Every morning, spring, summer, fall, and winter, I sit on my front porch in my wicker rocker to drink my coffee. And every morning I take at least two photographs with the same settings of the same views. It’s kind of like an innkeeper recording the guests that pass through your doors. Now, you ask, what do photos of a front porch view have to do with guests? I see it like this.
If you were to casually look at any random sampling of the pictures I take every morning, you might not see anything particularly interesting. It’s the same view, day after day. If you looked at enough, you’d see that there are different seasons. And once in a while there’s a foggy morning that makes for a dreamy picture, and fall shows off some dramatic colors. But taken in their entirety, especially in chronological order, you can watch the seasons change before your eyes, and the small differences (and sometimes more impressive ones) of the mornings start to form a picture of what it’s like to have coffee on my front porch, what it looks like in my small corner of Virginia.
Your guests are a lot like those morning images. Individually, the majority of them are sort of like every other guest that you routinely host and make every effort to provide a good experience. After a while, it’s hard to distinguish one from the other, but they are the essential part of the fabric of your Innkeeping experience. There are those especially colorful guests who, like a beautiful autumn morning, are memorable, and you welcome them back with joy in your heart because they are, well, so beautiful and wonderful! They are your friends! And, of course, once in a while you get that horrid guest that sticks in your memory that you hope never to see again. They are like my pictures of snow piled high in my yard this winter! Rare, but they are also a part of the fabric of your experience.
So, when the time comes that I put together a montage of photos from my front porch that shows the passing of the years, the changing of the seasons, with the stunning images in amongst the many ordinary and the few I’d rather forget, it will be like you, an Innkeeper, reflecting on your time spent caring for the travelers who pass through your threshold. And in that moment you’ll realize that even the most ordinary and unmemorable of guests made up the largest part of your experience, punctuated by the divas and aggravated by the PITA’s. And you will be gratified to remember that you treated them all well, because without them, you would never have been an Innkeeper.