In Chapter 2 of The Tipping Point – How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell (a must read in my opinion), he writes about three personality types; Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen. A quote …”What makes someone a Connector? The first–and most obvious–criterion is that Connectors know lots of people. They are the kinds of people who know everyone. All of us know someone like this.” From what I understand this is not about your BF’s. It is more about having the knack or instinct that helps you relate to people you seek out and meet. Connectors are curious and get excited about meeting people from all walks of life. Another quote…”The point about Connectors is that by having a foot in so many different worlds, they have the effect of bringing them all together.”
I contend that good innkeepers are good connectors. Innkeepers welcome guests from an array of social, cultural, professional and economic circles. ‘Arrive as guests and leave as friends’? The B&B Team often sees this phrase on plaques in the many inns we visit as well as on B&B websites. Those guests who leave as friends will be your most loyal return customers. I may be stating the most obvious here, but think about it for a minute. Gladwell attributes the social success of Connectors to the fact that “their ability to span many different worlds is a function of something intrinsic to their personality, some combination of curiosity, self-confidence, sociability, and energy.” If you possess those four attributes in any combination people are naturally drawn to you, thus the connection. It does take two to tango, so those guests who connect are willing partners and are usually the guests who have the best time.
What about the grumps, complainers and ‘I wish they’d go away’ guests? Do you go out of your way to connect with them? It is hard but sometimes just a little bit of TLC does the trick. After one of those tired road weary grumps would check in to our Inn, Rick or I would make a bet with each other to see who could turn them around first. We had the assurance or self-confidence that the seemingly unwilling partner would relax and have the best time once they connected to us and our Inn. It worked probably 99% of the time as I’m sure it does for most successful innkeepers who make the effort.
The guests you successfully connect with on a daily basis Gladwell calls acquaintances, the ‘weak ties’. He contends that these ‘weak ties’ are more important than the strong ties, your real friends. “Acquaintances, in short, represent a source of social power, and the more acquaintances you have the more powerful you are.” This principle holds for anything that “moves by word of mouth”. And we know our industry moves by the power of social media as well as the old fashioned WOM. If you think about it, this is the principle behind Facebook. The more connections (likes and followers) we make on Facebook, Twitter, the more WOM exposure you acquire.
In addition to the Connector there are the other personality types, the Mavens and the Salesmen. Mavens are “information specialists”. “They accumulate knowledge, especially about the marketplace”. Boy does this ring a bell. Successful innkeepers must keep up with the trends in marketing their Inn or be left behind and be deemed irrelevant by the public. Pretty scary! A Maven is also someone ‘who wants to solve other people’s problems, generally by solving his own.” Another bell ringer. Innkeepers are constantly working to solve problems which in turn improves the Inn’s physical property, operations and the profitability of your business.
Salesmen are ”persuaders, charismatic people with powerful negotiation skills”. We all know people that have that special knack, you may be one of them. But if you are upbeat and enthusiastic about your Inn and love what you do that may be all you need in the persuasive and charismatic department. No one can ‘sell’ their Inn as well as you do.
Your ability to connect is the most powerful tool you can have as an innkeeper. And if you possess the drive to acquire all the knowledge that is available through education (conferences, our blog and Facebook feeds, webinars, just to name a few) this will help you make knowledgeable and prudent decisions and improvements. And if you enthusiastically deliver service with a smile (even to those grumps). Man you have got it and you get it!
Thanks for listening.