Inn Consultants and Brokers Since 1993

The B&B Team

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

Posts Tagged ‘PAII Innkeeping Conference’

L is for Les Clefs d’Or – Keys of Gold

April 25th, 2012 by Janet Wolf

Signature Keys

The professional concierge organization, Les Clefs d’Or, has been around since 1929 and you may have known or guessed, was formed in France. The crossed golden keys a member earns is quite prestigious, there are only 650 in the United States and about 3500 worldwide. The organization is strictly a hotel service organization. Sorry, no bed and breakfast innkeepers need apply! This doesn’t mean you cannot achieve the kind of excellent service a Les Clefs d’Or concierge provides.

Let us look at some basic services a concierge provides.


  •  Make restaurant reservations
  •  Arrange for spa services
  •  Recommend night life
  •  Book transportation
  •  Procure tickets to special events
  •  Assist with tours of local attractions

Innkeepers are obviously concierges, since you do this stuff all day, night and in between! Going above and beyond the basics is what a great innkeeper/concierge must do to exceed the expectations of their guests. Here is a great story and a great example of going above, beyond and achieving the nearly impossible.

A guest walks up to the concierge and says. ”The cheeseburgers here are terrific. I want to send one to my brother in Bahrain and I want it to arrive hot.” “The concierge calmly replies, “Will that be with Bleu Cheese or Cheddar?”

That concierge was Holly Stiel, a motivational speaker and the first US woman member of Les Clefs d’Or, quite an honor. Many of you may have heard her speak at the PAII Conference in Little Rock this year. Holly tells this story often as does The B&B Team in our seminars and presentations. In fact this is the opening quote in Chapter 1 of her new book, ‘The Art and Science of the Hotel Concierge.’ There is so much in this book that anyone involved in hospitality or any service business will find informative and inspiring.

Great innkeepers/concierges do not work alone. Having an extensive list of contacts with local merchants and service providers they can rely on is essential. Building those important relationships with your contacts can make you look absolutely brilliant and your guests absolutely grateful. There is an entire chapter in the book entitled; ‘Building and Nurturing Relationships’.

Another part of great service is anticipating a guest’s wants and needs. It starts with listening. A friend and concierge colleague of Holly’s, Johanna Husk, writes in the book’s preface; “Yes, we are here to answer questions, but often the questions a visitor asks is just the tip of a vast iceberg, underlying what they really want to know: How can they get the most from the limited time they have during their visit, and how will they fit it all in to make an enjoyable experience?” Holly calls this; ‘being a sleuth and reading the moment.’

This is where the art and science comes in. With new innkeepers it sometimes takes time to develop these skills, but once you do you can become the ultimate problem solver, organizer and hero. Your guests will remember you, the great experience they had that YOU helped create and come back for more!


Make mine cheddar


E is for Entrepreneur

January 18th, 2012 by Janet Wolf


All of us at The B&B Team work closely with aspiring innkeepers in our ‘Better Way to Learn Innkeeping’ Seminars. And in the immediate future are looking forward to meeting and hopefully inspiring many aspiring folks at the upcoming PAII Innkeeping Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas, January 23-26.  Aspiring innkeepers are also aspiring entrepreneurs. Innkeeper = entrepreneur, interchangeable!

Question? Can a person learn to become an entrepreneur or are the essential skills ‘born’ in you? Let’s take a look.



  •        Positive attitudes and belief in yourself. People who have lingering doubts and anxiety over stepping outside a corporate mentality are most likely not meant for entrepreneurship. We have had some aspirers in our seminars who have queried; What if we fail? I can honestly say that not once did the thought of failure enter into our thought process when Rick and I started pursuing our innkeeping career. We educated ourselves by attending a seminar and PAII conferences, consulted with our financial advisors and innkeeping consultants, we researched and visited properties, did our due diligence when we identified a property and finally, gathered all our business and personal skills together and focused on the process that would lead us to our goal. By going through this process you gain knowledge which translates into confidence and belief in yourself. A very successful entrepreneur once said; ‘We entrepreneurs have a hard time imagining that what we believe in so much could do anything but succeed.” More about him as we move forward.
  •       Innovative and inventive mind. Your business/Inn is your baby; it must be nurtured and fed constantly. For instance, we always suggest a business plan be written in pencil because you will revisit it on a regular basis, and it will be revised as needed. Your baby also needs constant attention. An inventive and creative mind will be put to use to breathe new life into your property and your ever-changing marketing strategies. Keeping abreast of the latest hospitality and social media trends and then creatively adapting them to your Inn is a practice that can result in real success. It is also fun and challenging!
  •      Move at a hare’s pace, not a snail’s.  Take your innovative ideas and implement them sooner rather than later. Always work to be a step ahead. Quick thinking people tend to be more successful.

Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group (that successful entrepreneur I mention before) is one of the largest and most successful restaurant and hospitality companies in the world. But just like all entrepreneurs he started small with one restaurant. This quote from him highlights on the skills discussed so far. “The road to success is paved with mistakes well-handled. Overcoming adversity with imagination, courage, good humor and confidence is a crucial skill.” Mistakes? Yes, we have all and will continue to make some mistakes. Most can be foreseeable and avoidable from the beginning if you do your due diligence and go through the learning process. But I think Mr. Myers would agree that, if you make a mistake, have the courage to admit it, learn from it, change your direction and have the confidence to move ahead.

So, was the question answered? Can a person learn to become an entrepreneur? I think one has to listen to our internal voices. Do they say ‘go, go, go’ or do they say ‘maybe, I’ll see, I’m not quite sure’? Be honest with yourself when you listen to those voices! Then answer the question for yourself.

To conclude I will end with another quote from a favorite movie: A League of Their Own.  Coach Jimmy Dugan is talking to the team’s star player, Dottie Hinson as she is about to quit the team.

Jimmy: Baseball is what gets inside you. It’s what lights you up, you can’t deny that.

Dottie: It just got too hard.

Jimmy: It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard…is what makes it great.

Starting your own business/Inn is hard work and takes courage and conviction. But if you love the ‘work’ of providing pleasure for other people, which is the essence of hospitality, it can really be worth the entrepreneurial leap and the ensuing journey. Yes it is the ‘hard that makes it great’.

Janet Wolf

  • PAII
  • AIHP
  • Stay Local