« 15. Hospitality EQ: Run a pleasing B&B: Tips 6-10 »

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

Emotional intelligence is very important across the hospitality industry as you are dealing with people and their emotionally charged expectations and demands. How people feel when they visit your bed and breakfast matters.

People stay in a bed and breakfast expecting a pleasing emotional experience. They want to feel relaxed, pleased, content, comfortable, looked-after, and similar emotions.

The way you set up and run your bed and breakfast can make people feel cared for, safe or satisfied; or feel ignored, tense or uncomfortable. You can make people feel relaxed or delighted just by how you set a room out or how easy you are to find on Google.

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).

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

EQ skills 6: Have clear signs so people can find reception easily

Make it easy for guests to find their way aroundHave clear signs so people can find reception, and other areas of your bed and breakfast, easily.

I wandered around one B&B having no idea as to where reception or the front door was. In the end I had to knock on a door that seemed to be someone's private area and wake someone up to find out!

At another one there was a sign saying, "Ring the bell" but we couldn't find the bell.

In another, the greeting sign was small and tatty and gave a poor initial impression of what turned out to be an excellent B&B.

If you don't know how someone perceives your place, try being your own guests or invite friends around to try it out and give you feedback.

Guests have emotional reactions as they arrive at your establishment - do what you can to help them be relaxed and at ease. Surely this is just good practical application of emotional intelligence? Why would you make it hard for them and leave them feeling in the dark?

EQ skills 7: Be generous in allocating space to the guest areas

Please don't present cramped accommodation. Be generous in allocating space to the guest areas.

If you can squeeze four rooms in and make them small and tight or have three rooms and make them big and bright then have three rooms. You could always charge more and have happier guests.

One B&B we went to had the tiniest of tiny en-suites in each room – they were so small that even someone small, like me, could not turn round in them. I could only just squeeze between the shower and the wall to get to the sink. I felt so sorry for anyone bigger than me.

Think how awful someone would feel if they got stuck, or couldn't reach the toilet in time, or felt claustrophobic? These are not the emotional reactions you want produce in your guests surely.

Ask yourself: how would a guest feel using this? How would a guest feel sleeping here? How would guests feel having a shower here?

Being able to take into consideration the emotions of your guests is all part of emotional intelligence, and essential EQ skills that a bed and breakfast owner needs.

EQ skills 8: Have a fail proof system booking system

Have a fail proof booking system so you know which guests are expected, and when.

I have arrived at B&Bs and found the owners not expecting me and not having cleaned the rooms for me, even when I have paid in advance. And no! I hadn't turned up at 12 noon but at 5pm. One comment from an owner I got was, "Oh I didn't check my e-mails".

Running a B&B is not easy, (that is why when I considered running one I decided against it!), but if you are running one, attention to detail is one of the prerequisites.

What kind of emotional reaction would you have if you turned up on time and found the owners had forgotten all about you? Help your guests feel wanted, valued and cared for from the moment they arrive. Your booking system needs to help you do this.

Get your emotional intelligence skills in action at every step of the way in running your bed and breakfast. 

EQ skills 9: Act on the guest's booking requests

Guests, as you know, can be very particular, and some you would think are downright difficult. I am sure they are. I try not to be one of those! I do make particular requests, though, and I have reasons for doing so, even if it doesn't seem obvious to you.

For example, I have made bookings on-line where I have been able to stipulate which room I specifically wanted. Out of three bed and breakfasts, on one particular trip, only one owner bothered to take heed of what I had booked. If I have booked rooms one and three, I want rooms one and three!

Why leave your guests feeling let down or disappointed? It isn't emotionally intelligent.

EQ skills 10. Look after yourself

Running a B&B is time consuming, a 7 days a week occupation and challenging. We thought seriously about running our own, and even built the accommodation, but then decided it was far too hard and not really where our strengths lay.

If you want to run a bed and breakfast do it well. In order to do this it is important that you take care of yourself and not just your guests. This means eating well, getting good sleep, managing work-life balance, taking time off, exercising, and so on.

Taking holidays is vital. In order to do this I suggest you block out sections in your diary, well in advance, when your B&B will be closed and you will be having a well deserved rest.

If you don't do it in advance you will find there are no weeks left for holidays because you have bookings.

You don't need to advertise you are away, simply say to people, "There are no rooms available" at these dates. People will think you are full. Of course they may feel disappointed not to be able to get in but they may also feel encouraged to book earlier next time.

Emotional intelligence is important as you need to be able to manage your guest's emotions but also your own.

Develop your EQ skills, now

There is so much more that you and your team can do to develop your conversation 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.
  5. There is 1-1 emotional intelligence coaching for business owners, managers and executives.

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.