Should you and your B&B go on a TV Show?
Four in a Bed
Should you and your B&B go on a TV show?
Many of you will have watched the Channel 4 Programme “Four in a Bed”. For those of you that haven’t. It’s a competition based programme with 5 episodes shown over a week. 4 sets of B&B owners visit each others B&B, give scores and write feedback. The B&B owner guests put money into an envelope covering what they feel the B&B is worth per night. Then the owners read the feedback once their guests have left. In the final episode, all the B&B owners sit round a table and challenge each other about the feedback. The winner is the B&B who gets paid the highest percentage of their actual room cost.
It’s an entertainment not a travel programme. It’s probably fair to say, that viewers get the most entertainment when things go wrong and personalities clash. The owners usually run very different types of B&B, often resulting in negative comments when they don’t like how the other owners run their businesses.
Each owner also wants to win the programme, so they’ll look for and highlight negatives of the other B&Bs; that ever present hair in the shower or dust on top of a picture frame.
Can the programme help your B&B business?
I don’t usually watch the show anymore. I find myself shouting at the TV and it raises my stress levels ;-). But, just recently, someone on my Past Course Attendees facebook group asked if one of the couples on the show had been on my course,. There were a lot of “Hopton House” style touches to their B&B. So I turned the TV on and indeed they had attended the course a few years ago.
If you’re new to the B&B world, the programme can provide a useful insight into how other people run a B&B and what potential guests do and don’t like about B&Bs. It’s all part of your essential research. But please bear in mind that a B&B that suits one guest will not suit another. Just because another B&B owner criticises something on the show, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it at your B&B!
In this show, like me, the first B&B put homemade cake and biscuits in the room. They had a box of essential items, such as toothpaste, that guests could use if they’d forgotten to bring their own. One of the other show participants criticised the owners for putting too much in their B&B rooms.
How you run your B&B depends on your market
Of course, how you kit out your room will depend on your budget, how much you charge, why people are coming to your B&B, the types of guest they are etc. But, funnily enough, in 14 years, I’ve never had a single guest tell me I put too many little extras in the room. In fact, if you look through my reviews, the most commented thing is the attention to detail I put into the B&B. And whilst some of these things cost me a bit extra – mostly in time and effort rather than money – they do contribute to me having a very high repeat business. Repeat business reduces my marketing cost. But I do charge a lot so I cover my costs and my guests expect a little extra.
This is why it’s so important to your research and understand who your guests are likely to be and what their expectations are from a bed and breakfast. For some B&Bs it may be good enough just to get the basics right.
Should you take part in these shows?
Once you start running your B&B, it’s highly likely that you’re contacted by producers of programmes like these regularly. These programmes could potentially be useful in attracting more guests to the B&B, but you need to be very, very careful of how you come across. Some people see great results from increased business after appearing. But I’ve heard of enough B&B owners that regretted the decision to go on them. There is also a risk that appearing on the show could damage your business’s reputation.
If you are thinking about having your B&B featured, I strongly recommend you watch as many past shows as you can. Contact owners who have been on the show and ask how the experience was for them. Some will have found it a positive and some not. It may will depend on your own personality and ability to accept criticism!
How to come across well on a TV show
I once had some B&B owners stay with me who’d been on the programme. Compared to everyone else on the show, they came across really well and I asked them how they’d managed it.
They told me they’d spent hours researching the programme. They’d watched every single episode and were very clear about how they wanted to come across. Aware that cameras were rolling all the time, they never let their guard down.
They actually came last in the competition. They were the most expensive B&B, charging more than twice the room rate of the other B&B owners on the show. But they knew what they wanted to get out of being on the show. For them, it wasn’t about “winning”. It was a marketing opportunity to showcase themselves and their B&B to potential guests.
And finally, in this day and age you need to be pretty thick skinned and be able to cope with what people say about you on social media. Take a look at the #fourinabed hashtag on twitter. Once you’re on TV you’re fair game and people will comment, some very unpleasantly and unfairly. If that’s going to upset you I recommend you avoid appearing on the show.
Hopton House B&B