Rosemary Gaston, owner of Ravelaw Bed and Breakfast in the Borders town of Duns, read the Listening To Our Visitors guide last summer and says it provided her with the spur she needed to make some much-needed changes to her business.
“Ravelaw is situated in a very rural location”, says Rosemary.
“Over the last few years we’ve seen visitors decrease, but despite this I did very little to try and change the situation. Once I had read the guide, however, it became clear that if I was to move forward I would need to be much more proactive.
“I realised that guest feedback is, in fact, a free form of consultancy and one of the greatest benefits is to provide new ideas for developing the business. Since I first read the guide, I have implemented lots of new ideas and have plans to continue making improvements on an ongoing basis”.
Listening to your visitors
Rosemary now takes the time to chat to her guests throughout their stay, and when they are leaving she spends at least 20 minutes with each one to find out what they thought of their stay.
These informal chats have provided her with some great ideas for improving customer service and providing guests with what they really want.
“Feedback highlighted that some guests were having difficulty in finding us. One of the first things we did, therefore, was to include an improved map on our Visit Scotland website.
"Because of our rural location, I also realised that we needed to provide much more information to guests on local attractions and places to eat. Being fairly new to the area myself, I went out and researched local attractions and restaurants, and now keep leaflets and menus on hand so visitors can see what’s on offer and make informed choices.
“As most of our guests stay an average of four to five nights, it also became clear that they would like to have a different choice of breakfast each day. We’ve therefore extended the menu to include produce from local suppliers, and the reaction has been extremely positive. In addition we’re now offering more flexible breakfast times, to accommodate early starts and lie-ins.”
Rosemary also noticed that very few guests tended to use the communal visitors lounge, preferring to spend time in their rooms in the evenings. As a result, she added larger, comfy chairs to the bedrooms so that guests can now spend their evenings in more relaxed surroundings.
Noticing that many guests liked to bring in their own drinks, a fridge is now also provided in each room, along with wine glasses.
“These small changes are already having a significant impact”, says Rosemary.
"While it’s still early days, customer satisfaction has clearly risen. Some 75 per cent of our bookings are now repeat business and we’re already taking a good number of bookings and enquiries for next year.”