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 ‘hospitality’

V is also for VALUE-with a Bed & Breakfast

September 3rd, 2012 by Scott Bushnell

Mark Orwoll, International Editor of Travel + Leisure was interviewed this morning by CBS Morning Show who spoke to the hidden fees that surprise hotel travelers…and often cause that debate with the hotel front clerk that is uncomfortable for the guest and annoying for the clerk.

The Negotiator…”offer a lower price, you mamby-pamby!”

According to Mr. Orwoll, and due to the economy slump starting about 4 years ago, hotels started adding these fees to supplement the deep discounting they have had to do to keep their shares of the traveling market.  Such marketing efforts as Expedia, Priceline, and were reducing room revenues so the hotels resorted to other “hidden” fees to maintain overall revenues such as:

  • Internet fees (as much as $10-$20 per day)
  • Resort fees (what the heck is that?  Why should I pay for the spa and golf course if I am not going to use it?)
  • Mandatory valet fees (Can’t I park my own car and save the $20 per day?)

And we already know that the restaurants and gift shops in a hotel are not a bargain.

Bed & Breakfasts offer the full VALUE of free parking, free we-fi, free gourmet breakfast, newspapers, snacks and drinks, often wine and cheese gatherings, concierge services beyond the expectation in addition to striking up that personal relationship that is so important to the guest.

The lesson here for B&B’s?  Be sure these extras (all a part of the full guest experience) are on your website, on your marketing materials, and your reservation confirmations.  B&B’s have been offering such VALUE for decades and will continue to do so.  So let’s all be sure to take advantage of letting the traveling public know that the full guest experience is also at the best VALUE.  Scott

K is for the 5 Keys to a Strong Business at your Bed and Breakfast

February 28th, 2012 by Scott Bushnell

Marilyn and I had the good fortune this past weekend to work with 9 excited aspiring innkeepers at our A Better Way to Learn InnkeepingTM  seminar held at the Wayside Inn B&B in Ellicott City, Maryland.  What a great group!  We laughed and networked with Bill and Charlotte Schmickle of the Flag House in Annapolis but the real focus was on the KEYS to a strong business at your inn.

  1. Location, Location, Location
  2. Understanding WHO will be coming to your inn
  3. Wrapping your inn AROUND those guests
  4. Think Sunday-Thursday
  5. Being the Best

Each of these Keys can be put on a continuum numbered, say, from 1-10 with 10 being the strongest.  Let’s look at each one:

  1. Location, Location, Location:  This has been the buzzword for any real estate purchase but for a Bed & Breakfast EACH word has a separate meaning:  The first definition is the Macro-location…is the inn located near major metropolitan areas from which to pull guests?  The more population close at hand (gas is getting more expensive!), the higher on the continuum the rating.  For the Wayside Inn, being located nicely in the Baltimore-DC corridor, this inn ranks high on this Location…perhaps a 9.  The second definition of Location includes the area attractions in that region which will draw guests to the area.  And the broader the diversity of attractions (historical, antiquing, entertainment, soft adventures, etc.), the higher the likelihood of drawing folks out of the nearby metropolitan populations.  The third definition of Location is the Inn itself…its attractive location in the town, its curb appeal and its accessibility.
  2. The second KEY is identifying the guests who will be coming to those area attractions…and what their needs would be.  If the attraction is an amusement park or college, children will be coming.  If there are businesses in the area, corporate travelers have particular needs as well.
  3. Wrapping your Inn around those guests’ needs is the next KEY.  Room features, amenities and services must satisfy the needs of those identified guests.  Business travelers need desks, Wi-Fi, multiple outlets, a forgiving cancellation policy, early breakfasts, and NO advanced deposits.
  4. The fourth KEY can often be a difficult one…Thinking Sunday through Thursday.  Any inn can fill up on the weekend, but that is only 28% of the week…an occupancy not high enough to pay all the bills.  Marketing to corporate guests, elder-travelers, quilting and scrap booking groups, or offering discounts to weekenders to encourage them to stay an extra day or two becomes a high priority targeted activity.
  5. Being the Best.  This KEY is what will keep your parking lot full while the inn across the street wonders how you do it.  Investigate what the competition is doing (and NOT doing!) and Beat Them!  Have the best breakfast in town, offer a welcoming warmth that guests enjoy, and make their experience complete.

This dynamic group of aspiring innkeepers heard this important message and are currently defining the profiles of the inns that are RIGHT for them.  Congratulations to all of them as they continue their journey into the world of inn ownership!      Scott


Give Me the Simple Life

May 11th, 2011 by Janet Wolf

Ahh…the simple life of an innkeeper. Well maybe not so simple these days with social media, online reservations, website updating, conferences, webinars, the list goes on. So let me tell you a story of a couple of innkeepers of yore. Their names were Maryline White and Louise Shangle, partners in business and life. They owned a house on Goose Rocks Beach on the ocean in Maine. Many friends came to visit being that they loved to cook and entertain and the location was grand. So they say one day,”why not open for business, share our lifestyle with guests?”  So they did and The Snow Goose was opened.

Maryline now lives in Oregon and just celebrated her 90th birthday. Unfortunately Louise passed away a while back. Rick knew Maryline and Louise when they had a small restaurant in Carmel, California. They moved there after closing The Snow Goose.  The two of them were very adventurous and nomadic for a while!  Rick bused tables for them when he was in junior high school. They eventually moved back to Goose Rocks Beach and when Rick and I vacationed in the area and eventually moved and opened our bed and breakfast in Kennebunkport we reconnected.

I recently called Maryline and asked her a few questions about her and Louise’s experience as ‘simple innkeepers’ in the early 1960s.

Q  What are your memories of the worst guest?

A  I don’t think we had any bad guests. There was one that was unusual, he would bark at our two Scotties, maybe trying to communicate with them? They would just bark back. They had a great conversation.

Q  What did you do to market your inn?

A  My career in NYC was advertising and PR and Louise’s was graphic arts. We purchased a mailing list of companies related to these two fields and sent out mailings. Then we had these cards printed and distributed them in the tourist centers. That was about it in those days, but it worked. We would also make friends with the other innkeepers in our area. The Colony Hotel would send us people who didn’t want to pay their rates. We would also send people to The Colony who we thought would not be happy with our type of lodging.

Maryline wanted to say that she is still actively organizing and promoting. She started a ‘Poetry Jam’ at her senior living center where she lives. She says, “We keep it simple, no rules, just don’t recite for too long so you won’t embarrass yourself. It is a very popular event, in our first session we had over 40 attendees.”

Reading their clever ad says it all. You know exactly what kind of experience you will have at The Snow Goose. Can you imagine taking a reservation on a party line? Do any of you recall what a party line is?

Well I’m not going to make this a long blog, just going to keep it simple. But first a line from the song ‘Give Me the Simple Life’, words and music by Harry Ruby and Rube Bloom.

‘A cottage small is all I’m after

Not one that’s spacious and wide

A house that rings with joy and laughter

And the ones you love inside’

I believe this is what The Snow Goose was all about, simple hospitality from the heart. Thank you Maryline and Louise for your memories.

Janet Wolf

Hotels and Bed & Breakfasts – The Pendulum Swings

May 4th, 2011 by Janet Wolf

Compeat with Goliath?

We subscribe to a publication called Hotel Business. This and other sources are a great way to keep abreast of the hotel business, the trends, the predictions and in general what they are thinking. Some interesting observations recently came from the Luxury Management Executive Roundtable Series. This is a yearly gathering of big hitters including; Rock Resorts International, Destination Hotels & Resorts and Vail Resorts Hospitality and more. The number crunchers at the roundtable reported a strong come back in the luxury market in 2010 and the segment is rebounding very quickly for 2011.

Here are some highlights from the discussions. I think they will sound familiar. After the numbered quotes I have made comments relating to the small lodging industry, our side of the hospitality pendulum.

1.“We see individuals willing to buy a bit more for a memory or emotion now.”

2. “Thank god for the transient (hotel talk for the non- business customer). They have stuck with luxury. The future is bright.”

  • Talking with some innkeepers who own luxury properties, they have expressed an increase in bookings for spring and early summer. One property is up 48% from last year. Are they coming back because they recall the memory and emotion and want to relive the experience? I think yes.


3. “These guests (transients again) are more of a mix than in years past. Now it is all about the experience. It’s all about culture and authenticity.”

  • Properties that are branded well and offer an authentic experience have and will do well. Marketing this experience is all important and always will be. Check out Rick’s blog, ‘Build Your Brand’.


4. “The whole mindset of people from the tech industry with money is all about experience. They are very intellectual, and want no pretense, but they do want a great experience.”

  • It isn’t just the ‘people from the tech industry with money,’ but all tech savvy people with expendable income who want no pretense and want a great experience. The B&B Team refers to this group as the i-Guest™, who is informed, intelligent, independent, imaginative, interested, internet-savvy and identified. Some of you may have heard Rick and Peter speak on this subject at PAII national and regional conferences as well as state association conferences since 2009!


5. “Green programs are a big draw for luxury guests. Green is part of the new luxury.”


6. Today we need to look at the core lifestyle elements that represent the customer. We need to give people what they really want.”

  • The core lifestyle of our customers is also changing and we do need to become aware of these changes. This has been the message of PAII’s Better Way to Stay campaign from the beginning. The Gen X & Y lifestyle is different from the boomers. We need to be aware, not fearful and judiciously change to attract them.


7. “Amenities and features always come up. But if we ask what they want versus what they’ll pay for, it’s different. We have to understand what they’ll pay for and offer that.”

  • Amenities we offer also change. It is not just ‘what is hot and what’s not’ but what guests are looking for and expect today. Remember when nobody had TV’s in their guest rooms. It was thought of as a hotel/motel amenity. Luxury double showers are now a real draw today.


8. “Customers are always looking for value. It’s what you build into your room rate. They aren’t as rate sensitive, as they are sensitive to what’s included in that rate with value-adds.”

  • Our guests are looking for value and good innkeepers provide great value. The challenge is communicating the value we provide. This is also an area the Better Way to Stay campaign promises to address, getting the message out to a wider customer base.


9. “At the end of the day, what sets properties apart aren’t amenities, but service. It’s 95% service and 5% product that differentiates hotels. You have to have a perfect service delivery.”

  • Service, another main stay of our industry. It is not just 95% service and 5% product but great personalized service and individualized tailored products and amenities that differentiate the small lodging industry from hotels.


Every one of these comments and observations speaks to the core values of innkeepers. They speak to what good innkeepers strive for, work for and struggle with every day. Can we compete with Goliath? I think the answer is yes.  We are the Better Way to Stay but not if we exist in a vacuum and don’t stay aware of what the hotel industry is up to and more important what guests expect and are seeking today. A pendulum won’t swing without a bit of a push, so when it comes our way we better be ready to grab it.

The B&B Team has been talking about many of these points when we speak blog and consult with current innkeepers and with aspiring innkeeper groups in our seminars. (I just wish we got the big bucks that I know those hotel CEO’s do!) For further reading on this subject, read Scott Bushnell‘s blog, ‘Do You Know What the B&B Industry’s Competition Is?

Janet Wolf

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

Travel Packaging-Wrap Up What You Do Best

October 26th, 2010 by Janet Wolf

Here in Kennebunkport we have a local family owned restaurant Alisson’s that runs a great business and has been doing it for about 30 years. When we have our Aspiring Innkeeper Seminars here in the Port we always treat our attendees to dinner on Friday to kick off our seminar. Alisson’s serves the locals and tourists alike with casual dining fare, great service and another important part, fun! They wrap up all three of these important components and do a fabulous job packaging what they do best.

As an example their October calendar offers live music on Wednesday nights and very reasonably priced comfort food specials. Their Tuesday nights have become very popular, packaging ‘Pub Team Trivia’ and $9.95 Prime Rib. Every mid-week night has a reason to go there. They continue to create new value added packages to keep things new and fresh and customers coming through the door.

There are many B&B’s out there that also do a fabulous job of packaging. One example of a B&B that does an unusually good job is the Munro House Bed & Breakfast and Spa in Jonesville, Michigan. Innkeepers Lori and Mike Venturini have created a wide variety of packages that wrap up what they do best. Just like Alisson’s, they have created a package for ‘any day of the week’.

In addition there are many of you out there that want to do more packaging but may feel paralyzed at the thought of where to start. Many of you also may feel  you would like to increase the number of packages you offer or do a better job of it. Help is on the way! The B&B Team and Joe Veneto, ‘The Opportunity Guy’, will be presenting two PAII pre-conference sessions; The Secrets of Packaging Success, Simplified.

The first will be a half day session on Nov. 15 from 1 pm to 5 pm at the PAII New England Conference and Trade Show in Nashua, New Hampshire. The second will be at the PAII 2011 Innkeeping and Trade Show, a full day session from 9 am to 5 pm on January 10 in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina. For those innkeepers out there who would like some help packaging ‘what you do best’ we hope you will be able to join us for either one of these sessions. You will come away loaded with information, ready to ‘wrap’ those packages, make more money and have fun along the way.

Janet Wolf

Mystery of Mattresses Uncovered

June 28th, 2010 by Janet Wolf

As an innkeeper and homemaker I have always been baffled by the mattress industry. Did you ever have a mattress salesperson give you a straight answer? The more you shopped, the more confused you got.

Recently Rick and I ventured out to buy a new mattress. Just by chance we stopped in at America’s Mattress in Scarborough, Maine which just happened to be next door to a golf shop, (guess where we shopped first)? We were greeted by a salesman who turned out to be the answer to my mattress shopping dreams. He was smart and boy did he know his business. He had great questions which helped us narrow down our choices to three mattresses and we were able to make a choice and purchase within 30 minutes. Hallelujah!

Because I was so impressed with our salesman, Ed Walters, I decided to give him a call and interview him for this blog posting. I thought if he could be helpful to individuals choosing a mattress than he would most likely have some good advice for innkeepers when purchasing mattresses for the wide variety of body types that seek that ‘heavenly, blissful and perfect sleep’ in your inns.

Question: “What is the main ingredient innkeepers should look for in purchasing a mattress?”

“Support is # 1 and comfort level is # 2. The mattress should be a combination of the two. Innkeepers need to satisfy a host of different people and personal preferences. A very firm or a very soft, cushier feel may not be the way to go. A medium firm spring (support) and a medium compression topper (comfort level) is a good way to go.”

Question: “The longevity of mattresses seems to vary widely. How long should a mattress last?”

“A good quality mattress should last from 8 to 10 years, an entry level mattress will only last 4 to 8. All mattress manufacturers give you a warranty. For example a good ‘rule of thumb’ is a mattress that offers a 20 Year Warranty will last at least 10 years.”

Question: “So what you are saying is pretty basic, the more expensive, or higher level mattress the longer it will last?”

“Not more expensive necessarily, but yes, a good quality mattress built with quality materials.”

Question: “This leads into my next question. Innkeepers are generally shopping with a budget in mind while looking for good value but not skimping on quality. What do you recommend for innkeepers?”

“I have good long time relationships with my hospitality customers. When we have sales or when we need to clear out our floor samples, I will call these customers and work with them and their budgets.”

“This sounds like a win, win situation. You clear out your floor samples and the innkeepers get good deals. Just like innkeepers need to build personal relationships with their guests, you are building relationships with your loyal customers with your personalized service.”

“Sounds good to me!”

Question: “In the May 2010 Consumer Report magazine, a ‘sleep specialist’ says you might want to avoid memory-foam mattresses if you sleep ‘hot’, that is tend to be warm in bed. What is your opinion on that statement?”

“That is a broad statement. Memory Foam is a ‘closed cell foam design’ which restricts air flow and can be very warm. Latex is an ‘open cell design’ which can be temperature regulating and can offer better ventilation. A firm coil spring mattress with a natural foam latex topper is a good combination. Also, nothing lives in latex (like germs, bacteria, etc.) and latex doesn’t pack down as quickly as fabric.”

I had many more questions for Ed, but decided to keep this blog posting short and not too complicated (like mattress shopping!). What I got from his statements is that the main ingredients to consider when purchasing a mattress is support, comfort and durability, all three of equal importance. Also, looking for a good quality medium firm and medium compression topper is a smart choice for the many body types that seek a comfortable sleep in your inn’s beds. And don’t skimp on the quality, you don’t want to have to replace your mattresses every 4 years! But a very important ingredient in our viewpoint at The B&B Team is finding a person like Ed who gives great customer service and a company you can trust and feel comfortable working with. This is something we at The B&B Team also strive for. Time is a most precious commodity with innkeepers and having the service that Ed provides for his hospitality customers is priceless and timeless.

Thanks Ed!

Do you all know what fairytale the picture depicts?


A Good Table

June 17th, 2010 by Rick Wolf

After Peter’s recent posting about the simple joys of sitting on the porch and the numerous comments it elicited, I thought I would share a brief ‘reading’ with you…one I wished I had written, but will be pleased to share with you instead.

A couple of weeks ago, Jan and I went to the wedding of Kate Lindblom, the daughter of Innkeepers Sarah and Erik Lindblom of The Captain Jefferds Inn in Kennebunkport. It was a beautiful day for the wedding, Kate was a lovely Bride and Sam the handsome Groom, and it was so nice to spend the afternoon with friends and colleagues in a wonderfully non-business environment.  There was an abundance of food and wine after the ceremony and we were all enjoying an early summer afternoon in Maine.  There were toasts from the best man, the maid of honor, and another from Kate and Sam’s friend, Finn MacDonald.

Finn is one of the Owner/Innkeepers at our old inn, the Captain Fairfield Inn. Finn’s toast brought a thoughtful hush over the crowd with its simple elegance and heartfelt meanings.  With Finn’s permission, I would like to share it with you now…and share a photo of us with family at our Good Table when we were Innkeepers.

“A Good Table

Beginning tonight, let there always be a good table for you both to gather around.

Let it host friends and family.

Let it present birthday  cakes, Thanksgiving Turkey, everyday meals, leftovers, your new best efforts and your burnt best efforts.

Let milk spill.  Let fists pound. Let hands unite in prayer.  Let the wax of candles drip.  Let the rings of beer bottles multiply.  Let the day’s trivial gossip and life’s great questions speak freely.  Let others bore you to tears.

Let the sturdy legs and a strong surface absorb frustration, pain, uncertainty, and fear.  Let it be the stage to let it all out on…then, let it be the foundation to build from.

Let date nights, late nights, anniversaries, picnics, pizza, salad bowls, super bowls, chowda, chili, ice cream and cake bring you together. Let your focus, for just a moment, be on the person next to you or across from you.  Let the rest of life wait until you’re finished.

Let this table take some responsibility off of your love for each other.  Let there always be a good table in your life.

No matter what distance or disturbance may exist in your life, let the table be a bridge or a barrier.  Let it be a functional bond.

Let that Good Table bring you both together.

Thanks Finn for allowing me to share your words.  My wish to you all is that as you charge through your busy days as Innkeepers, taking care of your guests and your business, that you allow time into your day to take care of yourselves and to enjoy the ‘Good Table’ in your life.


Why not make Lemonade out of Lemons?

March 19th, 2010 by Rick Wolf

The enormously successful Innkeeping Conference finished last Thursday evening, but for The B&B Team, it finished Saturday evening after an extra day of meetings and a great night on the town in Austin. Sunday morning rose beautifully in the Hill Country of Texas and all seemed right for our trip home.  Well, not so fast….the East Coast was being pummeled by storms of incredible proportion and we discovered that flights had been canceled Saturday and delays were expected Sunday.

To make a long story short (and avoid a rant!) that's where the problems began.  I can't find fault with the airlines over weather, but when they do not act in a proactive and informational manner and then put hundreds of stranded passengers in the hands of un-empowered and insufficiently trained employees, customer service and hospitality get a black eye …and then I do find fault with them.

On Sunday evening, after 8 hours of delays and finally a canceled flight, I was told the first JetBlue flight available to us was Thursday and that we would be on our own in terms of lodging, food, local transportation, etc.  If we decided to make our own plans, we were still on our own.  When asking about any question pertaining to what JetBlue would do to assist us……the answer was always, "NO", we don't do that….but we'll see you Thursday!

No, we can't book you on another airline.  No, we do not have any food vouchers. No, we do not have any hotel vouchers…the last 2 'No's' at 8:30 PM!  In short, NO, NO, NO, thanks, you're on your own and have a nice day!  Sadly, Peter Greenberg may have been right when he commented the airlines mantra has become, "We're not happy until you're not happy".

Deep breath and an observation or two. If our owner operated industry mistreated our guests like thousands of air travelers were mistreated last weekend, we would be raked across the coals in every manner possible!  This little mishap, cost us over $2000 extra so we could get home late Monday/early Tuesday morning instead of late Thursday/early Friday morning.  If as Innkeepers, we were so cavalier in our treatment of the public when problems occur, even those problems beyond our control, we would find ourselves spiraling out of business.

The solution?  Be empowered and make the right decisions.  Relegate the word 'No' to the trash heap with those other objectionable/nasty words in our language.  Even when the answer may have to be 'no', find a way to incorporate a touch of humanity and care in the response.  Recognize that without guests, we don't have a business…and perhaps most of all, recognize that the absence of 'No' is at the core of Hospitality and Customer Service! JetBlue had the opportunity to be a hero in the eyes of thousands of stranded passengers through any of the most basic of acts, but they chose not to and as a result sat with a bag of lemons just waiting to be made into lemonade.

Let's not allow ourselves to sink to the level of the airline industry in terms of customer service and hospitality…just another reminder of how important it is that we need to strive to be the best we can be everyday!

Under the Boardwalk

January 19th, 2010 by Janet Wolf

Yes it is January and the snow may be flurrying in circles on the Jersey Shore’s boardwalks. But if you like the seashore at any time of the year, this may be a great time to visit.  Fresh crisp air, a seagull’s cry and a cozy fire in a Victorian seaside bed and breakfast, sounds good to me.  While there your thoughts may turn to warmer days and recall a time when The Drifters sang a familiar tune.

In the park you’ll hear

The happy sound of the carousel

You can almost taste the hot dogs

French fries they sell

Under the boardwalk

Down by the sea

On a blanket with my baby

Is where I’ll be

One of my best memories  of beach side amusement parks were the simple fun of arcade games, traditional rides like carousels or bumper cars and being allowed to indulge in original ‘junk food’ like cotton candy, fried dough and other gooey stuff!  The boardwalks of the Jersey Shore are the paths that will take you there. 

It was 1868 when Cape May first laid down its boards.  It was a way for tourists to enjoy the shore without getting sand in their shoes.  The longer the boardwalks the better for early Victorian strollers to promenade and show off their finery, people watch and congregate. Today the boardwalks serve the same purpose, a pathway to enjoy the simple pleasures of summertime. 

There is a great guide book available entitled; The Beach Bum’s Guide to the Boardwalks of New Jerseyby Dick Handschurch and Sal Marino.  A review of this guide says the authors; “tell you where to walk, what to see, how to get there and some history, some stories, some stats and some facts about the boardwalks of New Jersey”.  You can find out about this book and other great information on the website…Down the Shore.

A popular and active community on the shore is a place once called Five Mile Beach, now this area is known as the Wildwoods.  The beaches are wide with soft sand; their ‘family friendly’ boardwalk is two miles long and their five amusement piers and park are probably the best in all New Jersey for rides.  For those collecting roller coaster rides, Morey’s Pier boasts the best ride in New Jersey.

So if you visit in the quiet season or in the spring, summer or fall when the boardwalks are bustling, we recommend the Wildwoods where a certain bed and breakfast with a wide Victorian front porch awaits your visit. The Candlelight Inn, is your classic Jersey Shore Bed and Breakfast destination and a perfect spot to stay and experience those nostalgic simple pleasures of summertime or any season.  Catch the smooth drifting sounds of the sea, yeah…on a blanket with my baby, that’s where I’ll be. 

Oh yes, and tell them The B&B Team sent you!

Janet Wolf