Tag Archives: holidays

How To Develop Guest Packages

how to develop guest packages

 

To attract more visitors to your bed and breakfast, develop guest packages.  Packages are a great way to reinforce your brand and your inn’s image.  This also allows you to offer discounts without cutting your room prices.  When you bundle several items, services, and features together, this adds more revenue to your B&B business.

 

 

Wondering how to come up with some great ideas for bed and breakfast packages? Can you offer some courses or classes?  If you teach a particular skill (or can find a teacher), offer to host a bed and breakfast retreat. Potentially, you could fill all of your rooms.

  • Artist Retreat
  • Bird Watching Retreat
  • Book Club Retreat
  • Culinary Kitchen Getaway
  • Farming Retreat
  • Board Games Retreat
  • Gardening Getaway
  • Photography Retreat
  • Quilters Retreat
  • Scrapbooking Retreat
  • Writers Retreat
  • Yoga Retreat

 

What about featuring local attractions in your area?

  • Entertainment Package
  • Historic Tours Package
  • Restaurant Package
  • Spectator Sports Package
  • Wine Lovers Package

 

Do you want to attract a specific group of people?

  • Class Reunions
  • Family Reunions
  • Girlfriend Getaways

 

How about offering a promotional package during each season?

  • Winter Specials: activities like ice skating, skiing, and snowmobiling
  • Spring Renewal: everything starts to bloom again
  • Summer Fun in the Sun: can include amusement or water park tickets
  • Fall Foliage: certain parts of the country are known for their beautiful autumn colors

 

Is there a specific sport or physical activity that is popular in your area?

  • Bike Tours
  • Golf Getaways
  • Horseback Riding
  • Snow Skiing

 

What about promoting the holidays to your guests?

  • New Year’s Package
  • Valentine’s Day
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving Package
  • Christmas Package

 

The bed and breakfast package could center around guests’ relationships.

  • Anniversary Package
  • Babymoon Package
  • Family Travel Deals
  • Honeymooners Package (you can offer this even if you do not host weddings)
  • Romance Package (not just for Valentine’s Day, but for any time of the year)
  • Wedding Package

 

There are so many different package possibilities, depending upon where you are located and your interests:

  • For mystery lovers, you could offer a Murder Mystery Weekend Package.
  • For couples or single travelers looking to be pampered have a Massage Package or Spa Retreat.
  • If you live near a university, you may offer a package to the Parents of College Students.
  • If your inn is close to a number of major businesses or hosts business conferences, you may offer a Business Travelers Package.
  • If you would like to offer discounts to a specific groups of people you can: Military Special, Senior Citizen Discount, Teachers Discount, etc.
  • If you are a green inn, you could offer a discount to those driving cars with alternative fuel options.  You can reward your guests for being eco-friendly and helping Clean the World.

For more alternatives, offer an a-la-carte approach and let your guests create their own package by choosing from specific add-ons you offer.  They could add chocolate, flowers, heart-shaped balloons, teddy bears, and other special upgrades to their room price.

Packages can be centered around the time of the week the stay, “Midweek Specials” for slower times during the middle of the week.  “Spontaneous Specials” for last minute bookings for spontaneous travelers.  Even a Frequent Stay or Extended-Stay Discount.

There are many more bed and breakfast packages that you can put together based on what is in your local area, the types of guests you are trying to attract, your skills, and your amenities.  The key is to design your packages around the desires of the guests you want to attract.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Please follow and like us:

The Quick and Easy Way to Market Your Bed and Breakfast

market-your-bed-and-breakfast

 

 

Looking for the quick and easy way to market your bed and breakfast? Share information from our essential bed and breakfast content checklist.  This can be shared on your website pages, in blog posts, in social media, in emails, in videos, and more.  

 

 

Essential Bed and Breakfast Content Checklist:

 

  • Activities: What can people do when they stay at your inn?  This includes activities at the inn as well as activities at places and events in your local area.

 

  • Amenities: What amenities do your guests have access to?  Perhaps you have something as unique as a heated pool or billiards room.  The picture shows a lovely outdoor area for guests to relax and hear music.  Be sure to list every amenity your inn offers.

 

  • Area: Think about why people visit your local area.  Do you provide information that includes the many reasons people decide to stay at your inn? 

 

  • Associations/Ratings: Do you belong to any B&B associations that regularly inspect your inn for quality assurance? Let your guests know what professional associations you belong to as well as any ratings of distinction such as Select Registry or Historic Hotels of America.

 

  • Blog: Do you have a blog? Blogs are great places to regularly share new information such as seasonal changes, local annual events, and more.  

 

  • Decorating: Do you have any decorating tips to share? Perhaps you could feature pictures of your decor and give ideas for how guests can make their own homes more decorative.

 

  • Employees: No matter the size of your staff, you can share a picture of them and some fun facts about them.  Include where they are originally from and a brief background like their favorite sports team, college alma mater, favorite breakfast food, favorite thing to do in your local area, etc.  Also let guests know what roles they have at your inn. 

 

  • Events: This includes both activities that happen at your inn as well as local activities.  Be aware of any major local activities and conferences to specifically attract those guests.  

 

  • Food: Food is so popular that entire television channels are devoted to it! Share recipes to your most popular items and share behind-the-scenes photos of preparing for breakfast.  Feature your farm fresh produce.

 

  • Fun: Highlight the fun that happens at your inn.  This could feature guests (with their permission) having fun in common rooms or anywhere on your property.  

 

  • Gardening/Landscaping: Do you have award-winning gardens? Do you have attractive fountains and outdoor sculptures? Do you have hanging outdoor lights to shine at night? What is in bloom right now at your inn?  Focus on seasonal changes and promote Fall Foliage if that is something your area is known for.  

 

  • Guests: Think about what types of guests you attract.  If the guests tell you the reason for their visit or activities they participated in, make a note of it.  Offer recommendations to local restaurants and shops.

 

  • History: Do you have a historical inn? If so, consider sharing your B&B’s unique history.  If you built your inn, share pictures of its construction and your motivation for building your own B&B.

 

  • Holidays: Does your inn show off unique decorations with each holiday? Valentine’s Day is just one of the many holidays that bed and breakfasts can feature in blog posts and on social media. If you have any holiday-related packages, be sure to feature them during that time.

 

  • Promotion: Consider promoting local events and businesses. You may want to feature a contest on your website and/or social media.  Require those who enter your contest to enter by sharing their email address.  Then you can add them to your email list.

 

  • Publicity: Was your inn featured in a magazine or the local news?  Be sure to have links to any publicity your inn receives listed on your website and share it in social media.

 

  • Renovation: Did you renovate or redecorate any areas of your inn?  Share before and after photos of any indoor or outdoor transformations.  Describe the process it took to get it from the before picture to the after picture.  There are lots of people who would be interested in learning how you remodeled that space.

 

  • Success: Did you receive an award for something? Perhaps your won a local recipe contest.  Maybe you received an award in your local town as an elite place to stay overnight.  Be sure to include this in your content.

 

  • Support: Do you support any charities or host charity events? Do you sponsor any local teams or events? Any community outreach you do can be featured in your content.  Share pictures of the events. 

This list is certainly not exhaustive. There may be other areas to promote, depending upon where you are located, the types of guests you host, and the unique accommodations you provide.  The key is to regularly share new content. This makes you more visible online when people go to search for specific keywords.  

Not sure what keywords you should feature? Consider using the name of your city, popular tourist destinations, popular local activities, and so on.  That way if someone types in “your city name and a popular activity” they could find your content and land on your website.  

Need help marketing your inn?  Contact Kristi Dement of Bed and Breakfast Blogging for a free consultation.  Bed and Breakfast Blogging specializes in not only blogging, but also social media marketing, email marketing, reputation management, and more. 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Please follow and like us:

The Yellow House in Waynesville, NC

yellow-house-in-waynesville-nc

As soon as we met Owners and Innkeepers Ken and Kelli Todtenhagen, we felt very welcome at The Yellow House in Waynesville, North Carolina. We were in town to tour Western Carolina University in nearby Cullowhee.

We stayed in the Rockwell Suite (pictured above), named in honor of the famous 20th-century American author and prolific artist Norman Rockwell, who produced more than 4,000 works in his lifetime.  Rockwell is most famous for the color illustrations of everyday life he created for the Saturday Evening Post for nearly five decades.

In the suite, some of Mr. Rockwell’s pictures are on the walls and there are art supplies (including sketch pads and adult coloring books) available for guests who like to draw.  Ken and Kelli are amazed at some of their talented guests who have left pictures for them.

There are many reasons why guests love to visit The Yellow House, including:

  • Luxurious guest rooms and suites in their Main House and Pond House 
  • All ten guest areas include their own gas fireplaces
  • Two dog-friendly rooms in the Pond House
  • Guest amenities including complimentary wine & hors d’oeuvres, 24-hour access to drinks & snacks, comfy robes, and private baths (some with jetted tubs)
  • Gorgeous mountain views
  • “Rest and Relaxation” and “Playing Hooky” specials
  • “Gone Fishing”, “Girls Getaway”, and “Honeymoon/Anniversary Picnic” packages
  • Extras including balloons, chocolate, picnic lunches, wine & cheese tray, flowers
  • Delicious fresh complimentary gourmet breakfasts each morning

There are many special occasions guests celebrate at The Yellow House, including:

  • Memorable anniversaries 
  • Unforgettable birthdays
  • Joyous graduation parties
  • Festive holidays
  • Elegant weddings

The Yellow House is close to so many noteworthy and scenic places, such as:

  • Biltmore Estate
  • Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Brevard Music Center
  • Cherokee Indian Reservation
  • Folkmoot
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Pisgah National Forest

Guests of The Yellow House enjoy activities and adventures, like:

  • Flyfishing
  • Golfing
  • Hiking
  • Horseback riding
  • Hot air ballooning
  • Mountain and road biking
  • Rock and ice climbing
  • Skiing
  • White water rafting

Some favorite restaurants where guests like to dine are:

  • Bourbon Barrel Beef and Ale
  • Boojum Brewing Company
  • Frogs Leap Public House
  • The Chef’s Table
  • Trailhead Cafe and Bakery

Ken and Kelli have done some major renovating to the house (built in the late 1800s) to restore its grand historic appeal.  They have added antique furniture and some of their delightful decor changes throughout the year to reflect the seasons and holidays.  We highly recommend a visit to The Yellow House and we look forward to many return visits.

Please follow and like us:

January Holidays B&B Inns

Celebrating January holidays at B&B inns can attract more hospitality business.  Both big and small,  there are special holidays throughout the year.  Some holidays are officially observed (like Thanksgiving) while others are just for fun (like April Fool’s Day).

january holidays

 

Depending upon where you are in the United States, the month of January can be really cold yet beautiful.  It is a time for reflecting on and making decisions to improve your overall life.  It can also be about honoring those who have made a great impact on the world like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

January Holidays

 

Jan. 1 New Years Day

 

Keywords: Happy New Year, New Year’s Day, January 1st, 1st Day of the Year

 

Themes: fresh start, new you, resolutions, commitments, goals, dreams

 

Example: New Years Eve Special

 

Cobblestone Bed and Breakfast of Birchwood, Wisconsin celebrated the New Year with champagne, hors d’oeuvres, noise makers, and hats.  That sounds very festive!

 

Example: New Years Eve Dinner or New Years Eve Package

 

Each New Years Eve, Orchard Inn of Asheville, North Carolina hosts a decadent 7-course dinner. The night begins with hors d’oeuvres at 7 pm and then dinner at 8 pm. Then guests raise a glass to the New Year with a complimentary glass of French champagne. 

 

Guests who chose their New Years Eve package (for the 2015-2016 calendar change) received 2-nights accommodation, breakfast each morning and dinner on New Years Eve as well as a choice of dinner on December 30th or January 1st.

 

 

january holidays

St. Augustine Foot Soldiers Monument in St. Augustine, Florida

Jan. 18 Martin Luther King Day

 

Keywords: MLK Day, Martin Luther King Day, Civil Rights Leader

 

Themes: freedom, respect, equal rights, unity, peace

 

 

 

Example: Carriage Way Bed and Breakfast of St. Augustine, Florida is promoting FREE admission into Castillo de San Marcos Fort on Monday, January 18, to honor the memory of where Dr. King himself walked.

 

Example: Morehead Manor Bed and Breakfast of Durham, North Carolina, named by Black Enterprise magazine as the number one black-owned bed and breakfast in America, promotes their local area’s Annual MLK-Black History Month Parade.

 

Promote your bed and breakfast by celebrating more holidays throughout the year.  Have the appropriate decor (such as New Years’ noise makers) to make your inn more festive.  Consider hosting a dinner or encouraging your guests to attend local events (such a parades) in your area.

 

Become known for celebrating amazing holiday festivities (like these January holidays at B&B inns) throughout the year. This attracts visitors to come again to experience your hosting of another holiday.

 

 

Note: I receive Amazon Affiliate commissions from purchases made through these Amazon links.

Please follow and like us:

Bed and Breakfast Promotions

bed and breakfast promotions

Bed and breakfast promotions include marketing special deals and packages throughout the year. These opportunities include various holidays, seasons, and other special times.

This can be a chance for your bed and breakfast to stand out and show its own personality.  Innkeepers who are creative and thoughtful can really improve the experiences of their guests.

 

The benefits of staying at a bed and breakfast include your guests getting a break, reducing their stress, and focusing on strengthening their relationships.  Guests also experience the beauty of your local area as well as enjoy the luxury of your gourmet breakfasts and plush amenities.

We have talked about the advantages of offering guests special packages.  Now we will concentrate on developing specific promotions.  You can entice with discounts (lower price), complimentary services (free massage or tasting hour), and free upgrades (such as rooms with more amenities). 

Create a Sense of Urgency and Give a Call-To-Action:

  • Hurry!  Offer ends…
  • This weekend only!
  • Back for a limited time!
  • Last chance to…

Your bed and breakfast promotions can be put on your website and blog as well as social media and email marketing.  If you assign promo codes, you can track how they found about the promotion.  A bed and breakfast can have the same promotion, but give it different promo codes depending upon where the guest saw it.  For example, if it were a patriotic holiday promotion (Memorial Day, Independence Day, or Veteran’s Day), it could have the following

Festive PROMO CODES to Identify Where They Saw Your Promotion:

  • “Red, White, and Blue” (website/blog)
  • “Let Freedom Ring” (Facebook)
  • “Home of the Brave” (Google+)
  • “Star Spangled Banner” (Twitter)
  • “Lady Liberty” (Pinterest)

Guests Enjoy Holiday Promotions Throughout the Year:

  • New Year: New You (could be yoga retreat or vegetarian B&B)
  • Be My Valentine
  • At the End of the Rainbow (St. Patrick’s Day)
  • Celebrating Mom and Dad
  • Thanksgiving Getaway
  • December to Remember

Season Promotions Could Be Titled:

  • “Spring Forward” or “Have a Spring Fling”
  • “Summer Sun Adventure” or “Dog Days of Summer” (for pet friendly B&B’s)
  • “Fall Back in Love” or “Autumn Leaves”
  • “Winter Wonderland” or “Ski the Slopes” (for ski lodges)

Promote During Special Times:

  • Last Minute Promotions (keep rooms consistently booked)
  • Midweek Discounts (encourage guests to stay during the week)
  • Weekend Deals (popular time for guests to visit)

Bed and breakfasts that have blogs can write a blog post to explain more of the fun details associated with your specific promotion.  The fresh content from regular blog posts offers a great way to become more visible online.  Greater online visibility means not only more web visitors, but also a consistent source of regular bookings. Innkeepers who do not have the time for (or interest in) writing a blog can contact Kristi Dement of Bed and Breakfast Blogging.

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Please follow and like us:

4 Secrets to Biltmore Success

secrets to Biltmore success

What are some of the secrets to Biltmore success?  I am referring to America’s largest private residence, the two-hundred and fifty room Biltmore Estate.  After six years of construction while collaborating with architect Richard Morris Hunt and landscape architect Fredrick Law Olmstead, on Christmas Eve in 1895 George Vanderbilt officially opened Biltmore House.

 

George Vanderbilt pictured the possibilities for his family and friends on his eight thousand acres of Blue Ridge Mountain beauty.  In present day, the Estate includes:

  • delightful shops
  • four-star Inn on Biltmore Estate
  • gorgeous gardens
  • romantic restaurants
  • wonderful winery

Today, with two hundred full-time employees and a total of over eighteen-hundred employees working for The Biltmore, bed and breakfast owners may wonder what they have in common this hospitality giant.  If we can understand what helps make the Biltmore such a success, then hoteliers (as well as owners of restaurants, shops, and wineries) can apply this knowledge to run their own hospitality businesses better.

Secret #1: Offer add-ons, like tours and activities, to your guests.  This caters to individuals who have the ability and desire to pay more for these additional benefits.

The visitors to the Biltmore Estate can opt for additional tours:

  • Audio Guide to Biltmore House: capture the feeling of being guided through Biltmore’s grand rooms by our curators and hosts on this ninety-minute audio tour filled with stories about the Vanderbilts and treasures in their collection
  • Behind-the-Scenes Guided Upstairs-Downstairs Tour: in this sixty-minute guided tour, descend the back stairs to explore servant life at Biltmore, discover cutting-edge technology that kept America’s largest home humming, visit the domains of the butler, head housekeeper, and lady’s maids, then continue on to a suite of guest rooms to learn about grand house parties hosted by the Vanderbilts
  • Rooftop Tour: enjoy amazing views from rooftops and balconies and get a closer look at the design and construction of the Biltmore House with this sixty-minute guided tour of areas not on the regular house visit
  • Legacy of the Land Tour: take a motor coach tour of the estate and learn about the history of the land, structures, and former residents while visiting areas not usually open to guests

For an additional cost, visitors to the Biltmore Estate can participate in certain activities (available seasonally):

  • Biking
  • Carriage Rides
  • Fly-fishing School
  • Guided Horseback Trail Rides
  • Land Rover Experience Driving School
  • River Rafting, Kayaking, and Paddleboarding Trips
  • Segway Basic, Off-Road, and West Side Tours
  • Sporting Clays School

Morehead Manor Bed and Breakfast of Durham, North Carolina gives guests options for extras, such as:

  • Greta’s Girlfriend Getaway
  • Murder Mystery Scavenger Hunt Weekends (only offered on specific dates)
  • Picnic in the Park
  • Romance Package
  • Spa Services

Secret #2: Variety encourages your guests to return. Always keep things fresh.  Each Biltmore experience is different.  As the seasons and their themes change, so does their décor and displays.

For example, during our visit to the Biltmore, they had a Downton Abbey theme and featured real gowns worn on that popular British television show.  They had signs informing visitors about the material of the gown and what was happening in history during the time it was made as well as more information about the character who wore it on the television show.  A Biltmore employee revealed to us that each gown was literally made in that time period or individually hand-made to be authentic to that time.

Many inns choose to decorate during major holidays, such as Christmas.  One of the Biltmore’s biggest attractions are its Christmas displays.  In addition to the obvious holidays, how about choosing a less commonly celebrated holiday like Arbor Day?  Plant a tree in the backyard of your bed and breakfast.  Then show the growth of that tree by taking its picture each year.  Many innkeepers have their inn for more than twenty years, so this could really be a focal point in your yard.

On the topic of gardening and variety, Biltmore plants things that will bloom at different times of the year.  The acres of gardens were designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, the father of American landscape architecture. That way whenever people visit, they will see something pretty.  When we visited the Biltmore Gardens, the tulips were in full bloom.

Secret #3: Offer a closer look at your inn.  The Biltmore Estate is full of carefully researched stories of its past.  The people who lived and worked at Biltmore, the events and people they hosted, and how historical events (including war) affected them.  The Biltmore has many stories to tell.

I was impressed that was a huge painting of the architect and one of the gardener.  The audio guide noted that this was rare for a wealthy person to have portraits made of two people that worked for the family.  This is a testament to how George Vanderbilt honored his employees and valued their contributions to the overall look of his estate.

The Esmeralda Inn and Restaurant of Chimney Rock, NC also is full of history, including a Presidential visit and two fires.  If your inn is brand new, then share pictures of its construction and let your guests know the steps it took from the time you decided to build your bed and breakfast to the time that you opened your doors.

Find your bed and breakfasts’ story.  Some name their rooms after a significant person in history or after their official state symbols such as the state bird and state tree.  Then you can tell stories about the people who made important contributions in history or about how your state symbols came to be.

Secret #4: Make visitors feel welcomed and appreciated.  Biltmore employees are very attentive, polite, knowledgeable, and helpful.   They go out of their way to help you and smile while doing so.  Let that be said of you and your inn.  Extend to your guests your greatest hospitality, and they will reward you by returning and referring others to visit.

While there is no other place quite like the Biltmore Estate, we can implement some of their secrets to Biltmore success and apply it to achieve our own success. Innkeepers can ask themselves if they offer extras, create a variety of looks and themes throughout the year, reveal a deeper look to guests, and help their guests feel appreciated. May your place of hospitality be profitable like the Biltmore.

Do you want help marketing your bed and breakfast online?  Bed and Breakfast Blogging writes search-engine-optimized blogs as well as gives inns an active presence in social media.  Let us do that work for you so you can focus on what you do best!

Recommended Reading:

  • The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation’s Largest Home tells the untold true story behind the Biltmore Estate, which has seen more than 120 years of history pass by its front door. A story of how one fiercely devoted woman (Edith Dresser Vanderbilt) was able to save the home her husband loved (George Vanderbilt).
  • Lady on the Hill: How Biltmore Estate Became an American Icon tells the inspiring true story of the 35-year effort to restore this castle to its former glory and how it became a vibrant tourist destination with a working farm and distinguished winery.
  • Fortune’s Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt reveals that while “the Commodore” (the family patriarch) built up a fortune that made him the world’s richest man by 1877, but less than fifty years after his death, one of his direct descendants died penniless, and no Vanderbilt was counted among the world’s richest people.
  • The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt describes an improbable life, from Vanderbilt’s humble birth during the presidency of George Washington to his death as one of the richest men in American history. In between we see how the Commodore helped to launch the transportation revolution, propel the Gold Rush, reshape Manhattan, and invent the modern corporation.
  • Willie K. Vanderbilt II, A Biography explores the life of one of its lesser-known descendats, William Kissam Vanderbilt II, known simply as Willie K. An inheritor, not a builder, Willie K. lacked the drive and ambition necessary for furthering the Vanderbilt dynasty, especially in the political atmosphere of bank failures, the dawn of progressivism, and the First World War. 
  • The Biltmore Nursery: A Botanical Legacy tells about the Biltmore Nursery, once ranked among the largest and most prolific nurseries in the world. It was part of an unprecedented horticultural, botanical and forestry enterprise on George W. Vanderbilt’s magnificent Biltmore Estate, envisioned and designed by brilliant landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead.

Disclosure: These are Amazon Affiliate Links for which I receive compensation.

Please follow and like us:

Bed and Breakfasts in December

Bed and Breakfasts in December

The Queen Victoria in Cape May, NJ during Christmas time

Bed and breakfasts, in December, can put on a spectacular display of holiday cheer. This is the best time of year to decorate your B&B. There are so many creative and festive ways to do so. The Queen Victoria in Cape May, New Jersey has exquisite outdoor Christmas lights! I love how they outlined their bed and breakfast to highlight that their inn has three floors and they hung lit garland with red bows on the fence all the way around their property.

Bed and Breakfasts in December

Decorative Doorway at Another Second Penny Inn of Stonington, CT

Another Second Penny Inn hung garland and put up a wreath with a red bow on their reflective glass door. The snow falling in Connecticut just adds to the bed and breakfast’s winter look.  They are located on a leafy, scenic road just 3 miles from Mystic and 2 miles north of Stonington Borough.

Their 1710 New England home offers friendly, romantic, and spacious accommodations for their bed and breakfast visitors. Winner of the Best Breakfast in New England, owners Jim and Sandra Wright, offer deluxe five course breakfasts on weekends and holidays and delicious Continental Breakfasts on the other mornings.

Curious about how this inn got its name? They offer this Ancient Persian saying to explain, “If you have two pennies, with the first, buy bread for your stomach and with the second, buy hyacinths for your soul.”

Bed and Breakfasts in December

Morehead Manor Bed & Breakfast of Durham, NC adds to the festivities with garland & bows decorating the stairway

Morehead Manor of Durham, North Carolina was recently named the Best Black-Owned Bed and Breakfast in America by Black Enterprise magazine.  Innkeepers Daniel and Monica Edwards decorate their inn festively every year.  The garland and ribbon going down their staircase is but one area of the inn in the Bull City.  Within walking distance for their inn is the Durham Performing Arts Center which has holiday performances including the fortieth year of performances of A Christmas Carol! Durham is also the Tastiest Town of the South so between the delicious gourmet breakfasts at Morehead Manor and award-winning restaurants, your appetite will be more than satisfied!

The York Harbor Inn family of Inns in Maine is comprised of six separate lodges. The Main Inn offers twenty-two guest rooms. There are also two ocean view restaurants as well as lovely banquet and meeting rooms. Many luxury rooms feature ocean and beach view decks, fireplaces and/or Jacuzzi tubs. The York Harbor inn recognizes that people’s dogs are part of their family and they offer pet friendly rooms in their Harbor Crest building.  The picture of their Christmas tree by the fire is gorgeous.

Bed and Breakfasts in December

Stunning Dining Room of The Empress Bed and Breakfast in Little Rock, AR

Bob Blair and his wife Sharon Welch-Blair are owners of The Empress of Little Rock, in Arkansas. They have been open for nearly twenty years and they love their guests! “Anyone who loves people, enjoys welcoming them into your home, looks forward to a day of tasks and events of all kinds (everyday a new day), and works with a great crew should become an innkeeper.” Their enthusiasm for entertaining is evident when you look at their multi-award winning AAA four diamond rated bed and breakfast!  Every guest room at the historic inn has its own themed tree to create magic throughout the entire mansion. Bob and Sharon display their mementos and antiques in each room so you feel like you are not only experiencing the past, but are cherished guests of The Royal Family.

Bed and Breakfasts in December

The twinkling lights of the tree at the White Oak Manor in Jefferson, TX.

White Oak Manor is an historic bed and breakfast in Jefferson, Texas.  Innkeepers Dave and Tammy invite you to join their warm and friendly atmosphere.  It is especially beautiful to visit them this time of year with their festive holiday decorations.  Jefferson is always filled with love, laughter and friendly faces.

So how does your bed and breakfast celebrate the holidays? Feel free to make comments about what food you prepare for guests, special ways you decorate your inn, and anything else you do to make this time of year extra special.

Please follow and like us:

Time Away Inn Sitters

Everyone needs to take a break. Innkeepers are definitely not the exception.  The reasons for taking a break could be for much needed rest, relaxation, upcoming holidays, vacation plans, attending to personal matters, and unfortunately even health related concerns. Carmen Collier and Jeb Marshall were gracious enough to let me interview them about their experiences as Time Away Inn Sitters. Their web page asks, “Are you ready for a break? Carmen and Jeb are professional Inn Sitters, ready to take the stress out of your next vacation or time away.”
 

For this interview, I will let Carmen and Jeb speak for themselves…

 
As Inn Sitters, we have learned that each Inn or Bed and Breakfast is unique. We know that responsibilities and constant day to day changes can be overwhelming.  We understand how adaptability and good organizational skills are vital to maintaining your business.  We commit to making the guidelines of the innkeepers they sit for their top priority.  Receiving good reviews and references are also extremely important to us.
 
Hello, I am Carmen Collier, 48, born in Frankfurt, Germany to a full blooded German Mother and a Croatian Father. My Mother was full blooded German born (in 1936) and raised in the Schwarzwald (Black Forest region) of Germany during WW2.  She instilled the importance of doing something right if you are going to do it at all.

My Father was born (1923) in Los Angeles, CA to full blooded Croatian parents. His father immigrated to the States in the early 1900’s at the age of nineteen.

I was blessed to have parents and grandparents who appreciated good food and taught me how to cook and bake at a very young age. Both sides of my family came from a culture where you did not eat “junk food”, fast food, or processed food.

My grandmothers on both sides were phenomenal cooks/bakers. Always using fresh ingredients, and making everything from scratch. My Dad’s Mother even had her own cookbook. I would sit in their kitchens for hours on end watching and observing, and helping when they asked. It was one of my favorite past times.  My Mom rarely made the same meal twice, always inspired by trying a new recipe. We were very blessed!

My Father having traveled Europe for 15 years, tasted almost every type of cuisine/fare there was. He had an incredible palate, and passed that on not only to us, but his grandchildren as well.My son Nick is an Executive Chef for a restaurant in Durango, CO.  According to Jeb, when Nick lived with us while he attended culinary school, it was quite a show watching each of us try to outdo the other in the kitchen at night. Jeb gladly did the shopping every day and became the prep cook for whomever was making the meal of the evening.

Dad managed the Delaney’s Seafood Restaurant at the John Wayne Airport in Orange County, CA for many years. Then my father opened “Restaurant Yebe Tebe” a family restaurant serving Mediterranean cuisine in Anaheim, California.  Growing up, I worked for several years learning the ropes and how to prep food properly for the Chef.

After I graduated, I went on to become a professional licensed Realtor and Property Manager. After my kids were in school full time (1999), I chose to get my Real Estate License. I worked at it full time, and was Top Producer for many years. My husband (ex) at the time was a custom home builder. So it was advantageous to be able to sell the “spec” homes he built as well as being the Property Manager for the apartments we owned. I still keep my Real Estate license current!  In addition, I also owned and operated my own “Construction Clean-up” company for over 20 years. We specialized in cleaning new Custom Homes throughout the Temecula Valley Wine Country.

Traveling the world as an Inn Sitter caring for other peoples needs and comfort has become my passion.There is no one thing that ultimately prepared me for becoming an inn sitter. However, I feel the following combination of things is probably a common thread among most successful ones: being approachable, affable, helpful, positive, upbeat, artistic, creative, problem solver, can clean properly, take pride in cooking/baking, presentation, fun, responsible, thorough, thoughtful, empathetic & modest.

We are very good at communication, and like to touch base with the owners/innkeepers if not everyday then several times per week.  We have learned that through email, phone calls, instant messaging and Skype we usually have a great understanding of what each owner is requesting.  Honoring commitments are huge.  Every owner is different.  The key is to listen to what is most important and treat their business as if it were our own.  Most have everything down in writing and make sure to keep open lines of communication available.

I have found that most innkeepers like me to stick to cooking what they normally would offer. It keeps shopping and budgeting on track. However, some Inns have a Chef already in place and no cooking is expected from us. Then there are others that have us come in during the “slow” season, and just look after the place with no guests. So it really just depends on the owners individual wants/needs.

As a side note to some of my hobbies/interests that may pertain to Inn Sitting:
  • I took Floral Design in College thinking at some point it would be fun to own a florist shop.
  • I created and sold my own jewelry with a southwestern flair for 3 years while living in Durango, CO before the kids started school.
  • I’ve taken Tole Painting courses, and made many art pieces that I sold at art and craft shows. I pretty much painted on anything, but mostly wood.
  •  

So to sum it up, the way I was raised in regards to cooking and cleaning, as well as my hands on experience with owning/operating my own cleaning company, staging my real estate clients homes so that they could be marketed and sell for the highest price, having a creative and artistic flair, and dealing with peoples wants and needs has completely prepared me for inn sitting. Not only that, but my father’s love for travel…it burns deep in my soul. Inn sitting at this point in my life is more desirable for me than being an innkeeper since it allows us the freedom to continue to travel and see the world.

Hello, I am Jeb Marshall, 51, born in Seattle, U.S.A. I received a B.S.B.A. from Central Washington University in 1985 and was a Boeing Design Engineer with a top level security clearance for many years.  My job with Boeing helped me improve organizational skills and become a better problem solver.  As an Inn Sitter you must be ready to solve a multitude of unforeseen problems.  Expect the unexpected is my motto.  Keeping a calm head and formulating the best action in response will always produce the best outcome.

Working for Boeing also taught me that working ten hours a day behind a computer screen was no way to spend my life.  I am reminded of that especially when I am back in the states.  It is sad to see so many people with their eyes fixed to a screen, be it a laptop, phone, I-pad or television.  The real world should be seen, heard and felt with real people and places.

I have also worked as a professional stage actor with various theatre companies and the Seattle Opera. As a stage actor I found another true passion in life.  The ability to perform and make people feel is overwhelming.  I carry that ability with me when I inn sit.  Being able to adapt to different personalities is a big plus as an Inn sitter.  I have also been known to perform one of my many monologues from time to time especially after a glass of wine.  I apologize to Carmen for enduring the same monologues over and over.

Carmen and I met in the ocean.  It was a sunny Saturday in early December of 2006, off the beach of Carlsbad, CA.  We got married a year and a half later in the “desert town” of Las Vegas, NV.  Carmen and I compliment each other with our inn sitting duties.  She is an amazing cook, how she comes up with her mouth watering meals is beyond me.  She does most of the cooking and cleaning, however I love filling in wherever is necessary.
The inspiration for us to sell everything and travel the world can be found in one of my favorite quotes by Mark Twain, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones that you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover.”
 
Even though society teaches us to buy the big house, the nice car and latest toys, Carmen and I decided that “The Stuff” is overrated.  The true inspiration for selling everything comes from within.  Carmen and I are adventurers at heart and following your heart and dreams will always inspire you! Helping run and care for bed and breakfasts has been and always will be a win-win proposition.  We are inspired to leave each inn sit with smiles from both guests and owners, taking the time to listen and observe, learning and becoming richer from each experience.

The best rewards have been the journey.  It is hard to put into words, however it is like reading a good book. You don’t know where it is going to take you but you know it will most likely enrich.  The faces and feelings have been amazing.  I speak of men and women that I have met and helped not knowing how to speak their language but connecting with them.  Feeling them through non verbal communication can be more rewarding than a long drawn out conversation.  The rewards are great with inn sitting. Sometimes a hug or smile can be reward enough for going the extra mile.

I don’t mind getting my hands dirty, whether in the garden or as a handyman on that unforeseen project.  My list of jobs have ranged from changing switches on a circuit breaker in Switzerland to painting the roof of a casita in 100 degree heat in Costa Rica.  I also work as concierge, driver, grocery shopper, greeter, take reservations, accountant, bus boy, waiter, dishwasher, housekeeper, dog walker, receptionist, security guard and so on.

My favorite inn sit was for a winery in Satigny, Switzerland.  We arrived for the three week sit on my birthday, flying in from Venice where we had  celebrated Carmen’s birthday a couple days prior.  Upon our arrival into Geneva we were picked up and driven to Satigny which is about 10 kilometers from the airport.  Our duties for this sit was to care for their two wonderful dogs, watch and secure the winery and sign for all deliveries and mail.  You can read about it in more detail in our journal.

My favorite foods are Thai, sushi, seafood, Mexican and Italian dishes.  Who am I kidding? I love all food!  It does depend on freshness of ingredients and who prepares it.  The best Thai meal I ever had was in Spain, best Italian in Australia and best sushi was in Costa Rica.  Carmen has helped open my eyes to the wonderful world of great food.

Most people are afraid to travel to countries in which they do not understand the language.  As long as you show respect and try to blend in, most cultures will accept you and it is amazing how well non verbal communication works.  Carmen speaks German fairly well and she is working on her Spanish.   I speak many languages poorly, but can have conversations in English and Spanish.  The Spanish that is spoken in Spain differs from that in Central America much the same way that English in the states differs from the English spoken in the United Kingdom.
 
I have learned that the best way to learn about a specific culture is to get lost in it.  Get off the tourist lined streets and don’t be afraid to literally get lost.  Having to ask for help or eventually finding your way back on your own can be quite rewarding and you will be amazed at what you will find.  I enjoy getting off a plane or train and not knowing anything about the culture, it is part of the pure joy of travel.  When it comes to inn sitting, I will take the time to educate myself with a certain area if I have never been and learn everything a good concierge should know.

We have decided to be inn sitters of bed and breakfasts for many reasons.  We enjoy the challenge that everyday is going to be a little bit different.  The reward of being able to share some of our talents while having the opportunity to travel the world and make a living is a dream come true.  The Palawan and Cook islands are on my list of places to visit, however finding new places in Europe will never get old.

After traveling pretty much nonstop over the past two years to over 23 countries, we have discovered a tremendous amount about ourselves. We are able to travel anywhere in the world and are accepting Inn Sits from one week to one year.  Currently we are on a one year Inn Sit, in Los Pargos, Costa Rica until mid September of 2015.  After many Skype interviews and hundreds of applicants, we were offered the job.

We would like to extend an invitation to anyone who would like to stay in the casita for $80 a night. The town is great with award winning restaurants and a great pura vida vibe.  Everything is alive and constantly changing!

So much of life is about timing and luck.  Even though we had sold everything we owned, we feel extremely rich.  We have our health, great kids, and we are living our dream.  Life is full of ups and downs, never take the ups for granted and hopefully learn to weather the downs.

Plans?  What is that?  We would like to take on another inn sitting commitment once we finish inn sitting in Costa Rica.  We are always open to discussing any future inn sitting offers with innkeepers and are available to Skype at any time.

The experiences, sites, sounds, smells and tastes of Europe contrasting with Central America have been incredible. Our journey is far from over.  For those wishing to contact us, our email address is timeawayinnsitters@gmail.com

Thank you, Carmen and Jeb, for sharing your inn sitting adventures, experiences, and dreams with us!

Please follow and like us:

Visual Storytelling: Instagram

visual storytelling instagram

 

Instagram is a mobile-based app owned by Facebook. This is an app for the click-and-share generation.  The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand by authors Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio provide useful statistics and suggest helpful strategies for companies to make the most of using Instagram.

 

Instagram Statistics:

  • 130 million active users every month
  • 70% of which are female
  • Users post 40 million photos per day
  • 8,500 likes per second
  • In 2012, Instagram users liked 78 million photos
  • 1,000 comments per second
  • More than 5 million photos uploaded to Instagram every day
  • Recording time is 15 seconds vs. competitor Vine’s 6 second clips
  • 67% of the top brands are now using Instagram
  • Luxury brands have the highest number of followers

Instagram Strategies:

  • Since Instagram has great photo filtering capacity, use filters creatively
  • Build a community by putting your official hashtag (#) in your banner heading so fans know how to tag you
  • Show behind-the-scenes photos
  • Use Instagram’s built-in statistics
  • Brands should be original, artistic, and community building
  • Post regularly about current events, holidays, and seasons
  • Use specific hashtags (#) for promotions or campaigns
  • Pick hashtags (#) that don’t have double meanings or could be read differently
  • Don’t use too many hashtags, need a central focus to your brand’s message
  • Join in the discussion if people are posting comments
  • Ask customers to upload their own photos and videos
  • Since 70% of users are female and women are responsible for the majority of household spending, companies can use this knowledge to share what attracts most female buyers

Using Instagram is a great way for businesses to let their target market(s) get to know what they are all about. It is essential that companies identify their brand’s central message in order to make the most out of knowing what photos and videos to share as well as which hashtags (including customized ones) to add to the posts. Smart businesses join in the conversation in response to when people post comments.  Instagram is a great social media platform for companies to use in order to promote their products and services.

Affiliate Disclaimer: The link to the book is is an affiliate link. If you click and make a purchase I will earn a commission from Amazon.  I only recommend what I know and love.

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Psychology

Please follow and like us:
« Older Entries