Do you remember as a kid your parents would tell you to ‘Go outside and play’. Especially if you appeared antsy or bored or were driving them nuts! Well the same advice is true for Innkeepers. ‘Get out of the Inn, take a break, go play’.
In our ‘Better Way to Learn Innkeeping’ seminars for aspiring innkeepers we have a section titled; ‘Community’. One of the points we make is that some innkeepers have a tendency to stay cloistered within the property confines. Not good…for you, your community …or the guests.
One way of taking that break is by getting involved with your community. Some of The B&B Team’s graduate aspirers that went on to become innkeepers have taken our advice. I would like to tell you about one of them. George and Maryanne Lewis bought the Brass Lantern Inn in Stowe Vermont a few years ago. They are about ready to celebrate their 5th year. I had a conversation with George the other day and the subject of community involvement came up. Bingo! A blog idea. An email interview followed and here are the results.
How has your community involvement helped you and Maryanne to connect to the community?
“The obvious one is that as the latest “flatlanders” to invade this area, our community involvement has allowed us to make friends quickly and establish some wonderful social connections to the town of Stowe. And through these connections we can’t help but feel that we have also formed some positive and productive alliances related to our business connection to other businesses here in Stowe. From the simple things like finding a trustworthy plumber (critical in a ca. mid-1800 brick farmhouse now fitted out with 11 bathrooms), to establishing contacts with local/regional bankers to help us grow our business; all of this is made possible through the face to face networking of our community involvement.”
“Perhaps because we live in a small town of only 4,500 residents, and due to our community involvement, I see and greet at least one or two people I know each time I am at the Post Office. And this is from living here less than 5 years. Sounds simple, but knowing people in this town, helps us feel connected and provides us with a sense of belonging in our new hometown….”
Has your involvement helped your business in the sense that more locals know about the Brass Lantern Inn and may recommend the Inn to others?
“Yes, we have definitely seen some room reservations through our local connections. Just a few examples; A Rotary friend who is also the CEO of a major Medical Center in the area has had several business visitors/clients stay with us. Word of mouth through the neighborhood has provided us with many, many full weekends of the friends and family of the Bride or Groom side for weddings. Very cool, as we get the “full house” business benefits of the wedding without having to host the wedding itself!!”
Feel free to add anything that comes to mind, a personal story or a specific event related to your involvement.
“Of course you do have to be careful with how much you put yourself out there in the community and offering of yourself as a volunteer. For me personally I find it hard to say, “no,” to a call for volunteers or to either lead or be part of a community based Committee or Board of Directors. There have certainly been some points along the path in this relationship of volunteering and community involvement where I realized I may have overextended myself but have no alternative than to trust in my new friends for support and put my head down and work through it.”
“Ultimately, I think it is critical to our business survival and long term enjoyment of this area to be connected to our community. Wherever we have called home I realize that the best way to feel that you are in a different place (and hence why did you move here?….) is to become part of the fabric of the community. We have been so very fortunate to have had this opportunity in each of our past and present home bases to connect with some amazing people and make some new friendships. I can’t imagine anything more rewarding and satisfying than the richness of relationships!”
“And finally – The B&B Team reinforced much of this and more in an amazing weekend in Kennebunkport many years ago! I constantly tell those we host that give us the ole, “you know, we always thought about being Innkeepers”, the advice that you need is… to do your homework. The B&B Team makes dreams come true but I also believe you do a wonderful job of making sure people go into this adventure with eyes wide open! And as the song goes, “future so bright, I gotta wear shades.”
Thank you so much George. I could not have communicated my point any better. (I love it when people write my blogs for me!)
Thanks for Listening,