September 19, 2012

It’s the Small Things That Matter

As the anniversary of September 11th approached, many people paused to think about where they were and what they were doing that morning. While the world watched, I witnessed the tragic occurrences from the window of our former offices which were located directly across the street from the World Trade Center. If you were an innkeeper in September of 2001, then I’m sure you have stories about interactions with guests and breakfast discussions about the events. What I remember seeing from that time, and what I’d like to share, are innkeepers coming together and how these difficult circumstances brought out the best.

The Old Mystic Inn, Old Mystic, CT
On September 11, 2001, our prize winner from the Parmalat Bed & Breakfast Cookie Sweepstakes, a retired school teacher, was enjoying her New England B&B tour with her older sister. Innkeepers Peggy of Angel’s Watch Inn in Westbrook, CT, where the winner was staying that morning, and Michael of The Old Mystic Inn, where she was scheduled to stay the night before flying out of Boston on September 12th, couldn’t reach the BnBFinder offices due to our location. So, they worked together with the winner to explore options for getting her back to Wisconsin. She, like much of the world, was frazzled and didn’t know what to do. Weeks later, she was still talking about how Peggy and Michael took such good care of her, helped her make car rental arrangements and made sure she was prepared for her drive back home.

I also remember many stories from innkeepers who helped frantic brides, still looking to celebrate their marriages but afraid to fly, plan special honeymoons. We had received several emails from brides asking about honeymoon alternatives, so we put them in touch with the inns. Afterwards, the brides told us about the extra special touches innkeepers added for their honeymoons.

Times of tragedy are certainly not the only times you go above and beyond. Some of my favorite stories are about innkeepers helping to plan special engagement getaways. One of my most favorite stories might be “Christmas in July” for a military couple being deployed to separate places. They wouldn’t be spending their first Christmas together, so they had Christmas in July at the inn complete with Christmas cookies and a lighted tree in their room that the innkeepers arranged. I just returned from The William Henry Miller Inn where a dessert buffet is set out every night at 8pm by Innkeeper Lynette. In typical B&B fashion, she didn’t miss a beat the next morning with breakfast-to-go for us and another guest who had to make an early flight. You can’t make these things up.

These touches certainly are not happening at hotels; so, together, we need to spread the word that B&Bs really are a “better way to stay.” Guests can help you do this when they write reviews telling others about the special touches they experienced during their stays. The media loves these stories as well.

I firmly believe you should have some reviews on any site featuring your listing. For example, on review sites such as TripAdvisor you should have many reviews while a few reviews are fine on marketing sites like BnBFinder.com. You don’t want guests to leave your listing to go searching for reviews elsewhere; if they do, they may end up choosing another inn. In Chapter 8 of Running a Bed and Breakfast For Dummies, I discuss the importance of managing your online reviews as part of managing your brand and inn’s identity.

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