass

Gary and Julie Smith run the top-rated B&B for Norfolk (from 700) on TripAdvisor. Kilbrannan Guest House, Trafalgar Road, Great Yarmouth. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2014

Not so long ago 'hot and cold' water was billed as a selling point and you were kicked out by your seaside landlady after breakfast, and not allowed home 'til dinner.

Gary and Julie Smith run the top-rated B&B for Norfolk (from 700) on TripAdvisor.
Kilbrannan Guest House, Trafalgar Road, Great Yarmouth.

Picture: James Bass

Gary and Julie Smith run the top-rated B&B for Norfolk (from 700) on TripAdvisor. Kilbrannan Guest House, Trafalgar Road, Great Yarmouth. Picture: James Bass

Today’s B&B guest is likely to want a lavish breakfast banquet while running a white-gloved finger over the top of all surfaces as expectations shift.

Great Yarmouth guest house owner Gary Smith is lifting the lid on how things have changed in an online blog which chronicles the last ten years since he and his wife took over the ropes at Kilbrannan in Trafalgar Road, Great Yarmouth.

In it he explains how higher expectations from paying guests and online booking and review sites have changed how the traditional B&B operates helping them to fill rooms year-round, but bringing some pitfalls too as they up their game.

Where once owners sunned themselves on the doorstep touting for business - and also turning some away - unvetted tourists who have booked online are now the main room-fillers.

Gary and Julie Smith run the top-rated B&B for Norfolk (from 700) on TripAdvisor.
Kilbrannan Guest House, Trafalgar Road, Great Yarmouth.

Picture: James Bass

Gary and Julie Smith run the top-rated B&B for Norfolk (from 700) on TripAdvisor. Kilbrannan Guest House, Trafalgar Road, Great Yarmouth. Picture: James Bass

He explains when they first took over in 2008 around 30pc of rooms in the summer were booked by returning visitors with 70pc booked on spec.

With the advent of booking sites came a new flexibilty without relying on hot weather to lure in doorstep chancers.

But it lead to a price and ranking war with those who paid higher commission able to get themselves higher up on the site.

By 2010 there were multiple sites all offering different incentives.

Then came the starred reviews.

Mr Smith writes: “Reviews immediately changed the way any accommodation owner runs his/her business because now, suddenly, people have been given the power to report back any thoughts about their stay and are also enabled with the ability to score certain areas of the accommodation on an ‘available for everyone to see’ platform.

“In days past, if a person enjoyed their stay, they would return another time and tell family and friends all about it.

“If they didn’t enjoy their stay they just wouldn’t return or recommend to anyone.”

Feedback would even include what make of toilet roll was used.

After some “uncomfortable encounters” the “vacancies” sign was taken out of the window, he writes, adding: “It seemed the only on spec people had some sort of issue such as being drunk, or being thrown out of somewhere else, or was obviously high on something, or had an attitude of some sort.

“Some owners still use the vacancy signs to this day and we regularly hear of some of the horrible issues that have been encountered.”

Now Kilbrannan is encouraging people to book with them direct, driving down commission with booking sites, although they are still listed for new customers.

To visit the blog click the link here.

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