We asked a few bed and breakfasts around town how they competed in a town with so many B&Bs and what it takes to thrive here. Beating the competition was not on the list.
Many B&Bs, it turns out, do not see other B&Bs as competitors per se, but more as alternatives that all share a common goal — giving Kodiak as good a name as possible. Word of mouth is a key marketing tool because satisfied customers tend to have a multiplier effect on the overall market. The B&Bs will give each other referrals when booked. Also, they visit each other’s homes for ideas.
Mary Doubt, who owns and operates A Channel View with her husband Ron, sees community as a vital part of hospitality.
“You have to care about the community. You want to present Kodiak in its best light. We try to do that. We’re as helpful as we can be, making suggestions for things to do. I like to set a beautiful table and serve beautiful food. And we like to focus on local ingredients,” Doubt said.
She recently won a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor.com for the third year in a row. That helps on the advertising and marketing aspects of business.
Beth Davis of Mrs. Potts Bed & Breakfast also got the same TripAdvisor accolade this year – her first. Mrs. Potts, named after the teapots that line the shelves inside, offers a small niche-type lodging near Holy Resurrection Church downtown.
She dismisses the notion of competing B&Bs outright.
“I don’t see us as competitive. That might be in place in bigger communities. We are very community-oriented. We are really mindful of each other,” Davis said.
“I just want them to get the experience here in Kodiak. And if it’s not me then I’ll send them to someone else who will help him. It is all about Kodiak,” Davis added.
Marion Owen, who runs Cliff House B&B with her husband Marty, acknowledges that competition exists between B&Bs but that it’s also healthy. She reports that competitors also include all lodging facilities – hotels and motels as well.
Still, market competition does not feel that competitive -- at least in Kodiak.
“It’s about showing Kodiak’s best side and not about getting the upper hand on your
fellow B&B owner. Everyone living on Kodiak is a potential cheerleader for this
beautiful island. If we’re full, we try to help visitors find a place,” Owen said.
“Competition is a good thing,” Owen adds. “It keeps you on your toes.”
The B&B owners all agreed that maintaining a good website and interacting with other travel sites was key to the business.
Chastity Starrett, director of Discover Kodiak, notes that for many B&Bs, getting good scores on websites like TripAdvisor really helps.
“If you have a good score you should go on and just basically make sure you’re interacting. Plus of course having the right kind of accommodation and personality to match your lodgers,” she said.
Owen also advises proprietors also to provide travel tips and recipes, and not to overlook the power of personal references.
“Word of mouth is your best salesman,” said Owen.
The other main ingredient to running a successful bed and breakfast is being a people person who loves catering to other people persons.
“The kind of people who want to do bed and breakfasts usually like people, otherwise they wouldn’t be coming to share someone’s home and then share the possibility of sharing common space with other total strangers. So it makes for an interesting life I have right now. I love it,” said Davis.
Mary Doubt notes that her B&B does not feel like a job, although her workload is growing.
“In fact, we’ll do this as long as it’s more fun than work. We have had people from 23 countries and 42 states. The list is growing. It’s a testament to the draw of Kodiak,” Doubt said.
Contact Peter J. Mladineo at firstname.lastname@example.org.