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

Posts Tagged ‘bed and breakfasts’

Common Rooms – Time for a Transformation?

July 12th, 2013 by Janet Wolf

How often are your common areas used and which ones? Do your guests use your dining room for anything other than breakfast? I believe these are some good questions that may start you thinking about how your public spaces can be transformed into “Spaces that are open to interpretation-places to relax, think, create, meet and make your own.” This may sound a bit esoteric but it is what Marriott is doing, transforming their lobbies and dining areas to areas that reflect “comfort and connectivity in every corner.” Marriott’s goal is to attract the Gen X and Y travelers. They believe, and I agree, that this generation of travelers have an interest in design and look for spaces that they feel comfortable occupying for work and play.

A recent Marriott property lobby transformation. Intimate?

A recent Marriott property lobby transformation.

Your public spaces are valuable. They should be used, not just passed through.

I like the thought of creating spaces that are ’open to interpretation’. Example would be to design your dining/breakfast room to be inviting any time of the day. Bright and cheery for the morning and cozy and inviting for the evening hours. Lighting is very important for practicality and ambiance.

The Living Room at The Swag  Photo by Jumping Rocks

The Living Room at The Swag
Photo by Jumping Rocks

This living room or great room at The Swag in North Carolina is a great example of a room that could go from breakfast to evening wine, a game of checkers or checking your emails.

Your guests may not be on a business trip but they will bring work with them or just prefer to be connected at all times, even on vacation. Providing a space with good WiFI, comfortable chairs and tables with good lighting and plugs galore is very important. All of us at The B&B Team travel a lot and we know how important good and connected work spaces are!

Here is an example of the living room at the Maine Stay Inn in Kennebunkport, before and after.

The Maine Stay Living Room...before

The Maine Stay Living Room…before                                      Photo by Christian Giannelli



They have gone from a very traditional formal setting to a more contemporary lounge look. There is no right or wrong, the original room setting was quite nice but innkeepers Judi, Walter and Johanna wanted to make the space brighter and more inviting and they say the space is used more often now. The new chairs have wheels for ease in rearranging if necessary.

The hotel chains like Marriott are working to create more intimate spaces within their large spaces. Our bed and breakfasts and country inns already have smaller spaces, creating intimacy is not the challenge. Our challenge is to make the smaller spaces into a blend of style and comfort designed for the way travelers young and ‘experienced’ work and play today.


The Maine Stay Living Room...after

The Maine Stay Living Room…after                                        Photo by Christian Giannelli

Oh and when you transform those spaces, show them off. Good photography on your website is the best invitation for your future guests to connect to you.

Thanks for Listening,

Janet Wolf

Y is for Yield Management

October 21st, 2011 by Janet Wolf


What is it? More important, should you be doing it? I will attempt to decode some of the marketing jargon and bring the reality of yield management out of the airline and hotel realms to our neck of the hospitality business.

One interesting fact I discovered was that yield management has only become a part of mainstream business over the past fifteen to twenty years. It started with the deregulation of the airline industry, then spread to other travel and transportation companies in the early 1990’s.

Here are some terms that we at The B&B Team have found in our research that best defines yield management.

  • The control of inventory to sell it to the right customer at the right time for the right price.
  • The process of understanding, anticipating and influencing consumer behavior in order to maximize yield or profit from a fixed or perishable resource.

Your inventory is of course your rooms. Because you don’t have 500 hotel rooms or 5000 airline seats to sell by a certain date to meet a marketing quota strategy doesn’t mean your inventory is any less challenging to manage.  In an article written by Glenn Withiam from the Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University, he writes about the ‘Four Cs’, Calendar, Clock, Capacity and cost. A fifth (which is most important) is Customer. Let’s break these down to our industry.

  • Calendar – The majority of our properties have seasonal rates. These rates reflect when consumers are most likely going to want to stay in your location. The term marketer’s use is ‘demand fluctuations’. These fluctuations can be fairly predictable based on historical demand but can also be hard to predict at times. They are influenced by weather, gas prices, when certain holidays land in the week, just to name a few.
  • Clock – Your inventory becomes perishable at 12 midnight. Here is an example of managing that one last empty room at 6 PM.
    •  Scenario: Your neighbor Inn who is full, calls and tells you he has a couple standing in front of him that wants to stay for one night, can you accommodate them? First thing you do is ask to talk to them, eliminate the third person. Tell them that you have a room left for this evening and that you would love for them to come by and take a look. Getting them to your Inn is preferable but if there is any hesitation than you can skip right to the rate. “We have our 6 PM special rate for first time guests” (you can come up with your own spin on a spur of the moment special, remember the clock is ticking!).  At this point you offer them an attractive rate that will hopefully get them in your door.
  • Capacity – This is the size of your property and the amount to rooms you have to sell. The variable is the size of the room and the amenities offered. These variables will determine the rates you set. The challenge is in managing your capacity, to minimize any lost revenue. In other words, not leaving any money on the table! A good example in managing capacity is group reservations for weddings, family reunions and other events. Booking the Inn for a weekend event may restrict the reservations you could get for a possible Thursday through Monday booking. There are no general rules for group reservations. The rules are what work best for you. Some innkeepers restrict group reservations during peak seasons. Another example of managing your capacity is being creative when you need to fill the booking ‘holes’.  You may have single rooms available for one or two nights but a customer wants three nights.  In order to fill those ‘holes’ you offer to book them in one of the available rooms for two nights and move them for the third night. In our experience as innkeepers most guests don’t mind the move when you make it seamless.
  • Cost – This is the part of selling your inventory for the right price. The spread between the cost of renting your room and the revenue you receive should be as large as possible. You, the Innkeeper know what your rooms are worth, the great service you provide, the great breakfasts, the value added amenities, etc. But…does your customer know they are paying a fair rate for what you have to offer? Some do and are willing to pay the rate you offer. Some are not and are looking only for the rate they want to pay.  Mr. Withiam from Cornell calls these customers ‘price sensitive’.  I have heard innkeepers use many other phrases! This is when the clock and capacity come into play. You have to match what you have to the customer’s willingness to pay for the service in relation to its timing. Let’s go back to the “6 PM special first time guest rate” This approach has everything to do with what you have in inventory at a specific time and engaging a customer to accept an attractive rate at that moment in time.  Have fun with this approach; it is even more fun when they book the room!  Just remember the special rate (I’m not going to use the word discount) is better than an empty, and perishable, room.
  • Customer – Let’s go back to one of the first definitions. ‘The process of understanding, influencing and anticipating the customer’s behavior.’ Innkeepers are constantly trying to understand their customers. It is one of the most challenging and interesting parts of being an Innkeeper. Many have indicated to us that their guests have become more demanding, more ‘price sensitive’ and expect certain amenities that in the past were not as important to them. Are these questions familiar: Do you have TVs in your rooms? Can we buy a bottle of wine from you or do we have to bring our own? I am allergic to fruit, gluten, eggs, dairy products and honey, can you accommodate my dietary needs? (Scream) All your answers should be Yes, Yes and (gulp) yes. Knowing what your customers are looking for, anticipating their needs is an art and comes with experience. If your guests know that you are working hard at accommodating their wants and needs they are more likely to return and influence their friends and family to stay.


In conclusion….Yield management is nothing more than knowing what you have to sell, your inventory, and managing it in a way that will result in maximizing your revenue. Obviously you want and need to sell as many rooms at the highest possible seasonal rates. But you know that some of your rooms will be available at certain times and will need to be let go at lower rates.  The definition of yield is to produce something as a result of cultivation that in turn gives profit. It also means to stop resisting.

So you have to yield a bit at times, especially before midnight when that empty room goes ‘poof’ and disappears.


What’s All this Stuff about Living Social and Groupon?

April 28th, 2011 by Scott Bushnell

A little more info to add to Jan’s post of April 6th.

It used to be the mantra in the B&B industry to NEVER discount your rooms.  You cheapen your image and could set lower price expectations for the traveling public for their next trip to your inn.  Well William Shatner in his TV ads and a multitude of Price Lowering websites and alternatives have already changed those expectations…so get over it.

Here are a few Mid-Atlantic stories that counter the old school discounting taboo:

A Full Service Inn in New Jersey, through Living Social Escapes, sold 225 vouchers offering two options to purchasers…a one night stay (voucher price $230) or two night stay ($380)including dinner, breakfast, champagne, chocolates, 2 martinis at the bar and 2 tickets to a regional attraction.

Another upscale B&B in Maryland sold 86 coupons through Groupon for one night, flowers and chocolates for a voucher price of $155, and a larger inn in Maryland, using Living Social Escapes,  is offering two nights, wine and chocolates for $157 (weekends) and $117 (weekdays) and sold 632 at last count.  They make their money on upselling spa services and gift baskets with each voucher at a 20% discount from usual pricing.

A fourth, very upscale inn in Baltimore sold 550 Groupons at $99 for a room with a value up to $250!

The two largest companies, Living Social and Groupon, offer coupons to their memberships at deep discounts…often 50% or more.  They do mass marketing through their email membership databases usually targeted in a particular region or city.  Retailers and service providers have seen phenomenal traffic from the vouchers sold to these members.

Living Social has an “Escapes” section on their site specifically attractive to their travel membership.  Often, this is the section in which an inn can participate.

Here’s the general process:  A retail or service provider signs a deal with the service for a particular product or service having an identified value.  A discount to the purchaser is provided (50% off is usually the minimum…but negotiable with the company), and the coupon “drop” is targeted for a specific market.  The company sells the voucher, subtracts a commission (often 30%+ depending on the voucher price), and sends a net proceeds check each month to compensate the business.

Sound scary to try it?  Here are a few VERY IMPORTANT considerations when planning such a coupon drop:

  • Understand your variable costs.  Your fixed costs are those bills that you have to pay anyway…whether there is a guest in the house or not…such as the electric, real estate taxes, insurances and cable TV bills.  Variable costs are the extra costs when you have a guest, including:
    –  Food costs (take your annual food costs and divide by the number of room-nights sold…should be about $8 or $9).
    –  Laundry (use about $4 per room)
    –  Room amenities (shampoos, soaps, munchies, etc….perhaps $3?)
    –  Housekeeping labor and the withholding associated with wages (probably in the $10-$12 range)
    –  We won’t count the little bit of extra utilities a guest will use.
    –  Add a buck or two for the office supplies (confirmation letters, postage), wear and tear on the linens, etc.

This Variable Cost adds up to about $25-$30 for the first room-night…about $15 more for a second night’s stay.

  • Take the rack rates for the rooms you wish to dedicate to this effort…say it’s $160.  Divide that by two to figure in the 50% discount to the purchaser.  That leaves $80 price for the voucher in our example.
  • You can expect to pay at least 30% commission to the company.  They will also, most likely, charge you the credit card fee they have to pay (let’s say 2.5%).  That leaves $54 which is sent to you for each voucher sold.

    Then compare the proceeds you will receive with the Variable Costs you will incur…Worth it?

That is why inns are upselling other packages and services with their offer.  It increases the value of the voucher and ultimately the check received at a rate greater than the costs associated with the package.  But you must understand your costs.

On the good side of such an effort:

  • You can dedicate a time frame within which the voucher must be used.  Aim those dates to the holes in your schedules including the slow season and mid-week.  Stay away from the weekends and busy season when you will sell your rooms at your usual rates anyway.  You can put those restrictions on the voucher.
  • You can limit how many you sell so that you don’t have the risk of overselling for the time frame and angering guests.
  • Experience is showing a large number of younger couples taking advantage of the deals.  This is the NEXT generation of inn visitor…a valuable asset to the industry.
  • You will build your database with email addresses for future marketing efforts.
  • You can “hook ’em” with your hospitality so that they become repeat guests.
  • It seems about 20% of the vouchers will never be redeemed.  This is free income to you, but don’t budget it.

A few watch-outs from those who have used these programs:

  • The demographics of the visitors may not be your what you are used to.  They can be “cheapskates” (as one innkeeper put it), asking for other discounts and taking advantage of the free goodies you have around the inn.
  • “Sit by the phone” when the coupon drops…you will be swamped all at once.  One inn had a list of 60 callback names and numbers to get back to because the calls came in like a tsunami.
  • You will get calls from people trying to buy the deal after the vouchers sell out.  They saw it online and feel they have the right to book it directly with you.
  • The voucher holders tend to book early (as soon as they buy it) or late (just before they expire).  Be prepared with rooms for the procrastinators.

For those start-up inns or inns with very slow months of the year…I think it’s a valuable tool for cash flow.  Any other inns out there doing it?  Would love to hear your comments.    Scott

Green Luxury

April 26th, 2010 by Janet Wolf

I recently read a great article written for Eco Salon, an on-line lifestyle blog featuring eco-friendly advice, entitled Trend on the Wane: Hotel Toiletries. The author, Kim Darby states that: "Luxury in the past has implied waste, but increasingly, luxury is being defined as what is most comfortable and thoughtful, not disposable.  I find it refreshing that luxury can now rest graciously in the same sentence with words like recycle, conserve and green consciousness."

As an Innkeeper I always hated throwing away so many little plastic bottles and barely used bars of soap. For a time we were able to donate them to a local women's shelter but were then told we couldn't do that any longer because of a new ordinance stating this practice was unsanitary.  The B & B Team is always looking for current information that we can share with our aspiring and current Innkeeper clients.  That is why I was so excited when I found Clean the World at PAII'srecent Innkeeping Conference in Austin. This program offers Innkeepers a great solution in managing their amenities waste.  Clean the World offers a Bed and Breakfast Partnership Program where Innkeepers simply collect used amenities and ship them to the Clean the World Recycling Center in Orlando, Florida. They then process the donations into products and donate them to countries that use them to help fight diseases caused by lack of cleanliness. All your staff time and goods donated are tax deductible and the organization will provide Innkeepers with quarterly statements detailing the amount of soap and shampoo donated during that period.

Another solution to amenity waste management is the use of refillable wall-mounted dispensers.  This practice has been used in European hotels for many years and is now being used more and more in the states. Many of the PAII vendors that supply amenities offer a limited choice of their luxury products in bulk containers. Innstyle offers Natura brand shampoo, conditioner and body wash in bulk containers as well as attractive dispensers.  Pineapple Hospitality offers a variety of 'green' amenities and dispensers.  Gilchrist and Soames and Greenwich Bay Trading Co.offer some of their luxury products in bulk containers as well. Some of the products are now offered in more bio degradable plastic containers as well as paper bottles.  As an example, Gilchrist and Soames offers their Beekind brand in the paper bottles.

I love the fact that Innkeepers now have more choices of 'green' luxury amenities to offer their guests as well as a great solution to managing amenity waste with the Clean the World program. We would love to hear from Innkeepers that have signed up for the Bed and Breakfast Partnership Program as well as what luxury green amenities you are currently using.  Go Lux Green!

Janet Wolf

New Innkeepers and the Yankees are Coming!

February 4th, 2010 by Janet Wolf

Not the New York Yankees…..but Dan and Penny Cote, the proud new Innkeepers of Inn Victoria of Chester, Vermont!


Welcoming these new Yankees are the former Innkeepers, Jon and Julie Pierce, who just happen to be British! The B&B Team is pleased to have been the Transfer Consultants to both the Cote’s and Pierces, on January 26th, 2010.  The transfer was smooth and a happy affair…no Redcoats or Green Mountain Men were present.


Now a question…will the new Innkeepers serve pie for breakfast?  The New Englanders out there may know the answer to this question.  For those who don’t, there is a wonderful and humorous answer from writer E.B. White:


-To Foreigners, a Yankee is an American

-To Americans, a Yankee is a Northerner

-To Northerners, a Yankee is an Easterner

-To Easterners, a Yankee is a New Englander

-To New Englanders, a Yankee is a Vermonter

-To Vermonters, a Yankee is somebody who eats Pie for Breakfast!


So, the many Yankees of yore served pie for breakfast in their inns and taverns…..not so different from the wonderful sweet and savory breakfasts served by Innkeepers today!


All of us at The B&B Team welcome Dan and Penny to the wonderful community of Innkeepers and say farewell to Jon and Julie as they return to their native England.


A Breakfast Pie


Pies needn’t be confined to dinner either.  Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great American essayist and philosopher who was dubbed a “hopelessly confirmed pie-eater” by his biographer, hewed faithfully to a diet of pie for breakfast!  Why not take his cue and try a riff on the classic English wake-up: a pie of caramelized, chopped tomatoes, browned mushrooms, thick-cut bacon and hard cooked eggs?  Or maybe a mash-up of spiced pears sautéed with leeks and country sausage? 


Enjoy the recipes!


The B&B Team is Growing!

January 4th, 2010 by Peter Scherman

Peter Scherman and Rick Wolf of The B&B Team® are pleased to announce the affiliation of Scott & Marilyn Bushnell of Bushnell & Bushnell Innkeeping Services as new Affiliates of The B&B Team®. Bushnell & Bushnell Services is based in Berlin, MD, complementing our offices in Kennebunk, Maine and Scottsville, Virginia.

The B&B Team®, founded in 1993, caters to the Innkeeping Industry with consulting and brokerage services nationwide. With the affiliation of Bushnell & Bushnell Services, Inc., the company continues to evolve its business model and add resources to better serve our clients. Founding partner and CEO Peter Scherman said, “Experience in and commitment to the Innkeeping industry are essential to success. High ethical standards are core to our company’s mission. Scott and Marilyn meet the expectations we have of our associates and our clients have of us.” Partner and COO Rick Wolf said that “bringing Scott and Marilyn onboard early in 2010 speaks volumes to how strongly we believe in the business and how much confidence we have in the Bushnell’s to join us and better serve our friends and colleagues in the Innkeeping industry.”

The Mid-Atlantic Innkeepers Conference and Trade Show at The Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia in January will be the regional kick-off of this new collaboration, followed shortly by the national launch at the Innkeeping Show hosted by the Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII) and Select Registry®, in Austin, TX in March, 2010.

Peter and Peggy and Rick and Janet welcome Scott and Marilyn to The B&B Team® and look forward to advancing the Innkeeping industry and our clients’ interests in 2010 and beyond.