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 ‘innkeeping-old’

Vintage Ohio

July 22nd, 2010 by Janet Wolf

From a quaint New England village to an island paradise in Hawaii, all of the inns in the small lodging industry have great locations to share with guests. Some locations are well known to the world, while others are unique and extraordinary but have less world wide appeal.

One destination that fits this definition has been described as follows; “…rolling vineyards, sparkling lakes, quaint country sides, unique gift shops, picnics in the sunshine, festivals, tours”. You may think this is a narrative describing Lake Como, Italy or California’s Napa Valley. No, these words are from a travel promo from the Ohio Wine Producers Association. And yes, on the southern shores of Lake Erie there is an area that came to be known as the “Lake Erie Grape Belt” which can be traced back to 1820 when a domestic variety of grapes called Catawba was first planted. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow even wrote a poem titled “Ode to Catawba Wine”. In fact due to this poem, by 1860 Ohio supplied 1/3 of the nations wine and out produced California 2 to 1. What great PR. It may have taken a bit longer to get the word out (decades before our tech driven social media craze) but it did the trick!

Time passes and the southern Ohio wine district hits hard times. The Civil War creates a shortage of manpower to tend the vines and by the time Prohibition laws are passed (time to make the grape juice), the few wineries left struggle. A new era emerges in the 1900’s and Geneva-on-the-Lake, known as ‘Ohio’s First Summer Resort’ becomes a fashionable destination with the likes of Rockefellers, Fords and Firestones. Today it remains as a fun summer resort getaway destination for all.

The wineries in this location produce excellent cool weather wines, such as Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Gris as well as award winning ice wines. But you will find a much wider selection of wines to sample along the wine trails with twenty wineries in Northeast Ohio. You may already know or could surmise from the description of this destination location that there are bed and breakfasts and country inns that have grown up and thrived along with the vines.

The Lakehouse Inn and Winery, located on the shores of Lake Erie on the west end of Geneva -on-the-Lake, not only provides fine lodging but has its own winery. Their spectacular shoreline scenery is the perfect spot to dine and experience local wines and then retire to your guest room, climb into bed and listen to the lapping of lake waters on their sand beach. I’m in, when is the next flight to Cleveland? They are a great example of a property that has taken full advantage of their location.

There is a quote that I like from a brand marketer Tom Traynor; “Every place has some distinction, some reason to live there, work there, VACATION there, rather than someplace else.” We at The B&B Team work with inns in great locations, from sea to shining sea. It is a great pleasure when we work with innkeepers that love where they live and develop their properties into places where guests can experience all their location has to offer. Travelers love to experience and discover new places, as well as return to familiar ones. That is what travel is all about.

Have you taken full advantage of your location, its history, its uniqueness, and its distinct pleasures?

Would love to hear from you.


Please Just Touch and Go … and an Innkeeper Request

July 16th, 2010 by Scott Bushnell

In my consulting and real estate travels around the Mid-Atlantic region, I often pass by Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.  Four times this week.  I am often amazed by the size of the C-5A transports coming in and out of the base and look forward to driving right under the approach as the monster planes either take off or land. The roar is awe-striking as the big shadow crosses the highway I’m on.

And then my thoughts ALWAYS turn to a short prayer.  I pray that each landing I see is followed by the roar of the engines and the behemoth plane taking right back off again.  It’s called a touch and go…training for take-offs and landings. The reason for my prayer, you see, is that Dover AFB is where many of the cargo and personnel aircraft originate on their way to Baghdad or Kabul.  And, as the graves registration center on the East Coast, it is the destination of many young men and women returning to the States for the last time…on their way home to their families for the last time.

My prayer is for each plane to be a training mission and not a part of the heart-wrenching experience it must be for a family to come to grips with the loss of a son, or daughter, or dad, or mom.  “Please, Lord, let it just be a touch and go.”

What does this have to do with innkeeping? Probably nothing directly…it’s more of a therapeutic outlet for me, my thoughts of my fellow West Pointers, my newer role as a Poppie, and, probably less seldom seen, the softer side of an old codger.

But I would like to make this offering to any innkeeper who feels similarly.  And I know the people in this hospitality and care-giving industry are GREAT at such feelings.  I am asking that innkeepers support our troops and their families.  If you offer:

  • Military discounts
  • Comp rooms for military families…as a surprise gift, not necessarily a published rack rate
  • Other benefits, recognition, or gifts of value to military families

please let me know and I will list your name and inn, with link, and the benefit you provide, along with my heartfelt thanks, in my upcoming newsletters and blog postings.  We are a great industry of professionals who understand the impact an innkeeper can have on a guest…and with the ability to send an appreciative gift to those who deserve our thanksgiving.      Scott

Technology for Inns … Tips for Making the Innkeeping Lifestyle a Bit Easier

July 13th, 2010 by Scott Bushnell

I received a short message from Mary and Alan Duxbury at The Carlisle Housein Carlisle, PA., and Alan offers TEN time and effort-saving tips for innkeepers.  Mary makes the best quiche in the world and I opted for a picture of the quiche instead of Alan (sorry, Alan!)  Many of Alan’s tips involve technology and how its use can be a time-saving and headache-solving alternative for some of the daily frustrations of running an inn.  Thank you, Alan…here’s your list:

    TECHNOLOGY TIP: A web-based Property Management System allows you to enter reservations from anywhere you have internet access.

    OPERATIONS TIP: Alan recommends using a credit card machine instead of an internet credit card processing service if your inn is subject to frequent power outages.  Phone lines continue to work in outages and you will still be able to do business.

    TECHNOLOGY TIP:  An iPhone or iPad-type device will give you that internet access capability. You can take reservations from the grocery store or while away from the inn without worrying about losing a booking by not getting back to your voicemail or answering machine soon enough.

    TECHNOLOGY TIPGoogle Calendar allows you to manage your daily schedule and appointments.  If you keep your calendar on Outlook, Google Calendar can be synced with your Outlook calendar.

    SECURITY (AND TECHNOLOGY) TIP: Set your wireless network to log all MAC codes and connection times of every device that connects to your service from your account.  This will identify all users on your system and will protect you if any of your users are doing illegal activity on your network (such as downloading pornography or spamming).

    TIME-SAVING (AND TECHNOLOGY) TIP: If you use company credit cards and banks (and we all do!), set it up to have them download their monthly statements directly into your financial software package.  Saves a LOT of typing!  (Call Alan on how to do that…not me!)

    MARKETING TIP: If you want to get to the top of Google search results, when selecting important keywords, ask a friend with a similar inn that is distant from you for ideas.  Local competition may not be as friendly sharing their secrets.

    TECHNOLOGY TIP: On your wireless network, ensure it is secured with a password or phrase.  You can inform your guests of the password but it also prevents the neighbors from downloading movies on your network and slowing your network to a crawl.

    TIME-SAVING TIP: If you make a cash deposit to your bank, write the name and reservation number on the deposit slip.  you will be able to query it on the internet a year later when your accountant asks where the money came from.

    MONEY-MANAGEMENT TIP: Alan recommends having THREE bank accounts.  One is your personal account for all non-business transactions.  The second is for all deposits from sales…whether credit card deposits, cash deposits, gift shop sales, everything.  This is an INTEREST-BEARING account.  The third account is for expenditures.  Transfer money from the revenue account into the expenditure account on occasion to pay the bills.  This leaves the balance of the revenue earning interest.  A side-benefit of having these two business accounts is that you will have all deposits and all expenses on SEPARATE statements at the end of the month for easy reconciling.

Thank you, Alan.  I would be interested in other innkeepers’ thoughts on any of Alan’s ideas and feel free to send me YOUR tips for making the innkeeping lifestyle and business even more wonderful and manageable.  Scott

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.


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

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!

Thirty Years and Still Going Strong!

November 25th, 2009 by Rick Wolf

What a great turnout at the PAII New England Innkeeping Conference & Trade show held this month in Nashua, New Hampshire.  All of us at The B&B Team appreciated the opportunity to meet with some of the true veterans of Innkeeping.

Among those veterans are friends and colleagues, Marian Burns, Innkeeper from Mira Monte Inn in Bar Harbor, Maine and Rick Litchfield, Innkeeper from the Captain Lord Mansion in Kennebunkport, Maine.  Unfortunately Rick Litchfield’s dynamic other half, Bev Davis, was not able to attend, as she was busy at the mansion decorating. What else! What these innkeepers have in common is over 30 years of innkeeping under their respective belts. Not many out there can claim this number!  Besides their longevity they are also terrific and successful innkeepers. We believe part of their success can be attributed to never, never stopping the process of educating themselves at conferences. We didn’t ask them, but I am sure they have been to as many conferences (if not more) than the years they have been innkeepers. 

PAII NE group Pictured at The B&B Team’s booth (from left to right) are Peggy and Peter Scherman, Jay Karen (President and CEO of PAII), Marian Burns, Rick Litchfield, and Janet and Rick Wolf.

There is always something new and exciting going on at the Captain Lord Mansion, a recent renovation of a former conference space into a spa and lounge and a new state of the art kitchen are the latest. Their guests also have a history of longevity.  Ten visits to the mansion will earn a guest an engraved stone in their “Memory Garden”. Needless to say, there are lots of bricks and more to come.

Marian at Mira Monte is very interested in solar energy and has installed panels on a portion of her buildings and hopes to install more in the future.  She is planning a solar workshop in the spring to bring guests in to enjoy Marian’s ‘Innspring’ package plus some education.  Marian is a native of Bar Harbor and is a wealth of information about her beautiful part of Maine.  Guests come back time and again to extract knowledge of Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park from this thirty year veteran.  

Marian, Rick and Bev have never put their inns on auto pilot and continue to renew their pilot licenses!  Are there any other thirty year veterans out there?  We would love to hear from you.

On Transformative Events and the Human Community

September 11th, 2009 by Peter Scherman


Today is September 11, 2009. We all remember this date eight years ago, but today as I was listening to many of the memorials and speeches and talking with friends and family about it, I was reminded about how our lives can be forever changed by transformative events like the attacks of 9/11/01. And many of the changes are positive.

Big, and I mean really big, events and periods, especially those that we view as terrible at the time of their occurrence, have a way of causing us to reexamine what is important in our lives. Whether it be an illness or death of a friend or family member, a stock market crash and harsh recession, or watching the attack of our homeland on live television, we always end up taking stock. Taking stock of what we think is important: our jobs or careers, whatever. And then, surprisingly, many of us decide that we need to do something else. Behave differently. Be kinder. Do something more meaningful. Worry less about some things and more about others. And it is this taking stock that has brought many people into Innkeeping.

Why? I think it's because Innkeeping is about people. Service. Kindness. Restoration. Many of you who believe that you want your life to be about more than just "making a living" and, instead, want to make a difference in other people's lives while still making a living, have chosen (or are considering) Innkeeping as a profession. At The B&B Team we're glad you think this way, because we have the good fortune of working with people who, in our humble opinion, are somehow a little bit better than many, more elevated, sharing a higher purpose.

After the attacks of 9/11, innkeepers across the country found their business upended. An initial flood of cancellations in many cases lead to new bookings by folks needing to get out, get away, find some peace and security. And where did they turn for that sense of safety and togetherness? To small inns. These weary and frightened travelers looked to innkeepers for solace, even as those innkeepers themselves needed some solace of their own. But in the serving, the sharing, the caring for, the feeding and smiling for the benefit of others, innkeepers found themselves uplifted as well.

Community is an overused word in this era of social media, but the community of humanity remains an enduring precept, one which transformative and often tragic events make us appreciate all the more.


Aspiring Innkeeper Seminar at Iris Inn is a Hit!

August 10th, 2009 by Peter Scherman

One of the things we at The B&B Team enjoy most in our work is introducing enthusiastic aspiring innkeepers to the myriad aspects of this wonderful lifestyle and business. This past weekend we had a terrific group that came from as far away as Arizona and as close as a couple of miles from Iris Inn in Waynesboro, Virginia where we gathered from Friday to Sunday. With Delaware, South Carolina, New York, and Florida also represented, it was a diverse group, and, I think all agreed, we had a great time.

Key to our seminars is bringing a strong dose of reality to the table. We know future innkeepers have dreams and aspirations, and we love to support those ideals with facts, figures, and experience gained from many years on the ground as innkeepers, consultants, and brokers.

A core focus of our seminars is the process of building a model. It's both so easy and so hard to simply take a stab in the dark trying to find a B&B, but a focused idea of what business model, location, style, and income needs comprise makes the process of searching for an inn much more efficient and enjoyable.

In our last post here we wrote about The Basics of Inn Valuation, and our attendees got a (mind swirling!) dose of information on what the difference is between commercial and residential real estate and financing as it applies to the Innkeeping world and acquiring or starting an inn. They learned about the role of cash flow in valuation and how the marketplace assesses the different components of inn value.

We also talked about current marketing trends, the importance of branding by creating a unique and memorable experience, and the basics of hospitality as well as some tricks of the trade.

It's gratifying for us to read comments like this: "Fantastic! Current, cutting edge, frank and honest, not sugar-coated to give a false or misleading impression of all the nuts and bolts of running a successful B&B," or "It took some of the intimidation edge off, as far as feeling capable of running a B&B."

As the seminar leaders, Rick, Janet and I especially enjoy dinners with our attendees, where we all have a chance to relax with a glass of wine, get to know each other a little better, and delve into some of the questions and concerns we don't or can't cover in a weekend-long seminar.

Our thanks to all who attended this weekend and to Dave and Heidi Lanford for being such great hosts! We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and hope it was a rewarding experience for you! With our next seminars coming up in October at Candlelight Inn in North Wildwood, New Jersey, and November at the English Meadows Inn in Kennebunk, Maine, we'll continue with our practice of refining our program thanks to the thoughful feedback from our graduates.