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-   -   ED vacation in Austria? (http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=660452)

sytsmab 11-26-2012 10:05 AM

ED vacation in Austria?
 
My wife, who is originally from Austria, and I are considering moving from California back to Austria to be closer to her family. We did our first European Delivery this summer and it was fantastic....which has me thinking of a possible business idea for if/when we move to Austria -- personal tours of Europe and bed and breakfast.

I'm American, and speak passable German...but my job options still would be fairly limited if/when we move back there. We own a 5 bed/2 bath house in a quaint farm village in the Alpine foothills. I keep thinking it would be cool (and profitable) if I could run a bed and breakfast business with personal day-trip tours of places like Munich, Salzburg, Vienna, Alpine region, etc. My thought is I would cater to them from and American's perspective, visiting Europe likely for the first time - or like a "European Vacation of a Lifetime". I'd plan trips for people and even be tour guide for some trips.

My question to anyone who reads this - especially BMW ED dealers - is do you all think there'd be a way to cross-market my idea to new ED owners? I would market almost exclusively to middle- to upper-class Americans, and really push them to combine a fantastic vacation with a new BMW.

Is there any dealers out there who could see this being a good idea? My thought is I could partner with one BMW ED dealer in as many major US cities as possible. I could then push business to that dealer from the perspective of someone who actually has done the ED program. The dealer does the BMW paperwork, I help arrange a dream vacation, complete with personal (small group) tours of Austria and Bavaria.

Any thoughts or comments would be appreciated.

Thanks

Gluhwein 11-26-2012 12:51 PM

I was daydreaming of a similar idea, but it sounds like you have a lot more going for you than I could ever hope. It sounds like a great idea. I'd start by putting together your ideas and posting them in more detail here and setting up a slick website. I suppose their are all kinds of threads of red tape you'd have to negotiate working in a foreign country, but I bet John Lance the Winter Tire Guy might be able to point you in the right direction. Let me know when you're hiring your staff. My German sucks but I could do your airport pickups and transport to the Welt and definitely point out the cheapest ways to get around in Bavaria. Been doing it for 4 decades and have been able to do so because my wife and I are so freakin' cheap.

sytsmab 11-26-2012 01:00 PM

Thanks for the response Gluhwein. Actually, the red tape for us would be very minimal since my wife is still an Austrian citizen. This concept is still in its infancy, but the more I chew on it, the more I get excited about it.

odiesback 11-26-2012 04:44 PM

Dude,

I think you might be on to something... I would love to have used someone local
to maximize my time in Europe.
We loved Austria... and certainly will return for a longer stay.
We stayed two days in Salzburg and drove to Innsbruck through the central valley and
wish we had planned on spending more time checking out the local attractions.

Hope things work out for you. Good luck and keep us posted. :thumbup:

sytsmab 11-26-2012 05:19 PM

Good to hear Odiesback. The more I think about this, the more I'm convincing myself this would really work. The million dollar question I guess that I need to figure out is how much, if anything, would fellow BMW EDers (or regular tourists) pay to have an American/Austrian combo be their "on the gound" tour guides/vacation planners/hosts, in addition to the normal B&B cost? I am kind of thinking that out of a week-long stay with us, we would take them on like 3 day-trips in a van (say Vienna, Salzburg, and Salzgammergut region) -- then also help them plan the other 3 days where they could drive themselves in their shiny new Bimmer.

SD Z4MR 11-26-2012 06:45 PM

I think trying to market your B&B and personal tours exclusively to BMW owners doing a European Delivery would be a very small and limiting market. First off, I would suggest that you aim at all European Delivery customers, including M-B, Audi, Porsche, and BMW and open it up to non-ED visitors as well.

As far as partnering with US BMW dealers, are you aware that BMW already has a partnership with Courtyard Travel Ltd. to provide tour packages in conjunction with European Delivery? For more information see http://www.bmwusa.com/Standard/Conte...wRedirect.aspx. Excerpt: "These optional driving adventures are designed to let you experience the very best European hospitality along the way, providing unparalleled access and VIP treatment at some of the most luxurious hotels in the world." I don't know if any BMW dealer push these tours, but our CA never mentioned them.

Based on your post count, you haven't been around here very long. Spend a few hours browsing this forum and you'll find that the EDers here are a pretty independent bunch, and this forum is used to help people plan their own itineraries. Most make their own flight arrangements and hotel reservations. There are lots of recommendations here for cities and sites to see, lodging, and restaurants. I'm not sure what the "take rate" is on the "driving adventures" that BMW offers, but I can't recall a single trip report in two years that involved any of these. People occasionally ask about them, but if anyone does use them they haven't reported that here that I've seen.

I think you need to ask yourself how many "nights" can you sell at your B&B each week/month to make this viable and how likely are you to be able to attract that number of people. To give you an idea of how many Bimmerfesters do ED on a monthly basis take a look at the ED Calendar, the link can be found above. If you're giving tours to your customers who's going to be there to check in arriving guests and check-out departing guests, let along cook their meals? Since all your guests will have their own cars you may have to drive to the various cities if you want to give tours, something that will add to your overhead. Another thing to consider is repeat customers. The majority of people who do ED are either buying their car and will keep it for at least four years or they're leasing for either three or four years. It's unlikely that you'll get very many annual repeat customers.

I think that if you did open a B&B and you wanted to cater to ED customers, you would have to do something to make yourself stand out in a unique way. One way would be to offer a car wash service or facilities where your customers could do it themselves, as car washes are a frequent topic of discussion here and there's even some recommended car washes and locations mentioned in the ED Wiki. Remember, there's lots of places that are offering lodging in Europe that have been doing this for decades and even centuries. You're the new guy on the block.

These are just some of the realistic thoughts that popped into my head when I read your post. I think you really need to do a thorough business analysis with a lot more research.

sytsmab 11-27-2012 04:40 AM

Thanks Tom - very good input. You are right, I am somewhat new to Bimmerfest. While I had used it some as a resource before buying our car this past summer, I had never actually signed up and posted anything until now.

Yes, I do need to do a lot more research and detailed business analysis. That was sort of my point in actually making a post on here - just to hopefully hear a few thoughts and perspectives from folks like you. Then take some of that information, ideas, and concerns to help me with the analysis and/or business plan. This is not something we're going to do real soon. Most likely would be 2 years from now or so.

I probably didn't articulate my "plan" very well, but I wasn't thinking of marketing exclusively to ED customers -- just thought that might be a nice niche market I could attempt to tap into to some degree or another.

Right now, it's mostly a vague but intriguing concept rolling around in my head.

Thanks again for the reply and feedback.

sno_duc 11-27-2012 07:12 AM

Where is your place? Close to Salzburg? Grossglockner?

The wife and I are of the travel light school of thought, which means that during a 2 week ED we will have to do laundry at least once. A washer dryer that quests could use for a reasonable cost (under 10 per load) would be a plus.
+1 on having a car wash on site.

sytsmab 11-27-2012 09:50 AM

sno_duc, our place is near Wels, about an hour and half northwest of Salzburg. The car wash service/availability for ED'ers is an interesting thought. And yes, washer/dryer would be available as well...whether it be a service we provide at minimal cost, or "do it yourself". I guess we'd have to figure out which would be best.

sytsmab 11-27-2012 09:53 AM

Come to think of it, we had that minor issue this summer of washing the car before drop-off. There is a rather nice (and cheap) car wash just down the road that we used...but we did have to buy a fair amount of stuff (soap, sponges, moleskin cloth, etc) to wash it. Would be easy for us to have "car wash kit" for ED'ers to use.

GermanRoots 11-27-2012 03:17 PM

If I were in your shoes I would be thinking about this as a hobby and not as a full-time gig. After reading your post, our friend Rold came to mind. Rolf is great at what he does, because he is passionate about the BMW brand, and he enjoys sharing his BMW experience with others who share the passion. The added income is a bonus for Rolf. I agree with Tom and others who have pointed out the challenges of competing in a hospitality market that includes B&B's that have existed for decades. Maybe I'm being overly practical, but it seems to me that if you make it a hobby (with the potential to be something more) you will enjoy it more without having to set high risk income expectations for your family. My two cents...

sytsmab 11-27-2012 04:18 PM

Thanks for the input and thoughts GermanRoots. Is this something your friend Rolf did in retirement?

GermanRoots 11-27-2012 04:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sytsmab (Post 7217660)
Thanks for the input and thoughts GermanRoots. Is this something your friend Rolf did in retirement?

Rolf is a Bimmerfest ED legend, do a search for "Rolf" on this site and you'll understand. He is someone that many of us have used as local transport and guidance in Munich.

X3 Skier 11-29-2012 06:37 AM

Much as I am hesitant to suggest it, you might pick up a few Rick Steves books. He is a big fan of B&B's in Europe and reading his reviews and suggestions about B&B's can give you some insight into what he sees as benefits and recommendations. Most libraries have his books.

There are a lot of web sites and blogs that talk about the joys and sorrows of running a B&B in the States. Most of the ones I have skimmed are fast to point out it is a LOT of work but usually very satisfying.

Good luck whatever you choose.

Cheers

john lance 11-29-2012 01:13 PM

I would be very happy to share with you all I learned from the time I owned and operated a small hotel in Austria.

sytsmab 11-29-2012 01:34 PM

Wow, that would be incredible. I guess my first question would be -- what was your biggest marketing mistakes and successes?

john lance 11-29-2012 02:28 PM

Primarily, on the mistakes side, I would say a) borrowing too much (interest rates were very high when I first bought the 1980's), b) under-pricing (as I could have got far more during peak seasons), c) not being much of a handy-man (as I was forever paying others to do maintenance jobs), d) being under-insured (when my roof crashed down due to the weight of snow, my cellar flooded due to a storm and my breakfast-room was destroyed by fire) and I did not have sufficient cover, e) selling after 10 years when I should have kept it.

On the success side, I a) was successful at quickly responding, turning enquiries into bookings, b) up-graded the rooms to be better than most places around me, c) extended the season for longer than others, by keeping full for more weeks due to better marketing, d) catered for large groups by using neighbouring properties too, e) provided packages to include the flights.

sytsmab 11-30-2012 08:50 AM

Thanks John, very helpful info. We own the place outright already, and I am pretty handy as far as fixing things goes....so at least couple of the"mistakes" you encountered would hopefully be minimized for us.

My biggest concern is on the marketing side. It's not the typical tourist area - a small farming community. But in many ways it's a wonderful starting point to see all of Austria, and even get up into the Czech Republic.

thanks again

john lance 11-30-2012 10:05 AM

Farmhouse vacations are very popular in Austria, particularly for visiting Germans, Dutch, Belgians & Scandinavians - maybe that's the direction you could go in. You just need a few animals around the place and the paying guests enjoy doing all the work!

ixsomerset 12-13-2012 07:20 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sytsmab (Post 7215585)
we would take them on like 3 day-trips in a van (say Vienna, Salzburg, and Salzgammergut region) -- then also help them plan the other 3 days where they could drive themselves in their shiny new Bimmer.

I see one flaw in this plan. you think you will somehow separate an EDer from their vehicle and get them into a van? Their posteriors will be superglued to their new cars.

SD Z4MR 12-13-2012 11:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sytsmab (Post 7215585)
I am kind of thinking that out of a week-long stay with us, we would take them on like 3 day-trips in a van (say Vienna, Salzburg, and Salzgammergut region) -- then also help them plan the other 3 days where they could drive themselves in their shiny new Bimmer.

Quote:

Originally Posted by ixsomerset (Post 7247267)
I see one flaw in this plan. you think you will somehow separate an EDer from their vehicle and get them into a van? Their posteriors will be superglued to their new cars.

Yeah, I kind of missed this follow up post by the OP. The whole point of doing an ED is to drive your own car! In a week I can see plenty of places in Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, and France on my own. No way am I getting into a van for a one-day tour let alone a 3-day trip when I can be driving my own brand new car!

Many EDers spend a week or less driving wherever they can. I don't see very many EDers taking a long enough trip that they would want to stay in one place for a whole week. We stayed 15 days and drove over 1700 miles only staying in a couple of places for more than one night.

JSpira 12-24-2012 10:49 PM

I think we need to separate the idea of opening up a B&B from any kind of tie-in with European Delivery programs. It sounds as if the OP and John Lance are having a productive discussion WRT the former but, other than perhaps offering a discounted rate to people doing a European Delivery trip so they come and stay at the B&B, I don't think much will come of the latter idea.

BMW NA certainly won't get involved, nor will Mercedes or any other automaker, and car dealerships are in the business of selling cars, not trips, so that is an unlikely partnership as well.

Quote:

Originally Posted by sytsmab (Post 7215585)
we would take them on like 3 day-trips in a van (say Vienna, Salzburg, and Salzgammergut region)

All of the marketing by BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, etc. emphasizes "seeing Europe while driving your own car." I can't even begin to imagine suggesting to someone a 3-day van trip. :thumbdwn:


Quote:

Originally Posted by sytsmab (Post 7214878)
with personal day-trip tours of places like Munich, Salzburg, Vienna, Alpine region, etc.

Minus the "van" idea, personal tours with qualified guides might work. I myself find doing a 3 or 4 hour walking tour with a certified tour guide very valuable when visiting a city I've never been to before.

Where would you get the qualified tour guides with knowledge of these cities?


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