Inn Consultants and Brokers Since 1993

Rick Wolf and Peter Scherman (that’s Rick on the left and Peter on the right) are both experienced speakers who have presented on a range of innkeeping related topics at the state, regional, and national level. They gather and analyze research for the Innkeeping industry and welcome the opportunity to share it with others. Contact Us

The B&B Team
 

Posts Tagged ‘PAII forum’

V is for B&B’s for Vets

August 14th, 2012 by Janet Wolf

As many of you already know, over the past few years on Veterans Day, B&B’s and Inns across the US have offered active and retired veterans free lodging for one night. This was started a few years ago as a grass roots program by an innkeeper in West Virginia that has taken off. 2012 should be a zenith year with PAII taking the lead with listing all participating properties on the ‘Better Way to Stay’ website.

Kristie Rosset, the new Chair of the PAII Board of Directors recently commented on the PAII Forum:

“B&B for Vets, is an ever-evolving process. The BWTS campaign is ever-evolving, with new video recently filmed across North America to highlight the diversity of the B&B experience. Where we are today is not the final product–just like our inns. We keep striving to improve and grow!”

Striving to improve by reaching out and connecting to more and more vets each year, thanking them for their service, one inn at a time, doing what innkeepers do best, providing comfort and service with a smile to those folks who really deserve acknowledgment for their service and sacrifice.

Here is a brief story of one vet The B&B Team is proud to be ‘connected’ with.

“I joined the Air Force in my mid-twenties. I was active duty Air Force from 1984 to 1988 and the Air Force Reserve Component from 1988 to 2007. I was on active duty orders from 2002 to 2007 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, assigned to Northern Command, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. I was instrumental in the development and implementation of Northern Command and in support of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, pre- during and post landfall. During my time with NORTHCOM, I was responsible for numerous officers; their schedules, travel arrangements, lodging, orders and travel vouchers. During the hurricanes, I was responsible for standing up the command post and the outreach of hundreds of local, state, federal and international personnel. During my military career, I have coordinated hundreds of ceremonies and been responsible for coordinating meetings on the commander’s behalf. Among all the things I did in the military I also got to travel to many places around the world.”

Before I reveal who this ‘mystery’ vet is I would like to share a quote. For those of you who follow my blogs, you know I love quotes!

“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heros and she-roes!” Maya Angelou

Well our ‘she-roe’s” name is Donna Pearce, new innkeeper of  15 days of the Admiral Peary Inn in Fryeburg Maine.

After retiring from the Air Force to early 2012, Donna’s story continues.

“One weekend I stayed at an inn in Maine and fell in love. Drove to their broker’s office in Kennebunk and met Rick Wolf. I had him put a letter of intent on the property the next day. After negotiating back and forth, the deal was made. UNTIL, a higher bid with no contingencies (like selling my house in Colorado!) was accepted. I sure was disappointed but could not blame the owners one bit. So Rick started searching for me and working with me on different aspects of owning and operating a bed and breakfast. The consultant extraordinaire that he is taught me a lot in a short time. He discovered a place that had been on the market for quite some time and called me. I saw the Admiral Peary House the first time in March 2012. A mere two months later I passed papers on the property and spent my first night in my new inn! Since then I have had several family members and friends, old and new, help with making the inn mine. We took down wallpaper, ripped up carpet, laid new floor, moved furniture around, painted, and tweaked. On August 1st I was issued my license by the state of Maine to open the Admiral Peary Inn. Oh and I must tell you, it is seven rooms, my own living quarters, HUGE kitchen and guest dining area, two acres of land (great for my VERY dog friendly inn), formal dining room, formal living room, great room, game room, three season porch, two decks and a library and a mile from the Saco River.”

So you think Donna will offer free nights at her B&B for Vets on Veterans Day? You bet. She also offers like many innkeepers, specials for vets throughout the year. We love Donna’s story and wish her the best in her efforts to strive, improve and grow as new innkeeper and ‘she-roe’ at the Admiral Peary Inn.

Thanks for listening

Janet Wolf

 

Donna and Friends

ORM is for Online Reputation Management

December 12th, 2011 by Janet Wolf

 

WOM

A simple definition (thanks once again to Wikipedia) is: The practice of monitoring the internet reputation of a person, brand or business with the goal of suppressing negative mentions entirely, or pushing them lower on search engine results pages.

I remember in High School it was not a good thing when there was talk about someone having a ‘bad rep’. In the ‘boomer’ generation it was only talk, no Facebook or tweets. So what did one do to quell the gossip?  Ignore it and the talk would hopefully go away.

Times change, you have matured and so has WOM, word of mouth. You are in a business that is highly personalized and managing your ‘rep’ is an important and integral part of your marketing strategies. Monitoring your ORM includes not only the popular review sights like Trip Advisor (often referred to as the 900 pound gorilla) but all the other social media tools available to the travelling consumer.

Your friend?

In my research I came across a fabulous article about ORM published by Tourism BC, the tourism organization for British Columbia, Canada. It is chocked full of information and worth a read. I was also pleased to see that Ian MacPhee of Abbeymore Manor in Victoria BC was interviewed and quoted in this report. Innkeepers Anne, Ian and Michelle are active members and proponents of PAII and frequently post on the PAII Forum. Ian says he actively monitors reviews on Trip Advisor, Yelp and bedandbreakfast.com, not only for his inn but for his location. What a smart and thoughtful strategy! He not only actively monitors the reviews of his inn but of his town.  He firmly believes that; “A great website coupled with a solid online reputation brings business.” We at The B&B Team could not agree more. A positive approach in managing your online reputation goes along way versus the negative ‘refusal to face the facts’ attitude that so many innkeepers took when Trip Advisor emerged. The results say it all, Abbeymore Manor is ranked #1 of 117 B&B/Inns in Victoria by TA as well as a Traveller’s Choice 2011 Winner.  Ian says that TA is their #1 referral source. Staying on top takes disiplne and time. Ian advises that innkeepers should :”Find the time and you’ll reap the awards”. His week includes ‘Facebook Fridays, Trip Advisor Tuesdays and Website Wednesdays’. I love it!

Of course just like in High School, you have to have a good ‘rep’ in order for your WOM to be positive. You must be confident in who you are and how you run your property. Another great quote from Ian; “Be sure your property is the best it can be and go out of your way for every guest.”

Of course we don’t live in a perfect B&B world and despite your hard work there are guests that believe their expectations were not met (true or not true!) and they feel a need to vent. A negative review rears its ugly head. What to do? Don’t ignore it, it won’t just go away. A short manager’s response to respectfully set the record straight is the best plan of action. Here are some suggested rules of action:

  •      Draft a reply and sleep on it.
  •      Be brief, a long response comes off as a lecture.
  •      Always respond to the complaint, not the person complaining.
  •      Use a friendly, conversational tone.
  •      Explain what you are doing to improve or fix the problem.
  •      Don’t make BIG excuses or pass the blame onto others, staff etc.
  •      Don’t wait too long to respond, a negative review sitting unacknowledged has more time to damage your reputation.
  •      Last but not least, check your spelling and grammar.

A question many innkeepers ask is:  What if the complaint is false? The best way is to set the record straight without engaging in ‘he said, she said’. You have the option to contact the review site if you seriously believe you have been falsely accused and work with them to get the review removed. First read the review site’s rules and guidelines before you proceed.  Review removal can be a long and possibly frustrating process and you may not be successful in its removal  but it may be in your best interest to try.

An important component in managing your reputation is encouraging your guests to be an advocate for your Inn. The check-out process is a great time to engage with your guests. If they have expressed satisfaction with their stay you can easily direct the conversation into asking them to post a review. Make it easy for them. Have something printed with a nice Thank You note that include the link(s) to your review site(s) of choice. Many innkeepers prefer to send follow-up emails inviting guests to post a review, with direct links to your property’s review page, again making it easy and seamless for them. This is just another way of engaging with your guests and providing them with great service.

Social networking, including online reviews is not going away. Becoming engaged in social networking by managing your reviews will reap its rewards.  Real travel decisions are being made on review sites right now! That is a very powerful reason to engage.  Being on top of your game and working hard to reach a high ranking on Trip Advisor’s popularity index can bring those guests to your website, just where you want them. Take a hold of that 900 pound gorilla with confidence, make him your friend, he is not going away.

 

 

C is for Cost of Doing Business

September 27th, 2011 by Janet Wolf

HangersHangersJay Karen’s Video Blog and the following posts on the PAII Forum got my brain a racin’. Like Jay we at The B&B Team visit many Inns and are also a witness to the good, the great and the not so terrific.  On the subject of hangers let me first reveal a story from my innkeeping days. We had a ‘Housekeeping Checklist’ that included two check points, one to check to see if all six wooden hangers were present and two, to bring all wire/plastic hangers left by the guests down to the laundry room.  When I would do the daily guest room checks I would sometimes find an ‘evil’ wire hanger and recall a scene in the biographical film about Joan Crawford, ‘Mommy Dearest’. The scene reveals Joan, a compulsively clean housekeeper, finding a wire hanger in her daughter’s closet, she then commences to beat the daughter with the hanger while screaming, “NO WIRE HANGERS!” Now understand, I did not beat my housekeepers but would on occasion perform my best Joan Crawford imitation for my housekeepers, just for comic relief.

Now we know that those wooden hangers do disappear on occasion but replacing them falls under the category of the cost of doing business, CODB. This term is generic for ‘expenses that covers all monetary expenditures necessary to operate your business on a day to day basis’. The fixed costs are your mortgage, utilities, insurance, wages, payroll taxes, etc.  Any incidental materials you provide for your guests in the process of doing business in which you really can’t charge extra for have to be absorbed and covered by your profit margins.

We all want to control our costs and price comparing online has become the best way to help keep costs down. I googled ‘wood hangers’ and the best price I found was from storesupply.com. A case of 50 nicely finished wooden hangers cost $39. The cost per hanger comes to $.78. I am sure you could find a better price with a little more digging.

 We must always remind ourselves, it is all about the guest. The simple offering of a set of wooden hangers neatly placed in your closets shows you desire to provide for your guests a thoughtful guest room experience.

Now as for the subject of laundry bags, I believe this offering is also very thoughtful. They are standard in hotels, why not B&B’s?  A few innkeepers on the PAII Forum explained they did not want to use plastic bags because of the environmental impact.  I found biodegradable plastic laundry bags on usfi greenworks. A drawback is the minimum purchase is 500 at $.49 per bag. This may present the opportunity to contact your neighbor B&B and share the cost.

Sometimes the simple little offerings innkeepers provide turn out to be very big in the eyes of an appreciative guest. It is all about them.

Janet Wolf

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