If you check out your Thesaurus (thanks to Microsoft Word it is just a few clicks away) the word ‘better’ offers a few similar adjectives and one is ‘Improved’. Innkeepers are constantly improving their properties, at least they should be. In Jay Karen’s recent Key Notes article in the Winter IQ magazine he boldly and justly spoke of the below average B&B’s. It is unfortunate but oh so true when he said…”there are a lot of B&B’s out there that might not be a better way to stay.” The Inns that are not constantly searching for ways to improve usually end up on the below average list.
In my research for this writing I decided to read reviews on Trip Advisor from a random choice of Inns. I wanted to come up with the top 10 complaints. I didn’t have to go very far before I realized the complaints were the same ones we see and talk about all the time. No need for a list of 10.
No.1 complaint is still lack of cleanliness!
No. 2 complaint is still inhospitable innkeepers!
Another complaint is outdated décor which usually is accompanied with phrases like, ‘run down’,’ worn carpets’ and one I really thought was revealing , ‘…antique bureau drawers were hard to open and impossible to close’. The outdated décor is usually not the real issue; it is the underlying fact that the décor is old, tired and not well kept.
The B&B Team has been consulting with innkeepers on how to improve their overall business for years. Recently we decided to put a title to what we do. We call it our ‘Inn Tune-up’. We created a very extensive check-list that starts with the property’s first impression when you drive up and continues through the Inn looking at guest rooms, marketing, and operations. We have outlined over 250 check points. The final analysis comes with a report with suggestions for improvements. We strive to be honest and forthright (oh I just checked out the word forthright and the adjective’ blunt’ came up). Many innkeepers we have worked with have thanked us for being blunt! They have told us they just needed another set of eyes. The old saying, ‘can’t see the forest for the trees’, we believe we can look up, down and around those trees and give innkeepers a complete picture of their valued forest.
The B&B Team realistically visits dozens and dozens of properties nationaly a year. That would include all six of us on the team. I believe this gives us a good perspective from which to work when doing our ‘Inn Tune-up’. We believe we can offer innkeepers a Better Way to Improve.
To conclude I would like to make another observation from a review I read for an Inn with new owners that had recently completed an entire makeover. A quote from the review was…”we were looking for an experience, not just a bed. The living room was more like a lobby”. I found this comment very telling, because one can go too far opposite from broken antique bureaus and dusty doilies. Decor can be minimalist with clean lines but not at the expense of becoming stark and cold. Again quoting Jay, “…we are posing ourselves to tell the world that B&Bs are better than hotels.” A hotel lobby look is not what B&B’s need either.
So thanks Jay for being blunt and for your continued care and upkeep of our industry. We all need a new set of eyes and a good ‘kick in the gas’ with a tune-up once in a while. Ha!