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 ‘Market Trends’ 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

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

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

Deluxe Cabins-Options for Innkeepers and Guests

March 14th, 2013 by Janet Wolf


1950’s Virginia Motor Court Cottages two miles west of Waynesboro


Yes…this is a cabin in the woods

The roadside motel or cottage court of the 1950’s and 60’s is a tribute to Americana. Merge nostalgia with modern guestroom amenities and what do you get? The Iris Inn’s newest lodging option, cabins designed just for a couple’s getaway. Innkeepers Dave and Heidi Lanford have created what they call a ‘contemporary adult tree house.’ The Iris’s Inn’s location overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia is the perfect spot for these luxury cabins. Imagine your personal hot tub in your personal screened porch, step through to the bathroom with heated floor and two person rain head shower. This ain’t your grandmother’s tourist lodge auto camp roadside cabin-cottage, that is for darn sure.


Dave doing what he loves!

After all this relaxation and activity?! If you have the energy, you can walk up to the main lodge and have a glass of wine with ol’ sourpuss Dave. You can see from this photo that he just hates his job!

Heidi and Dave were inspired to add their luxury cabins by innkeeper friends Melissa and Ray Alexander, innkeepers of neighboring property Alpine Hideaway . Their luxury secluded cabins are perched atop the Blue Ridge overlooking  the Shenandoah Valley’s green fields and blue mountains. Perfect for a romantic cocooning getaway, as we all know Virginia is for Lovers.  Another inspiration was the fact that these units are very profitable for the Alexanders and will surely be for the Lanfords. Both couples are clients and seminar graduates of The B&B Team. Success, we love to see it, especially for such nice and smart innkeeper clients and friends.

Alpine Hideaway Cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia

Alpine Hideaway Cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia


A classic 1950’s motel renovation Palm Springs style

Another trend is the growing number of “boutique motels”. Vintage motels in destination locations that have been transformed into unique properties. Take the example of the Orbit in Oasis, a trendy desert motel in Palm Springs CA. The mid century modern craze is alive and well at the Orbit with poolside breakfast, cruiser bikes and cocktails at 5. Soft jazzy Sinatra background music poolside and warm desert breezes complete the picture.

Searching for lodging properties with cabins, cottages, motel units? Look no further than The B&B Team Inns for Sale. We have some great properties in pristine condition as well as properties ready for a transformation. We can help you. Properties from the Pacific Northwest in Washington state, the Blood Mountain Cabins in Georgia, and Virginia to the mid-coast of Maine. Great destination locations.

Luxury Cabins in the Columbia River Gorge Pristine and available

Luxury Cabins in the Columbia River Gorge, Washington state. Pristine and available

Abbington's Seaview Motel & Cottages in Mid Coast Maine offered for Sale. Transformation opportunity, you bet!

Abbington’s Seaview Motel & Cottages in Mid Coast Maine offered for Sale. Transformation opportunity, you bet!

The fact that the B&B experience can be offered in different style properties is exciting and offers guests options when choosing their lodging. The opportunity for innkeepers to add to their business by adding cottages or cabins or transforming a mid-century motel is also exciting. Whether deluxe or rustic, we all like options and the single unit cabin-cottage option is a great way to give your guests the choice to experience the intimate cocooning getaway. The boutique motel option may offer more of a communal experience but the accommodations can be personable and memorable even if a bit cozy. The opportunities are out there, take the plunge.

Thanks for Listening,

Janet Wolf





Girls Getaway Road Trips

July 10th, 2012 by Janet Wolf

“Friends meeting friends in places where none of you live.” This is a Nora Ephron quote I wrote down a few years ago thinking I may use it one day in a blog. With her unfortunate and untimely passing last month this quote came to mind and I searched through my neatly organized desk drawer (!) and found it written on a sticky note that had lost its stick. This may not be one of Nora’s most memorable quotes but the simplicity of it is what I like.

I love road trips and combining one with a girls’ getaway vacation seems like a great marketing opportunity for innkeepers. A trip where you can meet up with your best buds in a place you all agree on, where none of you live and can let loose, relax and explore. I searched the web for a road trip that would fit this criteria. A 70 mile stretch of I-95 between Palm Beach and Miami caught my attention. “Some head south for the sun; others, the shopping. Here is our guide to the best vintage stores in South Florida.” Sounds like a blast for a group of girlfriends on the lam. Remember a road trip is as much about how you get there as where you are going. Renting a vintage car for the trip would add to the adventure. Take a look at the two day itinerary the author has put together with some real funky shops and eats along the way to experience.

Wherever your bed and breakfast is located, I am sure there are unusual shopping and local dining adventures that would make a great one of a kind Girls Getaway Road Trip package. Start your engines! The ideas and opportunities for creative packaging in this arena are boundless.

Spas combined with wine is another draw for a no stress girl’s getaway package. I located a spa in California  that offered “Vino Therapy.” What? I just had to read on to find out what that was. Here it is: “The power of the grape, penetrating, protective qualities of topical treatments based on oils extracted from red wine, Chardonnay and Riesling grape seeds.” My first thought after reading this was…I’d rather drink the wine and receive the “penetrative and protective qualities” that way. To be fair the spa does offer both methods of enjoyment. Just another niche market to add to the list!

Some more research brought me to ‘Road Trips for Girlfriends’, an online magazine “for women interested in planning their next girls only road trip.” You can find a lot of information on road trip destinations, themes, travel gear and travel tips.  I highly recommend reading one of their latest articles about the authors search for the best cupcakes in Oklahoma City. She found it in Sara Sara Cupcakes, a destination with great sweets and the added pleasure of a milk bar. “Good friends sharing a simple pleasure on an idyllic day without a care in the world.” Another great quote that really paints the picture.

Think about it. A perfect girlfriends’ getaway road trip starting right at your inn’s driveway that includes a two, three, four days or more adventurous itineraries.  Whether the road leads you to funky shops, vino therapy, or cupcakes and milk, it’s all in the fun of drive to work today


S is for Staycation

February 16th, 2012 by Janet Wolf

House keys on Money

Lock up the house and spend a 'little' money*

Remember 2008? Or would you rather forget about it? Yeah me too, it’s over, kaput! Remember the term ‘staycation’?  That alternative for vacation that popped up and became popular during the era between 2007-2010 where folks were encouraged to have fun at home instead of traveling to a vacation destination, like your bed and breakfast! Well it is still around. An interesting find was a ‘staycation idea’ website that lists suggestions for creating stay at home packages for family and friends. After reading through some of these suggestions I started thinking that they could also inspire ‘staycation packages’ for bed and breakfasts.

How many of you have guests that come from neighboring towns less than a 30 minute drive away? These folks decided to get away from home for their ‘staycation’. What a great demographic to start capturing. Your time-deprived potential guests are out there, close by, and they are seeking someone to tell them where to stay, what to do and how much to spend. Voila…

Staycation – Close to Home Yet Far Enough Away

pastel background_detail

Time to get away

Rick and I recently overheard two women at a table next to ours at lunch comment that they would love to plan a shopping trip to the Kittery Outlets and stay at a bed and breakfast in Kennebunkport. These women lived in Portland, a 30 minute drive to Kennebunkport and then another 30 minute drive to Kittery.

Besides shopping there are plenty of activities that could be incorporated into your ‘staycation’ Inn packages. Just think of all the local places you have longed to visit, the spa treatment you have wanted to try, the watercolor class you have dreamed of taking, but have not had the time. There are plenty of ‘time deprived’ people out there that feel the same. 

I did a little research in our area and came up with a package I would sign up for.

  •          Rivertree Arts presents ‘Black and White”. Start the evening viewing an exhibition of historic mid-century B&W photos of Wall Street. Follow with a ‘Concert and a Movie’ event featuring live music accompanying a groundbreaking 1921 B&W silent film. End the evening with a late light supper at the Old Vines Wine Bar. All these events are within walking distance from the Inn. Start the next day with a wonderful breakfast followed by a walk on the beach or…?

This following idea was  from the ‘staycation’ idea website.

  •      ‘Inn Our Own Backyard’ – Host your own tournaments, croquet, badminton, bocce ball, and horseshoes, with prizes. This could be a great inn to inn activity. End the day with a barbeque.

Of course all these package ideas may also be ideal for guests from far away, but your marketing to the ‘staycation’ guests will be different. I asked Scott Thomas, innkeeper and social media marketing expert from the Brewster House Bed & Breakfast in Freeport, Maine to comment and make some suggestions.

From Scott:

“Just last weekend we had a last-minute call from someone an hour north of us, who just wanted a one-night getaway. Great! I think that does call for some emphasis on reaching the ‘local’ market – from 30-120 minutes’ drive. I realize that the 2 hour drive takes people into the ‘normal’ range, but if there is a metro area near the edge of the 60-90 minute range, you wouldn’t want to leave them out.

“I would definitely urge people to be sure their Google and Bing local listings are up-to-date, and that they are taking advantage of putting ‘an update’ on the Google Place page (they are free, and stay up for 30 days). We recently had guests searching for Valentine’s packages and they say we came up first (which I doubt, but it depends on how they searched, I suppose). If so, it is because I had a Valentine’s package in the Google Pages listing. I also would definitely identify guests within a day’s drive and email them about the package.”

Thank you Scott. This is good stuff, especially the Google and Bing local listing advice.

You may have a local TV channel that has a community bulletin board. Use Facebook to promote your package, add photos and make it easy for them to book, now. Cross promote with the business partner you include in your package, i.e. the art center and restaurant. Remember, a package is for guests who want everything all wrapped up and easy to book with one all-inclusive price.

I end this with an interesting  statistic.

“226 million vacation days will go unused this year resulting in some 50 million Americans becoming ‘vacation deprived’ says travel company Monograms.”

I think those 50 million Americans could use an ‘Inn staycation’. You agree?

Janet Wolf

* Money and keys image courtesy of David Souza, Tax Publishing.


B is for Fabulous Beds

October 14th, 2011 by Janet Wolf

Jasper Resting in His Nuzzle Bed


The focal point of a guest room is the bed.  I have always proposed that the bed should be the utmost enticement for a weary traveller’s eyes, for it most likely is the first thing they see when entering the room. A major part of the experience you provide for your guest is the sleep experience. What I call the Ahhh factor.  A sagging mattress, tired pillows, wrinkled linens and out of date fabric patterns are not contributing to A Better Way to Stay.

In a recent issue of Hotel Business there was an article about The Benjamin Hotel, a boutique hotel in New York City that recently completed a comprehensive renovation. The general manager said, “When it comes to the guestrooms, everything we do revolves around sleep and a good night’s sleep is all about comfort.”  We all want that and the best innkeepers out there go above and beyond to achieve that high level of comfort. Besides the 500 thread count Egyptian cotton linens and sateen down duvets, this property also offers a ‘Sleep Program’ that includes recommendations for pillows, a sleep-inducing massage and a night time snack. That sounds like an opportunity for a great package to me!

Like so many fashion trends, dressing a bed changes with the times. The mutible decorative pillow look with huge down comforters and lacy canopies was a wonderful look, the important word here is ‘was’. In its place a bed with crisp, clean lines, white or cream linens accented with a splash of color is a look that we see more and more of today.

Take a look at these two examples of beds I believe any guest would love to fall into.








So why should an innkeeper change their look and feel of their beds on a regular basis as well as the overall look and feel of their décor? Guests expectations are constantly changing, whether it is Gen Y or the over 60 crowd. We all like new and fresh. All of us at The B&B Team believes it is very important that innkeepers strive to meet today’s consumer’s needs. A new and fresh design can increase your guests’ intent to stay thus increase your bottom line. That’s reason enough.

By the way, those fabulous beds belong to the Inn at English Meadows and Captain Jefferds Inn. I’m not sure who the cat belongs too, just thought it was a great shot.

Janet Wolf

Is Living Social or Groupon Confusing Your Performance Indicators?

July 27th, 2011 by Scott Bushnell

Countless inns are participating in the Living Social and Groupon craze (not sure if I should use the word “fad” there, which implies a short-term shelf life) and, as seen in previous postings from Janet and me, there are a number of “rules of thumb” that can make participation worthwhile.

One thing that is happening, however, is the monstrous effects it has on Occupancy and Average Daily Rate (ADR) calculations…typical discussion mileposts among innkeepers concerning the strength of their businesses.  The voucher bookings send occupancy soaring but the revenue margin on each voucher is miniscule compared to the “normal” operating rates.  Consider this example from this 10 room inn in Pennsylvania:

2010 revenues were about $156,000 and occupancy was 31.7%.  They sold 1156 rooms in 2010 giving them an annual ADR of $135.  Like many inns, they are seasonally slow in January-May and participated in a coupon drop with a net income per coupon (after discount to purchaser and the company) of $47.25.  They sold 413 coupons for a windfall check of almost $20,000…nice bucks in the slow season.

Using their 2010 performance, with these additional 413 room-nights sold, their occupancy for the year LEAPED from 31.7% to 43%!  But because their revenue for the additional 413 rooms was so low, their ADR fell from $135 to $112.

With these indicators was the coupon drop worth it?

Don’t know yet.  The hotels have been using RevPar as their measuring indicator forever.  RevPar is the Revenue per Available Room and is calculated by dividing the total room revenue by the number of rooms in the facility times 365 (days per year).  This combines the Occupancy level and the ADR into one number and makes comparisons so much simpler.

In our guinea pig inn above, the RevPar for 2010 prior to the coupon drop impact was $42.76.  With the addition of 413 room nights at $47.25 each, RevPar increased to $48.10.  This makes an easy correlation when comparing performance indicators from year to year or from inn to inn.

So was the coupon drop worth it?

Some of you just now said, Yes!   (I heard you!) but I am not sure you are right.  RevPar does NOT take into account your expenses and the ultimate impact on Net Operating Income…the REAL driver of the strength of your business.  If the inn’s expenses for the coupon drop are above $47.25 (the revenue received for each one) …their NOI dropped unfavorably.  And, as you have seen in previous postings, an inn’s variable costs (for housekeeping labor, those little soaps, laundry, breakfast, etc.) can easily be $30 or more.

RevPar needs to become the measurement of choice in the B&B industry to replace Occupancy and ADR.  It’ll take a generation or two to evolve, but with the current discounting crazes that will, most likely, become routine marketing tools (thus throwing the traditional indicators into a roller-coaster tizzy), RevPar is the only one that makes sense when comparing performance from year to year or from inn to inn.      Scott