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 ‘family travel’

Virtual Road Trip

December 3rd, 2010 by Janet Wolf

Some of my favorite and most memorable vacations as a child and adult were road trips. Travelling cross country from California to Florida when I was twelve is a trip I will never forget. Up before dawn to beat the heat my sister and I continued our sleep in the back seat (we did not have the luxury of an air conditioned car).  After a few hours on the road we would stop for a big breakfast and later for an early roadside diner supper.  My dad was not one for making a lot of stops seeking out road side amusements, like the world’s second largest ball of twine ala National Lampoon’s Vacation.  Ah but at the end of the day, around 4 o’clock there was always a swimming pool and a good nights’ sleep.  In a recent Road & Travel Magazine Blog about family vacations they write;  ‘Your family vacation could be as simple as taking a road trip to an unexpected region in your own state.’ They couldn’t have said it better!   

Feeling nostalgic I recently googled ‘road trip’ and found a fun website, Road Trip America . The site has a list of suggested routes and itineraries.  I randomly chose one in Wyoming, one reason being that it is one state I have not visited and would love to one day. I thought it would be fun to take this virtual trip a step further and search out bed and breakfasts along the way and create my own itinerary.   

The route starts in Cheyenne and ends in Little America, a 324 mile trip, suggested driving time, seven hours. But of course I will be staying at four B&B’s and stopping at as many roadside attractions as I can find. I am not like my dad; this trip may take me at least a week. So please join us (I think I’ll take Rick along) on our virtual tour…   

Perched on a hill above Cheyenne is The Howdy Pardner B&B. You can stay in one of their three rooms or in their authentic Sheepherder’s Wagon.  That looks like fun but you have to trek to the main house to use the privy. This would be a great room for kids with strong bladders.  Trip Advisor reviews boast of the hosts’ old west charm and hospitality and immaculate housekeeping, no road dust here. A cowbell alerts guests that their ranch style breakfast is about to commence and I’ll bet its’ good and there’s’ plenty of it. A fun way to stay.   

Howdy Pardner’s Sheepherder’s Wagon


 Next stop is Laramie and the Mad Carpenter Inn, a downtown location just a short walk from the University of Wyoming. An immaculately restored “shabby old house” as stated by the carpenter/innkeeper who after so many years of restoration calls himself mad! Besides the detailed custom ceiling to floor woodwork, a great part of this inn is the game room with pool table, foosball, ping pong and antique piano.  A family way to stay.   

 Down the road off of our main route of I 80 on Route 130 you will pass through the central Wyoming section of the Routt National Forest. It is a steep winding drive through beautiful scenery which is closed in the winter. After a nice scenic drive in good weather we travel back to I 80 and check into the Elk Mountain Hotel. This is a small historic hotel and restaurant with the look and feel of a luxury B&B. Set in the country, the hotel was once on the Overland Stage Route with western history oozing from every corner.  An historic Wyoming way to stay.   

We take surface roads to our next destination, Saratoga. From the name you may assume the area has some hot springs, and you are right. The ‘very’ hot mineral springs, Hobo Hot Pool, is right in the heart of the small town and offers a free plunge and is open 24/7.  For a more luxurious experience there is the Saratoga Resort & Spa. They feature intimate private teepees next to their hot spring pool which you can enjoy along with a spa treatment. Not free of course but available to travelers not staying at the resort.  I chose another spot for lodging because I like the name, The Wolf Hotel! I would describe this establishment circa 1893 as a down home fun and funky way to stay! A restaurant and bar with rooms to let upstairs. You would almost expect to see Matt Dillon and Chester mosey through the door.   


Hotel Wolf 1893

 The last leg of our trip, Little America, population 56, appears to be known only for the 80 acre, 188 room Little America Hotel and Resort, with café and ‘beautiful new fuel center’ plus a nine-hole executive golf course.  Definitely not a bed and breakfast but worth a roadside attraction look see (or fuel stop) even if you don’t stay there.  Set in the middle of a vast Wyoming prairie, local legend tells that the founder was stranded on a cold Wyoming blizzard night with no shelter and over time this spot morphed into  one of the ‘must stop’ places on I 80.   

Our virtual trip ends here. It was fun and educational and I hope one day to make it a reality.  No matter where one travels in the 50 states and abroad there are interesting and unique bed and breakfasts and small hotels to make any road a road worth travelling and your trip a journey of discovery. You may have picked up on my references to PAII’s new marketing campaign, A Better Way to Stay. I believe this journey illustrates how unique, interesting and diverse all of your properties are, so many wonderful ways to stay.   

 Whether it’s two for the road or with the family in tow we at The B&B Team would love to hear about your favorite road trip.  Also we would love to hear how you have helped your guests’ create treasured road trip memories? Have any of you created your own road trip itineraries with other B&Bs?   

Thanks for the memories,   

Janet Wolf   



Do You Know What the B&B Industry’s Competition is Doing?

June 11th, 2010 by Scott Bushnell

On a flight to visit an inn this past week, I was reading an article in the USA Today (June 1) containing some interesting information about the big guys…the hotels…with information that also applies to the B and B industry.  In his article “Hotels try to woo leisure travelers” Roger Yu relates some concepts of the changing travel marketplace and the evolution of the hotels (and WE should listen too!) to meet the change challenge.

First a few facts: According to D.K. Shifflet & Associates, a travel and research consulting firm:

  • Leisure travel surpassed business travel for the hotel industry in 2004
  • That gap has widened and by 2009, 54% of hotel travel volume is now leisure travel.
  • Corporate travel has been slowly declining, and “it’s not going back” according to Shifflet.
  • The Gen X (late 20’s to early 40’s) travelers are replacing the Baby Boomers and are traveling with their young families.

The hotels are watching the changing demographics and evolving to meet the new market.  To entice the leisure traveler to their properties, focus is strengthening on FAMILY travel. Marriott is:

  • Offering a Nickelodeon package to the kids with activity books and Nick bracelets
  • Toddler care packages are awaiting the arriving family with squirting bath toys, fitted crib sheets, baby shampoos and nightlights.
  • Spongebob backpacks with matching sheets and pillowcases are for sale in the gift shop.

The younger demographic is also demanding VALUE, a concept more wide-spread than just the Gen X-ers.  Homewood Suites by Hilton (typically a corporate traveler mecca has seen a 50% increase in its leisure travel this past year) is revising its free meals program, and Kimpton Hotels will give away free sangria drinks and Wii video games in the lobby this summer…something for the parents AND the kids.

So what does that have to do with US in the Bed and Breakfast Industry?

Everything, if you are ready to keep your business growing!

B and B owners often cater to only a certain slice of the traveling market.  They rely on the romance getaway, or traveling couple, typically Baby Boomers, to fill rooms.  But this AGE-SEGMENT of the traveling market is declining and we must target the NEXT generation as well…and they’re traveling with their kids. Some target the corporate traveler if the inn is fortunate enough to have several large businesses or a college within a mile or two.  But this segment is also in decline, and mid-week rooms are going to go empty.

Some ACTION Items for your Next Planning Meeting

  • Is your Inn ready for a Tune-Up? Do your rooms and bathrooms appeal to the NEW demographic of the traveling public?  Do you have Ipod docking stations, and have you replaced gramma’s old furniture with clean lines and Pottery Barn-type styling?  People want to visit museums, not stay in one.
  • Is your website ready for updating?  Anything 2 years or older is a dinosaur that won’t be found by the new search engine algorithms.  Do you have video of area attractions, or still relying on static photography of a bed?  The next generation is ultra techno-savvy and will find you in ways OTHER than your organic website, IF you embrace social media (May 7 posting) marketing and email marketing.
  • Are you still illegally restricting kids to age 12 or older?  Talk to those inns who willingly accept children and find out what they do to make the family experience memorable.
  • If all the inns in your area still restrict children, think of the ADVANTAGE you will have when they send all their family-travel referrals to you!
  • Targeting and marketing for mid-week bookings in addition to your current corporate travelers will prepare to replace those declining mid-week business guests with others…such as quilting groups, elder travel with grandkids, or scrapbookers.  I’ll bet there’s an inn in your area already capitalizing on this new trend.

The B&B Team is ready to help you with your Evolution Planning when you are finally disgusted with negative growth of your inn’s performance.  The traveling market is evolving, and we BEG each of the inns in this industry to evolve with it.  And it’s fun!  And more satisfying than watching Spongebob!


Lake Lure… Carolina On My Mind

October 9th, 2009 by Janet Wolf

Ken Burns most recent documentary series, National Parks-America’s Best Idea, is a brilliant assemblage of stories full of mystery, suspense and adventure, definitely not a tired travel log.  In the last episode of the twelve part series that covers the years from 1945-1980, the focus is on the American tourist that is keen on getting out and exploring their country. There was a renewed sense of wanderlust in those post WWII years and vacationing in our national parks was the perfect place for young families to enjoy themselves easily and affordably.  Beyond 1980 and into the present, we see a renewed wanderlust, where today’s contemporary traveler is searching for meaningful getaways and experiences that promote togetherness among travelers and for destinations that encourage connections to nature, history, or culture. 

What better way to connect with nature than with a visit to one our treasured parks and rediscover what many US travelers have ignored over the past years as they trekked off to Europe or vacationed in high priced island resorts.  Yet beyond our National Parks, and often right next door, there are countless areas of quiet, peaceful scenic beauty that await our visits, places that renew our spirit and make that connection to nature and history so genuine.  There is one place that has been a retreat for the soul for countless generations of travelers from the Cherokee to today’s contemporary destination seeker, Lake Lure, North Carolina.

Janet Wolf