Reach More Success By Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

Reach more success by applying the lessons found in the new book, Reach: A New Strategy to Help You Step Outside Your Comfort Zone, Rise to the Challenge, and Build Confidence by Andy Molinksky, Ph.D. Professor Molinsky teaches psychology and organizational behavior at Brandeis University.  

He starts out by asking how many of us have avoided opportunities that could have potentially led to real growth and development?  I would say all of us have shied away from doing something because we felt it was outside of our comfort zone.  

So what makes us hesitate to do things?  We have a tendency to avoid what makes us uncomfortable. Molinsky lists five challenges to overcome in order to step outside your comfort zone, rise to the challenge, and build your confidence:

  • Authenticity challenge: it may feel unnatural to you do this, but the more you do it the easier it will be
  • Likeability challenge: you fear that others won’t like you; don’t let what others think of you prevent you from doing something that will lead to your own improvement
  • Competence challenge: you fear you don’t have the skills or that you won’t be good at it; remember we are our own worst critic!
  • Resentment challenge: you are annoyed that you have to adapt your behavior; focus on what you are trying to accomplish and the annoyances will fade away 
  • Morality challenge: you may feel unethical (the example the author gives is that of a pediatrician who regrets seeing babies cry when he/she is injecting them with necessary vaccines to protect their long term health)

Molinsky details the following solutions:

  • Conviction: have a deep sense of purpose that it is necessary to make these changes; focus on how this behavior is actually helping 
  • Customization: change the way you do it so that it is more comfortable for you
  • Clarity: take an honest account of your likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses 
  • Take the leap: when you willingly take the leap, you will discover that this isn’t so bad and this will reduce your anxiety and make you more likely to take leaps in the future; the more you do it, the more your anxiety diminishes

Possible examples of how these solutions can be applied to the bed and breakfast inn-keeping world:

  • Conviction: you may decide to focus on how your excluding guests under 12 is helping you cater to your adult guests who visit for a romantic getaway
  • Customization: you may decide the best way to prepare for the next morning’s breakfast is to have your guests check or circle a designated # of items from a list of food choices (ex: French toast or pancakes or waffles) when they check in
  • Clarity: you may realize that it is worth the extra money to employ a housekeeper so you can focus on what you like and do best
  • Take the leap: when you speak to potential guests over the phone, the more often you talk about your inn’s custom packages, the easier and more natural it will become to regularly mention them in future phone calls (and more revenue should come as a result)

While innkeepers are known for being warm, gracious, and outgoing, there are always more things we can do to step outside of our comfort zone.  Innkeepers, how did stepping outside your comfort zone improve your bed and breakfast inn business?  Please feel free to comment below.  

The Four Doors Of Innkeeping

The Four Doors of Innkeeping is based on the book “The Four Doors: A Guide to Joy, Freedom and a Meaningful Life” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Richard Paul Evans.  There are more than 17 million copies of his books in print worldwide, translated in more than 24 languages.

Door #1: Believe There’s a Reason You Were Born

Never underestimate the power of belief. Not only is there a reason you were born, but there is a reason that you are an innkeeper.  Just like teachers with their students, you will never know the amount of lives you touch for the better as you host and serve your bed and breakfast guests.  Remember that as you extend warm hospitality to each of them.  

Door #2: Free Yourself from Limitations

Most of our greatest learning experiences (and successes) come because of adversity (and failures). Everyone has problems.  It’s how we deal with them that matters. If you had to deal with (or are in the process of overcoming) zoning issues, renovation problems, or even a public relations nightmare, you can come out better on the other side.

Door #3: Magnify Your Life

Dreaming is the first step to making our lives greater.  Ask yourself, “What if…?” Be willing to take risks. We should use our talents and gifts to make more out of our lives.  This could mean that in addition to running a bed and breakfast inn, that you may add a restaurant, a gift shop, or even a spa.  

Door #4: Develop a Love-Centered Map

Love is the secret to joy.  The greatest source of happiness comes from giving and receiving love.  Love is what love does.  We develop love through service.  Love is both the destination and the journey.  As you appropriately love your guests, they will come become repeat visitors as well as spread by word of mouth (and hopefully online reviews) their enjoyable experience as your guests.

The author reminds us that we have a choice to live a more abundant life, a life of joy, freedom, and meaning.  We can improve our lives by opening these 4 doors. Feel free to comment below about how these 4 doors relate to you and your innkeeping experiences.

Is Your Bed and Breakfast Organized Enough?

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Is your bed and breakfast organized enough?  This blog post is inspired by the book called, “Organized Enough: The Anti-Perfectionist’s Guide To Getting–and Staying–Organized” by Amanda Sullivan.  Our homes and inns are a reflection of our minds.  We must ask ourselves the following questions:

  • Why do I need this?
  • What is it doing here?
  • Does it work?
  • Does it get used?
  • When is this needed?
  • Does it reflect me (and the style of our inn)?
  • Do I love it?
  • How many do I need?
  • Where is the logical place that I will remember to look for it?
  • Does it belong here?
  • Does it fit who I am now?
  • Can I let go?

Sullivan focuses the first part of her book on the acronym FLOW:

  • Forgive yourself
  • Let stuff go
  • Organize what’s left
  • Weed constantly

Her organization tips include:

  • Go through your home and see it as if for the first time (or see it from your guests’ perspectives)
  • Create simple systems with easy routines
  • Gather all of one category to evaluate together (get rid of what is not needed)
  • Make sure your containers are well labeled and easily accessible
  • Keep a bag/box dedicated for items that need to be passed on
  • Having less means fewer objects to keep track of
  • Designate dedicated areas for items (everything needs an exit or resting place)
  • Develop the habit of weeding constantly to keep chaos at bay
  • Put what you regularly use in the easiest access spots
  • Try to deal with the stuff on your desk every day
  • Eliminate piles of paper (including mail) by dealing with it as it comes in
  • Have a recycling bin and shredder near your designated paper area
  • When filing digitally, you want to be able to access what you are looking for and know what a document is without having to open it
  • Be consistent in your labeling system to make it easy for you (and your staff) to find what you’re looking for
  • Keep the most-used files in the front of the easiest access cabinet
  • Store tax information by year (and keep 7 years of tax backup documents)
  • When your file cabinet is full, look to weed rather than buy another file cabinet
  • Give everything a home and stick to those boundaries
  • As we stick with a habit, it requires less and less of our concentration
  • Make a habit of knowing what you have so you can keep your stock replenished without over-purchasing
  • Practice cultivating consistency in all of your routines

The benefits to breaking down disorganization habits:

  • Less clutter
  • Less waste
  • Less stress
  • Less running out of things
  • More serene environment
  • More beauty
  • Knowing where things are

Even if the guest areas of your bed and breakfast are very tidy, what about the places that only the owners/innkeepers, their family, and their staff spends time in?  The book specifies that “organized enough” does not mean that all your spaces have to be perfect, but they should be functional.  

This book motivated me (Kristi Dement) to organize my piles of mail (it only took me THREE HOURS) into a more efficient system.  I am also going to look into automatic online payments to cut down on the amount of bills I receive in the mail (this saves time and it is better for the environment).  If you want to share any additional positive organization tips, please feel free to comment below.

How To Profit From Designing Bed and Breakfast Retreats


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Bed and breakfast retreats can be very profitable for bed and breakfast inn owners. I will be presenting on an upcoming Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII) webinar.  Here is the blurb:

“From dreaming to planning and pricing to marketing, Kristi Dement will show you how to profit from designing retreats at your bed and breakfast.  She will reveal 15 different types of B&B retreats that your inn could host.  Plus, learn several reasons we should all love retreats!”

We will discuss:

  • 3 Essential Questions To Ask in the Dreaming Phase
  • Understanding the Role of Activities and Breaks
  • Crucial Planning Considerations
  • Option of Working with Outside Professionals
  • Types of Retreats and The Importance of Names
  • Customizing Retreats for Specific Clients
  • Critical Retreat Policies to Have in Place
  • Retreat Pricing Guidelines
  • Structuring Your Retreat
  • Building Retreat Buzz
  • Key Retreat Marketing Strategies
  • Reasons to Love Retreats

Throughout the Professional Association of Innkeepers International webinar, I will be sharing the images (like the one above) from talented hospitality photographer Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography.  

Click here for the blog post with a link to the YouTube video of my previous PAII webinar called, “How You Can Profit From Creating Memorable Guest Packages” led by Heather Turner, the Marketing Director for the Professional Association of Innkeepers International.

This PAII webinar is scheduled to take place on Wednesday January 25 at 2 pm.  After the webinar, I will provide a link to the presentation right here.  To get more ideas for designing retreats, look at BnBFinder’s website under Specials and then Classes, Courses, and Workshops.  

If you can think of another issue for me to address, with regards to designing bed and breakfast retreats, please feel free to comment below.  Alternatively, if you have experience leading bed and breakfast retreats, I welcome you to introduce yourself.  Tell us the name of your inn and where it is located and let us know what has worked well for your bed and breakfast retreats.

How To Make a Successful Bed and Breakfast Press Kit


Successful bed and breakfast press kits can increase your inn’s likelihood for receiving media attention. Wondering what is a press kit?  It is a package of media about your inn that makes it easier for a journalist or reporter to do a story about your bed and breakfast.

When you do most of the work for reporters up front, they will be more receptive to your pitch for press for their website, publication, or news story. In addition, it looks more professional and makes your bed and breakfast more appealing to write about.

Consider adding a press kit link on your website.  “Are you a journalist working on a story about inns or bed and breakfasts? We would be happy to help you with your story or article.”

Your valuable bed and breakfast press kit can include:

  • Contact’s name, phone number, and email address (the owner, innkeeper, public relations person)
  • High resolution photos (your gorgeous view, the outside of your inn, your guest rooms and common rooms, the best breakfasts meals you serve, etc.)
  • Map of your local area (and its nearby attractions)
  • Brief history of your inn (its location, year it was built, original owners, type of architecture, its history as a bed and breakfast, etc.)
  • Innkeepers/owners story (share your story or how your B&B came to be, a little about yourself and your team, and why you’re doing what you’re doing)
  • Pictures of your luxurious amenities (such as a pool or private hot tub, fireplace, library, spa, garden, etc.)
  • Current promotions (your own specials, custom packages, and description of private events you host like weddings, etc.)
  • Awards received (from bed and breakfast associations, contests won, your AAA Diamond rating, your BBB grade, etc.)
  • Online guest reviews (share links to positive guest testimonials)
  • Your blog (which features local activities and area events)
  • Existing press coverage (list of and links to articles in newspapers, magazines, and online attention)
  • Videos (made about your B&B or that you had filmed to promote your inn)

Include anything you think will enhance your reputation as providing exceptional hospitality. This is your opportunity make it accessible for the press to report about your bed and breakfast. Even curious potential guests will be impressed by it when they see it.

Having an available press kit, makes you media friendly and more likely to get more publicity for your inn.  If you do not mind members of the press coming to your bed and breakfast to interview you and/or make a video, then be sure to state that on-site tours can be arranged. There is nothing better than free publicity!

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

How To Get More Positive Reviews and How To Handle Negative Reviews


Do you wonder how to get more positive reviews or how to handle negative reviews?  Online guest reviews are increasingly important to travelers.  Around 9 out of 10 consumers read reviews before booking.  “Word of mouth” (especially online reviews) is a powerful thing.

Good reviews can attract more guests to your B&B and raise your profits.  Positive guest reviews give third-party proof that your inn is good as your website says it is. A higher number of positive online guest reviews encourages potential guests to stay at your accommodations since you appear reliable and trustworthy.  

Like it or not, reviews have a direct impact on:

  • your ranking on review sites
  • your ranking on third party websites (like online travel agencies)
  • your ranking in the search engines
  • your overall online reputation score
  • your overall sales and conversion rates

Your best line of defense is to always provide an exceptional stay and the best customer experience possible.  Set expectations appropriately: always under-promise and over-deliver.  Exceed your guests’ expectations.  Give every single guest the personal touch and make them feel like they have had a remarkable 5-star experience.  The majority of positive guest reviews come when guests are pleasantly surprised by the hospitality they receive.  

As guests are checking out, you can ask them about their stay.  Guests that give loved their stay should be encouraged to leave online reviews.  Tell them that reviews are important to your business and influential in improving the experience of their future visits.  

You may want to give your guests a scenic postcard (maybe with a photo of your inn’s best feature) with a personal message on it asking them for a review.  They will think of the good times and it will motivate them to write a kind review.  

In follow-up emails you can ask recent guests to leave a review.  If someone states something positive about your inn, encourage them to share their praise online. Social media is a good place to share positive online reviews. 

Respond to all reviews (good and bad) even with a brief comment.  Thank them for taking the time to write their review and show your appreciation of their visit.  

Did you know that the #1 cause of dissatisfied guests is unfulfilled expectations? For the guests who bring up a negative issue, do everything in your power to make it right. Respond to 100% of negative reviews within 24 hours.  Address the specifics in their complaint.  

Always maintain a professional tone in response to negative reviews. Start by addressing the guest’s name, show your sincerity, let the reviewer and potential guests know you are sorry if it was your fault and you can apologize that their experience was not to their satisfaction.  Let them know about your standard of service.  

Do not confront the person publicly.  Too many businesses make the mistake of defending themselves and not acknowledging their own mistakes.  This always makes the situation worse.  Sincerely apologize that they didn’t feel you met their expectations.  

Remember that an apology is not an admission of guilt or wrongdoing.  In your response you can note how many years you have been in business and how many guests you have hosted.  “Our team uses very rare incidents like this one to fine tune our operations so that this never happens again.”  This is a good way to frame your business and make the guest feel acknowledged.  

Highlight any changes you have made or intend to make.  When answering a negative review, write it with your future guests in mind.  “We can guarantee that we won’t miss the mark in the future with our guests.”  

The proper response to a bad review can minimize the damage to your inn’s reputation by influencing prospective guests to think more highly of you.  Expressing sympathy that the guest experience fell short of their expectations can also repair your relationship with the unhappy reviewer.  

Thank them for their candid review of their recent stay.  Let them know that their feedback is extremely valuable to them as you strive to improve with each and every guest’s visit. Tell them you appreciate that they brought this to your attention.  Managing you B&B reputation can go a long way when it comes to keeping guests happy and more coming through your front door.  

How To Accomplish Your Bed and Breakfast Goals


Consider writing down your bed and breakfast goals for next year.  Use the famous SMART acronym to make decisions.  This will help you accomplish your bed and breakfast goals.

Specific: Make sure that your goals are very specific.  First, ask yourself some questions.  

  • What are we trying to accomplish?
  • What types of repeat guests would we like to attract?  
  • Are guests coming to our local area for a specific reason or activity?
  • What types of local events in our area attract guests?  
  • What do guests tell us they like about my inn?  

Measurable: Goals need to be measurable to know if you have reached them. Quantifying your goals gives you something to strive for.  

  • By what percentage do we want our occupancy rates to go up?
  • How many more B&B packages could we sell this year?
  • What number of local business partnerships do we want to add this year?
  • How much money could we set aside to sponsor a local event?
  • How many private events should we host?

Attainable: Goals need to be reachable to motivate you do achieve them.  Setting impossible goals does not help you.  Make it a goal that is a stretch but doable.  

  • How many blog posts could we do this year?
  • How many e-newsletters would we produce?
  • What social media campaigns could we do?
  • Do we need to change our reservation software to give us better results?
  • Should we join a bed and breakfast association?

Relevant: Goals need to be suitable to what your inn and your local area offers.  Represent what your guests can expect from their stay with at your bed and breakfast.

  • What inn amenities could we promote?
  • Do we have any of the following: a restaurant, a gift shop, or a spa?
  • Do we have excellent local entertainment venues or other attractions?
  • Do we have up-to-date pictures of our bed and breakfast and food?
  • Could we support a local cause that has an event?

Time bound: Giving yourself a deadline makes your goals even more real.  Vague goals do not equal results.  

  • What are the due dates for our blog posts?
  • How many calls to potential local business partners do we make each month?
  • By what date should our bed and breakfast website be redesigned?
  • When do we need to finish this renovation project?
  • No later than what date should we put up our new bed and breakfast sign?

Success does not happen by accident, but by dedication and SMART goal planning.  What goals does your inn have for the coming year?  Feel free to comment below with what your bed and breakfast would like to accomplish.

Do you want to add or improve your blogging, social media, and/or reputation management strategy? Contact Bed and Breakfast Blogging at 919-931-6168 or email contact@bedandbreakfastblogging.com

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

How You Can Profit From Creating Memorable Guest Packages


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I would like to invite you to attend the webinar, “How You Can Profit From Creating Memorable Guest Packages.” This is scheduled for Wednesday November 16 at 2 pm. All members of the Professional Association of Innkeepers International may register to attend. 

How You Can Profit From Creating Memorable Guest Packages: Regardless of the number of rooms your inn has, every innkeeper can profit from designing memorable packages for their guests.  Since guests do not want to “work” to put together a great vacation, you can coordinate things on the front end (before they arrive) so your guests can relax and enjoy their experience. Guests are willing to pay more for things to be planned in advance for them.  In this webinar, we will discuss creative ways to put packages together using your knowledge of your inn’s local area and by partnering with local businesses including restaurants and attractions. This is extra income that is there for the earning and for the satisfaction of pleasing your guests who will no doubt return again soon because of their memorable stay. 

You Will Learn:

  • What It Means To Be Memorable
  • 5 Essential Questions To Ask Before Designing a Package
  • 10 Types of Packages and What They Can Include
  • Don’t Forget To Add “The Fine Print”
  • and much more!

Enjoy hospitality photographer Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography‘s images throughout the presentation.  Marcus travels across the country to take pictures of bed and breakfast inns, hotels, restaurants, and food.  

With his talent for lighting, Marcus Berg is able to capture what is outside a window from inside a room. Marcus is easy to work with and will makes very flattering pictures of fine accommodations and cuisine.  

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This webinar, “How You Can Profit From Creating Memorable Guest Packages” will be recorded and I will add the link to this webinar once the Professional Association of Innkeepers International posts it on their website.  Innkeepers interested in contacting me can use the contact form on my website.  Thank you.

Food image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

How To Add Bed and Breakfast Pillows That Impress


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Bed and breakfast pillows can enhance your inn’s decor and impress your guests.  It is possible to completely change the look and feel of a room just by adding or changing its pillows. What was once drab and ho-hum can now become colorful and inviting.

Of course, there are no official rules for displaying pillows.  If decorating is challenging, find a friend who is great at adding style and have him or her take a tour of the rooms your inn. Then ask for personalized advice and talk pillows! For more inspiration, look in the following places.

Look at Home Decorating Magazines:

  • Architectural Digest
  • Better Homes and Gardens
  • Country Home
  • Country Living
  • Elle Decor
  • House Beautiful
  • Metropolitan Home
  • Real Simple
  • Romantic Homes
  • This Old House
  • Traditional Home
  • Veranda

Watch Home Decorating TV Channels:

Visit Bed and Breakfast Websites Listing Award Winners:

Pillows have all different looks, such as:

  • abstract
  • casual
  • classic
  • delicate
  • earthy
  • eye-catching
  • fashionable
  • hand-woven
  • luxurious
  • original
  • playful
  • soft
  • textural
  • traditional
  • ultra-modern
  • whimsical

Pillows can be made from a variety of materials, including:

  • chenille
  • corduroy
  • cotton
  • faux fur
  • linen
  • outdoor fabric
  • silk
  • suede
  • tapestry
  • velvet
  • wool

Details can be added to pillows, like:

  • applique pillows
  • beads
  • embroidered pillows
  • fabric on fabric pillows
  • flocked pillows
  • hand-painted pillows
  • flange pillows
  • fringe trim pillows
  • piping and cording
  • ruffles

Pillow Pointers:

  • Use an odd number of pillows on beds, couches, and other furniture
  • Decorate with a variety of shapes and colors of pillows to add more interest
  • Make pillows for your bed out of the same material as a chair in the room
  • Contrast differed textured pillows such as silk and linen
  • Relate pillows (in the same room) to each other by the same palette or style
  • Feel free to add seasonal or holiday pillows depending upon the time of the year

One additional place is to look for decorative bed and breakfast pillows is on Pinterest.  I will give you the link to my Bed and Breakfast Blogging Pinterest board called B&B Pillows. Some of the Pinterest pins even show how to DIY pillows.  Happy bed and breakfast pillow decorating!

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

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