10 Tips to Success as a New Innkeeper

Photo of the Inn at Sunrise Point

The leaves are dry and all the waterholes on our path are dried-up. Chocolat’s tongue is hanging out, her face creased as she scratches furiously at a hole, but no water!  It is a very dry summer here in Vermont. I am distracted by these observations, but not enough keep me from thinking of all you new Innkeepers out there, which inspired me to share 10 tried-and-true tips to success as a new Innkeeper.  I hope that these hand-me-downs will serve as a helpful reference as you navigate your Innkeeping career.

  1. First impressions. You have 30 seconds to make an impression and a critical guest will start their assessment as they walk up to your front door. The Inn’s façade, including all patios and porches should be swept and free of spider webs, half read newspapers or yesterday’s lunch.  Instead, these spaces should be inviting to incoming guests, with perennial plantings and maintained grounds.
  1. Service begins at the RING. Answer the phone promptly; let the phone ring three times and guests will likely hang up!  This “first touch” is an opportunity to establish a relationship with a future guest and could be the difference between putting heads in beds and a subpar ADR.
  1. Clean Sheets. Change regularly used sheets every other day. If, however, sheets are stained, they need to be changed immediately; the quicker you spot and treat stains, the longer your linens will be around to treat your guests.  (For more details on stain removal check out this article from Inn Style.)
  1. Triple Sheeting. An efficient bedding solution used by many Select Registry Inns, triple sheeting is a luxurious, cost effective and time saving method that will keep housekeepers happy and guests free of sanitary woes.
  1. Washing Up. Provide new towels and washcloths to your guests every day, unless they have not been used.  These days, many Innkeepers have linen and towel re-use programs that give travelers the option to engage in environmentally friendly practices.

Photo of breakfast room at Stowe b&b

  1. The Rite of Housekeeping. Dust guestrooms every day and vacuum if necessary.  (No sand piles on the rug, by the bed!)
  1. Bathroom Upkeep. Daily housekeeping of guest bathrooms should include cleaning the sink, tub/shower, if used, as well as toilet, floor, window sills and the wastebaskets.
  1. Dining Room Details. It is, of course, half of the bed and breakfast experience, so why not treat it as such. Decorate dining room tables with small, fresh flower arrangements.  This accent of detailed service will add a touch of authenticity and quality to the bed and breakfast experience.   (A Trick of the Inn Trade: Adding a drop of vinegar to a vase will keep the water clear a day longer.)
  1. Morning Rituals Matter. Whether or not you are a coffee drinker, you should not relegate your guests to Keurig style coffee in the morning!  Just as we believe in the power of filling the Inn with the scent of freshly baked goods in the morning and around check-ins, so do we feel that the aroma and quality of freshly prepared coffee speaks to a high level of service and care on the part of Innkeepers.
  1. Manage Your Mornings. To make morning tasks more manageable, it is a good method to set the dining room tables the night before, as well as preparing breakfast dishes, if possible, in advance.

All the best to all you new Innkeepers, let your passion for creating the best ambiance and embracing gracious hospitality be your guide!


4 thoughts on “10 Tips to Success as a New Innkeeper

  1. Heide,
    Great advice. We have been in business for 12 years and do everything you suggest above except “triple sheeting” . I am not even sure what that means. Could you provide a bit more detal?
    Guy & Clelia

    1. Guy and Clelia,

      Thanks for your comments and congratulations on 12 years as Innkeepers at the Wilson House! This article from InnStyle gives a step-by-step process on triple sheeting. http://ow.ly/DI93302m3HJ

      Here is a quick guide to the process taken from the InnStyle article above:

      1. Cover the mattress with a flat or fitted sheet (Sheet #1).

      2. Place the top hem of the flat sheet so it is even with the top of the mattress (Sheet #2).

      3. Place a lightweight blanket on top of the middle sheet – 6 inches below the top of the mattress.

      4. Place a decorative top sheet on top of the blanket. The top hem should be even with the top of the mattress (Sheet #3).

      5. Fold both flat sheets down together about 6 inches (blank should not be included in this fold). Then fold the 2 flat sheets and the blanket down another 6 inches.

      6. Tuck in both flat sheets with the blanket beneath the foot of the mattress. The hanging fabric at the sides of the foot will have made a U-Shape. Turn back the U-shape along the length of the bed and pull towards the headboard – parallel to the mattress. Tuck the hanging corners of the sheet and blanket together under the mattress.

      If the process still vexes you, a great option would be to call a property that practices triple sheeting. Feel free to contact us if you would like us to put you in touch with Innkeepers that could offer more information on the process.

      Keep up the great work at the Wilson House.

      Best regards,


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