Effective Innkeeping from A-Z
by Maxine Pinson
The following list serves as a gauge for determining if your inn is “up to snuff” and how you measure up as an innkeeper. As you go down the list, think of other words you might add to each category (for example, “B” words: bathrooms, beds, beverages, battling bullies, etc.) and if any of these words pertain to areas that could be improved to make your B&B or innkeeping even better.
Ambiance — Does your inn create a special mood or atmosphere making a stay there one filled with pleasurable memories? What could you do to enhance the ambiance of your inn?
Breakfast — Do you check with your guests, prior to breakfast time, concerning food allergies or dietary restrictions? Is your breakfast menu varied and attractively presented? What do you do to enhance the atmosphere at breakfast time (i.e., candles, background music, fresh flowers, garnishings, etc.)
Cleanliness — This is imperative and goes beyond unstained sheets and dusted table tops. Spider-webbed entrance doors and unkempt porch areas are unacceptable.
Diversity — Do your guest rooms offer diversity in décor, price range, options for varied needs (availability of two beds in a room, a suite with a separate sitting room, room for the physically disabled, etc.)?
E-mail — Do you check your e-mail messages on a regular basis (at least on a daily basis) and respond to inquiries promptly? Is your “signature” (name, name of inn, Web site, contact information, etc.) included on each of your e-mail messages?
Feedback — Are you receptive to feedback from your guests about ways in which your inn or innkeeping might be improved? Do you actively encourage feedback from guests (verbally or via feedback cards)?
Grounds — Are the grounds of your inn attractive and well-kept (i.e., no unsightly “stuff” stacked about which guests can see when approaching the inn or from the windows of their room).
Hospitality — The key to successful innkeeping, the cordial and generous treatment of guests is more important than the grandest inn, exquisite décor, or even the most magnificent location.
Internet presence — Do you have an up-to-date Web site that is professionally designed with lots of photographs (exterior and interior of inn, including each guest room and all common areas)? Based on the photographs and descriptions on your Web site, will guests find your inn to be as wonderful on-site as it appears online?
Job — Do you consider innkeeping just a job, or do you consider yourself a reincarnation of the biblical, long-suffering Job? Hopefully, you do not fit into either of these categories! If you do not truly enjoy being involved in a service-oriented business and catering to others, then innkeeping becomes “just a job” that will, perhaps, make you feel like Job.
Knowledge of area — Are you well-informed about things to do, places to eat, historical information, facts of interest, etc. about your area?
Location — If your inn is not situated in a destination area, you can still attract guests (especially those seeking remoteness and privacy) by reduced rates, special offerings, extra amenities, excellent meals (perhaps including dinner, on request), unsurpassed hospitality.
Maintenance — Cleanliness and maintenance are not synonymous. The furnishings (including window treatments, bedding, upholstery, rugs, towels, etc.) in an inn may be clean and disinfected; however, if something looks worn, it may appear shabby and unclean. Take a look around your inn and see if there are chairs with sinking bottoms, tattered curtains, stained window shades, dusty artificial plants, woodwork with chipped paint, etc.
“Effective Innkeeping from N-Z” will appear in the next edition of The B&B and Country Inn Marketplace Guide due out in February 2004.
Maxine Pinson is editor/publisher of The INNside Scoop (www.innsidescoop.com), a bi-annual B&B newsletter and author of INNside Scoop: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Bed and Breakfast Inns.” Ordering information for this newly released book is on page 9. Maxine resides in Savannah, Georgia and may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.