Marilyn and I had the good fortune this past weekend to work with 9 excited aspiring innkeepers at our A Better Way to Learn InnkeepingTM seminar held at the Wayside Inn B&B in Ellicott City, Maryland. What a great group! We laughed and networked with Bill and Charlotte Schmickle of the Flag House in Annapolis but the real focus was on the KEYS to a strong business at your inn.
- Location, Location, Location
- Understanding WHO will be coming to your inn
- Wrapping your inn AROUND those guests
- Think Sunday-Thursday
- Being the Best
Each of these Keys can be put on a continuum numbered, say, from 1-10 with 10 being the strongest. Let’s look at each one:
- Location, Location, Location: This has been the buzzword for any real estate purchase but for a Bed & Breakfast EACH word has a separate meaning: The first definition is the Macro-location…is the inn located near major metropolitan areas from which to pull guests? The more population close at hand (gas is getting more expensive!), the higher on the continuum the rating. For the Wayside Inn, being located nicely in the Baltimore-DC corridor, this inn ranks high on this Location…perhaps a 9. The second definition of Location includes the area attractions in that region which will draw guests to the area. And the broader the diversity of attractions (historical, antiquing, entertainment, soft adventures, etc.), the higher the likelihood of drawing folks out of the nearby metropolitan populations. The third definition of Location is the Inn itself…its attractive location in the town, its curb appeal and its accessibility.
- The second KEY is identifying the guests who will be coming to those area attractions…and what their needs would be. If the attraction is an amusement park or college, children will be coming. If there are businesses in the area, corporate travelers have particular needs as well.
- Wrapping your Inn around those guests’ needs is the next KEY. Room features, amenities and services must satisfy the needs of those identified guests. Business travelers need desks, Wi-Fi, multiple outlets, a forgiving cancellation policy, early breakfasts, and NO advanced deposits.
- The fourth KEY can often be a difficult one…Thinking Sunday through Thursday. Any inn can fill up on the weekend, but that is only 28% of the week…an occupancy not high enough to pay all the bills. Marketing to corporate guests, elder-travelers, quilting and scrap booking groups, or offering discounts to weekenders to encourage them to stay an extra day or two becomes a high priority targeted activity.
- Being the Best. This KEY is what will keep your parking lot full while the inn across the street wonders how you do it. Investigate what the competition is doing (and NOT doing!) and Beat Them! Have the best breakfast in town, offer a welcoming warmth that guests enjoy, and make their experience complete.
This dynamic group of aspiring innkeepers heard this important message and are currently defining the profiles of the inns that are RIGHT for them. Congratulations to all of them as they continue their journey into the world of inn ownership! Scott