Inn Consultants and Brokers Since 1993

Rick Wolf and Peter Scherman (that’s Rick on the left and Peter on the right) are both experienced speakers who have presented on a range of innkeeping related topics at the state, regional, and national level. They gather and analyze research for the Innkeeping industry and welcome the opportunity to share it with others. Contact Us

The B&B Team

Archive for the ‘Archives’ Category

The Rise of the Independent Innkeeper

January 13th, 2016 by Janet Wolf

independent innkeeper

Lookout Point Lakeside Inn-Prime example of a unique independent successful Inn

Over the last few years much has been written about the travelling public’s changing wants and needs. There was and is much talk about “experiential travel,” “live like a local” and other catching phrases that target today’s travelling public.  Who better to deliver a local experience than our industry’s independent innkeeper? My last blog boldly stated that “2016 is the year of the entrepreneur/innkeeper.” Now I state that 2016 is the “rise of the independent innkeeper!” Read on.

“Travelers don’t necessarily want that golden bathtub anymore but would rather pay more for an unforgettable experience. Luxury is now shifting from ‘having’ to ‘being’.” From “The rise of independent hotels” By Mendes Cavin, Founder & Managing Partner, Miners Hospitality

Mr. Cavin points out in his writing that the smaller independent hotel has an advantage over the larger hotel chains because they can adapt quicker to the changing traveler trends.

“Being able to adapt to the quickly changing customer demands has become the biggest advantage of individual hotels and small hotel chains.”

Independent properties like our B&B’s and full service inns with restaurants can be more flexible and can create “experiential” packages, add new and unique amenities and create menus using local foods without the reporting layers and corporate red tape of a large chain. Mr. Cavin predicts that there will be “a shift of travelers moving from large brands to their unique type of hotels.”

Humm…I see an advantage here as well as a challenge.

“The world is in constant change and so should you. Guests want to see, feel, taste something new all the time or else it gets boring. As a hotelier you will have to keep re-inventing yourself to stay ahead of your competition.”

OK, independent properties like B&B’s and full service inns have the advantage, the question is, are you recognizing this advantage and working it to your advantage? Are you keeping it exciting and re-inventing yourself?

We all know it is very easy to get into a rut. Your business is increasing, you are receiving more return guests, it is “steady as she goes!” So you sit back and enjoy the view. (I see a rut coming.) And once you are in it, it is harder to dig yourself out. But dig you must. The alternative is not a pretty picture.

One way to do this is to network with other innkeepers, learn from industry experts and expand your mind and discover the opportunites available to help you”re-invent yourself and stay ahead of the competition.”

How? Easy. Look at your calender and mark the dates of April 4-6. The 2016 Knowledge Sharing Summit and Marketplace. Nashville TN, the place to be.


Want to learn the latest in innovation to ensure your success in the bed and breakfast and independent lodging industry? Then you have found your home.

From personal experience the best way to learn, network with like-minded independent innkeepers, meet new friends, refresh and have fun at the same time is to attend an industry conference. When Rick and I became innkeepers in 1999, innkeepers from a neighboring B&B encouraged us to attend our first innkeeping conference. Actually as I recall they didn’t just encourage us but told us we HAD to go! It truly was the best advice given to us as new innkeepers. Throughout our careers as innkeepers and partners/owners of The B&B Team®, we have continued to attend Innkeeping conferences as sponsors, speakers and volunteers.

Make 2016 be the Year of the Independent Innkeeper. Take advantage of the vast knowledge that is so readily available to you at the upcoming AIHP conference. Rediscover your ability to be unique, inventive and creative. There is no one holding you back except you.

See you in Nashville!

Thanks for Listening,

Janet Wolf

2016 The Year of the Entrepreneur/Innkeeper

December 29th, 2015 by Janet Wolf

New Innkeepers/Entrepreneurs and seminar graduates Amanda and Joe The Villa at Saugerties


The phone rings, and we answer… How may I help you? “Well…I would like some information on the So ‘n So Inn you have listed on The B&B Team website”. Thus the conversation starts and the journey begins. “For would-be entrepreneurs, sometimes the hardest part about starting a business is taking that first step.” From a recent article “Why 2016 Is the Year of the Entrepreneur” by Paul Sisolak.

I agree with this statement 100%, and making that call to The B&B Team is a smart first step.

The theme of Mr. Sisolak’s article focuses on the need for fiscal responsibility for the “would-be entrepreneurs.” Tip #1 was the need for creating long term wealth. The article gives great advice on how to conserve spending and create future wealth.  The buyers we have worked with that have the strongest buying power have done just that. They are in a position of strength because they have focused on long term financial goals. As a result they have more options in what they can consider to purchase and where!

In The B&B Team’s extensive experience, when we see strong buyers come to us, they come with a good credit score, assets and often times, retirement savings. They have planned and are in control of their financial resources and are now seeking advice on how best to put it to use for their future life as innkeepers.

Aside from the financial (but not underestimating its importance), is the personal side of making that first step.

“2016 is the year to break free from mediocrity and society’s norms. Now is time to quit your 9-5 job and become an entrepreneur. Start becoming the true you and create the lifestyle you are destined for.” Josh Felber, a serial entrepreneur and high performance coach.

Pretty bold statement! Depending on the circumstances, we often suggest that a good position to be in is jobless and homeless!  Why? Because you are ready, willing and able.

There must be an excitement and positive anticipation for pursuing any new venture. Focus on that initial excitement and passion; that is what gives you the incentive to move forward. Then ask yourself these initial questions.

  • Are you willing to take that chance, believe in yourself and be willing to learn new skills?
  • Do you have confidence that your past successes and your ability to create wealth CAN transfer towards a successful entrepreneur/innkeeping career and lifestyle?

The B&B Team can help you decide if innkeeping is the right choice for you. If you have the passion we can help guide you to achieve your financial goals. They both go hand in hand.

After that first phone call, our next piece of advice is to attend one of our “Better Way to Learn innkeeping™” aspiring innkeeper seminars. The wealth of information in our seminars is tremendous. No muffin recipes, just the facts Jack! The kind of information you need to help you make the decision to move forward or…step back.

Take a look at The B&B Team’s 2016 Seminar Schedule and make that first step, your inner would-be entrepreneur is calling you.

Thanks for Listening,

Janet Wolf

Trip Advisor-The Hate/Love Relationship Continues or Does It?

November 16th, 2015 by Janet Wolf



In the beginning there was Trip Advisor, the review site. A hate/love relationship flourished within the lodging industry including bed and breakfasts. No big news here.

‘Slowly I turned…step by step..inch by inch’… and Trip Advisor became the largest travel related website in the world. For those who could see into the future it became inevitable that Trip Advisor would become a travel ‘seller’, going up against the hotel metasearch engines, vying for their position.

That is just what has happened. Here are  two stats to illustrate Trip Advisor’s huge influence in the metasearch marketplace.

TA   68,378,830

Expedia   32,976,218

October 2015 data which includes mobile web and desktop PC visits. For the complete lists of stats see ‘TripAdvisor dominates web visits, so no wonder everyone is scared’, a very eye opening (pun intended) article by Kevin May, a co-founder of Tnooz.

For bed and breakfasts and other small lodging properties, with the emergence of Trip Advisor’s  TripConnect, the love/hate relationship continues. Or does it?

I decided to ask some innkeepers who are participating in the program to weigh in on their experiences.

From the Afton Mountain B&B, Virginia.

“We are enrolled only on the pay-per-click side of TripConnect, not instant booking. We’ve actually received a good response (and bookings) from it and will definitely continue. One interesting note is that you don’t need a business listing to be enrolled in TripConnect (at least not the PPC side). Because we are in a less competitive market, our PPC cost is quite low. So our return is extremely good.”

This innkeeper is referring to the TripConnect™ cost-per-click campaign. When you see that in just one month there were over 68 million visitors to Trip Advisor, getting involved with the action appears to be pretty compelling.  The CPC campaign allows the guests to book directly with you using TA’s ‘official site’ logo button that links to your website. This is a nice feature, one that innkeepers can possibly love?

Another possible love-in. “Unlike most other travel website “instant booking” options, Trip Advisor’s auction (CPC) model is making it affordable for independent properties and small chains to compete against other travel websites.” Kevin May.

Trip Advisor Instant Booking is in all manner of speaking, another OTA. With a few twists and turns to set itself apart. With seemingly competitive commission rates, plus upgrading to Trip Advisor Business, it can becomes pricy for small businesses.

Like any marketing tool, TripConnect cost-per-click campaign is available to help put heads in beds. It is the return on your investment that is the determining factor. Having the ability to budget and track your clicks is something innkeepers can control.

From the Brewster House Inn, Freeport, Maine.

“We participated for a few months (maybe a year ago) and never even went through our $50/ month experimental pay-per-click budget. We quit, as we felt no business came from it, but that Trip Advisor was really only being used for vetting us, albeit with excellent results.”

Trip Advisor is still the 900 pound gorilla in the room, now we know he is gaining weight. As  independent innkeeper business owners you can choose and create our own marketing campaigns. As technology grows it becomes more complicated and challenging, there is no doubt. But…

With Trip Advisor’s increased dominance in the travel world, love or leave it, their huge influence cannot be ignored.

Thanks for Listening,

Janet Wolf


The Path of Connectivity in Marketing Your Inn

September 22nd, 2015 by Janet Wolf

The Path of Connectivity and it is crowded!

                   The Path of Connectivity and it is crowded!

As innkeepers, your job, and the job of the marketing firm or marketing association you have hired or joined, is to connect people with your Inn, your brand message. The path of connectivity in marketing your inn has evolved since the emergence of the internet so many years ago. It is hard to even remember marketing without it!

According to Lisa Gevelber in an article entitled, “The Shift to Constant Connectivity,” “What distinguishes great marketers is their unwavering focus on those people – on their needs, behaviors, intentions, wants – and an ability to avoid the shiny temptations of marketing solely to things – like devices, channels, technologies.” What does marketing to things mean? I believe it means using technologies to push a product, “buy this because it is cool.” Basically the difference between marketing and branding.

“A brand will help encourage someone to buy a product, and it directly supports whatever sales or marketing activities are in play, but the brand does not explicitly say ‘buy me.’ Instead, it says ‘This is what I am. This is why I exist. If you agree, if you like me, you can buy me, support me, and recommend me to your friends.’ James Heaton,‘”The Difference Between Marketing and Branding.”

Let’s look at an example of how marketing “solely to things” can create disconnects.

People can be easily lured by the flashy veneer of a property on the web, but when a guest’s feet hit the floor of the reception area, this is where the guest experience starts or…

Here is an example. Recently some friends of ours checked into a new property basically to see if all the recent publicity stood up to the reality. Here is what they experienced.

  • They asked for restaurant recommendations and were told that there were not many “good” restaurants in the area. The staff at the reception desk went on to  recommend the restaurant at the Inn. They told her they had dined at their restaurant last night and wanted to try something else. Blank face and no recommendations were offered. Are you kidding me! Disconnect.
  • Their guest room looked great on the web (flashy) but the rate and the room size and features created a definite disconnect. Nothing wrong with a small entry level room but it must match the rate and this room did not deliver value. Disconnect.

Remember what was said earlier, good marketers focus on reaching the people, their needs, behaviors, intentions and wants. This Inn was good at the “look at me, buy me, I am cool,” but beyond that the lure was broken.

Here is an example of innkeepers and their marketing team that “get it.”

Linda and Dennis Bortis, innkeepers of The Lodge at Moosehead Lake wanted their brand message delivered. Here is what they had to say after their new website and photography was launched back in 2010.

Just one of many experiences at The Lodge at Moosehead Lake

One of many experiences at The Lodge at Moosehead Lake

“We are the only lodging in inland Maine that provides an authentic North Woods experience in the lap of luxury.  It’s this story that became the communication message we want the lodge to be known for. In the world of small hospitality properties, as for most small businesses, the Internet is the Great Equalizer.”

The Lodge at Moosehead Lake

The Lodge at Moosehead Lake

Now, this was in 2010 and their message is still strong on their website. But the constant connectivity and the multi-screen reality that has evolved since 2010 is also apparent in their marketing. The increased ability to reach their audience through new technologies is understood by the innkeepers and their ongoing relationship with their internet marketing group, White Stone Marketing and Jumping Rocks Photography.

Does The Lodge at Moosehead Lake have great rooms with custom log beds, views of Moosehead Lake, luxury bathrooms, a fire pit by the lake, great food (lobsters!) and signature cocktails? You bet and much more. But these are the things that support their brand, that complete the package. People come the Inn to experience the overwhelming beauty and adventure of the Moosehead Lake Region. Linda and Dennis provide this because they know what their guests want and need while visiting them. No disconnect here!

In conclusion, we know that advancements in technology are constantly growing and changing at a rapid pace, that 99% of your guests are constantly connected and are your guests today and tomorrow.  They have followed that path of connectivity, have you? The new technologies are available as a benefit to enhance your marketing. It will never replace you and the experiences you provide for your guests. That is the connection that is sustainable.

I’ll end with another great quote. “The brand is what remains after marketing has swept through the room.” Love that! Thank you James Heaton.

Thanks for Listening,

Janet Wolf

Amazon Destination-New Travel Brand

May 18th, 2015 by Janet Wolf

Amazon destination

Road Trips-Not Flights

Another mega company, Amazon, (which means big anyway), has moved into the travel industry with a new direction. It is now connected to Amazon Local but will soon be on its own.

Here is Amazon Destination’s brand focus.

  • Created to solve problem-“How to easily plan and book a local getaway trip.”
  • Weekend getaway within driving distances from major metro areas.
  • Road Trips-Not Flights
  • Moving towards including independent properties, regional groups, chains and B&B’s.
  • Right now the areas they are featuring are the Pacific Northwest, Southern California and the Northeast. They plan to expand.

I like that they will include the smaller independent properties. Not just the big hotel chains. They will charge standard commissions and use published rates. Sounds like they want to differentiate themselves from the popular OTA’s that fill rooms with rock bottom rates. They say they want to be able to offer full-price inventory during peak periods to “a large qualified audience.” Sounds like a good opportunity for our industry.

I also like that vacation planners can go to the property’s  websites and view the room inventory.  No blind bookings.

Including boutique hotels and B&B’s in their inventory is encouraging. Another outlet to showcase to the traveling public what we are all about. Our small lodging industry has always been about local getaway road trips. 40% of all U.S. domestic leisure trips are short-term getaways of 1-3 nights and many of these trips are nearby, drivable distances.

Amazon Destination catskills

The Graham & Co in the Catskills. “rough-lux”.

I went on their website and searched for a place to stay in the Catskill Mountains of New York. Discovered two properties I would book in a heartbeat. An 18 room boutique B&B The Woodstock Inn on the Millstream and a place called The Graham & Co. A bit more remote but very intriguing, they call themselves “rough-lux”. These two properties really appeal to the “get me away from the city” getaway. Just what Amazon Destination is promoting. They also list the number of miles these Inns are from NYC.


Amazon Destination Finger Lakes

Genesee Country Inn, Finger Lakes NY

Took a look at the Finger Lakes and found the Genesee Country Inn B&B listed with larger Hotels and Lodges. Again a great way for travelers looking in this area to compare the smaller property vs the larger ones. The B&B Team’s Eliot Dalton represents this inn for sale and knows the Inn and area very well. A beautiful location with 8 acres, a trout stream, waterfall and pond. A real country getaway. The fact that the Finger Lakes is a major B&B destination and this property is featured is tremendous.

Amazon Destination is new and work-in-progress but worth taking a look at. One thing you know is Amazon has capital to promote this brand far and wide.

Thanks for Listening,

Janet Wolf

Experiential Tourism in Mid-Coast Maine

February 19th, 2015 by Janet Wolf

mid-coast maine expriential tourism destination

A balcony, a view and wine.
Youngstown Inn & Restaurant, Mid-Coast Maine

The Youngstown Inn and Restaurant, mid-coast Maine in Lincolnville, an inn that defines what experiential travel is all about. It also has something else; potential. The ground work is there ready to take to the next level.

A recent Travel & Leisure article has written about “an emerging new breed of inns out there. They are redefining the way people stay and play”. It is all about the experience and it has to be WOW.

Lets take a look at the Youngstown Inn and Restaurant. Are they offering the experience that many ‘new breed’ of tourists are looking for?

Authentic – An 1810 Maine farmhouse built proudly upon two centuries of New England heritage. Located a bit off the beaten path on a serene country road.

mid-coast maine inn on a country road

Youngstown Inn

Accessible – All of mid-coast Maine is minutes from the Inn’s front door. Near quiet Lake Megunticook, sandy Linclonville Beach, Camden Harbor and it’s vibrant village. Camden is a major mid-coast Maine destination location. A great place to “stay and play.”

Enriching – “Will travel for food”. The Youngtown Inn’s restaurant creates cuisine that one could say enriches the soul. What food should do! New owners can create their own food scene in this 60 seat dining space. While on vacation isn’t it wonderful to dine, imbibe and stroll a few paces to your comfortable, clean and inviting guest room?

mid-coast Maine dining

Dining at the Youngstown Inn & Restaurant

Educational – A Day Trip to the island of Islesboro, an unspoiled Maine island with history. So near are: Farnsworth Art Museum, Owls Head Transportation Museum, Bay Chamber Concerts.

Entertaining – From the Inn you can hire a Model T Ford and take a short drive to the Cellardoor Winery and Vineyard. The driver is a local historian with character. The winery will also shuttle you back and forth. Have a tour of the winery, a tasting and ride back to the inn for dinner.


Mid-coast maine experience cellardoor winery

Cellardoor Winery & Vineyard. Minutes from the Youngstown Inn

New owners of the Youngstown Inn and Restaurant can experience the wonderful Maine mid coast lifestyle described here and own a business that is profitable and exciting. Dana Moos, The B&B Team Maine Inn Broker for this property has described the real potential for the Youngstown Inn as follows:

“New owners could enhance their outdoor space with a fire pit, particularly serving cocktails outside. There is a lot of land for events too. And it is a mile from Cellardoor Winery. Cellardoor will even shuttle people back and forth.”

mid-coast maine fire pit

Add a fire pit like this. A great additional experience.

Additional plusses that you don’t see in many properties:

  • Possible expansion of at least 4 rooms in another building on site.
  • Located on 5 acres.
  • An owner’s quarters house attached to the Inn building.

The Youngstown Inn and Restaurant offers a strong business and excellent reputation for fine dining and hospitality. Such a beautiful property and location that exceeds on so many levels. The Experience, the lifestyle and a true sense of place. Ready for new owners with energy, vision and a zest for food. We know you are out there!

Thanks for Listening,

Janet Wolf

How to Make Your Inn More Valuable

February 4th, 2015 by Janet Wolf

how to make your inn more valuable

Inn at English Meadows. Web appeal is the new curb appeal.

Just received the March Consumer Reports magazine and a spark plug ignited in my brain! The cover story spoke to me. ‘Boost Your Home’s Value By 10%’.  Let’s see if what they say can also relate to how to make your Inn more valuable. Many of the suggestions made in this article are points we have been suggesting (strongly) with our innkeeping clients since The B&B Team has been in business. When The B&B Team values a property, condition plays a big role.

For the article, Consumer Reports contacted 303 real estate pros from around the country. They answered many survey questions. Let’s take a look at what innkeepers should be doing to keep their property in top condition. You do this for your guests, right?  You will also need to work for the time, and that time will come, when you open your Inn for potential buyers.

‘What are the costliest mistakes sellers make?

#1 Clean Up, Clear Out

‘Nothing drives away would-be buyers faster than clutter.’ I wish we could say that we see this occasionally but unfortunately we see this mistake far too often. Basements and owner’s quarters are the worst.  Potential buyers must be able to see their possessions in these spaces. They are leaving their comfortable private homes and need to feel they are entering a clean, safe and comfortable environment for their private living and working space.

My 30: Simplify

Clear it out!


#2 Spruce Up the Kitchen

Most of your guests may never see your Inn’s kitchen unless it is an open floor/door configuration. But your potential buyers will! Ongoing repairs and upgrading appliances and fixtures as needed is recommended. You don’t want to be facing costly repairs in a short period of time.  A fresh coat of paint goes along way too.

#3 Freshen up the Bath

Have to add the ‘s’ here!  “Simple improvements like caulking the tub or re-grouting the tile floor go a long way in the mind of the buyer.”  Remember, everything they see that is fresh, clean and repaired well is something they don’t have to face doing themselves.

The Consumer Reports article lists and rates fixtures for the kitchen and bath. Good information and worth picking up this issue or subscribing online.

#4 Paint the Rooms-Selectively

Fresh, clean and de-cluttered also can refer to the walls in your guest rooms. Fussy and flowery wallpaper has been on the unwanted list for a while. Starting now with updating your guestrooms is highly recommended. One or two at a time and you will be surprised at the positive reaction you will get from your guests as well as your future prospective buyers.

how to make your inn more valuable

Clean, fresh and no clutter

#5 Enhance the Exterior

Curb appeal is so important. It is like your home page on your website. The 3 second opt out rule is true for your exterior too. Buyers see overgrown shrubs, weeds in the walkways, and even worse, a cracked foundation. Result: They are thinking ‘reduced price’.

“The roof is another area to pay close attention to because prospective buyers are sure to do the same.”  The B&B Team will ditto this statement 5 X +. We have seen buyers walk away from properties that they are very close to purchasing because of roofing problems that the sellers just didn’t want to deal with. True!

“Web appeal” has been called the new curb appeal. That puts a premium on the photos that you use in your online property listing.” We love when our seller clients have good photos. “Buyers pay more attention to photos than the actual property description.”

These are just some highlights from this article with so much great information and advice. It could be 10% boost in value or even more. But don’t wait, the important word here is ‘ongoing’. If you value your Inn than let it shine. Others will also see the care and love you have put into your Inn and that =more value.

Thanks for Listening,

Janet Wolf

Celebrate Thanksgiving at America’s Inns

November 24th, 2014 by Janet Wolf


thanksgiving at America's inns

Nothing says Thanksgiving better than homemade pies!

From New England to the Rockies there are Inns that are offering guests a culinary experience to celebrate one of America’s most cherished holidays. As I searched to find Thanksgiving at America’s Inns that offers guests a way to celebrate, I came across some wonderful specials with an experience  that matches the uniqueness of their locale.

One celebratory special  that really got my attention was a Thanksgiving Amish-Style in Pennsylvania Dutch Country. The Churchtown Inn in Chruchtown PA is offering a very reasonably priced package that includes dinner at the home of an old-order Amish family followed by a buggy ride and a meet and greet with their farm animals. Discovering how a traditional old world Amish society celebrates Thanksgiving would be a culinary and historical learning experience all in one.


Thanksgiving at America's Inn

Churchtown Inn- Pennsylvania Amish country experience

Many of our Country Inns with Restaurants offer Thanksgiving dinners. The Squire Tarbox Inn & Restaurant in Westport Island Maine offers dinner in their cozy historical 1763 dining room. The father and daughter chef team create special farm to table meals throughout the year. Thanksgiving is a perfect time to celebrate at this very unique mid-coast Maine Inn.

Thanksgiving at the Inn

Squire Tarbox Inn Maine Dining Room

A quick search found the Alta Crystal Resort on Mt. Rainier in Washington State. If you want a real early winter getaway for Thanksgiving this place looks like a lot of fun. Their Thanksgiving Eat & Stay Special has more than dinner. Hiking and snowshoeing, bonfires and hot tubs. They have reported snow as of November 22.

This is just a brief sampling of some wonderful ways to experience what our American country inns have to offer on Thanksgiving. No other hospitality industry offers authenticity better than our B&B’s and Country Inns. Agreed?

Thanksgivng recipe

Indian Pudding-A New England favorite

I am going to end with a recipe. One that goes way back to our New England and Native American influence. Touted as a Rhode Island creation, Indian Pudding is a very tasty ‘mass of cornmeal, milk and molasses, baked for hours, it is born of Puritan ‘nostalgia for British hasty pudding and their adaptation to the ground-cornmeal porridges of their Native American neighbors.”  I found this recipe on a really great collection of Thanksgiving Recipes Across America from the New York times. If you haven’t completed your menu yet than these collections of recipes will inspire.

A warm and Happy Thanksgiving from The B&B Team to all our Inns across America and to all the aspiring innkeepers and retired innkeepers.

Weddings at the Inn-Intimate or Ultimate

June 13th, 2014 by Janet Wolf

Weddings at the Inn

Blessing of the rings-Kristie Rosset officiating at Lookout Point Lakeside Inn

Many Bed and Breakfasts have great settings for weddings at the Inn. Most innkeepers say they have been approached at least once by couples inquiring about their Inn as a possible venue for their nuptials. Whether it is a rustic picturesque barn, landscaped garden with views or perhaps an outdoor amphitheater or gazebo, it is the uniqueness that is appealing.  Bed and Breakfasts and country Inns are a natural. With larger banquet halls and hotel event spaces, the ‘natural’ has to be artificially created. Not so appealing!

If you are an aspiring innkeeper that has pondered the idea of adding weddings to your business plan, read on.

In the 2010 Innkeeping Quarterly, the cover story was ‘The Rise of the Small Wedding’. In 2014 the trend is still around and growing. The B&B Team has a number of properties listed for sale that do weddings from small to large, the intimate and the ultimate. I talked with a few experienced innkeepers about their weddings at the Inn. Here is what they have to say about the subject.

Kristie Rosset is the owner/innkeeper with her husband Ray of Lookout Point Lakeside Inn in Hot Springs, Arkansas. She is also an ordained United Methodist clergyperson. A quote from Ray; “She truly enjoyed officiating at weddings. With her experience, she understood that she could help couples create a meaningful and beautiful wedding that might ‘feel’ like a church wedding, but the setting would be outdoors in a beautiful lakeside garden.” Their specialty is small intimate weddings, nothing over 50 people.

Having policies and contracts in place before the first wedding is booked is very important.   From the Rossets; “A solid contract is critical-even for elopements! The only way weddings can work well and efficiently is through great communication in writing through a rock-solid contract that both parties sign. When we are clear (and caring!) from the beginning of the wedding conversation, we protect ourselves and our inn from being taken advantage, we are seen as professionals, and we expect the highest standards of behavior from our guests. It’s a win-win.” Tip: They say they are happy to share their contract with anyone!


Weddings at the Inn, hawthorn Inn, Camden Maine

Hawthorn Inn wedding setting

Innkeeper Maryanne Shanahan of the Hawthorn Inn in Camden Maine did not plan to have weddings at her Inn when she became an innkeeper over 12 years ago. But her first guests often told her that the Hawthorn Inn would be perfect for weddings. Voila, June 2002 twenty-two people booked the entire inn and her wedding business began. She advises to communicate with the couple face to face about what type of wedding they want, aka, their vision. If Maryanne doesn’t think she can deliver she will be forthright and gently tells them they may want to look elsewhere. Tips: She likes to encourage afternoon weddings followed by a brunch. Easier and less expensive for all involved. The smaller groups of about 20 are more manageable but her outdoor weddings can accommodate up to 80.

Weddigngs at the Inn

Wedding setting. Rustic and picturesque barn at the Brampton Inn, Eastern Shore of Maryland

Danielle Hanscom, innkeeper of the Brampton Inn in Maryland started ultimate and ended up only doing intimate weddings of up to 20 people. She said her earlier experiences with large weddings were not only stressful for her but stressful on the property. Innkeepers must respect their septic systems! She also commented on stiletto heels on old original hardwood floors that caused significant damage. Something she said she had not thought of. Live and learn. Temporary runners would be a suggestion. She books about 30 small weddings a year. She says this is a manageable number for the Brampton Inn. Tips: Make sure your electrical system is up to date and can handle extra loads for outdoor lighting and music amplifiers. Control the noise levels and adhere to any local ordinances.

The three inns interviewed have chosen the intimate wedding venue route. For the property and for the innkeepers this was their choice.  Not that a small wedding can’t be the ultimate in experience as well as a great source of extra revenue. The celebratory nature of the bed and breakfast business is both fun and a profit maker. Return guests, you bet. The married couples often return year after year on their anniversary. The celebration continues at the Inn well after ‘I do’.!

A wonderful side note: Maryanne and now husband Bill were married at the Hawthorn Inn in 2007. They call it ‘a perfect partnership for the Inn’.

Weddings at the Inn

Maryanne and Bill. Love is lovelier the second time around at the Hawthorn Inn, Camden Maine


The goal is not the size of the weddings but the commitment to make your Inn’s intimate weddings the ultimate in experience as well as revenue and good will.  As the Rossets said. It’s a win-win.

Thanks for Listening,

Janet Wolf

Full Service Inns – Time for a Renaissance

May 16th, 2013 by Janet Wolf


Food Glorious Food at Restaurant Verterra, The Inn at Weathersfield, Vermont

Picture a beautiful pristine Inn, beautiful surroundings with comfortable first class lodging then…add a dining component to this picture and what do you get? What we call in our industry, a full service Inn. Urban or country, food and lodging have always gone hand in hand. After indulging in a meal featuring locally sourced food that reflects the culture of the Inn’s location what could be more inviting than to retreat to a cozy guest room just steps away. Today’s traveler is often seeking a culinary experience along with their lodging. It completes the package.

The culinary travel trend is exploding. Full service Inns need to capitalize on this explosion, big time.

Take the example of The Inn at Weatherfield in Vermont. This property had a flourishing and successful restaurant and Inn business thanks to the former owners Jane and Dave Sandelman and Chef Jason Tostrup. The B&B Team recently transferred the Inn to new owners Richard and Marilee Spanjian. They have taken an already successful Inn to another level and the view looks great! I had the privilege to interview Marilee and ask what’s new and cookin’ at the Inn.

Private Dining in The Inn at Weatherfield's Wine Cellar

Private Dining in The Inn at Weathersfield’s Wine Cellar

Question: “New England’s Premier Culinary Inn” is your new brand modifier. This is a very gutsy goal, has this been your goal from the beginning?

Answer: We didn’t just want to say ‘Culinary Inn ’and our goal is for Weathersfield to be New England’s Premier Culinary Inn, so why not go for it.

Question: Your new specials are very cleaver. Especially ‘The Guinea Pig Club’, Chef’s Choice-$8 plates keep coming until you say ‘Uncle’. How has the response been?

Answer: The name is intriguing and it is really starting to catch on. Chef Jason and the kitchen staff really love it too. They can be creative, it really thumps their energy. We chose Thursdays for this special because we found the diners on that day tend to be really adventuresome.

Question: I also was intrigued by your ‘Vitality Fix’, tell me more about this concept.

Answer: Chef Jason came up with the idea. This menu option covers all the bases. It is vegetarian, gluten free and dairy free! More people are commenting how they like the fresh way of cooking and the way it makes them feel after their meal.

Question: What are some of your future plans?


Pasta Cooking Class with Chef Jason

Answer: Our new cooking school will be called ‘Hidden Kitchen’. This is named in memory of my late mother’s restaurant in California. They will not be your typical cooking classes. Chef Jason will teach about sustainability, eating fresh, how to prepare the fresh food and create your own dish and not rely on a recipe. We also will have a two day hands on cooking adventure package that includes visiting our local farms with Chef Jason. An outdoor kitchen set right by our vegetable and herb gardens is also in our plans.

Thank you Marilee. She sounded so excited and energized while I was talking with her. Love the enthusiasm.



Chef Max Mattes knows where some of the vegetables come from at Pilgrim’s Inn, right in their own back yard


Seared local scallops and a crisp Pinot Grigio at Pilgrim’s Inn, what a way to end the day

The Pilgrim’s Inn in Deer Isle Maine is a true country Inn with true local flavor. Culinary travelers like to know where they are as well as where the food is coming from. With the Whale’s Rib Tavern’s rustic historic post and beam dining room and a very warm inviting pub, you know where you are, the coast of Maine! Deer Isle, on the eastern edge of Penobscot Bay. Lobster is caught just off the rocky coastline as well as clams, mussels and oysters, oh my! And, the folks that bring in the catch may be sitting in the pub next to you enjoying one of the Tavern’s popular house ground burgers! True local flavor.


A True Country Full Service Inn

Owners Tina and Tony have just posted a blog about their ‘Farm to Table’ approach and the challenges it presents. Take a moment to read this blog, great information on the area and farming community. And what a great coastal community it is, natural beauty with countless coves and inlets with lots of privacy, a great place to own a business and call home. The B&B Team is privileged to offer this true and spectacular country Inn for Sale.

The B&B Team believes a successful full service Inn should focus their business on both the lodging and food equally. Neither business should take the back seat. Both of the full service country Inns featured in this post have spectacular guest rooms and top notch amenities. It completes the package. Stayed tuned for my next blog where I reveal the author of this quote.

Thanks for Listening,

Janet Wolf