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Bed & Breakfasts in Italy: The case of the Emilia-Romagna Region

di Teresa Branzaglia

Alma Mater Studiorum
Università di Bologna
School of Economics Management and Statistics
Campus Rimini
Second Cycle Degree Programme in Tourism Economics and Management
Relatore: Manuela Presutti
Anno Accademico: 2015/2016

3.4.3 - Marketing Mix

To better understand the market in which we are going to operate, we need to study the 4 “Ps” that form the Marketing Mix: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. For our B&B, the 4 Ps will be considered as follows:

  • Product à breakfast, rooms, nice furniture, fine linens, Wi-Fi service, parking, atmosphere, garden, swimming pool, shuttle service on request;
  • Priceàbase price, agreements, discounts;
  • Placeàdistribution channels;
  • Promotion à online advertising, informative materials, newspaper advertisements.

Product

The basic product offered by the Bed & Breakfast "Villa Teresa" to its clientele is made up of accommodation, breakfast, check in/out, free use of Wi-Fi network, garden, and the large outdoor parking. The property also provides free tourist information material, such as maps, tourist guides of the best places and restaurants, public transport timetables and useful numbers in order to make the guests become familiar with the destination offer.

In addition to the tangible side of the product, the B&B has focused also on the intangible one, tied to the atmosphere perceived. With reference to the services that cannot be seen, tasted, experienced before buying, the atmosphere is a critical aspect of the intangibility of the product and it is the element that determines the first impression of the consumer, since it affects the visual dimension (color, brightness, size, and shape), auditory dimension (volume and tone) and olfactory dimension (aroma and freshness). The atmosphere can be a means to convey a message to the customer, such as the possibility for him/her to enjoy a stay in a familiar and relaxed context.

The decor, the smells, the hospitality, the respect for the privacy of the guests (due, for example, to the absence of gatehouse, constraints of time, and to the fact that managers often perform another job, so rarely spend their entire day at the structure), the first impression, the cleaning, the harmony with the managers and with the territory form an extremely important package that allows us to qualify our product. These are the main features - those that cannot be touched, but are meant to be perceived - on which "Villa Teresa" will focus, in order to add value to the entire business. In other words, the atmosphere will be based on our total availability in welcoming the guests, in providing all the information they need, and make them feel at ease in a relaxed setting where they are the protagonists, in autonomy.

Since both my mother and I know our territory very well, we will be able to give our guests valid options for interesting tours across the region and beyond. Food and wine tourism, for example, is a type of tourism activity in expansion; therefore enogastronomic tours will probably be in great demand. Wine and typical foods represent for that market segment the tourist attractions and the displacement motivation. We could propose routes where our guests can taste traditional dishes, explaining the local culinary culture and highlighting the most typical ingredients. We could also expose the history of the local gastronomy, proposing some festivals in the neighboring towns. This is why a trip should also be tasted: because in addition to the views and the people we meet, scents and flavors remain in our memory.

Price

Before defining the price for overnight stay at the property, we studied a method to penetrate the market strategically: we analyzed the tariffs of the other Bed & Breakfasts in the area comparing the services and products offered by the competition to ours.
It was necessary to identify activities with an offer similar to that of "Villa Teresa" and reason about a competitive price to be launched on the market. From the research56 it was found that there are fourteen other Bed & Breakfast activities within 20 kilometers from our position, that their average double-room price is €70, and that none of them offers all of our services. Another good news for our Bed & Breakfast is that it is the only receptive structure in the hamlet where it is located.

“Villa Teresa” room prices will be increasing during the first three years of operation (Table 10); then, they will likely remain unchanged.

Table 10 Room prices for Villa Teresa - first years of operation

B&B in Italy: the case of the Emilia Romagna - Immagine 23

As you may notice, in the first year they are slightly lower than the average prices of other B&Bs even though they do not offer as much as we do, because in the launching phase we really want to be price-competitive and attract customers with the aim of spreading the awareness of the existence of our beautiful structure. With time, we will operate marginal raises correlated to the increase in market share (penetration strategy). To expand the possibilities of business success, we decided to apply a discount of 10% for stays longer than 3 nights. Kids up to 5 years old do not pay.

Place

“Villa Teresa” distribution channels rely mainly on the exploitation of the Internet solution. In order to reach our final customers we consider it as the most effective way for our business. According to our research results, the most appropriate website where to promote our B&B would be Booking.com, both at a national and international level. Unfortunately, the regional law does not allow the B&Bs of Emilia- Romagna on this type of websites; therefore we will be forced to promote ourselves only on bed-and-breakfast.it, thus attracting almost only Italian tourists.

Besides, we thought of creating some special offers to sell on Groupon (www.groupon.it), in accordance with our penetration strategy. We believe this platform to be the optimal way to reach smart consumers looking for a deal in Ravenna area. It gives the possibility to pick both the location and the selling category, so the potential guest will select “Ravenna” and “Viaggi” and our structure will pop up.

Promotion

Promotion is a determining variable of Marketing Mix process, because, if implemented properly, it allows the tourism product, or in this case the accommodation structure to further increase the sales volume; for this reason it is important to make a good external communication activity, in order to highlight the concrete aspects of the offer. Nowadays the communicational process is interpreted as a relationship between the company and its clients that takes place during all phases of the process described here: pre-sales, sales, consumption, post-sales.

We decided to promote “Villa Teresa” in the following ways:

1) By creating a website
Today having a website is essential for any type of business. My mother and I
have a good knowledge of the most important marketing and communication tools, and I know how to handle the main components of Search Engine Marketing: Google AdWords and SEO. We do not know how to create a website and many people in our place would immediately think of hiring a programmer, but in the book “Come creare una startup in proprio con meno di 1000 euro” by Andrea Benedet we found the idea of using the nameplate (in Italian “sito-vetrina”) about.me (Figure 14). It is a personal web hosting service founded in 2009 where anybody can sign in for free and start building his own page, with various layouts to choose, a section dedicated to the description of the business, a photo gallery, links to all other social networks, etc. Of course, we will also provide the map with the directions to reach the structure, information about all the events and attractions in the area, and our contacts. The strength of about.me is to be easily and properly indexed by Google, which often makes it appear in the first page of search results57.

Figure 14 Homepage of Villa Teresa’s future website

B&B in Italy: the case of the Emilia Romagna - Immagine 24

The page will be available in Italian, English, German, Spanish, and French. We already started to work on the content of the Italian page (Figure 15), which we will start translating in the next months.

Figure 15 Villa Teresa’s website – description of the structure (Italian version)

B&B in Italy: the case of the Emilia Romagna - Immagine 25

2) By promoting our structure on the national most important non-hotel tourist portal (www.bed-and-breakfast.it)
It is of utmost importance to those who open receptive activities to enter the
business in the most important sites specialized in the hospitality industry. This is because, while surfing the major search engines, (inputting, for example, the search criterion: "Bed & Breakfast in Ravenna"), it is more likely for the portals to come out, rather than for the specific site of the structure. And this is precisely why we will sign contracts with these portals, as it is easier to be visible on the web and promote our business. They are very useful sites because they give the entrepreneur the chance not only to list the main features of the structure, but also to enrich the web page with images, promotions, translation into several languages and more.

3) By creating a Facebook and an Instagram page
Nowadays millions of people are part of the famous community. Creating a
Facebook/Instagram page (and Twitter, and Pinterest, etc.) means keeping up with the times. Moreover, it will allow us to create a more intimate relationship with our customers. In fact, we will "post" directly into our “wall” about the events held in the area such as fairs, local festivals, sporting events, and have a direct and immediate feedback from the persons concerned. This is primarily an advertising window where to display, in broad terms, the characteristics of accommodation, and where to interact with the potential users. Our presence on Facebook will facilitate a spontaneous promotion thanks to the word of mouth of the users. We will also connect the page to our Blog, where all the customers can comment on our performance, expressing their opinions and maybe suggesting some improvements.

4) By creating business cards and brochures
Without the need of a graphic designer, we will make the business cards and leaflets reporting the same design of our about.me page, a brief description, prices, location, and the image of the structure. The goal will be to take every opportunity of the day to verbally promote our Bed & Breakfast, leaving as a memo our
informative material. This kind of promotion should produce a significant word of mouth, especially in neighboring places.

5) By advertising our structure on local newspapers
We are going to avoid the costs of an advertising agency thanks to Microsoft Publisher or Scribus; once the layout is completed we will only have to transform the file in PDF and send it to the graphic designers of the chosen newspaper (Benedet, 2015).