Who Stays in a Bed & Breakfast, Anyway?

Enjoying Breakfast in Bed

There are some standard questions I’m asked from time to time. I thought I’d start with one very common question. “Who stays with you, anyway?”
Jacksonville is considered a small town and it’s located about 30 minutes from Springfield, the State Capitol. So, who stays here, anyway? Our guests come from as far away as Australia and as close as across town. They range from newlyweds and young professionals to business travelers and retirees. Some stay in B&B’s as a matter of choice and some have come for the first time, because our local hotels were full. I’ve learned that first-timers, even when “forced” to stay here the first time, often become return guests.

Val with authors Mark Parsons and Wendelin van Draanen

The Authors and the Artists…
We hosted authors and author’s reps a few times. Our guests one
week drove a minivan wrapped in book covers from all of their published books. They were doing a book signing at Our Town Books and we enjoyed the opportunity to host them while they were in town. Valerie is such a reader that it was a real treat for her! One week in March, in our early years, a local artist stayed four nights for an Artist’s Retreat. She spent time pondering and planning and primarily getting away from the distractions she would have faced in her home a short distance away. She not only stayed here, she spent time painting the lovely watercolor of our home and wrote and illustrated a book for Valerie, our Assistant Innkeeper. Later, Sharon illustrated Valerie’s book and she now comes back every year for her annual retreat.

The Couples…
Our guests one week included a young married couple who came for a Dinner and Movie Date Night. They had a nice dinner at Lonzerotti’s Italian Restaurant, ate Dell’s popcorn, and watched movies to their heart’s content. For them it was a Babymoon – their last getaway as a couple, before baby makes three.

The Quilters…
One fall, a group of quilters made this their base as they visited fabric shops here in Jacksonville and in nearby communities. They had massages, explored the area, shopped and spent a good bit of their time working at our dining room table.

The Seniors   Senior Couple Standing Outside In Snowy Landscape
We’ve had several guests that would fit the imagined profile for the “typical” B&B guests. Some couples travel together, socializing on the front porch or in the front parlor, dining out together, and playing cards in the dining room. They’re B&B veterans who have high expectations. And they often return a couple of times a year!

Doctors and Lawyers and College Trustees…
Over the years we have hosted many business travelers. They seem to like the peace and quiet here. There are lap desks in each suite, along with power strips to help them stay connected. We offer Internet access and a business center to send faxes and print boarding documents. Some of our business guests have been here several times a year, others several times a month. We’ve developed some great friendships over the years.

What is My “Target Market”?
I typically spend the first part of the year reviewing my marketing plan, revising my web site and determining which listing services I want to pay to belong to. One of the key questions I ask myself is, “What is my target market?” I know that I should have a target market, but what is it? WHO is it? I can’t seem to nail it down. Business travelers? Honeymooners and romantic getaways? Senior travelers? Millennials? Boomers? We love them all and I can’t name just one target market. So… we’ll keep on working on special packages that appeal to each of these groups, and you all just keep on coming.

Foodies!    professional personal chef cook in customer's private kitchen house giving a cooking lesson to young people at home
A new market I’m considering targets “Foodies.” How would you like to have your own private chef for a night? Perhaps you’d like to host a dinner party for some of your friends, planning it with your own personal chef. Maybe you and another couple would like to come for a weekend and enjoy a private “Chef’s Table.” Stay tuned to see what we come up with, and if you have a suggestion for us, please leave a comment!

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