February 28, 2013

What Winning an Award Can Do

If you know anything about me you know I am an enthusiastic supporter of the professionalism of the B&B industry, and believe strongly in the power of combining everyone’s efforts. I’m also a big believer in the value of state, regional and national associations. Taking it a step further, you can imagine how humbled I was to be honored this past January at the Professional Association of Innkeepers International’s annual conference with the 2013 Award of Merit, for long-term and significant contributions to the industry and the business of innkeeping. While I am so excited about the B&B industry, this award was another boost to my commitment to what I do and what we do at BnBFinder.com.

When I found out about the Award of Merit a few weeks ago, I thought a lot about what I would say when I received it. I kept coming back to how very honored I am to be recognized by a group of people I admire so much. I am an ardent supporter of small business and feel lucky to live in a country where we have the freedom to pursue our dreams - and for many of us that dream is to own our own business. Innkeepers take the challenge of entrepreneurship to one of the highest levels of commitments I can think of. And when you add in the uniqueness of the properties and the experiences they create for guests, you know it’s a really special industry to be involved in and they should be very proud of their contributions, too.

I started in the industry in 1998 and launched BnBFinder.com in 1999. Like many innkeepers, it has been a learn-on-the-job experience for me because as business owners, we do it all although I don't have to wear as many hats as they do. I started BnBFinder with my brother who at the time was trying to find a B&B in the Hudson River Valley. Being younger than I was, he turned to the internet for his search. When he couldn't find anything after doing a search on the popular search engines at the time - remember Alta Vista, Ask Jeeves and LookSmart? - we had the brilliant, and we thought unique idea, of starting a guidebook online. BedandBreakfast.com was around, although it was called Inns & Outs, as well as BB Explorer, BBOnline and some other directories. But, the search engines were not efficient, and by this I mean a search for a B&B might return results for a horse farm in Hawaii. Pay Per Click as we know it didn't exist. There was no Google. What was evident was that B&Bs were a unique lodging choice and the Internet was the chance to put them on a more level playing field with hotels. I started BnBFinder with the goal of helping to facilitate this.

It doesn't seem like too long ago we were distributing our press releases for the new millennium; then our theme was B&Bs are "Travel's Best Kept Secret." Later, our tagline became "Wake Up Someplace Special," and now the B&B industry is also fortunate to have what I think is a brilliant campaign: B&Bs are a "Better Way to Stay." The industry has been around a long time and there have been innkeepers since before biblical times; however, it’s an evolving industry and I have tried to stay on the forefront with BnBFinder as the vehicle. My favorite part about what I do is spreading the word about the unique and special experiences found at each inn. I've never done an interview where the host or journalist was not more enthusiastic about B&Bs after the interview than before.

The future is today and, therefore, it changes daily. There is so much more we can and will do as an industry to evolve. The future is today and, therefore, it changes daily. There is so much more we can and will do as an industry to evolve. We should each be proud our own contributions and I’m pleased that so many aspiring and new innkeepers have perused Running a Bed & Breakfast For Dummies to help grow their dream of being an innkeeper.

No comments:

Post a Comment