April 1, 2013

B&Bs are Someplace Special

I am constantly amazed by the many special touches I see at inns; the extras that innkeepers offer to make their guests’ experiences extraordinary. I really enjoy almost every aspect of my job, and one of the best is reading guest comments from first-time B&B guests who are surprised by how much they enjoyed their stays and the value they feel they have received. I have often felt that, individually and as an industry, we can and should do more to toot our own horns because guests should not be surprised when they wake up someplace special…at a B&B.

Inn at Valley Farms, Walpole, NH
Creating a unique and special guest experience means something different at each inn. For some it is simply the value of having breakfast included in the room rate, while for others it is concierge services, bottomless cookie jars, dessert buffets, wine and cheese socials, and so much more.

No matter what it is that makes your inn unique, I want to do more to promote it and so should you. While you may describe these special services on your website, do you have beautiful, high-quality photos that visually paint the picture of the experience and entice guests to book with you? Too often I see websites that don’t showcase all of the wonderful features and amenities the inn offers.

There is too much competition out there to be satisfied with guests who are surprised to find out what you offer after they arrive. While it’s a compliment to hear how happy they are, it is also confirmation that you have lost bookings from guests who have chosen to stay somewhere else because they thought it would be a better value or experience. Some things you don’t want to hear as an innkeeper are “I had no idea how nice your inn is”, “I had not idea you offered xxx”, or "If I had known there was so much to do in the area I would have stayed longer”. When this happens you are not tooting your horn at all, or at least not loud enough. In Chapter 8 of Running a Bed & Breakfast For Dummies, I give you tips on marketing your inn so that you can convey to guests the reasons to stay at your inn.

I’m a huge supporter of the Professional Association of Innkeepers International “Better Way to Stay” campaign and want to help continue spreading the word about B&Bs and our industry.

If you’re an innkeeper, what are some of the special touches you provide your guests to make their stay an unforgettable one? How do you convey the fabulous experience that you offer potential guests?

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