Archive for April 2013 | Monthly archive page
I recently discovered the USA Today series: Thriving on the Road – Travel Ideas. I learned about this series from a tweet on Twitter . The topics discussed are interesting and thought-provoking. As an Innkeeper, it is important for me to learn about my guests concerns about travel. A recent article published in USA Today “How to Make your Hotel Room Feel Like Home” caught my attention because this is the very idea the Bed and Breakfast industry has been promoting for decades. I generated a couple of new “house-warming” ideas from this article that I will use to make my B&B more “homier” for the traveler. I understand that staying at a Bed and Breakfast might not always be practical for a business traveler, but if the concern is to feel like you are in your home, then a Bed and Breakfast property is the best way to go. I will elaborate the benefits of a Bed and Breakfast property later, I would now like to comment on the ideas expressed in this article.
I love the attention the writer gives to the stress factor the business traveler endures. Business travel can be very trying on the body and the soul. Sleeping and eating well when you travel are imperative. Select hotels are addressing the issue of business travel stress with offering to frame a picture of a loved one and put it in your room upon arrival, stocking the mini bar with comfort food and some travel experts suggest moving the furniture to make it more amenable to your comfort. The author of the article mentions a guest that travels with candles of familiar scents. I do not recommend this fire hazard idea and I am sure some hoteliers are rubbing their heads about this suggestion. Be careful with lighting anything in a hotel room. Candles and incense may leave a lingering smell or smoke on the wall that if the hotel is conscious of their room environments, will add a cleaning fee, further leading to more travel stress. I do like the simple suggestion for the guest to learn the staff’s name at the hotel. Unfortunately, the article does not suggest that the hotel staff try to learn the guest’s name. These tiny acts of kindness by the hotel are sweet but perhaps they could go take the kindness a little further. The Bed and Breakfast industry has made a career of hospitality from the “homey” feeling. Naturally, a bed and breakfast is someone’s home. Here are few of my ideas that I am wiling to share with the hotel world.
The homey feeling on vacation and traveling on business is nice, but lets face it, it is not home. In the Camden Windward House, all the rooms have private bathrooms, televisions, free wifi, air conditioning and windows that you can open. Having all those amenities in a room are basic to being comfortable. The things that I have added to make it feel like home, or perhaps nicer then home are the 600 thread count sheets, feather mattresses and egyptian cotton towels. I chose egyptian cotton towels because they are 100% softer than turkish towels. Our sheets are ironed for added luxury. Complimentary bottled water is refreshed in your room each day free of charge. In the afternoon there are baked treats left in the living room for you to enjoy with the complimentary tea. As I write this, the word complimentary seems like a nice word to use with homey. At home you are not asked to pay for every little thing. Not having to dip into your wallet every two seconds is very relaxing. No need to keep all those receipts for the business trip reimbursement excel spreadsheet you will need to fill out.
I have adopted the idea of getting to know someone’s name and letting others know my name. I like this idea. We can accommodate up to 20 people a night so sometimes it is a challenge, but I try. I have made a point to have my name stitched on my shirt so guests will be comfortable asking me for assistance. This is my home and I enjoy sharing with travelers.
Recently we had some wonderful guests from Texas that stayed with us right after they attended a B&B Conference in Kennebunk Maine. They attended a conference with The B&B Team. The B&B Team is a diverse group of professionals in the Bed and Breakfast Industry that promote, teach and sell B&B’s. When you meet anyone on the team, you know that they all have a special connection to Bed and Breakfasts and love what they do. For me, as an innkeeper, it is fun to see the B&B Team promote the industry and teach the basics in Bed and Breakfast hospitality. The Bed and Breakfast industry is definitely in a league all its own. Because this niche in the lodging market is primarily small business owners, there are unique facets to the B&B business that a potential innkeeper should consider before entering the market. The B&B Conferences are set up to help you learn what you will need to know if you plan to embark on a B&B venture. I never went to a B&B Conference before I bought our Inn, but I have gone to a few instructional talks with The B&B Team. I enjoyed a lecture about marketing at a Maine Innkeepers Conference a few years ago and before that a talk on managing reviews. As an Innkeeper, there are always trends and issues you should stay on top of. I like to consider the B&B Team lectures and newsletters as my Innkeeper continuing education.
The couple that stayed with us was very polite and enjoyed furthering their experience at the conference with a stay at our Bed and Breakfast. They were curious about our breakfast menu and our rooms. The questions they asked were interesting. I could tell they had been thinking about the information they learned over the weekend at the B&B Conference. Questions about seasonal income and packaging, when can we get a day off and how we got into this business were fun for me to discuss over a hot cup of coffee this morning. It is rare that I take a minute and try to explain all that I do on a day-to-day basis. This couple was anxious to learn and I had fun summarizing my thoughts in clear easy words in order to teach. I think I conveyed to them that I love what I do. I say that because after our conversation, I myself, felt happy and motivated to stay in the business and enjoy it. When you do things day-to-day and do not analyze it, you can not appreciate the fine points of the job. It was nice to reflect on my eight years of Innkeeping and share with a potential new Innkeeper.
I am thankful that those guests came after their conference.