Category Archives: Books

Not All of Your Guests Visit For Happy Reasons

Book Cover "When Life Gives You Pears" by Jeannie Gaffigan holding purple umbrella, raining pears, comedian husband Jim Gaffigan and their 5 kids

 

 

Your guests visit your bed and breakfast for a number of reasons. Perhaps your local area has popular restaurants, shops, entertainment venues, events, and attractions. You may have a strong reputation for good hospitality and luxurious accommodations. Your location may be the perfect stopping point on their long road trip. Of course, guests arrive to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, weddings, retirements, and more. All of these are happy reasons for their stay.

 


We Never Know What Crisis May Come

However, not all of your guests visit for happy reasons. You never know what struggles they and their loved ones may be enduring. Jeannie Gaffigan (wife of stand-up comedian and actor Jim Gaffigan, and mother to their five children) certainly could not have predicted the health challenges she would have to go through. Fortunately for her, she had a strong support network of family, friends, and prayer warriors.

Life-Threatening Challenges

When Life Gives You Pears: The Healing Power of Family, Faith, and Funny People released in the beginning of October is now the #1 bestselling comedy book on Amazon. While she faced life-threatening challenges (including a brain tumor the size and shape of a pear), she used her experience as an award-winning comedy writer and wife (to a famous comedian) and mother (of five) to poignantly share her journey (with humor mixed in).

She Gives Credit Where Credit Is Due

No one could have predicted the challenges she would have to overcome. She thanks the medical professionals for saving her life. She also gives credit to her husband Jim for his leadership in organizing around the clock care for their five kids and having at least one visitor with her at all times during her lengthy hospital stay. Plus, she needed major medical care and required physical therapy when she was finally released from the hospital. She is thankful for the prayers of loved ones and to God for the miracle that she survived.

The List of Do’s and Don’ts

Given her medical struggles, she (with the help of her sister Lizzy) made a DOs and DON’Ts list for family members helping in the hospital, including:

  • Don’t talk about delicious food if patient can’t eat
  • Do arrange room and organize personal property since the patient can’t move
  • Don’t say, “It’s not so bad.”
  • Do express empathy.
  • Don’t complain about not getting enough sleep.
  • Do organize the cards people have sent.
  • Don’t bring flowers into ICU; give them to the nurses’ station

She also made a list of rules for herself including: Do love your big family and be kind to them when they are health–they will save you when you are sick; Don’t make a rules list about your family and publish it in a book. (That made me laugh!)

Her Relationship With Comedian Husband Jim Gaffigan

Not only will you get to know Jeannie, you will learn how she and Jim came to know each other and read what she did the first time she saw where he was living as a single guy on the road a lot (it involves a lot of cleaning). She ends Part III of her book with, “The oldest of 9 children, the ultimate caregiver, marries the youngest of 6, the ultimate care-getter. A match made in co-dependent heaven.” (If there is any doubt as to who she was referring to, she was the oldest sibling in her family and Jim was the youngest sibling in his family.)

A New Appreciation For Her Life and Family

Their love for each other, their children, and their larger families is very evident when reading this book. In fact, she was surprised at how well Jim really learned what he needed to in order to take care of her medical needs at home. She realized that she should live in the moment more. Not everything in their house needs to be labeled and organized. She’s decided she will say yes more often when her children want her to read them a story, for example. Faith, family, and health are her highest priorities. Also humor!

Hosting Guests 

Innkeepers, while your guests may not share with you the sad reasons for their visit, most of you are very perceptive as to the level of interaction a guest would like to have with you. In fact, many of your returning guests come back because of the hospitality, sensitivity, and grace you show when your guests visit.

 

5 New Bed and Breakfast Novels Your Guests Will Love

Book Covers: Inn at Hidden Run, Magnolia Inn, Peach Clobbered, Seeing Red, Summer HouseIntroducing five new bed and breakfast novels your guests are sure to love. All of these books are centered around B&B businesses. Plots include discovering family histories, chasing killers, reading about secrets, falling in love, and uncovering other mysteries. It is always good to have books available for guests to read. You already know they love inns!

 

The Inn at Hidden Run by Olivia Newport (Book #1 Tree of Life)

A father-daughter genealogy team link present to past on family trees. Meri’s family has been producing doctors for so many generations that no one remembers why, so when she flunks out of medical school, she runs as far from her parents as she can get. In the small town of Canyon Mines, Colorado, she takes a job at the Inn at Hidden Run B&B. And waits. It’s only a matter of time. What she doesn’t count on is genealogist Jillian Parisi-Duffy and her father, Nolan, having her back when it takes everything she has not to bolt again but to stay and face the truth that only unfolding her family’s history will reveal. While Nolan works on keeping Meri calm–and in town–Jillian pulls out of her gems of information she doesn’t know she has and arranges the puzzle pieces. But none of that changes the fact that Meri’s family is closing in to haul her back to her “real” life. When their arrival inflames tensions and Meri finally does bolt, Nolan and Jillian may be out of time.

The Magnolia Inn by Carolyn Brown

A #1 Washington Post and Amazon Charts bestseller. New York Times bestselling author Carolyn Brown brings together two wounded hearts in a Texas romance of second chances and twice-in-a-lifetime true love. Inheriting the Magnolia Inn, a Victorian home nestled in the East Texas pines, is a fantasy come true for Jolene Broussard. After living with the guilt of failing to rescue her self-destructive mother, Jolene knows her aunt and uncle’s B&B is the perfect jump start for a new life and a comforting place to call home. There’s just one hitch: stubborn and moody carpenter Tucker Malone. He’s got a half interest in the Magnolia Inn, and he’s planting his dusty cowboy boots squarely in the middle of her dream. Ever since his wife’s death, Tucker’s own guilt and demons have left him as guarded as Jolene. The last thing he expects is for his new partner to stir something inside him he thought was gone forever. And as wary as Jolene is, she may have found a kindred spirit–someone she can help, and someone she can hold on to. Restoring Magnolia Inn is the first step toward restoring their hearts. Will they be able to let go of the past and trust each other to do it together again?

Peach Clobbered by Anna Gerard (A Georgia B&B Mystery)

What’s black and white and dead all over? Georgia bed and breakfast proprietor Nina Fleet finds out when she comes across a corpse in a penguin costume. Nina Fleet’s life ought to be as sweet as a Georgia peach. Awarded a tiny sum in her divorce, Nina retired at 41 to a historic Queen Anne house in quaint Cymbeline, Georgia. But Nina’s barely settled into her new B&B-to-be when a penguin shows up on her porch. Or, at least, a man wearing a penguin suit. Harry Westcott is making ends meet as an ice cream shop’s mascot and has a letter from his great-aunt, pledging to leave him the house. Too bad that’s not what her will says. Meanwhile, the Sisters of Perpetual Poverty have lost their lease. Real estate developer Gregory Bainbridge intends to turn the convent into a golfing community, so Cymbeline’s mayor persuades Nina to take in the elderly nuns. And then Nina finds the “penguin” again, this time lying in an ally with a kitchen knife in his chest. A peek under the beak tells Nina it’s not Harry inside the costume, but Bainbridge. What was he doing in Harry’s penguin suit? Was the developer really the intended victim, or did the culprit intend to kill Harry? Whoever is out to stop Harry from contesting the sale of his great-aunt’s house may also be after Nina, so she teams up with him to cage the killer before someone clips her wings.

Seeing Red by Dana Dratch (A Red Herring Mystery)

If it wasn’t for art thieves, spies, and killers, Alex Vlodnachek’s life would be bliss. Her freelance career is catching fire. Her relationship with B&B owner Ian Sterling is flirty and fun. She’s even attending a glittering cocktail party at his sprawling Victorian inn. But, to this ex-reporter, something seems “off.” When Ian’s father vanishes, the enigmatic innkeeper asks for her discretion, And her assistance. Meanwhile, Alex is having the opposite problem at her tiny bungalow. People keep piling in uninvited. Including a mysterious intruder found sleeping in her kitchen. Her grandmother, Baba, who shows up “to help”–with Alex’s own mother hot on her heels. When the intrepid redhead discovers a body in the B&B’s basement and a “reproduction” Renoir in the library, she begins to suspect that Ian is more than just a simple hotel owner. With editor pal Trip, brother Nick, and rescue-pup Lucy riding shotgun, Alex scrambles to stay one step ahead of disaster–and some very nasty characters. Can she find the missing man before it’s too late? Or will Alex be the next one to disappear?

The Summer House by Jenny Hale

From this USA Today bestselling author comes a delightful read about friendship, family, and the healing power of love. Callie Weaver and her best friend, Olivia Dixon, have finally done it: put their life savings into the beach house they admired through childhood summers, on the dazzling white sand of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. They’re going to buff the salt from its windows, paint it’s sun-bleached sidings, and open it as a bed and breakfast. Callie’s too busy to think about her love life, but when she catches the attention of local heartthrob Luke Sullivan, his blue eyes and easy smile make it hard to say no. He’s heir to his father’s real estate empire, and the papers say he’s just another playboy. But as they laugh in the ocean waves, Callie realizes there’s more to this man than money and good looks. Just when true happiness seems within reach, Callie and Olivia find a diary full of secrets…secrets that stretch across the island and have the power to turn lives upside down. As Callie reads, she unravels a mystery that makes her heart drop through the floor. Will Callie and Luke be pulled apart by the storm the diary unleashes, or can true love save them?

If you have a common room that is perfect for guests to read in, consider having a library of books available for them to read during their stay. Books like these five new bed and breakfast novels. See our blog post about the perfect bed and breakfast books for guests. Happy reading, to you and your guests! Feel free to comment below with your own B&B book recommendation!

 

Secrets To The Heart of Hospitality

vase of 3 red roses, book cover "The Heart of Hospitality", red heart-shaped chocolates, red welcome mat

Let’s get to the heart of hospitality. We feature Micah Solomon’s book “The Heart of Hospitality: Great Hotel and Restaurant Leaders Share Their Secrets.” Treat a guest as your only guest by focusing on their needs. Never stop believing in the importance of the individual guest and the individual guest interaction. Every interaction is an opportunity to make a guest feel cared for.

Hospitality should appear effortless and spontaneous to the guest yet service standards and systems need to be in place. When resolving any hospitality issues, be sure to apologize (even if you are not to blame), review the complaint with the guest, fix the problem and follow up to ensure that they are pleased with how it was handled. Document the problem in detail for your records and to have a plan in place for similar challenges.

People are the heart of hospitality. People who are hospitable have certain personality traits:

  • Conscientious of the details
  • Empathy
  • Energetic
  • Exceed expectations
  • Follow through
  • Integrity
  • Kind
  • Optimistic
  • Positive
  • Thoughtful
  • Warm
  • Work ethic

Strive to build a culture of saying “yes” to the guest. Even to questions or requests the customer has not voiced yet. Create “wow” moments that delight guests, make them want to share their story, and come again. Never say “no” without offering a “yes” at the same time. Offering an alternative solution and an apology makes it easier for the guest to accept. Pledge to commit to delivering excellence every day. What matters today is all about unique, memorable, and personal experiences.

Guests today are looking for what they perceive as genuine hospitality experiences. Focus on authentic, unscripted conversations and interactions with your guests. Instead of saying, “you owe us this amount of money” you can rephrase it by stating, “our records indicate a balance of this amount of money.” Hospitality requires the ability to adjust, depending upon the situation and the guest.

Find ways to share the authentic and uniquely local aspects of your area with your guests. Consider providing guests with your very own custom-made travel guide. Guests desire to live the life of a local.

Your challenge, with each guest, is to envision what an enjoyable experience looks like and to put together the pieces that make this happen. Pay attention to smaller touch points. More and more customers are looking for experiences, to participate in something they can look back on with pride. Balance novelty with consistency.

Finally, Micah Solomon, states that providers of accommodations should focus on how your hospitality experience is shared with two or more guests. Build opportunities for social sharing into the customer experience. In hospitality, a brand often serves as a backdrop to the story of each customer’s life. What matters is getting to the heart of hospitality.

 

How To Develop The Right Idea At The Right Time

Book Cover "The Creative Curve: How To Develop The Right Idea At The Right Time" next to computer keyboard with button "create"

The Creative Curve: How To Develop The Right Idea At The Right Time by Allen Gannett is an inspiring read for all entrepreneurs, including hospitality providers. I absolutely loved this book. With compelling research and examples, the author shows us that creativity is not limited to the chosen few. The author argues that the world’s best known creative people actually follow a consistent pattern of behavior.

 

4 Ways To Develop The Right Idea At The Right Time:

 

  • Imitation: Learning the necessary constraints and formulas of your industry. Constraints include length of guest stay, dietary restrictions, and guest budget. Guest satisfaction comes from factors like attention to detail and offering extras including packages. This leads to positive reviews, returning guests, and guest referrals.
  • Creative Communities: Building communities refines skills, increases motivation, and finds people with whom to collaborate. This includes:
    • Certifications: from respected organizations like TripAdvisor
    • Listings: in elite clubs like Select Registry & Historic Hotels of America
    • Memberships: in professional hospitality associations
    • Partnerships: with local businesses (florist, restaurants, spa, etc.)
  • Iterations: Being aware of timing and engaging in iterations enables using data and processes to improve work. Ways to measure progress include:
    • Accounting: evaluating revenue/profit (from bookings, events, packages, etc.) and costs/loss (food, maintenance, staff, etc.)
    • Email service provider: email open rates, clicks on links, etc.
    • Google Analytics: to tell the performance of website pages and blog
    • Guest reviews: take note of what guests are saying about you (share positive reviews and make necessary improvements)
    • Reservation software: mobile friendliness, occupancy rates, visitor behavior, etc.
    • Social media: reach, likes, comments, follows, shares, clicks, etc.

Author Allen Gannett refers to “The Creative Curve” as a measure of the balance of the familiar (for guests to feel comfortable) and the novel (different enough to attract their interest). Implementing and monitoring these four ways enables hospitality providers to find that sweet spot and to develop the right idea at the right time.

Why Your Enthusiasm Makes All the Difference

Book Cover "Enthusiasm Makes The Difference" and sun shining behind clouds, hot air balloon, yellow tulips

Your enthusiasm makes all the difference in life. It makes the difference between success and failure, according to Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s classic book Enthusiasm Makes The Difference. Enthusiasm is the priceless ingredient of personality that helps to achieve happiness and self-fulfillment. Enthusiasm is the dynamic motivator that keeps us persistently working toward our goals. Most outstanding achievements are accomplished over great odds.

The committed person is the one who finds real excitement in living. You can make yourself an optimist. You can develop your level of enthusiasm.

One method Dr. Peale advises is to determine which characteristic you desire to possess, hold that image firmly in your consciousness and develop it by acting as if you actually possessed that characteristic. Then believe and repeatedly affirm you are in the process of creating the quality you seek to develop.

Noted psychologist Williams James called it the “As If” Principle: “if you want a quality, act as if you already have it.” In other words, act on the assumption that you are what you see yourself as being, and you will in time strongly become that as long as you persevere in the process.

A vital element in developing enthusiasm is the way in which you start your day. The more good news you tell yourself, the more such is likely to be. That which the mind receives upon waking tends to influence (and to a considerable degree determine) what your day will be. Choose enthusiasm daily and you are likely to have it permanently. Have the kind of enthusiasm that believes there is always something new and better ahead.

Find a need and fill it. When you have something you really believe in, then you can put the amazing power of conviction behind your efforts. When you communicate and develop rapport with people, they will like you and buy what you have to offer.

When it comes to being an innkeeper, find a way to fill a need that is not currently being met. What can you do that is better or different than what other accommodations provide? Determine how you can stand out from the crowd.

Focus on what is right about life. Life is too short not to do that. To be a success requires that you give of your whole self, your whole mind. Peale stated the greatest selling job you will ever have to do is selling yourself on yourself. Believing in your own abilities requires the most enthusiastic persuasion. Make yourself believe that you can be better than you think you are.

Enthusiasm can cancel out fear, worry, doubt, depression, and anger. When you keep enthusiastic, the negative emotions do not have a chance. Worry and enthusiasm cannot occupy the same mind at the same time.

According to Dr. Peale, deeply built into human beings is the desire to excel. Competing with oneself (to be the best you can be) is the highest form of competition. Enthusiasm changes the quality of a job because it changes people. Enthusiasm is the powerful drive that makes things happen.

The author tells about his experience interacting with a hotel dishwasher. Being at the bottom of the totem pole at the hotel did not matter to this man because he dreamed of one day becoming the director or manager of this European hotel. By giving the best possible service in his current role, this man continued to assume new responsibilities.

Several years later, when Dr. Peale returned, this man was the Head Waiter, even closer to achieving his dreams. When a person applies enthusiasm to their job, the job becomes alive with exciting possibilities. Peale points out that there is always something new and imaginative you can bring to a familiar job.

Any person who develops enthusiasm for something (and the fortitude to carry it out) can make the most amazing things occur. No one has to be a victim of their circumstances. Enthusiasm builds power under all circumstances (no matter how difficult). Difficulties are part of the maturing process. You are being shaped for the real purpose of your life.

The attitude of a person toward their own self is very important in determining how well they perform and the outcome of their whole life. According to Dr. Peale, often our low status in life is not because our abilities are inferior, it is because our opinions of ourselves are inferior.

Let enthusiasm grip your mind and it will make all the difference. You can have what you want from life provided your enthusiasm is strong enough to push barriers aside.

 

Proven Activities For Health, Wealth, Happiness, and Success

Book Cover Napoleon Hill's Action Activities
Who does not want health, wealth, happiness, and success in life? The book Napoleon Hill’s Action Activities: for Health, Wealth, and Happiness is an official publication of the Napoleon Hill Foundation to continue his legacy of leadership. It includes excerpts from his books as well as ideas for ways to apply his teachings in today’s world.

Attributes of Personal Initiative include:

  • Adoption of a definite major purpose
  • Motivation to inspire continuous action toward that purpose
  • Self-discipline and persistence to keep moving forward
  • Habit of going the extra mile
  • Capacity to concentrate your full attention on one task at a time
  • A positive mental attitude at all times
  • Habit of following through with any task once begun

Anything worth having is worth pursuing. According to Hill, the desires would not be placed in us unless we had the potential to achieve them.

Have a world vision that is larger than yourself. Give yourself away for a cause that is greater than you. This must be something you willingly give to others because you find it rewarding.

Many innkeepers decide to become B&B owners and hosts because of their desire to help their guests feel welcome. Proprietors also have the opportunity to promote their local area.

Magnificent Outcome (M.O.):

  • What you desire: Who am I? What is my special calling? Innkeepers may ask, “How can my inn reflect the talents and gifts that are uniquely my own?”
  • How you will achieve it: What positive dream engages my mind, monopolizes my thoughts, and pushes me forward? What is it I would do for the sole enjoyment of doing?
  • The positive outcome you can expect to achieve for staying the course: How, when, and where do I envision my magnificent outcome?

There is a sense of satisfaction that comes from using your unique talents and gifts. Your gifts could include teaching a cooking class, guiding guests on local trails, giving yoga instruction, hosting private parties, demonstrating art techniques in your retreat, coordinating weddings, leading conferences, and so much more. The key is to choose the things that you love doing and that will help your inn to stand out from your competition.

Habits Are the Stairway to a Richer Life

You can see many outcomes in your life (and the lives of others) based upon examining personal habits. When habits are entrenched, people operate on autopilot. Little brain power is involved in recalling these habits once learned.

Little actions taken over time create profound lifetime habits that determine our destiny. Through our simple daily actions we create the patterns that become automatic through repetition in our lives. Habits of action will create the life you choose to live one step at a time.

“A man cannot directly choose his circumstances, but he can choose his thoughts, and so indirectly, yet surely, shape his circumstances.” (Napoleon Hill)

Habits begin with thought. Look for the positive (rather than the negative). Look for something to praise (rather than something to complain about). Our thoughts shape our world and, in turn, shape our earthly destiny.

The 12 Riches of Life:

  • A positive mental attitude
  • Sound physical health
  • Harmony in human relationships
  • Freedom from fear
  • The capacity for faith
  • Willingness to share one’s blessings
  • A labor of love
  • An open mind on all subjects
  • Self-discipline
  • The capacity to understand people
  • Financial security

When we discipline ourselves, our life goes better. Our lives are the results of the choices we make. When we delay gratification, we can reach higher, more ideal levels of performance. Self-discipline begins with the mastery of our thoughts. Self-discipline enables you to think first and act afterward.

Develop the Habit of Going the Extra Mile:

  • Do more than you are paid for
  • When you sow the seeds of excellent service, you reap the harvest
  • Listen to those around you to see if you can uplift them in some way
  • Do something special for someone else

Going the extra mile is related to the hospitality that innkeepers extend to their guests. Innkeepers seem to be blessed with the seemingly effortless ability to anticipate the needs of their guests. I admire their dedication to go above and beyond guest expectations.

Live Life to the Fullest:

  • Celebrate the beauty of life and cherish the time given to you
  • Choose life each moment and live it to your fullest potential
  • Think good thoughts and keep focused on advancing your life
  • Memorize and recite positive affirmations and quotes
  • Express heartfelt gratitude for what you already have
  • Make time for relaxation and fun
  • Read biographies of successful people
  • Identify positive attributes that you want to develop
  • Move beyond your comfort zone to expand your horizons
  • Share your blessings and be a giver
  • Be true to your calling by defining your purpose and acting upon it
  • Focus on completion and not perfection
  • Bloom when you are ready
“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.” (Napoleon Hill)

I believe it is important to continue to read and learn throughout your life. I read more books now than I did in college and graduate school! I love that this book encourages readers to continue to develop your mind and your habits because that influences your destiny. Napoleon Hill lived an inspirational life and his legacy continues through his foundation.

 

Find Your Why to Boost Your Success

Book Cover Find Your Why and question marks

To boost your success, you must find your why. Previously I wrote a blog post about Simon Sinek’s bestselling book Start With Why. This post will discuss his companion book, co-written with David Mead and Peter Docker, called Find Your Why. Simon explains that this book provides the steps to show people exactly how to find their why.

 

Sinek explains it is not what you do that keep you fulfilled, but why you do what you do. Everyone has a why, their deep-seated purpose, a cause or belief, that is the source of your passion and inspiration. Fulfillment comes when what we do connects directly to our why.

Once you understand your why, you will be able to clearly express what makes you fulfilled. Knowing the why helps us set a vision to inspire others and guides us to act with purpose, on purpose.

WHY statements are always:

  • simple
  • clear
  • actionable
  • focused on the effect you will have on others

 

TO ___________ SO THAT ____________.

 

  • The first blank is the contribution you make to the lives of others.
  • The second blank is the impact of your contribution.
  • Your why must be relevant in both your personal and professional life.
  • Your why is a statement of value. It’s who you truly are.

The book advises that you choose a partner (someone who knows you, but not so much that they can finish your stories). Tell them at least five or six meaningful stories from your past. Each story must be a specific time, place, or moment and share it in detail.

Find Your Why suggests two different methods. The first method, “Peaks and Valleys” is where you think of both happy memories and memories you would not want to relive but have shaped who you are today. The second method, “Memory Prompt” is where you answer questions like:

  • Who has helped make you who you are today?
  • What was a pivotal moment in your life?
  • What happened that changed the way you think about your world and your role in it?
  • What have you accomplished in your life that you are really proud of?

Have the person you are telling your stories make notes of the facts in one column and the meaning or feelings in the column next to it. The stories you tell can be those that shed light on who you are at your best as well as specific experiences and people that have shaped who you are today.

Later both of you will look for recurring themes, words, phrases, and ideas. Once you tell stories and identify themes, you are ready to draft your WHY statement. As mentioned, your why statement should read, to _______ so that _________. It should be expressed in affirmative language that resonates with you.

Perhaps, as an innkeeper, your why has to do with serving your guests. It may be about providing them with friendly hospitality and luxurious accommodations that allow them to relax and strengthen their relationships.

Your WHY statement should be something that you agree with completely. It should not be written for your guests, but written for you as a guide to help you make decisions in life. Knowing your WHY statement will provide you with direction and boost your success.

 

How to Keep Guest Conversations Interesting

neon ASK sign, banquet tables and chairs

Ask More: The Power of Questions to Open Doors, Uncover Solutions, and Spark Changes by Frank Sesno has a chapter on entertaining questions called “The Inspired Host.”

For innkeepers who host events such as dinners and private parties, knowing entertaining questions to ask allows you to engage your audience and keep guest conversations interesting.

The objective always revolves around creating an experience that all your guests will enjoy and remember. You can steer the conversation to draw in guests and energize the room. Create a mood that connects people in stimulating and surprising ways.

First, the author advises, you must know your audience by asking:

  • Who is my audience?
  • What do they know?
  • What don’t they know?
  • What do they care about?
  • What will they find interesting and funny and why?

Starting with an exchange that is spontaneous and a little unexpected often breaks the ice and sets the tone for a more relaxed and more genuine experience.

Then begin with a few topics that interest everyone. Mix it up with a few lighter, open-ended questions. Listen closely. Ask for different levels of experience and awareness. Ask for examples and encourage stories.

Pick questions that intrigue and interest everyone and are relevant to the event or occasion. Draw from a menu of topics and questions to create flow and engage different people on different levels.

Set the mood through signals, prompts, words, and timing. Trigger emotions through the subjects you pick and the questions you ask.

Try the one-word association game to open the conversation more and perhaps get a few laughs. Figure out what you want to talk about and map out questions and anticipated responses. You can excite the imagination, or you can prompt reflection.

Your questions should invite participation at whatever level your guests feel comfortable. Frame your questions in a way that is approachable and real. Be willing to change directions when someone observes an altogether different slice of life.

Good hosts are always on, always listening, and always interested in their guests and the conversation around them. The role of hosts is to draw out other people and make them interesting, funny, or noteworthy. Ask guests to contribute new ideas or share interesting experiences.

Make your questions open-ended (they cannot be answered with a yes or no response) as well as friendly. Avoid controversial topics like politics, money, and religion.

To make sure everyone responds, try throwing out a question with the challenge that everyone must respond in just one sentence.

  • “What’s the one thing you want everyone to know about you?”
  • “If you could transport yourself anywhere in the world right now, go to any country just to eat dinner, where would you go and what would you eat?”

By applying a little “conversation leadership” to get guests interacting with each other, you can create an environment that is inclusive, interesting, and dynamic.

According to Author Frank Sesno, good hosts use questions to have fun, make people laugh, or dive into the ridiculous. He encourages hosts to produce an experience their guests will enjoy and remember.

The more hosts understand the people in the room, the better you can steer the discussion. Hosts should ask questions, but don’t answer them. Be principally interested in drawing out others.

The objective of hosting is to direct the conversation, not dominate it. Direct questions so that everyone gets a chance to talk, but also recognize that some people prefer to listen. Alternate topics and moods to keep the conversation moving, varies, and interesting.

Hosting dinner parties and other private events are excellent opportunities for asking and answering entertaining questions, to getting to know one another, and to having a good time while examining life along the way. I hope this inspires more innkeepers to host events which involve guests in conversation with each other.

Why Time Should Be Important To You

time management book next to different colored clocks

 

Time should be important to you. According to the 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management by Kevin Kruse, successful people think about their values, priorities, and consistent habits. We all have 1,440 minutes in each day. How effectively are we using them?

 

Highly successful people rank time was the most important item they have. It’s the one true equalizer. You can never lose time and get it back again. Time is your most valuable and scarcest resource. Innkeepers have a lot of demands on their time as well as guests to please.

You must know what to focus on and how you are going to get it done. Understand what is most important to you and what activities will provide you with the greatest leverage to getting there. What do your guests appreciate the most?

Identify your most important tasks (MIT) and do those before you do anything else. If you truly want to get it done, you must schedule time for it. Work from your calendar, not your to-do list. Master the practice of letting go of other things. Accept the fact that there will always be more to do and more that can be done. A dilemma not unique to innkeepers. Your guests also have pressures in their lives. They may be coming to you for much needed rest and relaxation!

Always carry a notebook to write down your ideas. When billionaire Richard Branson did not have his notebook with him, he wrote his idea down in his passport. Think of how many times you had a great idea, but since you didn’t write it down when you thought of it, you later forgot what it was! The notebook can be little in size, so it is convenient to put in your pocket and have with you at all times.

Email is a great way for other people to put their priorities in your life. If you send less email, you will receive less email. Use the subject line to indicate the action required. Keep emails short to respect other people’s time (as well as your own). Innkeepers can provide links to information that is on their website so emails to guests are shorter. Consider having a “frequently asked questions” section for guests to read on your website.

Billionaire Warren Buffet said that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything. Every ‘yes’ is a ‘no’ to something else. Say no to everything that does not support your goals. We should always be accommodating to guests, but that does not necessarily mean we offer ten different packages. Choose the ones that are the most popular and profitable.

80% of your results come from just 20% of your actions. This is known as the Pareto principle or the 80/20 rule. Look for time saving methods. Do the most important things exceptionally well. For all other tasks, “good enough” will do or hire them out to another person. This is NOT to say we cut corners in providing hospitality, but we should be as efficient as possible. Perfection is impossible.

  • How valuable is this task?
  • Am I the only one who can do this?
  • How can the same outcome be achieved with a faster process?

Focus your time only on the things that use your unique strengths and passions. Invest the first sixty minutes of each day to rituals that strengthen your mind, body, and spirit. If a task can be completed in less than five minutes, do it immediately. Of course, we cannot anticipate all the issues (including guest complaints and maintenance problems) that we inevitably will face each day, but we can be strategic in how we handle them.

Productivity is about energy and focus, not time. We must be mindful and live with intention. Focus on the things that bring you further to your goals each and every day. Remember we all have 1,440 minutes in a day. That is why time should be important to you.

There Has to Be a Better Way

Moonshot! multiple doors gray doors with one red door

 

There has to be a better way. According to John Sculley, former CEO of Pepsi and Apple, in his book Moonshot!: Game-Changing Strategies to Build a Billion-Dollar Business, adaptive innovators deliver an incredible customer experience on a quality level never experienced before.

 

The power of customer ratings, customer recommendations, and customer complaints cannot be overstated. In addition, consumers also have continuous contact with their friends on various social media sites like Facebook.

Sculley recommends that business owners have a passionate commitment because present day opportunities are boundless. Napoleon Hill said, “Our only limitations are those we set up in our own minds.” We are all capable of so much more.

Sculley advocates for people to be flexible and be willing to look at alternative ways of doing things. For example, those receiving Green Leader awards in the hospitality industry are those who find ways to conserve more and waste less in order to be more environmentally friendly for the greater good of the earth.

Asking the right questions is much more valuable than having knowledge (knowing the right answers). Really listening to the suggestions of your guests is also key. If you hear or read the same guest comments over and over, there may be some truth to what they are stating.

Every “moonshot” begins with a noble cause, a higher calling, a mission that can make a real difference in people’s lives. It is important to know why you do what you do. According to author Simon Sinek, communicating what your organization believes in allows you to connect with your ideal audience.

“There has to be a better way” is the philosophy that Mr. John Sculley lives by. There is always a more effective or efficient solution to the way things are currently being done.

The opportunity to innovate always starts with customer experience. Exceptional customer service with the idea that “there has to be a better way” leads to adaptive innovation at it best.

Getting customers (your guests) to buy the products and services is only the beginning of the relationship. The transaction, Sculley states, is not the destination, but the launching point of a long journey. Personal service is pivotal to the success of many businesses.

Sculley argues, “If you want customers to remember you with profound regard, then you must go out and study their needs and desires with intensity.” Do you have your guests fill out any surveys to give you feedback? What other things could you do to learn more about delivering high guest satisfaction?

Success often hinges on asking the right questions and nowhere is that truer than in creating an exceptional customer experience. Sculley quotes famous Chef and Restauranteur Wolfgang Puck, “We’re not in the food service business, we’re in the hospitality business. It’s all about giving the customer an unforgettable experience.” Deliver a positive, memorable, and matchless customer experience.

The future belongs to those who see possibilities BEFORE they become obvious. Sculley said that before Uber existed, people wondered how to get better taxi service. Entrepreneur Henry Ford said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

Business owners need to have an intense curiosity and ask questions. Am I actually open-minded to what my competition may be doing? Is the market ready for what I’m trying to do?

Sculley says that you don’t really understand something until you understand it more than one way. Having multiple ways to think about a problem and process information is also important. Look at other industries and imagine a similar scenario playing out in your competitive world.

The hospitality industry was disrupted by AirBnB. They thought outside of the box to come up with their idea. I am certainly not in favor of the corners cut by AirBnB, but what could you do to help positively change the hospitality industry as we know it?

Monitor negative comments and suggestions with intense attention. There is no substitute for talking with guests one-on-one. Companies and business owners that can adapt will be the big winners.

John Sculley encourages people to be curious, be optimistic, be inspired by what’s possible, but also focused on what’s probable. Develop a context for good ideas so they may actually become valuable. Learn in layers, keep a notebook with you for ideas, and never be afraid to borrow a good idea as long as you attribute the source.

Be committed to finding a better way and never give up in finding it. Prepare, like athletes with hours of practice, and question why things are done in a certain way. Put the customer at the center of your business.

Mr. John Sculley ends his book telling his readers that survival is driven by adaptation and that change is happening faster than ever. Zero in on your most challenging customer problems. Be obsessed with continually creating exceptional customer experiences. Be perpetually governed by the principle that “there has to be a better way.”

 

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