We have just returned from the Mid-Atlantic Innkeeper’s Conference in Natural Bridge, Virginia. A privately organized conference that included innkeepers from several state associations including Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, and a robust group of aspiring innkeepers who were lead by David Caples of Lodging Resources Workshops, there was great representation from a cross section of hospitality industry leaders from around the country. As always, there was one overriding value of the conference: education.
Education comes from two sources at these meetings, the vendors who have an opportunity to demonstrate and explain their products and services, and speakers (who often come from the vendor pool) who provide insights into varying aspects of the unique lodging industry. Key speakers including Bill Oates of Inn Consulting Partners, Eric Goldreyer of Bed and Breakfast.com, and Rick Wolf and Peter Scherman of The B&B Team, all focused their sessions on the current trend of social media, consumer generated media, reviews sites, blogs, and the contemporary traveler, whom we call the i.guest.
The guest is the reason for hospitality to exist, and the i.guest is a modern animal with new and unique habits and preferences. All of us who talked about this guest pointed out that innkeepers today must pay attention to the fact that today’s travelers are getting their information, making their plans, and booking their trips using varying degrees of technology and media outlets that didn’t even exist ten years ago. And all emphasized that innkeepers ignore these trends at their own peril.
For our part, we find the trends exciting! And, as people like Bebe Woody of the White Doe Inn in Manteo, NC, who is president of the North Carolina Bed & Breakfasts and Inns get enthused and commit to creating a blog on their site this year, we know that it’s catching on. And, knowing that successful innkeepers, like all business people, always look for ways to improve their business model and practices, we see it happening more and more. If you are already leading the pack, be an industry leader and share your experience with others.