Category Archives: Associations and Ratings

The Many Benefits of B&B Association Membership

log cabin deck with table and chairs overlooking trees surrounding a lake

 

There are many benefits of B&B Association Membership.  While each bed and breakfast association has their own unique benefits, the following lists commonly offered benefits from such groups.  Innkeepers not belonging to any professional associations will learn why membership is valuable.

  • Advocacy: promoting B&B industry and traveler interests, raising the stature of the state’s hospitality industry, growing the state’s travel economy
  • Affiliations: state tourism department, state travel council, Professional Association of Innkeepers International, etc.
  • Brochures/rack cards/travel guides: distributed at member inns, welcome centers, tourist attractions, visitor bureaus, chambers of commerce, and in response to visitor requests
  • Collaboration: socialize, peer support, share, network, learn, encourage, exchange lessons learned as well as recipes, and enhance the lodging experience of guests
  • Cookbooks: member inns can buy association cookbooks at wholesale and sell at retail for a profit (see some B&B association cookbooks below)
  • Credibility: association membership provides bed and breakfasts with added credibility; licensed, inspected, and approved distinction; passed high standards bed and breakfast checklists
  • Directory: profile information and pictures in online and print directories
  • Discounts: lower cost to related products and services (such as credit card processing, conferences and trade shows, floral arrangements, insurance coverage, membership to other hospitality associations, reciprocal or discount lodging with other member inns, travel deals, and web reservations)
  • Education: foster professional development of members and improve service and professionalism of their staff through annual meetings, experts, featured speakers, round tables, seminars, vendors, webinars, workshops
  • Legal representation: expert support, legal hotline, industry updates, and a better understanding of applicable laws and regulations
  • Lobbying: have a voice in legislative issues, support state’s lodging sector, work proactively with governmental agencies that regulate the B&B industry, produce favorable industry public policy, and champion for safety and security in the hospitality industry
  • Logo: members can use their association logo on their website and marketing materials
  • Marketing: collective advertising, email marketing, e-newsletter, public relations, social media
  • Gift certificate program: reimbursement for association gift certificates redeemed
  • Inspections:  regularly conducted property inspections; evaluated with high standards on specific criteria having to do with safety, comfort, and hospitality
  • Mentorship: seasoned innkeepers can mentor less experienced innkeepers, foster profitability and sustainability
  • Networking: learn from fellow innkeepers and receive their business referrals
  • Partnerships: restaurant and lodging expos; engage in charitable and community endeavors
  • Real estate listings: list of bed and breakfast member inns for sales
  • Reservations: availability calendar, reservations scheduler
  • Travel planner: list of area events, specials, and attractions near each member B&B
  • Website: many offer their members an exclusive web page with photos, contact information, inn names and descriptions, locations, amenities, and specials; links to member website, Trip Advisor and other review sites, social media, and member inn’s blog.

chairs on deck of log cabin overlooking lake with trees

 

There are many advantages to belonging to a bed and breakfast association.  Perhaps the most motivating is making connections with fellow innkeepers and having the accountability and support from your innkeeping peers as well as more marketing opportunities.

Images by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

NC Bed and Breakfast Inns

NC Bed and Breakfast Inns

NC Bed and Breakfast Inns Association started in 1985.  For over thirty years, they have been dedicated to serving those traveling to North Carolina.  This non-profit, statewide organization recognized the need for an association to ensure high standards in safety, housekeeping, food service, comfort, and hospitality for all member inns.  The traveling public can have confidence in their lodging.

NC Bed and Breakfast Inns is the first state association in the United States to require rigorous inspections as a condition of membership.  To maintain these standards, NCBBI re-inspects member inns every two years. 

 

The Many Benefits to B&B Membership in the NCBBI Association:

 

  • Networking, educational, and marketing opportunities
  • Remain knowledgeable and up-to-date about meeting the needs of travelers
  • Keep up with the latest requirements for state and local laws and standards
  • Show potential guests that they can expect a higher level of service
  • The prestige and credibility of passing their rigorous inspection
  • Regular blog and social media activity
  • Their printed travel planners found at welcome centers, tourism attractions, visitor bureaus & chambers of commerce throughout North Carolina
  • Quarterly newsletters and monthly emails with important industry-related news, alerts, opportunities, reminders, and updates

 

From East to West, North Carolina measures 580 miles. That is more than a day’s drive, so NCBBI encourages guests to stay in more than one region as they travel around our gorgeous state. Based on the topography of North Carolina, the association has assigned three different regions.

 

  • Coastal Region: to find the perfect B&B in the Coast, near the Atlantic Ocean, beautiful beaches, birding, water sports, boating and summer fun.
  • Piedmont Region: to find the perfect B&B in the middle Piedmont region, where you’ll find dynamic growing cities, wineries, universities, golf, lakes and rivers.
  • Mountain Region: to find the perfect B&B in the Western Mountains region, home to the beautiful Smoky Mountains, the Blue Ridge parkway, the Biltmore Estate, waterfalls, hiking and fall foliage.

 

The North Carolina Bed and Breakfast Inns Association features specials and packages from member inns on their website.  The specials include for military, veterans, and emergency workers (like police, fire and EMS) as well as last minute guestsInnkeepers also offer creative packages so guests can relax and enjoy their stay:

 

  • Anniversary or birthday
  • Girlfriends getaway
  • Local activities
  • Picnic lunch
  • Romance
  • Spa
  • Wedding
  • Wine and Dine

 

From their website, The North Carolina Bed and Breakfast Inns Association offer its online visitors an opportunity to purchase their NCBBI cookbook so they can sample the best of North Carolina cooking with their collection of bed and breakfast and inn recipes. In addition to the cookbook, give the gift of memories by purchasing lodging gift certificates (available in $50 increments) that may be used at any NCBBI member B&B. 

 

An NCBBI gift certificate is a thoughtful way to say “thank you” or to surprise someone special. They are also great gifts for special occasions like anniversaries, honeymoons, birthdays, and retirements.

 

The NC Bed and Breakfast Inns website lists North Carolina events (searching either by name, type of event, event date, or venue).   They also provide a way to search for local North Carolina attractions by its name, location and type of attraction, or by a specific local area (within a designated amount of miles).

 

Together you can promote all the wonderful things that your state has to offer its visitors.  You can educate potential guests about everything that comes included when they stay at a bed and breakfast.  You will also have a network of innkeepers with which to ask questions and refer each other business when your own inns are full.  Those are just some of the many reasons why it is important to belong to a bed and breakfast association.

Professional Associations

   

Do you know the value of belonging to professional associations?  Many inns and bed and breakfasts are members of professional associations. There are international, national, regional, and local associations, all of which provide services to both their members and the travelling public. Many require their members to meet specific standards of quality, while others simply require a lodging establishment to pay dues. These associations also facilitate marketing of the individual B&Bs and provide a stamp of approval that the business in question is reputable.

While various local governments have regulations and inspect lodging establishments for health and safety issues, membership in a state or national bed and breakfast association can indicate a higher standard of hospitality. Associations sometimes review their members’ properties and tend to have additional standards of care.  Associations may offer informative conferences.

In the US for example, each state has an innkeeping association (usually non-profit) that exists to promote the industry and tourism. Within those state associations, many city and regional bed and breakfast associations can be found. Many state, city and regional associations, have inspection criteria that often exceed government requirements for safety and cleanliness.  We have talked about organizations like AAA, the Better Business Bureau, and the Professional Association of Innkeepers International in previous blog posts.  People find comfort in staying at places that have earned high ratings.  Think about your B&B’s marketing strategy.

BBB Accreditation Standards

BBB Standards

Do you know what BBB accreditation means to your bed and breakfast? Better Business Bureau Accreditation is an honor – and not every business is eligible. Businesses that meet their high standards are invited to join BBB. Businesses deemed to meet Accreditation Standards are presented to the BBB’s Board for review and acceptance as a BBB Accredited Business.

BBB ensures that high standards for trust are set and maintained. They exist so consumers and businesses alike have an unbiased source to guide them on matters of trust. BBB provides educational information and expert advice that is free of charge and easily accessible.

BBB sees trust as a function of two primary factors – integrity and performance. Integrity includes respect, ethics and intent. Performance speaks to a business’s track record of delivering results in accordance with BBB standards and/or addressing customer concerns in a timely, satisfactory manner.

The BBB Code of Business Practices represents sound advertising, selling and customer service practices that enhance customer trust and confidence in business. The Code is built on the BBB Standards for Trust, eight principles that summarize important elements of creating and maintaining trust in business.

1. Build Trust
Establish and maintain a positive track record in the marketplace.

2. Advertise Honestly
Adhere to established standards of advertising and selling.

3. Tell the Truth
Honestly represent products and services, including clear and adequate disclosures of all material terms.

4. Be Transparent
Openly identify the nature, location, and ownership of the business, and clearly disclose all policies, guarantees and procedures that bear on a customer’s decision to buy.

5. Honor Promises
Abide by all written agreements and verbal representations.

6. Be Responsive
Address marketplace disputes quickly, professionally, and in
good faith.

7. Safeguard Privacy
Protect any data collected against mishandling and fraud, collect personal information only as needed, and respect the preferences of customers regarding the use of their
information.

8. Embody Integrity
Approach all business dealings, marketplace transactions and
commitments with integrity.

Each bed and breakfast, whether BBB accredited or not, has a rating. The BBB letter grade is based on BBB file information about the business. In some cases, your grade may be lowered if the BBB does not have sufficient information about your bed and breakfast despite their requests for the information.

BBB assigns letter grades from A+ (highest) to F (lowest). In some cases, BBB will not grade your business (indicated by an NR, or “No Rating”) for reasons that include insufficient information about a business or ongoing review/update of your business’ file.

BBB Business Reviews generally explain the most significant factors that raised or lowered a business’ grade.  BBB grades are not a guarantee of a business’ reliability or performance, and BBB recommends that consumers consider a business’ grade in addition to all other available information about the business grading elements.

BBB grades are based on information in BBB files with respect to the following factors:

1. Business’ complaint history with BBB.

2. Type of business.

3. Time in business.

4. Background information on business in BBB files.

5. Failure to honor commitments to BBB.

6. Licensing and government actions known to BBB.

7. Advertising issues known to BBB.

Bed and breakfast owners, if you are unsure if you have a BBB grade, look up your own name in the BBB directory to see what your file says.  If there are any unresolved complaints, you can contact your local BBB to resolve any issues with your BBB Standards.  It is best to be on good terms with the BBB.  People do consider a business’ BBB grade.  You can apply for membership by contacting the nearest BBB location if you are not already a member.

 

Online Guest Book

online-guest-book

You may already have a guest book in each room of your bed and breakfast for guests to make their comments, but did you ever think of putting their written praises on your website in an “online guest book page”?  Of course, you will need to get their permission in order to use their comment and please respect their wishes if they prefer you not give their full name or specific city when you quote them in a testimonial.

Website visitors will gain insight from what previous guests have said about their experience staying at your bed and breakfast. Some bed and breakfasts already have a web page devoted entirely to feedback they have received.

Your guests may think of reasons that you did not even think of as to why they liked staying at your bed and breakfast! It does not get any better than putting unsolicited positive feedback on your website so potential guests can feel good about booking one of your rooms because they heard recommendations directly from actual guests who have stayed with you!

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence

Trip Advisor Excellence

TripAdvisor®, one of the world’s largest travel sites, offers trusted advice from real travelers on a wide variety of travel choices (including bed and breakfasts). TripAdvisor branded sites make up the largest travel community in the world, with more than 200 million unique monthly visitors and over 100 million reviews and opinions covering more than 2.5 million accommodations, restaurants and attractions. 

 

Trip Advisor also awards hospitality excellence only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveler reviews on TripAdvisor. Stephen Kaufer, president and CEO, TripAdvisor said, “The Certificate of Excellence award provides top performing establishments the recognition they deserve, based on feedback from those who matter most – their customers.”

Winning bed and breakfasts can showcase their success a number of ways, including displaying the Certificate of Excellence they receive, uploading the award to their own website, or by promoting the achievement to local media with a press release. Last year’s winners promoted their award to great advantage through social media, highlighted their success on Twitter and on their business’s Facebook page, as well as notified past guests and customers of their win, thereby encouraging repeat visits!

TripAdvisor provides access to promotional services and tips for successful PR campaigns through the Management Center. To qualify for the Certificate of Excellence, businesses must maintain an overall rating of four or higher, out of a possible five, as reviewed by travelers on TripAdvisor. Additional criteria include the volume of reviews received within the last 12 months.

If your bed and breakfast earns awards, Bed and Breakfast Blogging, can write about it in a blog for your website. Awards of this caliber make a great impression on potential guests and make great content for your website!

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

AAA Diamond Rating

 

AAA Diamond Rating

Today, AAA Membership has grown to over 53 million, with more than 1,000 offices and 38,000 employees throughout the United States and Canada.  To get your Bed and Breakfast evaluated by AAA, click on this Application for AAA Lodging Evaluation.

 

What the Diamond Ratings Mean:

One Diamond

These establishments typically appeal to the budget-minded traveler. They provide essential, no-frills accommodations. They meet the basic requirements pertaining to comfort, cleanliness, and hospitality.

Two Diamond

These establishments appeal to the traveler seeking more than the basic accommodations. There are modest enhancements to the overall physical attributes, design elements, and amenities of the facility–typically at a moderate price.

Three Diamond

These establishments appeal to the traveler with comprehensive needs. Properties are multifaceted with a distinguished style, including marked upgrades in the quality of physical attributes, amenities, and level of comfort provided.

Four Diamond

These establishments are upscale in all areas. Accommodations are progressively more refined and stylish. The physical attributes reflect an obvious enhanced level of quality throughout. The fundamental hallmarks at this level include an extensive array of amenities combined with a high degree of hospitality, service, and attention to detail.

Five Diamond

These establishments reflect the characteristics of the ultimate in luxury and sophistication.  Accommodations are first class. The physical attributes are extraordinary in every manner. The fundamental hallmarks at this level are to meticulously serve and exceed all guest expectations while maintaining an impeccable standard of excellence. Many personalized services and amenities enhance an unmatched level of comfort.

Importance

Being able to say that you have been rated by AAA and indicating how many diamonds are in your rating lets people know what to expect from their stay at your Bed and Breakfast.  It is truly an honor (not to mention very hard work) to achieve a five diamond ranking.

Innkeepers Association

innkeepers association

 

From a tiny office in Santa Barbara, California, the Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII) has grown into a national organization of nearly 3000 members.  It is the largest innkeepers association in the world.

 

PAII’s mandate is to provide education, information, networking, advocacy, business opportunities and research relating to the innkeeping industry.

PAII provides continuing education programs in many formats, the largest being the annual Innkeeping Conference & Tradeshow where experienced innkeepers are challenged and new innkeepers brought up to speed at events featuring dozens of workshops, nationally known experts, and the industry’s largest trade show.

PAII fulfills its national leadership role by being the voice of the industry, representing the innkeeping profession in Washington, in the media, and where needed to defend the industry.

The B&B Industry has an estimated worth of $3.4 billion. The core of this starts with the estimated 17,000 inns in the U.S. and then branches out to all the product and services needed to enable these inns to be the desired destination for millions and millions of travelers, both domestic and international. Real estate, finance, insurance, hospitality, furniture, food and beverage, cleaning, safety, heating and cooling…the list is endless.

Kristi Dement of Bed and Breakfast Blogging is a Vendor Member of the largest innkeepers association, The Professional Association of Innkeepers International. She has had the honor of being the presenter for several PAII webinars.

Bed and Breakfast Associations

There are many benefits to becoming members of bed and breakfast associations.  For one thing, it adds credibility to your establishment.  In order to be allowed to join the group, your bed and breakfast will be inspected by members of the association to confirm its high quality standards and hospitable service.

Select Registry inspects each of its nearly 400 member Inns and Bed & Breakfasts. Independent inspectors evaluate the accommodations to ensure your guests’ stay will be in a class all its own.

You have the support of a network of fellow Bed and Breakfast innkeepers.  This allows you:

  • get advice from one another
  • refer each other business
  • swap recipes and tips
  • share memorable stories
  • give and receive encouragement

Potential guests can find you in their membership directory (print and/or online). A listing of the links to bed and breakfast associations in your state, can be found here.