Name: Tony Goetz
Company: The Casitas of Arroyo Grande
What he said then: The Tribune spotlighted The Casitas of Arroyo Grande, a bed and breakfast that husband-and-wife team Tony and Pat Goetz opened in July 2008.
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Before moving from Southern California and becoming innkeeper, he was vice president for a company that does statistical analysis for the auto industry.
A relationship manager for a credit bureau, Pat began telecommuting.
Both had traveled frequently for their companies and preferred bed and breakfasts, farm stays and boutique hotels to larger lodgings.
“It’s where we could meet great people and learn about the local haunts and happenings,” Tony said.
With three 400-square-foot units surrounding their 3,500-square-foot home on seven acres, the property offers guests both open space and privacy.
What he says now: The innkeeper has been pleased with the growth in business so far, and the couple plans to expand.
Still in “ramp up” mode, Goetz said, the new inn has seen about a 30 percent increase in year-over-year comparisons.
“The occupancy rate is up,” he said. “We’ve had people come back three or four times. One guest has referred 12 to 15 people who have stayed with us.”
They have plans to add three more casitas on the property. When they are built, Pat hopes to quit her job, but the timeline for that is still unclear.
“We’d like to hit our financial target this year where we can initiate it,” Goetz said. “We (also) want to manicure more of the property than what’s around the house and the pool.”
That could include walking paths for guests through the oaks.
To encourage repeat business when reservations are light, they e-mail past customers with discount packages and promotions like a free bottle of wine or fondue reception with booking.
In addition to word-of-mouth referrals, online recommendations from past guests via travel sites such as Tripadvisor.com or Yelp.com has driven guests to The Casitas.
When they discovered this, the couple began asking those who use these sites to write a review if they enjoyed their stay.
They find the cost of most print advertising prohibitive. They did try advertising in a biweekly magazine but Goetz said it “didn’t give us real tangible results.
“We advertised on several online bed-and-breakfast sites,” he added. “Because of that, we are included on Expedia and Hotels.com.”
While most of their customers come from the Bay Area or Southern California, these Internet resources have helped capture bookings from other states and Europe.
“If people are coming to this part of the country, we’ll pop up,” he said. “It gives us a little more equal footing.”
— Raven J. Railey