Monthly Archives: April 2018

Unexpected Expert Advice Can Actually Make You Think

crossword puzzle newspaper page with ink pen and glasses on top of it

Fellow puzzle lovers can appreciate unexpected expert advice that can actually make you think. Sometimes when you solve a puzzle, a fortune-cookie-type response can appear.

While some people dismiss the advice (and “predictions”) of fortune cookies, the messages inside these treats often gets us to consider things from a different perspective. I believe wisdom may be found from some of these puzzle messages, too.

“Wake up and tell yourself it’s going to be a good day.”

How you start the day can determine how your day goes.  Not all of us are morning people (I’m sure there are plenty of mornings when even innkeepers do not feel like getting up), but beginning the day with the belief it is going to be a good day can help us have a good day.

“A warm smile is the universal language of kindness.”

Whether your inn regularly hosts international guests or not, you can still appreciate that universally warm smiles are understood to represent kindness.

“Just when you think you’ve graduated from the school of experience, someone thinks up a new course.”

This is certainly true for innkeepers who must learn new things, especially as technology changes. There will always be new things to learn, so we should be thankful that we are able to understand new things.  Each day is a gift and we should make the most of our time.

“If you want things to change in your life, start with your thinking.”

While it is human nature to see what could go wrong, it is always in our best interest to think positively.  This does not mean we don’t take precautions, but optimistic thinking assumes that good things will inevitably happen as the result of our productive efforts.

“The mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work unless you open it.”

Before anyone jumps out of a plane, they must learn how to safely pull their parachute cord. Before we make any important decisions in our life, we need to make sure that our mind is open to other ways of doing things.

“Habits and beliefs become the blueprint through which we build our reality.”

Our habits and beliefs do work to create our reality.  Of course there are unexpected things that happen in life (both good and bad), but we are ultimately responsible for the lives we lead.  While we cannot change circumstances and situations outside of our control, we can certainly work on our patterns of thinking.

“The more you dream, the farther you get.”

When you dream you are on your way to becoming more inspired to take action. Only taking action will you get any farther. Those who do not dream will never be inspired to act.

“The door of opportunity will not open unless you do some pushing.”

Excluding those born into wealth, most people in life must work for their rewards. Opportunity does not show up unless effort we put the effort in.  The work we do can be very rewarding once we start reaching more of our goals.  The people who are most likely to succeed in life write down their goals.  Consider having daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, and long-term goals.  The more specific you are, the more real the goals become.

“Admitting our failings is one way of acquiring fresh insights.”

Since we are all human, not everything we do will turn out how we planned. When we see what we could have done different and admit our failings, we are on our way to acquiring fresh insights.

“Lighting a lamp for someone else will also brighten your path.”

This can be taken literally since often innkeepers live the lights on for guests to make their way back to the B&B safely. By lighting their way, you are likely increasing their trust of your hospitality.

“The best part of any journey is the people you meet along the way.”

We have all met people that we are so thankful to have met. Our lives would not be the same without them.  Some of you have repeat guests that you have grown to love.  We can’t imagine not ever having met them.

“Appreciation is like an insurance policy. It has to be renewed now and then.”

When guests feel appreciation, they are more likely to come again.  Make note of birthdays and anniversaries. Consider rewarding your returning guests with a free upgrade in their room or by treating them to something extra like a massage for two.

“You haven’t used all your options until you’ve asked for help.”

We are not all gifted in the same areas nor do we like to do the same tasks. That is a good thing! We can have others who are more skilled in certain areas and who enjoy using those skills, help us. It has been said to focus on what you do best, and hire out the rest. If marketing is one of those areas you do not understand (as well as you would like) and/or you do not care to spend your time doing, contact Kristi Dement of Bed and Breakfast Blogging for a free consultation.

How to Find Your Inspiration as an Innkeeper (Part 2)

the word "inspiration" written over a pretty sunset sky

To find you inspiration as an innkeeper, there needs to be a match with your motivation for working, your individual talents, and your hospitality niche/ideal guests.  In Part One of this blog post I gave three hypothetical situations.  I will give some suggestions for each scenario.

Innkeeper Irene loves cooking for others and entertaining guests, but she dislikes anything involving paperwork–especially finances.  I suggest that she finds a skilled accountant or bookkeeper to manage her finances.  She should seek referrals from other innkeepers or other people in her local community.

Since Irene’s restaurant is becoming more known in the community, having an active online marketing presence is very important.  She can also hire someone to actively manage her online marketing which should include consistent and strategic blogging and social media.  By focusing on what she loves (cooking and entertaining), she Irene will likely grow her business and be able to afford to hire two experts who are skilled at those tasks and able to ease her burden.

Bob the B&B owner is very successful with marketing his inn. His grown children manage the day-to-day operations of their thriving business.  If you remember his situation from the last blog post, his occupancy rate is very good, but he is wondering how to earn more income outside of bookings.  Even if Bob does not have a restaurant or a spa in addition to his inn, he can still increase his income in a variety of different ways:

  • Hosting private events (such as private parties, murder mysteries, book signings, wedding or baby showers, holiday or seasonal gatherings, etc.)
  • Offering customized guest packages (such as a Girls Getaway package, Romance package, or Local Attractions package)
  • Providing items for sale at his B&B (such as coffee mugs with his B&B logo, T-shirts/sweatshirts, signature goodies for guests to take home, etc.)
  • Teaching classes (such as cooking, writing, painting, etc.) to guests

In the third example, Shirley & Dale are a husband and wife innkeeping couple. Shirley’s favorite thing to do is to plant and grow flowers and produce in their gorgeous garden as well as to decorate their inn. Dale loves construction and renovation projects (both inside and outside). I think the long-term goal is for Shirley & Dale should keep doing what they love.  However, since they have a real need for adding housekeeping and kitchen staff, they will need to continue to handle those responsibilities until part-time employees are found.

Shirley & Dale should advertise for part-time employees in a variety of places including any professional hospitality associations to which they belong.  Their ad should provide information (or a link to more specific information) detailing specifically what they are looking for so that they are more likely to find someone with the exact skills they need. Once housekeeping and kitchen staff are found, then they should focus on achieving a consistent marketing presence.

Some professional innkeeping organizations have Vendor Members.  For example, Kristi Dement of Bed and Breakfast Blogging is a Vendor Member of the Professional Association of Innkeepers International.  I am happy to set up a free (no obligation), 20-minute phone conversation to answer any questions innkeepers have as well as provide practical ideas for bringing in more business.

How to Find Your Inspiration as an Innkeeper (Part 1)

a kitchen table set with orange juice glasses and breakfast on plates

Wondering how to find your inspiration as an innkeeper? Bed and Breakfast innkeepers each have their own unique story of how they entered the hospitality industry.  Think about how YOU got started as a bed and breakfast owner.  For your own reviewing, write down your own personal story of how you came to be a travel accommodations provider. Consider including your answers to some of the following questions.

Motivation:

  • Do you love cooking for others?
  • Do you like entertaining guests?
  • Do you desire to work from home?
  • Do you need to feel independent?
  • Do you enjoy helping others relax?
  • Do you receive fulfillment from serving others?
  • Do you like recommending things for people to do in your local area?
  • Are you a first-generation B&B owner, or does your family already have a history of hospitality management experience or ownership?

Innkeeping:

  • What do you like the most about B&B innkeeping?
  • What could you do more of? (things you find enjoyable)
  • What could you do less of? (things you dislike doing)
  • Do you have (or have you thought about hiring) part-time employees to fulfill the roles you least like (or are challenged by)?

Niche:

  • What amenities does your inn have?
  • What is your inn known for? (ex: artwork, restaurant, spa, etc.)
  • What in your local area attracts guests to stay for a visit?
  • What type of guests do you (or would you) like to attract?
  • How do you describe your place of hospitality to others (on your website, in your social media, over the phone, and in person)?

There needs to be a match with your motivation for working, your individual talents, and your hospitality niche/ideal guests.  Consider the following 3 hypothetical scenarios…

1) Innkeeper Irene loves cooking for others and entertaining guests. She dislikes anything involving paperwork–especially finances.  Her B&B restaurant is becoming more known in the community. She does not have the time or desire to learn online marketing. How can she keep doing the things she loves (cooking and entertaining) and hire out for other things (financial and marketing)?

2) Bob the B&B owner is very successful with marketing his inn.  His grown children manage the day-to-day operations of their thriving business.  Their occupancy rate is very good, but he is wondering how to earn more income outside of bookings.

3) Shirley & Dale are a husband and wife innkeeping couple. Shirley’s favorite thing to do is to plant and grow flowers and produce in their gorgeous garden as well as to decorate their inn. Dale loves construction and renovation projects (both inside and outside). However, they have a real need for adding housekeeping and kitchen staff (not to mention their need to promote their inn). What can they do?

Please add your comments and suggestions below and watch for Part 2 of this blog post!

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Practical Advice About The Art of Innkeeping

the-art-of-innkeeping

I highly recommend Owner & Innkeeper Steven Allen’s book,  Sugar Hill Inn the Art of Innkeeping based on his experiences of transforming Sugar Hill Inn to a completely remodeled, smooth running place of hospitality with luxurious amenities.

Author Steven Allen tells readers the best way for a prospective buyer to see an inn is to stay the night and experience it from the guest’s point of view. Allen explains that looking for an inn is very different from finding a new home in that there are only a handful of interesting properties available at any one time.

Every establishment has its own character and personality.  The personality comes from its history, its location, and most importantly, the owner.

After purchasing Sugar Hill Inn, Allen had to prioritize the order of the improvements he made on the property.  Decorating the inn is about pleasing the guests and helping them feel immediately at home.  Some of the projects took longer than planned and all of them cost more than anticipated. The new structure had to be authentic and timeless in its appeal.

According to Steven, the hardest part of being a business owner is knowing when to follow your own instincts and when to listen to others that may know more.  Allen states that the challenge is that if you don’t follow the crowd and you do succeed, you are a genius for thinking outside the box, but if you fail, you are a dope for not following the tried and true.

If they had done the ordinary, they would not have the opportunity to be “lucky.”  Year after year, they selected the two to three rooms in the most need of renovation or where a face-lift would have the most impact. Other projects were done for safety’s sake.  Seeing the transformation was very rewarding. Over the last ten years, their renovations have touched all fourteen rooms.

With so many everyday details to run an inn, Allen states that it is helps to take a step back and see the big picture.  This stimulates creative thinking.  Keeping an inn relevant and fresh is a never-ending responsibility.  Innkeeping is a very demanding lifestyle with long hours.

Sugar Hill Inn strives to share the good life with its guests by creating experiences that will be remembered. Part of that involves surrounding guests with beauty. Allen is a lover of art and has the unique distinction of having several pieces of original art displayed throughout the inn.  When the painting adds to the beauty of the room and the room enhances the painting, you have found the perfect location.

Steven Allen points out that he has intently focused on what people want. He’s analyzed what people order, listened to feedback, studied comment cards and reviews, and stayed at other inns. To him, “hospitality is doing what is best for the guest.”

Being an innkeeper is more a lifestyle than it is a job.  Allen asserts that seeing the inn transform from average to what many of his guests describe as a gem has been very satisfying.  The real challenge is implementation and consistently following through every day.  While there are many factors that determine an inn’s value, of course the underlying real estate is a major factor.

Innkeeping is 24-7.  For the right person, Allen explains that this profession can be exciting, fun, and challenging.  Every lodging property is different.  Look for an opportunity to build upon the best of the past and bring new energy, ideas, and money to assure continued success.  Steven Allen, and his wife Karen, own the Sugar Hill Inn located in the secluded White Mountains of New Hampshire where together they practice the art of innkeeping.