Tag Archives: unique

Do You Know What Makes Your Inn Stand Out?

what makes your inn stand out

What makes your inn stand out? Does it have a great view like the picture above?  It is critical to know what makes your bed and breakfast different from the others in your area. What types of guests do you attract?  What kinds of guests do you want to attract?  

Be sure to promote your unique features to potential guests on your website, on social media, in blog posts, and in the directories you are listed in.  Are you the #1 rated bed and breakfast in your area?  Have you won a bed and breakfast recipe contest?  Are you one of the sponsors of an upcoming local event?

There are many things that you are already doing or could start doing that could attract the right kind of guests you are looking for.  It may have to do with what is in your local area, what types of amenities your B&B has, the policies upon which you run your business, or your attentive concierge services and warm hospitality.  

Here is a list of ways to stand out:

  • Beach or waterfront property?  Ask your guests to share their photos online. Alternatively, ask the public to share their best pictures of relaxing in the sun to enter a photo contest to win a gift certificate to stay at your inn.
  • Eco-friendly bed and breakfasts can have a page on their website devoted to their environmentally safe practices and awards.
  • Game rooms?  With their permission, share photos of guests playing your games (ex: air hockey, chess, horseshoes, Scrabble, etc.).
  • Gift shop? Offer guests attractive items to purchase with your logo on them (such as decorative soaps, coffee mugs, aprons, and maybe even your own cookbook) so they are reminded of your inn every time they see or use the items.
  • Gourmet breakfasts so delicious they prompt guests to write great reviews about your inn.  Ask those who rave about your food to post on online review.
  • Handicap-accessible inns can show their ramps, bathrooms, ground floor rooms, and (if applicable) their elevators.  With guest permission, share pictures of trained guide dogs who have visited your inn.
  • Historical inn and/or unique antiques? Share photos and stories of the original family members that lived at your historic inn.  Share photos of the gorgeous antiques safely displayed throughout your inn.
  • Kid friendly?  Show pictures of rooms or suites that are suitable for families.  Write blog posts about local family attractions.  
  • Library? Attract more guests by sharing pictures of your library and by featuring a local author who will be speaking at an event (in or around) your bed and breakfast.
  • Luxurious amenities (such as a pool, hot tub, or spa) should be featured on your website and in your social media.
  • Mountain inns can share photos of majestic views as well as promote local activities such as hiking, skiing, and zip-lining.  
  • Mysteries? If you host murder mysteries, share pictures of your event (such as your guests dressed in costumes) on your website, blog, and social media.  
  • Packages? Feature tickets to popular local attractions (such as a theater or amusement park) and/or gift certificates to local fine dining restaurants .
  • Patriotic bed and breakfasts can display their country’s flag and offer a discount to those on active military duty and to veterans.
  • Pet-friendly bed and breakfasts can show pictures of pets at their property and take about their pet policies (including where pets are allowed to go).
  • Restaurant? Bed and breakfast inns with their own restaurant can feature photos of seasonal events (like Thanksgiving Day) as well as social events (like private parties). Regularly blog about popular signature dishes or feature the chefs and write about their culinary training and experience.
  • Retreats hosted at your inn?  Notify the media.  This is especially important if the person speaking at the retreat is famous or notable in their field.
  • Settings that are breathtaking, peaceful, and gorgeous should be shown in pictures to attract more guests.
  • Tea time? Whether you have a dedicated tea room open to the public or specific tea times only for your guests, promote tea time with pictures of your tea table settings and food as well as guest events like social hours or book clubs.  
  • Vegan or vegetarian bed and breakfasts can show pictures of delicious, hearty looking meals that are (surprisingly) within those diet restrictions.
  • Weddings at your inn?  Display pictures of places where the ceremony and reception can be held on the property.  With permission, share pictures of happy couples and of related events like vow renewals and elopements.  
  • Wine tastings? Whether you own the winery or offer a package for your guests to tour local wineries, describe the experiences that guests will have as well as share photos (with permission) of guests touring vineyards.  If transportation is provided during tours, be sure to mention that as well.  
  • Yoga is a great way for your guests to become stronger and more relaxed.  If you regularly offer yoga on site to your guests, be sure to share that on your website, in blog posts, and in photos on your social media.

Share your excellent ratings, reviews, and status.  This is not the time to be modest since your inn is your livelihood.  Link to your Trip Advisor rating, share guest reviews, and proudly put on your website if you belong to Select Registry, a bed and breakfast association, and other elite groups.  

No time or desire to manage your online marketing? Please contact Kristi Dement of Bed and Breakfast Blogging.  We can put a plan in place that will make your inn stand out!

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Do Your B&B Headlines Get Attention?

headlines get attention

 

Do your B&B headlines get attention?  Co-Schedule offers a free tool called the “Headline Analyzer.”  It promises that you will learn how to write headlines that drive traffic, shares, and search results.  This is especially important in the travel industry. 

 

So why are headlines so important? It’s because they’re the first lines of your copy that customers read. They create an initial impression that either draws readers in or pushes them away.  In this fast-paced online world, it is important to stand out and capture the focus of your potential bed and breakfast guests.  

The headline alone can make or break your ad, homepage, or e-mail subject line. It sets the tone for the rest of the copy. If the headline pulls readers in, you may make more money; if not, you’ll be left wondering what happened.

Headline writing tips to keep in mind:

  • Your headline should be unique.
  • Your headline should be ultra-specific.
  • Your headline should convey a sense of urgency.
  • Your headline should be useful.

The following headline ideas are just a starting point.  You can be as creative as you want to be.  The goal is to create headlines that motivate people to continue to read about your inn.

The Secret [fill in the blank]

This is an opportunity to share insider knowledge of your local area to benefit your potential guests. Help your bed and breakfast guests know more about your local area.  Where are great local places for dining, sight-seeing, and other fun activities in your immediate area.

  • The Secret To Discovering

Who Else Wants [fill in the blank]

By asking “who else wants” you are implying that there is a consensus about this desire. 

  • Who Else Wants More Fun and Less Stress When on Vacation?

What Everybody Wants To Know About [fill in the blank]

This headline challenges the reader’s curiosity to see if they are missing some knowledge. 

  • What Everybody Wants To Know About Staying at a Bed and Breakfast

Now you can have [something desirable] and [great circumstance]

This is another version of the classic expression “have your cake and eat it too.”  

  • Now You Can Go On Vacation and Enjoy It Too

[#] [Facts or Ideas or Lessons or Principles or Reasons or Secrets or Steps or Tricks or Ways] [fill in the blank]

Numbers in headlines get attention and people love lists.  They are easy to scan and readers know how much content to expect from the blog post.

  • 10 Facts About Bed and Breakfasts You Didn’t Know
  • 5 Ideas to Make Your Vacation More Memorable
  • 7 Lessons About Spending Time With Those You Love
  • 3 Principles to Making Love Relationships Work
  • 9 Reasons To Vacation More
  • 4 Secrets To Melting Stress Away
  • 8 Steps To Relaxing While On Vacation
  • 11 Tricks To Packing More Efficiently
  • 6 Ways To Strengthen Your Romantic Relationships

No time to write blog posts?  Bed and Breakfast Blogging is here to help.  Contact us to find out more about our tailor-made marketing services.

Easy Ways to Better Understand Your Guests Lifestyles

understand your guests lifestyles

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.

Understand your guests lifestyles are 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

3 Chocolate Bed and Breakfasts

If you have never heard of 3 chocolate bed and breakfasts, these 3 American B&B’s (from New Mexico, Texas, and Maine) have the word “chocolate” somewhere in their name.  They sound so delicious, that it is “sweet” to feature them!

chocolate bed and breakfasts

Located in Corrales, New Mexico, their serene mountain location does not let on that they are near the two largest cities in their state: Albequerque and Rio Rancho.  With four lovely Southwestern-decorated bedrooms, guests of the Chocolate Turtle Bed and Breakfast all receive fresh flowers and, of course, chocolate turtles!  Their hot chocolate is also complimentary.

 

chocolate bed and breakfasts

The Chocolate Turtle Bed and Breakfast can provide intimate ceremonies and memorable receptions for up to 50 people at their beautiful, unique New Mexico wedding location.  If your wedding is too large for this B&B, they suggest reserving the Chocolate Turtle for your special guests coming from out of town. The Turtle will provide a fantastic venue for family members who don’t get to see each other very often to gather, catch up, and relax during your wedding weekend.

chocolate bed and breakfasts

Loaded with Hill Country charm hosting complimentary chilled Champagne from the famous local Beckard Vineyards and fresh fruit and pastries as well as scrumptious chocolate treats left on their King size bed with luxurious linens, Chocolate Diamond Bed and Breakfast is one of the more popular B&B’s in the heart of Fredericksburg, Texas!

 

 

chocolate bed and breakfasts

 

Guests get this 1930’s Bungalow style cottage all to themselves to celebrate their special occasion while enjoying a romantic evening sitting in the new jacuzzi hot tub.  Ultimate elegance within walking distance to Main Street. This charming cottage with it’s own private hot tub is to die for!

 

 

chocolate bed and breakfasts

This peaceful inn, named Chocolate Chip Bed and Breakfast, is located on six acres with a scenic pond in Lamoine, Maine.  The original house was built in 1850, but in 2011 this B&B was renovated and it expanded. A full gourmet breakfast is served each morning in Breakfast room or in our Library. Books and board games are for all their guests to enjoy. Sunny porch with plenty of rockers and adirondack chairs to relax with a book and cup of coffee.

chocolate bed and breakfasts

 

All four rooms, at the Chocolate Chip Bed and Breakfast, have private bathrooms with shower, thermostats in rooms for radiant heat in floors, cable TV and wifi. Guests savor delicious home-baked cookies each evening, along with turndown service. They are within walking distance to Lamoine Beach and Lamoine State Park.

 

Guests do not have to love chocolate to want to visit these three inns: Chocolate Turtle Bed and Breakfast, Chocolate Diamond Bed and Breakfast, and Chocolate Chip Bed and Breakfast.  However, if you are a chocolate lover, consider it a bonus!

7 LinkedIn Groups for Innkeepers

linkedin groups for innkeepers

LinkedIn Groups for Innkeepers can be a helpful way to get support and advice from other bed and breakfasts and others in the hospitality industry.  LinkedIn operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 400 million members in over 200 countries and territories.  All LinkedIn groups are private and those open to membership must request to join the group.

 

Upon acceptance, each group has their own rules for what its members are allowed to post.  If the group’s profile and rules state that no links whatsoever should be posted, its members must abide by that. If you would rather find and join a group with a less stringent view of links, then simply look for a different group.

Group members are not obligated to post anything.  They can just read what other members have posted.  However, many social media experts advise that newcomers introduce themselves to their group. Not only does this let the group know about their new members, but the group will likely reach out to welcome its new members.

Things inn-keeping groups share with each other include hospitality-related articles, online marketing tips, questions for inn-keeping best practices, and much more! A great way to learn information is to ask questions from your group.

The following is a list of just some of the LinkedIn groups innkeepers may want to join:

Bed and Breakfast Business has over 900 members. “Bed and Breakfast group is a group for BnB owners who want to collaborate and communicate with other BnB owners about their business, best practices, tips, etc…”

Bed and Breakfast and Guest House Owners has over 2,000 members.  “Have you ever wondered how you can make 6 figures…from just 4 rooms? Want to know how to get raving fans coming back again and again?…If you’re a bed and breakfast owner, small hotel owner, guest house owner, then join our group and let’s share and help each other.”

Bed and Breakfast Inns has over 400 members.  “BedBreakfastTraveler.com’s goal with the Bed and Breakfast Inns group is to foster partnership, networking, and collaboration among the innkeeping industry. Through sharing of information, resources, and advice, the collective standards and profitability of the group shall increase.”

Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers has over 3,700 members.  “This group page is for Bed&Breakfast Owners across the Globe. Finding your niche as a B&B Owner and making it a success. Sharing what is your unique about your B&B, it’s amenities in what you offer and why you know that an experience at your B&B will be well remembered, and one that ensures your guest will return time and time again.”

B&B Owners Association has over 950 members.  “The B&B Owners Association has 3 main purposes:  1) To provide an independent, stable and well funded Internet marketing organization for the accommodation & hospitality sectors.  2) To ensure cost effective & comprehensive Internet marketing for its members and a effective global promotional vehicle on which to promote their businesses.  3) To ensure the public and Internet user have an easy to use and easy to find accommodation resource.”

Innkeepers has around 2,500 members.  “Bed and Breakfast Business Owners worldwide are welcome to network and share on this Group, whether you are an established Bed and Breakfast business or you want to own and run a bed and breakfast business.”

Just Bed and Breakfast Network has around 250 members.  “Justbedandbreakfast.net is the fastest growing worldwide bed and breakfasts directory offering the most complete list of unique properties from historic inns and guest houses to cabins and farm stays. View bed and breakfast descriptions, photos, reviews, and more.”

At the top of the LinkedIn page under “Interests” click “Groups” and this allows searching for these group titles or using other keywords.  Underneath the search box it will list any groups of which you are currently a member.  Underneath that, users can even create their own LinkedIn group should they desire to do so.  They can focus their membership on a specific geographical area or direct the discussion to a specific topic of interest.

Kristi Dement of Bed and Breakfast Blogging may start her own LinkedIn group.  If I did, what kind of topics would you like to see covered?  Please feel free to share a comment below or use my contact form to notify me directly.

Also, if you are a member of one of these LinkedIn groups (or a different LinkedIn group related to hospitality) and think it beneficial for other innkeepers to join, please tell us the name of your group and what you like about it.  I read all my comments and respond when appropriate.  Thank you!

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Professional Hospitality Photographer Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

hospitality photographer

 

Professional Hospitality Photographer Marcus Berg, from Unique Angles Photography, develops beautiful pictures for his hospitality clients.  When asked how he first got interested in photography, he said he received a phone call from a friend who asked him to take photos at her wedding reception.

 

This was back in the late 1980s when he did not even own a camera.  Borrowing a camera from his brother-in-law, Marcus later was told that his images of the wedding reception came out the best.  It was then that he decided to take a class at a community college.  Marcus Berg started his Unique Angles Photography business in January of 1994.  From his website, his bio reads:

Bio - Unique Angles Photography 2015-10-23 19-17-04

Marcus takes his wife to a bed and breakfast on every wedding anniversary.  In 2007, he was asked to attend a bed and breakfast conference.  This was his introduction to the world of hospitality.  After a few years, he devoted all of his interest in the hospitality industry.

His clientele is mainly in the B&B industry, but he has grown into serving boutique hotels as well.  He has done work from hotels, wineries, architects, and restaurants. He has kept the mindset for the hospitality image.

hospitality photographer

 

What he likes most about being a professional photographer is being able to be creative and unique.  He is happy when he can make an image that attracts viewers to his client’s particular location.  Marcus also enjoys making so many new friends while doing his expert photography work.

 

When I asked him how he was able to masterfully capture the beauty of what is outside from inside a room, he explained that he captures the same lighting with an interior image, matching the exterior light because of his photography experience using lights and angles while keeping an interest in details.

Before Picture                                                         After Picture

Unique-Angles-PhotographyUnique-Angles-Photography

 

Marcus said that it is crucial for a hospitality business to have excellent photography because of how fast technology is moving these days.  Guests looking for places to stay make decisions based on the images they see.  First impressions stick in one’s memory.

Hospitality owners not only should have images with warm colors, but also an invitational feeling.  Images that enable potential guests to picture themselves right there.  According to Marcus, people do not read about a location before they see images of it.  They read to confirm the images.

hospitality photographer

 

It is important for innkeepers to hire a good professional photographer who specializes in hospitality.  Updated images help hospitality businesses with reservations and they will see an increase in their bookings.  This increase in occupancy rates improves their bottom line.  Thus, good images make a profitable difference on a website.

 

Bed and breakfast innkeepers more than make back what they spend on professional photography and the images last.  Innkeepers can use last years’ photos to continue to build reservations, even though the photographer was only there a short period of time.

hospitality photographer

 

Since Marcus is based in Oregon, his ventures started taking him around the state.  Then after he started attending more conferences, he made more contacts and soon was traveling the whole west coast.  Then he decided to branch out and made a contact in Texas and got the job.

 

Since then, he has made contacts all over the nation.  He has traveled to all four corners of the United States and many states in between.  Taking photos at conferences supports the association putting on the conference and helps increase his exposure to potential hospitality clients.

hospitality photographer

 

Marcus said that the greatest part of the type of work he does is being able to meet so many wonderful people across the nation.  The hospitality industry has become a family set for him and every time he attends a conference or returns to a familiar inn, he said it is like being home.

 

You can see more of Marcus Berg’s Unique Angles Photography work on his website that lists some of his previous hospitality clients and their testimonials.  You can also follow Marcus on social media: Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter.  Thank you, hospitality photographer, Marcus Berg, for letting me display some of your gorgeous photography on the Bed and Breakfast Blogging website as well!

Everybody Writes: Story Rules

everybody writes story rules

 

Ann Handley, author of Everybody Writes: Your Go-to Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Contentexplains some Everybody Writes Story Rules of story writing.  I will show how her advice can be applied to bed and breakfast story writing.

 

 

Ann’s Compelling Everybody Writes Story Rules:

  • Must be true (always be truthful)
  • Must be human (do not have to pretend to be perfect)
  • Must be specific enough to be believable (avoid talking in generalities)
  • Must be universal enough to be relevant (must be relate-able)
  • Must be original (not commonplace)
  • Must be stories only you can tell (unique)
  • Must serve the customer (beneficial to them)
  • Must tell a bigger story aligned with a larger mission (ex: relationship building)

Ann’s Business Questions To Answer:

  • What is unique about our business? (what makes YOU different than other B&B’s)
  • What is interesting about how our business was founded? (share your story)
  • What is special about the founder? (unique background)
  • What problem does our company try to solve? (ex: add enjoyment, reduce stress)
  • What inspired our business? (such as a person or mission)
  • What AHA! moments has our company had? (major lightbulbs)
  • How has our business evolved? (process of changes)
  • How do we feel about our business, our customers, and ourselves? (state goals)
  • What’s an unobvious way to tell our story? (be creative)
  • What do we consider normal that other folks would think is cool? (stories from guests)
  • How will our company make a difference? (ex: eco-friendly)
  • What sets you apart? (ex: personal touch)
  • Why should your company matter to me? (what is in it for them?)

Your brand voice is simply an expression of your company’s personality and point of view.  Your unique voice comes from knowing who you are and who you are not.  The key is to be authentic (or true to) your own unique personality and innkeeping style as well as feature WHY people should stay at YOUR bed and breakfast inn versus a local competitor.

Affiliate Disclaimer: The link to her book is an affiliate link. If you click and make a purchase I will earn a commission from Amazon.  I only recommend what I know and love.

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

What Should My Inn Blog About?

inn blog about

What should my inn blog about, you ask?  Since each inn is unique, your blog should give readers a better understanding of your particular bed and breakfast. Is your location a relaxed beach setting, a scenic mountain location, a rural country farm, a contemporary urban inn, or something else entirely?  Entice your website visitors to stay at your bed and breakfast.  Pictures are a very visual way to attract vacationers.

Why do people visit your local area?  What local leisure activities can guests participate in?  Does your area have any local tourist attractions?  Blogging about this will give you fresh content and keywords for search engine optimization.  Moreover, knowing this information helps you target different types of guests:

Do you offer any special packages or retreats?

How does your inn serve breakfast?  Some B&B inns have their own restaurant.  Some bring breakfast to your room on a tray while others have a common dining area for guests.  At some bed and breakfasts, guests can choose from a menu what they would like to have while at others everyone the same delicious gourmet cooking.

Be sure to ask guests if they have special dietary needs.  Your blog can feature pictures of your breakfasts as well as recipes of guests’ favorite dishes.

What kind of amenities can your guests enjoy?

Potential guests also like to know more about the owners, innkeepers, and staff members of bed and breakfasts.  Be sure to put their pictures on your website including their name, a couple sentences about what they do, and what they recommend guests try when they visit.  You could even feature staff members that receive a lot of compliments from your guest feedback.

Be sure to tell guests what you, as an innkeeper, love the most.  Let them know that you will be attentive to their needs, but also give them the privacy they desire.  If you have a historic bed and breakfast, be sure to share your inn’s history.

Do you have any accreditations or affiliations?  Membership in a bed and breakfast association and/or having received a certain award or level of distinction will set you apart from other bed and breakfasts.

Do you have your own bed and breakfast shop?

How does your inn celebrate the seasons?

How does your inn celebrate holidays?

Your inn can blog about remodeled or redecorated rooms.  Improvements to your inn are worth talking about.  Previous guests may want to return based on your description of the new changes.

Do you offer any incentives for frequent stays and/or referrals?  Reward your guests for returning and recommending your B&B to friends. On the topic of frequency, be sure to have a frequently asked questions section on your website.

Let guests know how to connect with your bed and breakfast on other social media websites. Have a presence on one or more of the following websites can make a big difference in your visibility online.

 

When you share your blog on social media, this lets people know more about you and your bed and breakfast inn.  Give website visitors an “inn-side” look at your B&B from behind the scenes.  Having a blog and being active on social media is a great way to draw more attention to your website.

Don’t have the time or desire to write a blog or stay active on social media?  Let Kristi Dement and her team at Bed and Breakfast Blogging do all the hard work for you.  Her clients see results with consistently booked rooms.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Time Away Inn Sitters

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.
 
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!

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.

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.
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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.

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.

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.

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!

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