Tag Archives: talents

Make It All About Your Bed and Breakfast Guests

Make it all about them. Make it all about your bed and breakfast guests.  Author Bruce Turkel, in his insightful book All About Them: Grow Your Business by Focusing on Others, makes it clear that what really matters to consumers is their own self-interest. Business owners (including innkeepers) can use that knowledge to make their businesses (specifically bed and breakfasts) about the people they are trying to reach (potential guests).

Author Bruce Turkel states that successful businesses created for today’s “all about them” economy realize what you do is less important than identifying who you are and why that resonates with current and potential customers (guests).  

Turkel stresses that “good brands make you feel good, but great brands make you feel good about yourself.” Things sell not because of what they can do, but because of how they make consumers feel.  

What attracts business to you and separates you from the competition (other accommodations)? Understand exactly what your customers are buying.  What do you provide that they cannot find anywhere else?  

Figure out who you are and what you stand for then communicate that identity.  Translate your message into customer centered communication that resonates with your audience.

What opportunities does your business provide for increasing customer satisfaction and company revenue?  What do you stand for?  Can you describe that in just a few words?  To determine what those few words are, Turkel recommends you consider five components.  

  • First, write down your company features and benefits.  This means everything you and your business offer including products, services, talents, skills, experiences, and so on.
  • Then write down your points of distinction.  What sets you apart from your competition? What do your clients identify about you?
  • Next, focus on the functional side of your business.  What features and attributes do you offer?
  • Then focus on the emotional side of your business.  How do your customers feel?
  • Lastly, this is when you can take reflect upon that information and know what you stand for and know who you are.  This is your brand promise.   

Innkeepers, do you make it all about your bed and breakfast guests?  Do potential guests know how you are different from other accommodations in your area?  

If you need help defining what makes your inn unique, so you stand out from other lodging choices, the Bed and Breakfast Blogging team is here to help.  Contact Kristi Dement for a free consultation today and she can start help you share your inn’s story with the world!

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.

Easy Ways to Better Understand Your Guests’ Lifestyles

LawnChairs-01Logo

Understand your guests’ lifestyles to satisfy their unique needs.  The more information you know about your potential guests, the better you are able to target your marketing messages and offer attractive hospitality services.

There is no point in trying to be everything to everyone.  It is rarely possible to satisfy all customers in the same way.  When you know what your potential guests’ values and what motivates them, you are better able to attract them.

Lifestyles are ways of living based on motivations, needs, and wants:

  • Activities: actions pursued for pleasure or relaxation
  • Attitudes: feelings about people, things, or situations
  • Beliefs: trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something
  • Interests: curiosity, attention, or concerns about something
  • Opinions: judgments or ways of thinking about something
  • Values: important and lasting ideals

These lifestyle factors can explain why your audience buys the products and services they do.  There is power in knowing how your prospects make their buying decisions.

How you package and promote your services is a key component of your marketing strategy.  Put together a list of different guest personas you want to attract that is based on what is in your local area, your unique talents, and your amenities.

First, ask yourself these three questions:

What is in my local area? This could be anything from college campuses, to concert venues, to national parks, to business conferences.  Once you know what is in your local area, you can better understand your potential guests’ lifestyles.

What are my unique talents?  If you are an official tour guide (local trail and/or hiking tours), a party planner (excellent anniversary parties), a massage therapist (with a spa on site), a vegetarian-only chef (cooking for vegetarians and vegans), then you have a better idea of the lifestyles’ of the guests you want to attract.

What amenities do I provide my guests?  This could be anything from game rooms, to gardens, to hot tubs, to luxurious linens, to indoor and/or outdoor pools, to tea rooms.  Understand what amenities you have that are attractive to potential guests.

Then segment your customers into different personas.  For example:

These are easy ways to better understand your guests’ lifestyles.  Then you can promote your place of hospitality (bed and breakfast, inn, resort, restaurant, etc.) on your website and through social media.

Kristi Dement at Bed and Breakfast Blogging can help you attract more guests.  Click here to contact me and/or feel free to comment below on what you do to attract more guests.

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Time Away Inn Sitters

The Villa

The Villa in Costa Rica

Everyone needs to take a break. Innkeepers are definitely not the exception.  The reasons for taking a break could be for much needed rest, relaxation, upcoming holidays, vacation plans, attending to personal matters, and unfortunately even health related concerns. Carmen Collier and Jeb Marshall were gracious enough to let me interview them about their experiences as Time Away Inn Sitters. Their web page asks, “Are you ready for a break? Carmen and Jeb are professional Inn Sitters, ready to take the stress out of your next vacation or time away.”

For this interview, I will let Carmen and Jeb speak for themselves…

As Inn Sitters, we have learned that each Inn or Bed and Breakfast is unique. We know that responsibilities and constant day to day changes can be overwhelming.  We understand how adaptability and good organizational skills are vital to maintaining your business.  We commit to making the guidelines of the innkeepers they sit for their top priority.  Receiving good reviews and references are also extremely important to us.
bon appétit

Carmen Collier

Hello, I am Carmen Collier, 48, born in Frankfurt, Germany to a full blooded German Mother and a Croatian Father. My Mother was full blooded German born (in 1936) and raised in the Schwarzwald (Black Forest region) of Germany during WW2.  She instilled the importance of doing something right if you are going to do it at all.

My Father was born (1923) in Los Angeles, CA to full blooded Croatian parents. His father immigrated to the States in the early 1900’s at the age of nineteen.

I was blessed to have parents and grandparents who appreciated good food and taught me how to cook and bake at a very young age. Both sides of my family came from a culture where you did not eat “junk food”, fast food, or processed food.

My grandmothers on both sides were phenomenal cooks/bakers. Always using fresh ingredients, and making everything from scratch. My Dad’s Mother even had her own cookbook. I would sit in their kitchens for hours on end watching and observing, and helping when they asked. It was one of my favorite past times.  My Mom rarely made the same meal twice, always inspired by trying a new recipe. We were very blessed!

View from Our Room

View from Carmen and Jeb’s room in Costa Rica

My Father having traveled Europe for 15 years, tasted almost every type of cuisine/fare there was. He had an incredible palate, and passed that on not only to us, but his grandchildren as well.My son Nick is an Executive Chef for a restaurant in Durango, CO.  According to Jeb, when Nick lived with us while he attended culinary school, it was quite a show watching each of us try to outdo the other in the kitchen at night. Jeb gladly did the shopping every day and became the prep cook for whomever was making the meal of the evening.

Dad managed the Delaney’s Seafood Restaurant at the John Wayne Airport in Orange County, CA for many years. Then my father opened “Restaurant Yebe Tebe” a family restaurant serving Mediterranean cuisine in Anaheim, California.  Growing up, I worked for several years learning the ropes and how to prep food properly for the Chef.

After I graduated, I went on to become a professional licensed Realtor and Property Manager. After my kids were in school full time (1999), I chose to get my Real Estate License. I worked at it full time, and was Top Producer for many years. My husband (ex) at the time was a custom home builder. So it was advantageous to be able to sell the “spec” homes he built as well as being the Property Manager for the apartments we owned. I still keep my Real Estate license current!  In addition, I also owned and operated my own “Construction Clean-up” company for over 20 years. We specialized in cleaning new Custom Homes throughout the Temecula Valley Wine Country.

Freja and Carmen

Carmen and a canine companion

Traveling the world as an Inn Sitter caring for other peoples needs and comfort has become my passion.There is no one thing that ultimately prepared me for becoming an inn sitter. However, I feel the following combination of things is probably a common thread among most successful ones: being approachable, affable, helpful, positive, upbeat, artistic, creative, problem solver, can clean properly, take pride in cooking/baking, presentation, fun, responsible, thorough, thoughtful, empathetic & modest.

We are very good at communication, and like to touch base with the owners/innkeepers if not everyday then several times per week.  We have learned that through email, phone calls, instant messaging and Skype we usually have a great understanding of what each owner is requesting.  Honoring commitments are huge.  Every owner is different.  The key is to listen to what is most important and treat their business as if it were our own.  Most have everything down in writing and make sure to keep open lines of communication available.

I have found that most innkeepers like me to stick to cooking what they normally would offer. It keeps shopping and budgeting on track. However, some Inns have a Chef already in place and no cooking is expected from us. Then there are others that have us come in during the “slow” season, and just look after the place with no guests. So it really just depends on the owners individual wants/needs.

As a side note to some of my hobbies/interests that may pertain to Inn Sitting:
    • I took Floral Design in College thinking at some point it would be fun to own a florist shop.
    • I created and sold my own jewelry with a southwestern flair for 3 years while living in Durango, CO before the kids started school.
    • I’ve taken Tole Painting courses, and made many art pieces that I sold at art and craft shows. I pretty much painted on anything, but mostly wood.

So to sum it up, the way I was raised in regards to cooking and cleaning, as well as my hands on experience with owning/operating my own cleaning company, staging my real estate clients homes so that they could be marketed and sell for the highest price, having a creative and artistic flair, and dealing with peoples wants and needs has completely prepared me for inn sitting. Not only that, but my father’s love for travel…it burns deep in my soul. Inn sitting at this point in my life is more desirable for me than being an innkeeper since it allows us the freedom to continue to travel and see the world.

Ronda

Jeb Marshall

Hello, I am Jeb Marshall, 51, born in Seattle, U.S.A. I received a B.S.B.A. from Central Washington University in 1985 and was a Boeing Design Engineer with a top level security clearance for many years.  My job with Boeing helped me improve organizational skills and become a better problem solver.  As an Inn Sitter you must be ready to solve a multitude of unforeseen problems.  Expect the unexpected is my motto.  Keeping a calm head and formulating the best action in response will always produce the best outcome.

Working for Boeing also taught me that working ten hours a day behind a computer screen was no way to spend my life.  I am reminded of that especially when I am back in the states.  It is sad to see so many people with their eyes fixed to a screen, be it a laptop, phone, I-pad or television.  The real world should be seen, heard and felt with real people and places.

I have also worked as a professional stage actor with various theatre companies and the Seattle Opera. As a stage actor I found another true passion in life.  The ability to perform and make people feel is overwhelming.  I carry that ability with me when I inn sit.  Being able to adapt to different personalities is a big plus as an Inn sitter.  I have also been known to perform one of my many monologues from time to time especially after a glass of wine.  I apologize to Carmen for enduring the same monologues over and over.

Mostar

Carmen and Jeb in Mostar, Bosnia

Carmen and I met in the ocean.  It was a sunny Saturday in early December of 2006, off the beach of Carlsbad, CA.  We got married a year and a half later in the “desert town” of Las Vegas, NV.  Carmen and I compliment each other with our inn sitting duties.  She is an amazing cook, how she comes up with her mouth watering meals is beyond me.  She does most of the cooking and cleaning, however I love filling in wherever is necessary.
The inspiration for us to sell everything and travel the world can be found in one of my favorite quotes by Mark Twain, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones that you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover.”

Even though society teaches us to buy the big house, the nice car and latest toys, Carmen and I decided that “The Stuff” is overrated.  The true inspiration for selling everything comes from within.  Carmen and I are adventurers at heart and following your heart and dreams will always inspire you!Helping run and care for bed and breakfasts has been and always will be a win-win proposition.  We are inspired to leave each inn sit with smiles from both guests and owners, taking the time to listen and observe, learning and becoming richer from each experience.

The best rewards have been the journey.  It is hard to put into words, however it is like reading a good book. You don’t know where it is going to take you but you know it will most likely enrich.  The faces and feelings have been amazing.  I speak of men and women that I have met and helped not knowing how to speak their language but connecting with them.  Feeling them through non verbal communication can be more rewarding than a long drawn out conversation.  The rewards are great with inn sitting. Sometimes a hug or smile can be reward enough for going the extra mile.

I don’t mind getting my hands dirty, whether in the garden or as a handyman on that unforeseen project.  My list of jobs have ranged from changing switches on a circuit breaker in Switzerland to painting the roof of a casita in 100 degree heat in Costa Rica.  I also work as concierge, driver, grocery shopper, greeter, take reservations, accountant, bus boy, waiter, dishwasher, housekeeper, dog walker, receptionist, security guard and so on.

Me and My Buddies

Jeb with two dogs

My favorite inn sit was for a winery in Satigny, Switzerland.  We arrived for the three week sit on my birthday, flying in from Venice where we had  celebrated Carmen’s birthday a couple days prior.  Upon our arrival into Geneva we were picked up and driven to Satigny which is about 10 kilometers from the airport.  Our duties for this sit was to care for their two wonderful dogs, watch and secure the winery and sign for all deliveries and mail.  You can read about it in more detail in our journal.

My favorite foods are Thai, sushi, seafood, Mexican and Italian dishes.  Who am I kidding? I love all food!  It does depend on freshness of ingredients and who prepares it.  The best Thai meal I ever had was in Spain, best Italian in Australia and best sushi was in Costa Rica.  Carmen has helped open my eyes to the wonderful world of great food.

Most people are afraid to travel to countries in which they do not understand the language.  As long as you show respect and try to blend in, most cultures will accept you and it is amazing how well non verbal communication works.  Carmen speaks German fairly well and she is working on her Spanish.   I speak many languages poorly, but can have conversations in English and Spanish.  The Spanish that is spoken in Spain differs from that in Central America much the same way that English in the states differs from the English spoken in the United Kingdom.
I have learned that the best way to learn about a specific culture is to get lost in it.  Get off the tourist lined streets and don’t be afraid to literally get lost.  Having to ask for help or eventually finding your way back on your own can be quite rewarding and you will be amazed at what you will find.  I enjoy getting off a plane or train and not knowing anything about the culture, it is part of the pure joy of travel.  When it comes to inn sitting, I will take the time to educate myself with a certain area if I have never been and learn everything a good concierge should know.

We have decided to be inn sitters of bed and breakfasts for many reasons.  We enjoy the challenge that everyday is going to be a little bit different.  The reward of being able to share some of our talents while having the opportunity to travel the world and make a living is a dream come true.  The Palawan and Cook islands are on my list of places to visit, however finding new places in Europe will never get old.

After traveling pretty much nonstop over the past two years to over 23 countries, we have discovered a tremendous amount about ourselves. We are able to travel anywhere in the world and are accepting Inn Sits from one week to one year.  Currently we are on a one year Inn Sit, in Los Pargos, Costa Rica until mid September of 2015.  After many Skype interviews and hundreds of applicants, we were offered the job.

We would like to extend an invitation to anyone who would like to stay in the casita for $80 a night. The town is great with award winning restaurants and a great pura vida vibe.  Everything is alive and constantly changing!

So much of life is about timing and luck.  Even though we had sold everything we owned, we feel extremely rich.  We have our health, great kids, and we are living our dream.  Life is full of ups and downs, never take the ups for granted and hopefully learn to weather the downs.

Plans?  What is that?  We would like to take on another inn sitting commitment once we finish inn sitting in Costa Rica.  We are always open to discussing any future inn sitting offers with innkeepers and are available to Skype at any time.

The experiences, sites, sounds, smells and tastes of Europe contrasting with Central America have been incredible. Our journey is far from over.  For those wishing to contact us, our email address is timeawayinnsitters@gmail.com

Thank you, Carmen and Jeb, for sharing your inn sitting adventures, experiences, and dreams with us!

Fun Bed and Breakfast Retreats

fun-bed-and-breakfast-retreats

I went online to BnB Finder to search for bed and breakfasts and to my pleasant surprise, I found some fun bed and breakfast retreats.  These retreats include a board game tournament, a night walk, private art classes, and a literary weekend.  Typically, most bed and breakfasts do not offer these kinds of special retreats which makes these bed and breakfasts all the more attractive. Read on for more retreat ideas that you can apply to grow your own B&B business.

In Saugatuck, Michigan (near where I grew up in Holland, Michigan) at Sherwood Forest Bed and Breakfast they offer a Monopoly Tournament from November through April.  If the entire B&B is booked, they promise to organize the “hippest” Monopoly Tournament ever played! The winner receives a complete set of Sherwood Forest Gear.  Lunch will be catered. This offer may expire at the end of this year.  Call for details at 800-838-1246. This reminds me of my Pinterest Board called Bed and Breakfast Games which features different board games and game rooms at various bed and breakfasts.

In the Saratoga Region of New York at Mariaville Lake Bed and Breakfast, they offer a Night Walk for a small extra fee.  This B&B invites guests to take a walk, guided by the innkeeper, to experience the full night sky. Guests will use a night vision scope and will be amazed at what they can see such as beavers working hard at their famous beaver pond. Advance notice is required and subject to availability and weather conditions. The offer may expire at the end of this year.  Contact the innkeeper for more details.

In the Hudson Valley Region of New York, at the Pine Bush House, they offer Stay and Paint private art classes with local artist Lana Privitera.  Originally from Spain, Lana graduated from the Fine Arts School of Zaragoza, where she majored in Fashion Design and Art History. Lana has won numerous art awards.  She is the current Art Curator for the Pine Bush Public Library.  A sampling of her work can be found on her website.

Currently, there are one day and two day Watercolor Workshops (four hours each) available and all tailored to suit individual needs, taste, and ability.  Supplies loaned by the instructor, but guests have the opportunity to purchase.  Guests receive one FREE double white mat and backing piece (plus an acetate sleeve to protect their “masterpiece”).  A list of art material suppliers as well as recommended art books will be provided.

Contact Lana Privitera at lanaprivitera@gmail.com or Barbara at barbara@pinebushhouse.com for detailed pricing! Discounts available if staying two or more nights.  This opportunity is available at least through June 20, 2015.

In lovely Vermont, The Governor’s House in Hyde Park offers Jane Austen Weekends full of literary-inspired diversions.  Quietly slip back into Regency England in a beautiful historic mansion.  Take afternoon tea.  Share your thoughts at a book discussion.  Attend an informal talk over desserts. Test your knowledge at the quiz brunch and possibly take home a prize.

Take a carriage ride or sleigh ride (depending upon the season).  Join every activity or simply spend the weekend watching the movies. Try English country dancing. Dress in whichever century suits you. Jane Austen fans unite!

Examples of bed and breakfast retreats, special packages, and events include:

Innkeepers are only limited by their imagination.  So get creative and think about what you have passion for. What interests, skills, experience, and talents do you have?  Innkeepers do not have to be the instructors.  In the Stay and Paint retreat example, the innkeeper has a professional artist and art curator coming to her inn. Arrangements can be made with the experts hosting the event if they are not the bed and breakfast owners or innkeepers.

If you are a bed and breakfast owner or innkeeper and have been successful with a particular retreat, package, excursion, or other event at your B&B, I would love to know about it.  Write about your successes to Kristi Dement below.  I promise to read every comment and reply when appropriate.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography