Innkeeping is fraught with the potential of getting out of balance in life. One clue to not letting that happen is to block your time off away from the inn and not let anything interfere with that break. You owe it to yourself and your guests to be dedicated to refreshing yourself and refueling your soul. Another way is to set goals, in all areas of your life.
Sitting in my Nanjing hotel on a rainy day, during my third visit to China, I’m struck again by the realization that hospitality is not just the purview of “the hospitality industry” — bed and breakfasts, hotels, resorts, amusement parks, or restaurants. It’s also not culturally dependent, though culture plays a role in making others feel welcome, comfortable and at home. This is the third hotel in which I’ve stayed in as many months, and I have had a wide range of hospitality experiences.
A client recently emailed me a question about a “reservation calendar” for an eleven room inn. This is really a two-pronged question. There are reservation systems, and there are reservation calendars. I’m answering the reservation calendar question in this article.
Hospitality is the key to successful B&B innkeeping. And by hospitality I am referring to the art of making your guests feel happy, welcome and taken care of. Employees benefit from this same attitude. And your marketing is real with this habit of hospitality.
You know, the B&B industry is old – in Europe. And it’s been around for awhile in the US too, though the B&B industry we know today is very different than it was even 25 years ago. It’s powerful to look back at the changes so you can appreciate just to see how far it has come so you can appreciate what you are doing today.
As a B&B innkeeper, what do you do to help protect the environment? What green actions do you take? Recycling, reducing consumption, composting, energy and water conservation, CFLs and natural daylighting, and avoiding pesticides are among the things innkeepers undertake. However, steps like home renovations or utility upgrades to be more environmentally conscious may seem financially out of reach to the average bed and breakfast. Ah, that’s where green mortgages come into your life.
Your reservation procedure is vital to your business success. It’s part of your marketing plan too. We’ve all had reservation experiences; some have been great, and some are outstandingly bad. You can learn more from a bad experience than a good one (though I prefer good ones). Let the personal touch that’s the hallmark of B&Bs lead the way to your business success, starting with your reservation tactics.
What you don’t see won’t hurt you, right? Well, not necessarily. Air quality is one such situation where what you don’t see can definitely hurt you. Indoor air can be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air!
Food is half of what your bed and breakfast promises. It seems to me it should be an excellent offering, with you providing the best food you can. That means fresh, local, organic ingredients cooked into delicious, nutritious recipes. Your food, simple or elaborate, should make people yearn for more.
To simplify the question of how one greens their life and business, maybe it can be reduced to the simple concept of how you buy — your buying patterns. The less you buy the fewer resources you consume, or throw away. But what does that really mean, and how can you do that throughout the B&B?
Disposing of waste is like throwing money away. The price of the products you buy includes the cost of packaging. The excess packaging so many products have today is a big source of waste, and an easy waste reduction step to take.
The building(s) you house your bed and breakfast operations in is the foundation of your environmental program. Though making an existing building more environmentally friendly can be expensive and feel like a daunting task, if it’s done bit at a time it’s doable. And the payoffs are generally commensurate with the effort and expense.
Water conservation is possibly one of the least addressed conservation matters I see. To me, water is our biggest environmental and life issue. Without accessible, clean water we have nothing. Clean drinking water is vital to life. Clean water is important in many other areas of life.
Energy conservation is one of the most popular “green” activities people and businesses like to participate in. It’s possibly the most visible green actions you can take. And it’s relatively easy to do, at least most of the time.
Better living through chemistry is an advertising rhyme, and social statement. It’s gone too far.
For B&Bs wanting to be greener, and possibly get green certified, there are generally eight areas for innkeepers to focus. This is one article in a multi-part series on green certification.
The first steps you take toward green operations and green certification go together.
- start with expanding our attitude and knowledge
- baseline your existing usage of energy, water, waste and chemicals
- get staff, vendors and guests involved
- write your green/sustainability plan and policy
- track usage in action areas
- plan your marketing program, including not raising your rates just because you are “green”
- develop education programs for staff, vendor, guests and public
Should a bed and breakfast go through a green certification process or not? I can, and have, argued both sides of that question.
A tent slipped into the trees along the lake, curled up in front of the stove, tucked into a large closet, or stuffed into an unfinished basement. Sounds like some interesting travel experiences, doesn’t it. But it really describes various living conditions innkeepers have subjected themselves in the aim of creating a viable bed and breakfast business.
Several of my consulting jobs have revolved around the volatile subject of housekeeping. I’m combining several discussions about cleaning and housekeeping for this article.
Each consulting job I’ve had has taught me how differently everyone approaches their lodging business. You can be sure their approach to greening their properties is unique too. Let me share highlights of various consulting jobs I’ve had. This article covers greening the laundry room.
Contrary to popular opinion there is lending money available. Its availability is for prime buyers and properties, even more so now than ever before. It’s your challenge to make sure you are in one of those categories if you want to make the change that has you reading this article.
Consulting jobs always teach me something. And I love that. I guess that’s part of the reason I still consult; each job builds on the last and each subsequent client benefits from the previous ones. My last several consulting jobs have followed the same pattern, but with the economy as it is the situations have been more poignant than usual.
Want to know what you’re in for during the next 6-18 months? When the statisticians who look at lodging trends all the time say they don’t know what to expect you know we are in for some interesting times. And I hope this use of interesting isn’t like the old Chinese curse.
This is the last installation of the four-part series and covers the issue of the buying process itself. The process varies depending on location, agent and parties involved. My intention here is to give you an idea of what can happen and what to expect. Your agent will help fine tune the process from here.
In this continuation of the four-part series on questions to ask your B&B Broker read about lenders, inspections and allocation. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s important, especially the last two questions, with associated discussion.
This is the second in a series of questions to ask your B&B Broker. Getting good help as you buy, or sell, your B&B inn is just good business. It’s smart to let a professional help guide you through the maze of questions and issues that you’ll face in buying a bed and breakfast.
Hiring a real estate agent to help you buy your B&B is important and challenging. The ideal situation is to find an agent who know and understands both the real estate and B&B industries. If you can’t find such a person for the area you are considering for your B&B, then the next best thing is to find a person who is hard working and industrious, one who understands the challenges in buying a residence with business attached, and who you communicate with well.
Think about how you will sell your inn as you buy or build. As you want to make a wise business decision when you buy, you can be assured when you are ready to sell your buyer will also strive to make a wise business decision. Approaching your purchase this way will have you contemplating how you will conduct your renovations (total cost and specific item costs), what price you pay, options you build in to your situation, and how you plan to build your business.
The pause of the potential guest after receiving requested information can be filled by the innkeeper responding to, or inquiring about, their needs. You should answer more than just the asked question — also answer the implied question. This is your first chance to illustrate your inn’s hospitality and style. Don’t blow this chance — you have spent so much money to create your inn’s atmosphere, to advertise your business; you have spent a lot of money getting the phone to ring so don’t waste or throw away that investment!
What is active voice writing and why is it important to you in your B&B business? According to Strunk and White in Elements of Style, active voice is more direct and vigorous than passive voice. To you, active voice means writing in the present tense.
The break-even point is the occupancy rate at which you quit losing money and start making money. Strive to have your break-even point be no higher than 50 percent, and below that would be even better. Innkeeping is a lifestyle, but it’s also a business.
For many innkeepers, having a solid year-round business would be fabulous. But the reality is that doesn’t happen often. And some areas experience a light 15-25 percent occupancy rate, making it hard to make ends meet, much less have a viable business to sell.
Are you considering operating a restaurant in conjunction with your B&B Inn? If you are operating an isolated inn, it may be necessary to feed your guests, in the country inn style, more than just breakfast. If you are in an urban setting, extra food service not only isn’t necessary, but may be a financial burden because you would be competing with established local restaurants.
There are numerous personality type approaches. Myers-Briggs and DISC are two of the more well-known schools of thought. There are other ones too, like Color, Pattern, Power, VALS, Kingdomality, and of course the Zodiac, some of which innkeepers use exclusively in their hiring practices. Whatever it takes to get a grip on the different types of people who you will interact is good.
Do you know the marketing rules-of-thumb (RT) that will help you promote your B&B? I don’t know if these are official rules or guidelines, but they are pearls of wisdom I’ve picked up through the years and called my Marketing Rules-of-Thumb. You’ll find a marketing mix of advertising and design pointers in my RT that you can use as you want.
It’s an easy trap to fall into to think that running a bed and breakfast is a simple task, not much different from running a home. And with that thought it’s easy to overlook the need for a business approach and attitude about your business. Though there are many advantages of small businesses like B&Bs over large corporations, like Chrysler, there are lessons to be learned from “the big guys” to help make your business stronger. Start with a management plan.
I really believe in the KISS principle — Keep It Simply Simple. Not necessarily the food itself, but the presentation and choices. Simple doesn’t mean plain or inadequate. Elegance can be synonymous with simplicity. You should make the decisions about breakfast and not ask your guests, who want to relax, and not to make any more decisions than necessary. Don’t bombard them with choices.
[This is an old, and out of date, article from the forum. It’s left in here for reference and good information:]
So you say, “I already have a great web page and I advertise it, so what are you talking about.”
What I am talking about is conversion. Does not matter if you have 500 visitors a day when very few of them call or email you to make a reservation.
Making money in your bed and breakfast is so much fun! And it’s the money you make that pays the bills, right? So you better be good projecting income before buying a B&B or expanding the one you have. Here are some pointers on doing just that.