We had the chance to chat with Steve Lucas, of Bed and Breakfast DC, about the state of the hospitality industry and how it’s grown and changed over the years. It was very insightful to hear about the industry’s evolution from someone who’s been in it for more than a decade.
Read our interview with Steve that covers technological advancements, core tenants that have remained the same in hospitality, and his advice for newcomers to the bed and breakfast industry.
Why did you get into the hospitality industry?
Bed and Breakfast DC is a family business, purchased by my mother in 1984. It was originally started by a woman associated with the Peace Corps, and catered to placing Peach Corps members here in DC for training or between assignments. Mom asked me to consider taking over the service about 15 years into her ownership as she also had a 6 room B&B here in Washington and operating both was getting too much for her. I had spent 10 years each in the restaurant and retail industries and was looking for a change. I took over two weeks after September 11, 2001.
How long have you been in this industry?
It will be 14 years in May 2015.
What’s been the biggest business change you’ve seen during your tenure?
It’s a tossup between the ever increasing role the Internet is playing (online reservations, website, Google tracking) or the growth of the “Vacation Rental” accommodation. Vacation Rentals have always been available, but used to be fairly focused on lake/beach/ski locations. The movement into big cities has been a big change to the accommodation industry.
What’s the biggest technological change during your tenure?
Keeping up with technology is the hardest part. Google (as well as Yahoo!, Bing) are constantly refining their requirements and expectations, as well as their own business model. Social media is also hard to keep up with as there are many players, lots of new ones, and old ones also trying to keep up with changing times.
How has marketing your business evolved over the years?
When I came on board with BBDC, the Internet was here, but print advertising was still a big part of reaching customers. Today, print is such a small part of the business. Website, pay per click, and email marketing is huge. The personal relationship with customers remains very important and integral for success. Reputation management is vital and discounting/incentive marketing is important to attract new customers.
What five tactics are most valuable to your business?
- Quality product
- Quality employees
- A good economy
What do you anticipate will be the next big change for the hospitality industry?
The costs of doing business: insurance, regulatory compliance, fees from big players like BedandBreakfast.com, TripAdvisor and the many parts of the Global Distribution System (Expedia, Orbitz, Booking.com…).
What advice would you give a newcomer to the industry?
Hospitality is a very rewarding industry. It is also a very demanding industry. Prepare to work hard, be very open to change and new ideas. Focus on the wins because there will be losses. Try not to be everything to everyone, define your niche and be laser focused on it.
How do you think the hospitality industry has evolved over the years? Tell us in the comments section below!