Are you running your bed and breakfast or is your B&B running you? There are moments when you cannot close your doors because your rooms are booked yet you need a break, have an innkeeping conference to attend, or a family emergency requires you to need to leave. Hire inn sitters, or interim innkeepers, to help solve your dilemma.
You want experienced professionals who may have been innkeepers in the past themselves. Of course you will want to check their references, rates, and services which may vary depending upon the size of your bed and breakfast and the tasks you ask them to complete. They usually can give an approximate range of their fees before meeting in person with you.
Because every bed and breakfast is different, you will need to set aside training time so you can communicate how you run your B&B. Good inn sitters are willing to do things the way you ask for them to be done. If you want them to cook your recipes, allow time to instruct them. They will need to know the "inns" and outs of how you manage your B&B.
When you hire inn sitters that are trustworthy and have the experience and references that assure you they are capable, then you can leave your bed and breakfast knowing that it is in good hands.
Interview with Interim Innkeepers, Beth & Grant Robinson
I appreciate Beth & Grant Robinson of "Inn Reflection of You" for allowing me to interview them by phone while they were on the road driving from California to return home to Raleigh, North Carolina during the holidays. Please note that while I did not record our conversation, I did take thorough notes to be as accurate as possible when I wrote this blog post.
Q: Can you tell me about your success as owners & innkeepers of an award-winning B&B in California?
A: We not only owned but we created our Inn. We had it for 5 years. In 2015, our Inn was awarded TripAdvisor Travelers Choice naming our Inn among the Top 25 in the United States. This was based on the opinions and reviews of the TripAdvisor community.
Q: What did you do before that?
A: We both had stressful occupations. We knew we wanted to change to the hospitality industry. We thought about owning a lodging facility. After looking in Alaska, we found a property just outside Yosemite National Park in California. It is one of our favorite areas in the country.
Q: When and how did you make the transition to interim innkeeping?
A: In 2016, we moved to Raleigh, North Carolina to be near family. We provide interim innkeeping services for North Carolina as well as Virginia and South Carolina. We've had assignments in all three states with a concentration of Inns in Asheville, NC; Charlottesville, VA; and the Shenandoah region.
Q: Why did you name your interim innkeeping business "Inn Reflection of You"?
We try to keep the feel of the inn the same as if the innkeepers were there. Every inn has a different flavor and a different feel. All innkeepers are different. We do our best to honor that and be a reflection of them.
Q: What has been the feedback you've received from innkeepers when they return?
After our assignments as interim innkeepers, often the guests write 5-star reviews. One innkeeping couple in Asheville, NC refers to us as "The Dynamic Duo." We create and cook gourmet breakfasts that meet the high standards of foodie towns such as Asheville and Charlottesville. Some inns request that we make their breakfasts and we love trying new recipes. Other times, they say you're welcome to make breakfast the way you usually do. Often they ask us to do a combination of both.
Q: What are some of the reasons innkeepers look to interim innkeepers for help?
A: When you have an inn, it's hard to get away for events like graduations, weddings, and to have fun. Sometimes there are emergencies and Innkeepers do not want to have to cancel guest reservations which may have been made a year in advance. Whether a planned event or emergency, rather than close down & lose the revenue, innkeepers hire us.
Q: What should B&B owners/innkeepers ask when they want to hire interim innkeepers?
First, they should find out if the innsitter has owned their own inn. If they have, they are more likely to conduct themselves as an Owner/Innkeeper. Second, ask the interim innkeeper if they are willing to come for a half day of training. Some inns have a binder full of information including the times when the lights go on and off, emergency contacts (like a plumber and an electrician), and instructions for doing things like laundry and breakfast. Of course, innkeepers can never cover everything that might happen, but they can be very thorough. Third, ask how long they have been innsitting. Also, make sure they are SERV-SAFE certified and comfortable accommodating a variety of dietary restrictions.
Q: What advice would you give to prospective interim innkeepers?
It is important to be accommodating and flexible. Be familiar with a variety of reservation systems. Provide references for innkeepers to call. Since the interim innkeeping industry is relatively new, a lot of innkeepers are not aware of this. A lot of clients have never heard of innsitting until they meet us. The best way to get business is to meet face to face with people. Don't wait for people to call you. A lot of it depends upon word-of-mouth referrals and meeting people.
We belong to several professional associations including: Stay VA, North Carolina Bed and Breakfast Inns, South Carolina Bed and Breakfast Association, Interim Innkeepers Network, and since the Association of Independent Hospitality Professionals (AIHP) merged with the Professional Association of Independent Innkeepers (PAII), we are also members of the Association of Lodging Professionals (ALP).
Overwhelming Interest on Pinterest
I hope this article is helpful to both innkeepers and interim innkeepers. I believe this is a topic worthy of more coverage. I updated this blog post when I saw that in the last 30 days, my Pinterest pin that linked to this blog post received almost 7,000 views!
Do You Have a Story to Share?
If you have a story about an experience you had (whether you were the one to hire inn sitters or you were the interim innkeeper), you are welcome to contact me, Kristi Dement. I'd love to hear about it! I could share it in a future blog post.
Top Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography