May 31, 2013

Just Do it – Because You Can

Have you ever found yourself sitting in a meeting and thinking it was a waste of your time, nothing was getting done, your ideas were not being heard, decisions were not being made, or that action plans were not being implemented? For many of us, these feelings prompted us to leave corporate America and start our own businesses. For our competition (hotels), the dynamics of how they make decisions creates an advantage for us.

You may be wondering with the vast resources of the hotel industry, where is our advantage? Simply put, it's in our ability to see a need and fill it, have an idea and implement it, or decide on something and do it. And to make the most of this dynamic, we have first-hand access to the guests' experiences. I'm sure you ask all of your guests, "How was your stay?" This question is a very broad and will usually result in a vague, but positive answer of, "Very nice." Have you ever thought of really soliciting valuable feedback and using your advantage by being more direct such as, "I really appreciate feedback from my guests to make the inn better...can you give me some suggestions?" or "What could I add or change?"

 I know you've heard the suggestion many times that you should pack a bag and stay in your rooms to experience them as your guests do. In fact, I discuss it in Chapter 9: Furnishing Your Inn of Running a Bed and Breakfast For Dummies. But have you done this? When you do you'll discover if there is enough or too much light, and whether there are enough outlets. Outlets are probably the biggest thing missing in hotels and yes, B&Bs. We're a wired society and we need outlets, and you have the ability to accommodate this need without a corporate directive or room makeover. Can you inconspicuously but conveniently add a power strip? If you do any upgrades, I love this outlet plate which shows that you really understand guests’ wired needs.

The ability to be spontaneous and creative can also lead to clever packages or menu selections. For instance, let guests know you are serving donuts on June 1st in honor of National Doughnut Day. This day was created by The Salvation Army in 1938 to honor the women who served doughnuts to soldiers during World War I, and the holiday celebrates the doughnut (a.k.a. "donut") according to Wikipedia. This special, albeit maybe a little quirky, reason for a menu choice will add an element to the personal experience you offer your guests. I'm sure it has a high chance of being repeated when they tell others about their stay, or it may even be the reason they tell someone about their stay with you. You can read more about creating packages and “Taking it Beyond Breakfast and the Basics” in Part Five of Running a Bed and Breakfast For Dummies.

I encourage you to use your freedom to implement your ideas, to act on your decisions and to remember why you wanted your own business and embrace it!

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