Recycling Kindness Within the B&B Community
By Maxine Pinson
Do you remember when you first began thinking about the possibility of becoming an innkeeper and having your own B&B? Do you ever think about the steps you went through to attain your dream? Were there other innkeepers who provided you with help, encouragement, and support along the way? Chances are, there were fellow innkeepers who served as trusted mentors for you and whose guidance you sought. Now that you are an innkeeper, what have you done to recycle the kindnesses shown to you by assisting other newcomers to the industry?
Last fall, due to a last minute flight cancellation, I had to re-schedule visits to six different inns on a B&B tour I was taking of the Pacific Northwest. Fortunately, I was able to re-schedule all but one of my planned visits; however, for that one night, I had no accommodations. Since it was late in the day when I decided to spend the night in Victoria, I thought it would be simpler to just spend that night at a hotel. However, once I realized how many B&Bs are in the environs of Victoria, I did not want to stay in a hotel—not even for one night. In spite of the hour, I decided to seek lodging at a B&B.
The first B&B I called was a small 3-bedroom inn owned and operated by a husband/wife team. I explained that I was an American travel writer, and I had come to personally experience Canadian B&Bs which I could recommend in my B&B newsletter. After telling me there were no vacancies at their inn that night, the innkeeper proceeded to recommend another inn where I might find availability.
“There’s a new place here that I think you’d like. In fact, it’s so new, they don’t even have their sign in place yet. The innkeeper is delightful, the location is good, and I know you would be treated well there. I haven’t actually toured the property, but I don’t think you’d be disappointed.”
It was almost 5:30 p.m. before I was able to make contact with the new innkeeper. Once again, I explained my situation and told her about the referral I had received from an area innkeeper. A room was available at her inn for the night, and she seemed pleased that an established innkeeper had recommended her newly opened inn—especially to a travel writer. My stay at the new inn could not have been more pleasant: superb hospitality, lovely accommodations, extensive amenities, and an outstanding breakfast.
Traveling home from a more recent B&B trip, I began thinking about my introduction to the three recently opened inns just visited by me. Upon reflection, I realized that I had contacted each of these inns at the specific request of innkeepers who are experiencing success with their B&Bs. Each of these innkeepers now desire to recycle the help, encouragement, and support they received during their innkeeper infancy.
When chatting with innkeepers, I sometimes ask how they were accepted by area innkeepers when they first opened their B&B. Almost without exception, I am told heart-warming stories about random acts of kindness other innkeepers did to make establishing a new B&B easier. What a wonderful legacy to perpetuate in the B&B industry!
The next time a new inn opens in your area, make a point to welcome the new innkeeper(s) with the same graciousness and warmth attributed to innkeepers. Listed below are a few ways in which this may be done.
When a new inn opens in your area, make a personal visit to the inn to meet and welcome the new innkeeper(s) into the community. A personal visit will also enable you to determine if this is an inn you will be able to recommend to guests when your inn is full. If so, be sure to let the new innkeeper(s) know that you plan to send guests their way when your rooms are full. Most likely, they will reciprocate.
If there is a local association for inns in your area, invite new innkeepers to the next meeting.
When a newcomer attends a local meeting, make a point to introduce yourself and other innkeepers to him/her. Make them feel like “part of the group,” not unwelcomed competition.
Tell the new innkeeper(s) about services, publications, seminars, and other resources you have found helpful.
Introduce the new innkeeper(s) to special information forums (such as the ones provided by PAII and BedandBreakfast.com) where innkeepers can exchange or seek information and help.
Encourage the new innkeeper(s) to call you if they have specific inn-related questions that you might be able to help with.
Before I left Victoria, I stopped by to personally thank the innkeeper who had directed me to the new inn in his town. He and his wife gave me a tour of their inn, and I assured them that the next time I am traveling in their area, I will call early enough to reserve a room at their B&B. I love discovering new B&Bs where the innkeepers are still excited about their new venture and brimming with eagerness to please their guests. Yet, it is equally fulfilling to stay at established inns where the “veteran” innkeepers continue to convey contagious enthusiasm about their inn and where guests are pampered as much as ever. “What goes around comes around” may be a trite saying, but it is one saturated with truth. Acts of kindness have a rewarding boomerang-type quality; they always return—sometimes in extraordinary or unanticipated ways. When innkeepers help and support each other, not only do strong friendships inevitably develop, but the bed and breakfast industry is strengthened in the process.
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.” Maxine resides in Savannah, Georgia and may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.