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 TIP: Google 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