Category Archives: Innkeeping

Insightful Questions Can Lead to Remarkable Results

"ASK" written on sign on side of building with light

 

Insightful questions can lead to remarkable results. It is amazing how just thinking about the answers to questions (like the following listed below), can give innkeepers more clarity about what should be their priorities. It is important to regularly examine your goals (as well as the reasoning behind those goals).

 

  • What do you (and your inn) have to offer? (like innkeeper strengths & on-site amenities)
  • What do you excel at? (culinary skills, event management, hospitality, teaching, organization, property management, etc.)
  • Is your inn known for something? (the best place for…)
  • Do you have a mission statement or overall goal? (why do you exist?)
  • What is your focus? (this depends upon your inn’s purpose)
  • Who do you serve? (these are your current guests)
  • Who needs what you offer? (these are your ideal guests)
  • What problems do you solve? (this can explain why people visit you)
  • Why should they want your accommodations and services? (the benefits you offer)
  • What would make a lasting difference in your guests’ lives? (how you encourage repeat visits)
  • How do you (or will you) get your message across? (blog, social media, website, advertisements, press, etc.)
  • How do you (or will you) follow up to guest inquiries? (do you note who called and the questions they asked?)
  • Do you stay in touch with your guests? If so, how and how often? (weekly or monthly email list, mailing list, phone call, text, etc.)
  • Going forward, what is your plan of action? (how can you attract more of your ideal audience?)

It is a good idea to have a little notebook with you to record any random (yet potentially useful) thought that comes into your head. You never know when you may think of the next big thing your inn could do or offer! 

Guests are also a great source of information and inspiration. What do your guests compliment you about that you do have (or provide)? What do your guests ask you about that you currently do not have (or provide)? Read over your guest reviews as well as reflect upon what they have told you in person. Thus, insightful questions can lead to remarkable results!

Important and Revealing Innkeeper Interests Survey

B&B Innkeeper Interests Survey bar chart by Kristi Dement of B&B Blogging

Conducting an informal survey of innkeepers about their interests, the chart above shows the results. From least to greatest interest, the (rounded) percentage of innkeepers interested in the topic were as follows:

  • Hosting More Private B&B Events (31%)
  • Identifying & Becoming Known For a Specific Niche (36%)
  • Improving Your Success Mindset & Productivity (36%)
  • Maximizing Outreach to Local Businesses & the Community (38%)
  • Giving Frequent Guest Rewards &Referral Incentives to Returning Guests (51%)
  • Earning Free Press Coverage (56%)
  • Learning Additional Ways of Earning Money as an Innkeeper (59%)
  • Offering B&B Specials & Packages (59%)
  • Learning Strategic & Profitable Online Marketing Tips (72%)

Interestingly enough, I have given several Professional Association of Innkeepers International webinar presentations on the following topics:

  • How You Can Profit From Creating Memorable Guest Packages
  • How To Profit From Designing Bed and Breakfast Retreats
  • Creating Holiday and Seasonal Bed and Breakfast Packages
  • How To Host Elegant Private Events at Your Inn

I will likely focus on presenting strategic and profitable online marketing tips in future presentations. This includes the following:

  • Blogging (the search engines place priority on fresh content so having a blog using relevant keywords and then sharing that content in newsletters and on social media is ultra-important)
  • Emailing (they say, “the money is in the list” and innkeepers are wise to get the email addresses of their guests and regularly email them–as long as you always give recipients a way to unsubscribe from future messages)
  • Social Media (know who your audience in and be sure to be where they are online e.g. Snapchat has a younger audience, Pinterest is primarily used by women, videos are increasingly popular with many people who are online, etc.)

In this B&B Innkeeper Interests Survey, I also gave innkeepers the opportunity to reveal other topics of interest to them:

  • Networking among innkeepers to better connect travelers to each other, possibility with loyalty programs
  • Creating cozy spaces, gardening tips for welcoming spaces, favorite recipes for big groups, dealing with complaints, best practices, bulk buying deals
  • Filling inn with guests and guests enjoying meeting people from all over the world
  • Building partnerships with other local businesses or bed and breakfasts
  • Changes in legislation that effects our industry and how associations can help to make sure we’re in complaince
  • Using AirBnB for reservations
  • Advantages to different booking services
  • Attracting and maintaining capable and loyal staff
  • Regulatory changes affecting the industry
  • Rev par, slow season income ideas, pricing strategies, competition, first years of the business
  • Meetings guests’ needs and maintaining high standards
  • Recipes, cleaning tips, and tricks
  • Staffing issues, getting the right people and retention
  • Inspiring and new innkeepers do’s and don’ts, what steps to take (prior, during, and after) you take over a property
  • Actual legislation, including the link to actual documents regarding short term rentals, in different communities
  • Staying ahead of the unregulated short-term rental debacle trying to take away our business
  • Working the social media scene and utilizing the best tools for your type of business structure and hosting learning sessions about how to get on board and usages to maximize the tools offered

A special thank you to Heather Turner (Marketing Director of PAII) and Kris Ullmer (President of PAII) for letting me offer the innkeeper interests survey to their member innkeepers. This information should help us all better serve you in the future.

What Innkeepers Like Most

what innkeepers like most

I wanted to see if there were some common responses to the question I asked bed and breakfast innkeepers in an online Linked In group. The question was, “What do you like most about being an innkeeper?” Answers to what innkeepers like most included:

  • Welcoming guests from all over the world
  • Meeting people from all walks of life
  • Showing hospitality by making others feel at home
  • Conversations that flow naturally with guests
  • Feeding our guests well
  • Being my own boss
  • Satisfaction from making others happy
  • Having guests return again and again and forming long-term bonds with them

So what do YOU like best about being owning a bed and breakfast?  I can think of several responses, to what innkeepers like most, depending upon what activities you like to do at your B&B:

  • Greeting and speaking with guests
  • Cooking delicious breakfasts, desserts, and more
  • Hosting events such as weddings and group meetings
  • Tending to our beautiful garden
  • Renovating and restoring our home
  • Decorating the rooms
  • Designing several different packages for guests to choose from
  • Updating guests with a regular newsletter or blog
  • Using social media to promote our bed and breakfast

Everyday keep in mind what you love about being an innkeeper. Keep track of memorable moments with guests. Stay in touch with former guests and reach out to potential new guests. Join an innkeeping association for support from fellow innkeepers.  Now it is easier than ever to keep in contact with others in our connected world.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Innkeeper Trait Attentive

innkeeper trait attentive

 

 

 

Do you think of yourself as attentive to the needs of your bed and breakfast guests? Having the innkeeper trait attentive means you are:

 

  • observant
  • aware of others
  • thoughtful towards others
  • considerate
  • polite
  • courteous

The simple act of noticing little things (which is part of the innkeeper trait attentive) goes a long way.  This means treating guests they way they want to be treated.  If they have several questions when they first come in, then by all means make sure you have answered all of their questions. You can offer to give them a personal tour of your bed and breakfast or mention when the next event such as afternoon tea and goodies.

If they seem to want to go to their room right away to relax, then hand them a friendly information sheet on your B&B policies including check-out time and ask them to let you know if they need anything else. Do everything possible to show that you are completely dedicated to making sure they have a tremendous experience while they stay as your guests. This increases your chances of having repeat visitors as well as new friends.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

What Motivates You?

what motivates you

 

 

What motivates you?  What inspires you?  If you know the answer to those two questions, it can give you the strength and energy you need to persevere day in and day out.

 

 

 

How did you come to be bed and breakfast owners?  Whether you are new to inn-keeping or have been hosting guests for years, we all need to remind ourselves why we do what it is we do.

Your reasons can include:

  • Like to have your own business
  • Love entertaining guests
  • Enjoy cooking gourmet breakfasts
  • Get to tend a beautiful and fruitful garden
  • Appreciate meeting new people
  • Skilled at managing the books
  • Having fun decorating and remodeling
  • Have a vision for its growth

When you remember why, then it becomes easier to tackle daily chores and responsibilities. You are building your future and allowing your guests to have a wonderful experience they will always remember.

When your guests have a great experience, they are likely to let their friends know all about it and to return at a later date. Some of your best visits will be from returning guests to which you had a special connection.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Encourage Yourself Every Day

encourage yourself every day

 

 

Bed and breakfast owners, do you want to know a good way to encourage yourself every day?  For the rest of the year you can write down something on a little piece of paper and fold it and put it in a jar.  Then, at the end of 2014, you can read all of your little notes!  You could write notes about:

 

 

 

  • Something funny a guest said
  • An unexpected good surprise
  • A compliment you were told
  • An unlikely happy coincidence
  • A blessing or favor from someone
  • Something that went smoother than you thought
  • A welcome phone call you received
  • A great breakfast guests loved
  • Something that made you laugh
  • Anything else you want to recall at the end of this year

You are giving yourself a present every day by adding to the jar.  At the end of the year, get ready for laughter, tears of joy, and fond memories! It is important to encourage yourself every day!

 

Innkeeper Personality Trait: Adaptable

innkeeper personality adapt

 

Innkeepers of bed and breakfasts need to have the wonderful personality trait of being adaptable.  According to the dictionary, someone who is adaptable is, “able to adjust oneself readily to different conditions.”  You never know what will happen when you run a bed and breakfast.

 

Bed and breakfast owners will need to be adaptable as they react to both new guests and new situations. Each guest is different.  They have their own unique personality, reason for staying, expectations of their stay, and objectives for their visit.

It is best when you have your initial phone conversation, to determine the purpose for their stay.  This way you can meet their own unique needs.  For example, you can give the honeymooners the romantic visit of their dreams.  You can give the business traveler, the peace and quiet they seek.

There will always be new situations that come up: a sudden cancellation, an unexpected repair, a couple lost trying to find your bed and breakfast. When you show that you are adaptable to what comes your way, your guests and employees will appreciate that and your B&B business will flourish.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography