Category Archives: Guests

Shatter the Disastrous Myths About Bed and Breakfasts

It is time to shatter the disastrous myths about bed and breakfasts. There are a handful of reporters recently who have published stories that seem to be more about their own awkward hang-ups than about having real issues with where they stayed. Also, most of their disappointments could have been prevented through simple actions like looking at the accommodations’ website and reading guest reviews before their booking rooms.

Most bed and breakfasts are NOT about staying at grandma’s house with doilies. While some bed and breakfasts are located in historic mansions, that does not mean they have thin walls, squeaky bed frames, and creaky floors. Many of those inns have been painstakingly returned to their original glory with added insulation (if needed), restored or new furniture, and repaired or refinished flooring.

99% of bed and breakfasts offer private, connected bathrooms for their guests to use. Bed and breakfasts with good websites always show pictures of their guest rooms and bathrooms and even specify which amenities come with each of their rooms. Hotels are not the only ones with private balconies, sitting areas, gardens, pools, restaurants, and gift shops. There are plenty of inns offering these same luxuries.

Bed and breakfasts are always unique. Every inn is different and offers its own special personality and experiences. Guests choose bed and breakfasts based on its location, style, local attractions, and personal preferences. Bed and breakfast inns can come in a wide variety of types to choose from, including:

  • scenic mountain bed and breakfasts
  • modern boutique inns
  • bed and breakfast farms
  • pet-friendly inns
  • B&B retreats for authors or artists
  • bed and breakfasts on the water
  • environmentally friendly inns
  • bed and breakfasts in secluded locations
  • kid-friendly inns

There is a reason why they are called bed and breakfasts. Hotels often offer “continental” breakfasts that leave much to be desired. Innkeepers often have culinary training as well as a natural talent and passion for cooking. Many bed and breakfasts accommodate guests on restricted diets.

Preferably while booking your room, be sure to indicate any food allergies or dietary guidelines. Whether you are on a gluten-free, dairy-free, low cholesterol, reduced fat, no sugar added, vegan, or vegetarian diet, bed and breakfast chefs can make something you will enjoy eating that does not compromise those standards.

You do NOT have to have conversations with other guests if you feel like keeping to yourself. There is no “dreaded obligation” to have small talk with strangers. At breakfast time, many inns offer tables for two or even in-room dining. It is less common for there to be one common breakfast table for all the guests to sit at. This is a win-win for shy and outgoing guests as well as perky and not-so-perky guests. You can seek interaction or keep to yourself. It is completely up to you!

Innkeepers want to provide their guests with the best hospitality experience possible. Bed and breakfast staff do not try to “hover” over their guests. They remain attentive (they are there if you need them) yet not intrusive (they give you space and privacy). They respect their guests’ wishes for peace and quiet. Some places offer private entrances, separate cottages or guest houses.

Bed and breakfasts are a great value. They offer free breakfast, free parking, and complimentary refreshments. Most offer free wireless internet and some have free DVD libraries and even provide free streaming video services like Netflix. Hotels charge extra for these things. There is no such thing as “free room service” at hotels.

If you like impersonal and stuffy hotel chains, then maybe bed and breakfast inns are not for you. However, many of you (if you have not already) will visit a bed and breakfast inn and never go back to staying at hotels!  

Owners and innkeepers, are you looking to improve your online marketing results?  Want to educate potential guests about what makes your inn more appealing than your local competition? Bed and breakfast blogging offers professional services including blogging, e-mail marketing, social media, and reputation management.  Don’t have time or don’t know where to start? Contact Kristi today for a free consultation!

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

How To Promote Staycations at Your Bed and Breakfast

As you may know, “staycations” are vacations spent at home or nearby.  Have you promoted your nearby bed and breakfast to locals in your community?  This is a great target market.  Best of all, you are a “local” promoting your business to other locals.

The Victoria, a bed and breakfast in Bentonville, Arksansas,  lists four great reasons for locals in their community to stay at their bed and breakfast:

  • Less planning is necessary (since you know your local community and you can even go back home if you forgot something important)
  • Much more affordable (plane rides and car rentals are not necessary)
  • Get to know everything your area has to offer (such as its museums, gardens, and other tourist attractions)
  • Vacation at a more relaxed pace (a great alternative to stressful, activity-filled vacations far away from home)

According to The Project: Time Off Coalition, more than half of American workers (55%) left vacation time unused in 2015. This adds up to 658 million unused vacation days! Ironically, their data also showed that employees who take 10 or fewer days of vacation time are less likely to have received a raise or bonus in the last three years than those who took 11 days or more.  

This is where owners and innkeepers of bed and breakfast inns can come in.  You could put together your own staycation package that could include tickets to local area attractions and gift certificates to local restaurants. 

The Bridgeton House in the New Hope area of Pennsylvania offers a “Savory Staycation Package” that includes:

  • A welcoming wine and cheese upon arrival
  • Afternoon tea featuring a wonderful selection of homemade sweets and savories each day of your stay
  • A multi-course made to order breakfast each day of your stay
  • Their fireside basket dinner for 2 inclusive of a bottle of wine (choice of red, white or sparkling cider)

You can promote your package in a number of effective ways:

  • On a web page that lists your specials and guest packages
  • In a blog post that discusses the benefits of staycations and details your package
  • Share the information in social media (including Facebook and Twitter)
  • Since you are attracting local area guests, how about putting a sign outside your inn announcing your staycation package?  This can attract those who pass by.
  • Partner with local business owners to promote your staycation package (such as local attractions and restaurants)
  • Share this information with your local tourism board and local press
  • Volunteer at a local nonprofit or sponsor a local event in your community for word of mouth advertising

Since you know what your specific local area offers, you can customize your staycation package to fit your community.  It is becoming increasingly popular to “shop local” as well.

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

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.

Early Inn at the Grove in Rocky Mount, VA


Early Inn at the Grove B&B Outside

The Early Inn at the Grove in Rocky Mount, Virginia offers luxurious accommodations for its guests.  The house, known as “the Grove” to all of the locals, was built and finished in 1854. There have been 3 families that have resided in this house until it was purchased in December of 2013 with the intent to turn it into a bed and breakfast.

The house is a Greek Revival Style house. It rests on 10 plus acres full of beautiful trees including ancient oaks, some of which were planted by the second owner in 1900.

Innkeeper Keri Jackson loves welcoming guests to this delightful inn.  Famous guests who have stayed at the Early Inn include comedienne Paula Poundstone and The Bacon Brothers band (and Keri did serve bacon to Kevin Bacon)!

Early Inn Innkeeper Keri

The Early Inn offers five elegantly decorated rooms:

Early Inn General Early Suite

General Early Suite

At one time, Jubal Early slept here.  He had his Law office at the foot of the property.  The General Early Suite celebrates the confederate soldier who served as a general.  His sister was married to the first wife of the original owner of the house.  Decorated in browns and burgundy, this room has a private connecting bathroom with shower.  The only downstairs bedroom. Be first in line for coffee and stay in the General’s suite. This is a very cozy, comfortable room.

 

Early Inn Wanderlust Room

The Wanderlust Room

 

Luxuriously decorated, you will feel pampered during your stay here in this room. Decorated in grays and blues, this room looks out over into the side yard.  The beautiful landscape will keep you wanting to stay forever.  The new King mattress, Comphy bedding and blankets, bluetooth radios and your own climate controlled ceiling fan will leave you feeling pampered and refreshed.

 

Early Inn Harvester Suite

The Harvester Suite

This room, decorated with the colors of a harvest, remind you of fall.  The oranges and browns bring you a peacefulness and such a sense of tranquility that you will not want to leave.  This room has 2 Queen beds. The view out the window not only shows you the walkway from a time back in history, you can actually see the Harvester Performance Center doors.  Definitely within walking distance, you will be able to walk right over to see a show.

 

Early Inn Magnolia Suite

The Magnolia Suite

 

When you think of romance, think of Magnolias and ruffles.  This room is beautiful!  With original floral wallpaper from the 1980’s, you feel like you have taken a walk back into a simpler time.  You will not need to leave your room.  The bathroom hosts a soaking tub as well as a double shower.  The King size bed boasts comfort and beauty. You will definitely want to try out this room.

 

Early Inn Conspiracy Suite

The Conspiracy Suite

Was it a conspiracy?  If you want to know, check into this room and settle in with a copy of previous owner Keister Greer’s book, “The Moonshine Conspiracy Trial of 1935.”  This room gives you spectacular views of the front and side yards.  Decorated in blues and browns, this room hosts a connected bathroom with a shower.  This room has a king size bed, two chairs and a small table.  Individual temperature controls along with a ceiling fan ensure that you are comfortable at all times.

 

My husband and I loved our stay at Early Inn at the Grove in Rocky Mount, Virginia. This historic estate has maintained all of its charm yet is equipped with modern day technology including free Wi-Fi for its guests and flat screen televisions in each of their five bedrooms.

Whether you want to get married inside the inn (perhaps in their elegant library) or outside (near the large tent with its own dance floor), the Early Inn hosts weddings. The Early Inn also host private parties such as luncheons for class reunions, baby showers, and anniversaries.

While Innkeeper Keri Jackson was attending Floydfest, we enjoyed her delicious French Toast casserole. Nacasha took care of us during our stay.  She has a friendly, easygoing personality and she makes guests feel right at home.  Guests rave about Keri’s hospitality and so much more on TripAdvisor.

The town of Rocky Mount offers antiques, artwork, and awesome entertainment at the Harvester (which is right across the street from the inn). We recommend that guests also visit the nearby Kupkakery Bakery & Kafe as well as the relaxing Vintage Spa.

We look forward to coming again soon to the Early Inn at the Grove in Rocky Mount, Virginia.  Would you like your inn featured in this blog?  Please contact Kristi Dement of Bed and Breakfast Blogging.

The Perfect Bed and Breakfast Books For Your Happy Guests


Unique Angles Photography presents this image of an inn that offers a great selection of books for their guests to read.

Offer the perfect bed and breakfast books for your happy guests who love to read. Your bed and breakfast may house a small library or even a parlor or study with a large selection of books on your shelves.  If you are wondering what kind of books to make available, the following are some great suggestions:

  • Architecture: for readers interested in building and architectural styles
  • Arts and Photography: people love to look at art and photography, including books from your local museum
  • Biographies: especially of any legends about the people who live in your town or former tenants of your home or anyone famous in your area
  • Business: business travelers will appreciate books on business topics such as leadership
  • Computers and Technology:  including books about social media
  • Cooking: people may be looking for a new recipe–especially if it is your cookbook (that you have for sale)!
  • Crafts and Hobbies: scrapbooking enthusiasts as well as those who have other hobbies will like these types of books
  • Fiction: particularly if the setting in the book is in your local area or at a bed and breakfast inn, novels may really be attractive to your guests
  • Flora and fauna: for the garden lovers, horticultural experts, biologists, and green thumbs
  • Guidebooks: for guests who want to get to know your area and its attractions
  • Health and fitness: this could include books about eating and exercising
  • History books: many people love to read about history (especially the history of your location)
  • Home decorating: people who stay in bed and breakfasts usually appreciate home decor, art, and antiques
  • Humor and entertainment: these include humorous books by comedy professionals
  • Literature: classic literature lovers will be delighted to see books by Shakespeare or Jane Austen
  • Mystery, thriller, and suspense: Mary Daheim has a series of bed and breakfast mysteries that could interest your guests
  • Relationships: such as improving communication skills
  • Romance: keys to keeping the romance alive
  • Science fiction and fantasy: including time travel and virtual worlds
  • Sports and outdoors: books based on what guests can do at your inn such as fishing, hunting, golfing, skiing, and more
  • Success books: people love reading about having success, achieving more, and reaching their dreams
  • Travel:  books specific to your local area or your state will help guests make choices on what to do during their stay

You need not spend a lot of money if you do not already have a wide collection of books.There are plenty of good used bookstores and even yard sales that sell them.

Having good reading material for your guest helps them remember their stay at your bed and breakfast even more fondly.  See the B&B Books listed for a great selection of Bed and Breakfast related books!

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Bestselling Bed and Breakfast Novels


Unique Angles book on rack in bath tub

Bed and breakfast novels have delighted and entertained many readers.  There is something wonderful about a bed and breakfast setting.  All bed and breakfasts are unique. What is unique about these novels are the three authors who wrote them.  We look at bestselling books by Mary Daheim, Debbie Macomber, and Nora Roberts.

Mary Daheim has thirty books in her A Bed-and-Breakfast Mysteries series. She lives in her hometown in a century-old house not unlike Hillside Manor, except for the body count. Daheim likes to be creative with her book titles, including:

  • A Streetcar Named Expire
  • All The Pretty Hearses
  • Bantom of the Opera
  • Clam Wake
  • Creeps Suzette
  • Dead Man Docking
  • Here Comes The Bribe
  • Just Desserts
  • Legs Benedict
  • Loco Motive
  • Murder, My Suite
  • The Wurst Is Yet To Come

Mary Daheim wrote 30 bed and breakfast books. Here are just 12 of them.

Debbie Macomber is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and one of today’s most popular writers with more than 200 million copies of her books in print worldwide. In her novels, Macomber brings to life compelling relationships that embrace family and enduring friendships, uplifting her readers with stories of connection and hope. Macomber’s novels have spent over 950 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Ten of these novels hit the number one spot.  Macomber is also the author of the bestselling Cedar Cove Series which the Hallmark Channel chose as the basis for its first dramatic scripted television series. Debuting in 2013, Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove was a ratings favorite for three seasons.

Bestselling author Debbie Macomber wrote the Cedar Cove series of books.

Nora Roberts is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than 200 novels, including The Liar, The Collector, Whiskey Beach, The Witness, and many more. There are more than 500 million copies of her books in print.  Popular author Nora Roberts wrote The Boonsboro Trilogy. She introduces you to the Montgomery brothers–Beckett, Ryder, and Owen, as they bring an intimate bed and breakfast to life in their hometown.

Nora Roberts The Boonsboro Trilogy

Bed and breakfasts often have an assortment of books for their guests to read during their stay.  It can be fun to “snoop” through anyone’s book collection (only with their permission of course)!  These novels involve mystery, drama, romance, and so much more.  Some innkeepers have rooms that are filled with books for their guests to choose from.  Happy reading everyone!

Top Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Why Your Inn Will Profit From Blogging

Unique Angles Exterior Brick gravel

Your inn will profit from blogging.  If you are not already consistently offering quality blog posts, now is the time to do so.  Let’s examine the benefits of bed and breakfast blogging as well as learn what qualities to look for in a bed and breakfast blogger.

First of all, search engines like Google absolutely love and reward fresh content.  They give preference to websites which continually add new information.  A blog post is one more indexed page on your website. It signals to the search engine spiders that your website is active.

Bed and breakfasts with blogs establish themselves as being an authority on hospitality and their local community.  By offering helpful, travel-friendly advice, bed and breakfasts can get the attention of those wanting to know more about your local area while also telling others what makes your inn an ideal accommodations choice.

The more information you provide on your website and the more questions you answer, the more likely web visitors are to take action like contacting you, reading more of your website, following you on social media, and booking a room.

You can share the following information in blog posts:

  • Behind the scenes: feature your employees backgrounds and give fun facts about them
  • Events: let potential guests know about upcoming local events
  • Packages: people are willing to pay more for something that is already planned and included (such as flowers and tickets)
  • Recommendations: promote local businesses in your area and let them know you do (they might return the favor)
  • Reviews: share rave reviews from your previous guests
  • Rooms: show pictures of your guest rooms, tell each one’s amenities, reveal why the room has its particular name
  • Specials: offer discounts to mid-week stays or specific groups of people like senior citizens, veterans, and emergency workers

The effort you put it now will pay off well into the future because people will be able to view your blog posts years from now.  Providing valuable content means your content will spread. Blog posts can be shared in social media to expose yourself to a whole new audience.

Be sure to attract more guests with calls to action.  Encourage them to contact you, connect on social media, and book now.

Write for your ideal guest.   Know who you are trying to attract.  Pick a diverse range of keywords related to that topic.  For example, “eco-friendly inns” can also be described as “green”, “environmentally friendly” and use related keywords like “electric car charging”, “energy efficient lighting”, “rain water saving”, and so on.

List out relevant keywords describing your guest, your local area, what makes your inn so unique, and different seasons of the year.

Unique Angles beach hammock water

Keywords to describe the type of guest you cater to:

  • adventure seeking
  • antique lovers
  • beach lovers
  • bird watchers
  • business travelers
  • celebrating birthdays and anniversaries
  • engaged couples and newlyweds
  • girlfriend getaways
  • mystery solvers
  • romantic couples
  • scrap-bookers
  • shopping lovers
  • sports enthusiasts
  • wine connoisseurs
  • winter sports participants
  • yoga exercisers

Keywords to describe your local area:

  • amazing views
  • amusement park
  • annual conferences
  • art galleries
  • breweries
  • business conferences
  • college campuses
  • concerts
  • sports games
  • theatre
  • tourist attractions
  • trade shows

Keywords to describe the uniqueness of your inn:

  • amenities
  • B&B inn association membership
  • awards
  • catering
  • diamond rating
  • eco-friendly
  • gardens
  • handicap accessible
  • historic
  • kid friendly
  • pet-friendly
  • press coverage
  • restaurant
  • retreats
  • Select Registry membership
  • spa
  • tea room
  • Trip Advisor reviews
  • vegetarian or vegan
  • waterfront property
  • weddings
  • wine tours

Keywords regarding different times of the year:

  • Christmas
  • Fall foliage
  • New Years
  • Patriotic holidays
  • Valentine’s Day

Unique Angles close up yellow flower

Does this seem overwhelming?  Why not do what you do best as an owner/innkeeper and have a professional like me do your online marketing (blogging and social media)?  These are some qualifications you should look for from hospitality marketing professionals:

  • What is their education background?
  • What experience do they have?
  • Do they seem easy to work with?
  • Will they be dedicated to your bottom line and getting you the results you need?
  • Are they active in blogging and social media for their own business?
  • Do they have client testimonials?

Contact Kristi Dement of Bed and Breakfast Blogging for a free consultation today.  Feel free to add comments or questions below.

Images by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

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