« 14. Hospitality EQ: Run a pleasing B&B: Tips 1-5 »

Written by Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute.

Does emotional intelligence have anything to do with running a bed and breakfast or working in the hospitality industry? Yes.

Emotional intelligence concerns itself with emotions: being aware of them, reading them accurately, expressing them clearly, predicting them, managing them in yourself and others, and controlling them in difficult situations. All these matter in hospitality.

Why does emotional intelligence matter in a bed & breakfast?

Emotional intelligence is very important across the whole hospitality industry because you are dealing with people and their emotions. When guests visit you they bring with them their emotionally charged expectations, their emotionally driven demands and a whole suitcase of emotions.

You need emotional intelligence skills in all of these areas if you are to manage a flux of very different and sometimes difficult guests, don't you?

It is often managing the people and their emotional issues which is the hardest part of running a bed and breakfast establishment, motel or hotel.

You also, of course, have your own emotions to manage. Being in the hospitality industry is not easy. It is a demanding area of work. There is a need to offer consistently excellent service, which when you feel tired, irritated or overworked, can be difficult. This is why your emotional intelligence matters.

EQ skills: How do people feel when they visit your B&B?

How do your guests feel when they visit your bed and breakfast?

It is important to the success of your bed and breakfast, your communication with your guests, and the way you set up your accommodation that you take the emotions of your guests into account.

Yes, taking into account your guest's emotions when you first establish or furnish your accommodation is important.  The way you set up your bed and breakfast can make people feel cared for or ignored, feel safe or insecure, feel luxurious or cheated, or feel satisfied or uncomfortable. You can make people feel safe or relaxed or delighted just by how you set a room out.

This article is the first in a four-part series on emotional intelligence and EQ skills for bed and breakfast owners.

This article gives you the first five tips on emotionally intelligent ways to set up a bed and breakfast so it is pleasing to guests and evokes the best emotions.

The second article provides five additional EQ skills on setting up a pleasing bed and breakfast: Hospitality EQ: Run a pleasing B&B: Tips 6-10.

We also have a further two articles on emotional intelligence for bed and breakfast owners:

  1. Hospitality EQ: How to help your B&B guests relax.
  2. Hospitality EQ: How to help your B&B guests feel special.

I am not a Bed and Breakfast owner but I am a bed and breakfast user. As I go from one B&B to another it fascinates me as to how people set up their B&Bs and what works and what doesn't.

Based on these experiences across many B&Bs, over the years, I offer the following suggestions, (but do bear in mind they will reflect my bias and possibly not the opinion of all guests).

EQ skills 1: Have a separate lounge area for the guests

Have a separate lounge area for the guests that is not your lounge area.

I have been to a bed and breakfast where the lounge area for the guests was the same area as the lounge area for the owners. The consequence of this was that we felt embarrassed.

One night we were in the same room when the owner and her husband had a domestic argument. This is inappropriate. As an owner it is very important that you have your own place for privacy. The guests need the same.

We have been to another B&B that I considered perfect. The owners had a clearly delineated area where they went, that was out of bounds to guests, and we had our own lounge where we went. It didn't mean that we didn't see each other, but it did allow us privacy when required.

This helped us feel at ease and relaxed - important emotions to cultivate in your guests.

EQ skills 2: Have a separate eating area for the guests

Have a separate eating area for the guests that is not shared with your family.

I have been to a B&B where my companions and I felt completely uncomfortable because we were expected to share the same eating arrangements as the family. This meant that if we wanted a cup of coffee or tea we had to go into the owner's kitchen. They did have a separate shelf and kettle for guests but we still felt uncomfortable.

Then at breakfast we sat at one table while their family sat at another. One of my companions said it was the most uncomfortable arrangement he had come across. The owners weren't uncomfortable but we were as guests. We certainly won't return to this particular B&B.

Make tea and coffee easily accessible in a private area for guests and allow them to eat away from the family. This is for the sake of the family and not just the guests.

Or at least give people the option. Some guests may feel at ease eating with the family and relish the opportunity to be part of a local family. However not all will. Why risk making your guests feel uncomfortable? We may not all want to eat with teenagers - we may be on holiday trying to escape our own!

Part of emotional intelligence is being able to predict the emotions of people, and then factoring these emotions into your decision making. This is an important EQ skill to apply in running a bed and breakfast.

EQ skills 3: Make booking in quick and easy

How difficult it is to book into some B&Bs. Please make it fast and easy. In the computer age surely you can have automatic bookings through a website?

Many I have booked into have done it through e-mail, which is fine – as long as they are quick to respond to their e-mails. Others I have known have gone through a complicated system through a visitor’s bureau and have left me for up to 48 hours before being able to confirm the booking. When someone is making multiple bookings, as I was then, it drags out the whole process.

Please also make sure that your booking system is simple, easy-to-use, quick and correct.

We had one B&B that had four rooms but only advertised three of them on their website and we all got very confused. Had all four been on the website it would have been straightforward. Such simple things do matter.

The easier it is to book in the more relaxed your guests will be about staying with you.

EQ skills 4: Have a great easily found website

Have your own website and have it so it is easily found in the search engines. I have been to one superb B&B that had its own website but we couldn't find it when we searched for it, all we could find were travel agents mentioning their place.

It's a good start to have a web address that people can guess when they are typing it in, in case it doesn’t come up on Google. People like me only book through the web these days.

Again, the easier your B&B can be found on the internet the more relaxed your guests will be, and the more confident they will be that this is a good bed and breakfast to visit. Surely you want to deal with relaxed and confident guests and not hassled or confused ones, don't you?

One of the competencies of emotional intelligence is being able to manage the emotions of others - this is very relevant to bed and breakfast owners. Everything you do has an emotional consequence on your potential or actual guests.

EQ skills 5: Keep the entrance to the rooms clean

Guests are put off by dirt. Keep the entrance to the rooms clean and not just the actual rooms themselves.

This seems so obvious but, yes, we have been to dirty B&Bs, and we are not fastidious about such things or neat freaks.

As one example, when staying on a B&B, which also doubled as a farm, the ducks and other farmyard birds were allowed to wander freely anywhere they wanted. The consequence was that whenever we went out of our door we were in danger of stepping on duck droppings! There were piles of it everywhere. It was very distasteful and the dirt got on our feet, our suitcases and paddled into our rooms.

The ducks were nice but at least the guest verandah and guest footpath should have been out of bounds to them. It is quite simple emotional intelligence really!

Develop your team's EQ skills, now

There is so much more that you and your team can do to develop your emotional intelligence, conversation skills and interaction skills in your hospitality business. The Institute has a number of options to help you:
  1. There are CDs, books and DVDs. The DVD "Business Networking: The skills you need" is ideal for B&B owners. It covers top tips on how to meet, greet and speak to people. You also receive a free copy of our networking checklist and a free copy of our "Top twelve talking topics" card to slip into your pocket or handbag.
  2. There is a series of advanced emotional intelligence master-classes
  3. There are high energy, interactive and practical emotional intelligence workshops. Of particular value in hospitality are: "Networking skills: Meet, speak and exit well" and "How to keep your cool with difficult people". 
  4. There is a dynamic keynote speech on networking and conversation skills: "Easy meet: Sizzling networking success" which will get your conference, seminar or event buzzing.

For more details or to make a booking e-mail us now or pick up the phone and call us and we will discuss your options with you.

Develop your emotional intelligence now and build your business.