Our typical “busy” season runs from Memorial Day through New Years, with a few gaps in between where things slow down. By busy, I mean that most weekends are full and mid-week is 40%-60% occupied.
This year, I have been holding my breath with the slower economy, but can actually report that May and June were good months. Still, there is a little way to go before we get back to where we were last year since the first quarter of 2009 was very slow.
If I can report any trends in travel as I have seen it this year, there have been two major differences. One, people are not traveling for as long as they had in past years. Average stays during the summer were 4-5 nights and this year, the average is closer to 2.5-3 nights. Secondly, I am not seeing as much advance reservations. It used to be that people would make their summer plans 3-6 months in advance. This year, that advance planning is about 1-2 weeks before they come. That makes me a little nervous since I am not getting booked on weekends, in some cases, until the week of.
Other trends are that people are not traveling from as far away and most of my guests are visiting from the east coast. People are also looking for bigger bargains and cheaper rates. While my rates are slightly lower from 2008 for several rooms, I am looking for ways to increase the guest experience while here rather than simply offering the cheapest room. Most people who stay at B&Bs are looking for a different experience anyway and recognize the added value that they get when staying at a B&B versus a standard hotel.
As with any old house, the work is never done, so I am staying busy this summer maintaining the gardens and updating/renovating throughout the property. I just bought a new fountain for under the pergola and as soon as I get a pump and install it, guests will have another water feature to enjoy as they walk up to the house. I recently had a dead pine tree removed from the corner of the front porch and just planted 3 purple crape myrtle bushes in its place.
Summer is also the time of year for the majority of our weddings and receptions. We had a wedding/reception in June, July 4th weekend had a reception and we have 2 weddings coming up at the end of July and mid-August. I try to keep the number of events to a small number each year since every event causes wear and tear on the house and property. I average 6-10 events a year with the majority being between May – October. We also have elopements here and other small gatherings and events so that keeps things exciting.
Since I try to do as much work around here as possible, I love to barter with other local service providers for their work. I’ve gotten landscaping done through barter and am open to anyone who has a service they’d like to trade.