Dear Prospective Innkeepers,
It’s a new season, the winds are blowing hard and the leaves hampered by the snowflakes clump beneath my feet. There still is that rustling under each step but no jumping around my ankles anymore! The ferns are waving hello, good-bye and hurry home its cold this morning. Even my dogs, we have a guest, with their loud colored ribbons around their necks, sniffle along the path and don’t meander far.
For those of you attending seminars on innkeeping, willing to risk a life change — you are to be congratulated. You believe in your abilities and an entrepreneurial spirit — and so do we. Like seasons that change, we change and grow despite, or because, the rigidity of the corporate environment and other social pressures and want to move forward to a place that is our own. I embrace a society that lets us do that.
But often the seminar, especially this new concept of the “one-day innkeepers seminars” seems not enough. Why not? Here are my reasons:
1. The Mom and Pop operations are now part of the high-tech industry:
Owners are computer savvy, they take online reservations, have TVs in the rooms, and offer every imaginable gadget to hook up to in this service providing industry.
2. Accommodations: Well-appointed rooms with fire-places, air-conditioners, comfortable sitting area and a desk are essential ingredients, along with quality linens, featherbeds/ and alternatives, the newest in the comfort of mattresses, and king-size beds. Stay at an inn and see what they are doing. We always hold our seminars at inns that are in the process of upgrading, or we see as models for you to emulate.
3. Bathrooms: Soaking tubs, rain-showers, bidets, the latest water/energy-saving devices with the least impact on the conveniences for the guest.
4. The most important task at all: your hospitality. Nothing is too much to ask for, all guests are graciously welcomed and you gladly bring those heavy suitcases up the stairs to their room, and yes, “tea/wine/coffee will be ready at 6am.” Lights are on when you get to the room and the music is softly playing in an alarm-clock/CD player. And yes, “ski lift tickets will be waiting in the morning.” The examples are endless.
5. You are an ambassador for your area: you need to know all the businesses, the theaters, musical events and be the liaison to the Farmers and the Fresh-Food Network of your community.
It’s hard to observe, let alone include, all of this in any one-day seminar for aspiring innkeepers. My experience has taught me that by staying at inns and observing what innkeepers do, how they create an ambiance they deem necessary it’s always different and always unique, but for you, the prospective buyer, it is an essential part of the learning curve.
As an innkeeper, my joy was to greet repeat guests again and again, validating that I was on the right path in creating a wonderful and rich experience for them. Their thanks took many forms — some guests even knitted sweaters for my grandchildren, who lived at the inn.
As the ferns swirling in the breeze moved me on from inn-keeping to inn-consulting, it is with great respect that I thank all of you innkeepers for the talents and the individual touches you displayed that deeply enriched my abilities.
I have great appreciation for you all.