For over 30 years we have held innkeeping seminars, written a manual and provided financial information as well as expounding on the personal side of innkeeping. We held another seminar last weekend at the Three Mountain Inn in Jamaica, Vermont, and a few months ago at the Chesterfield Inn in Chesterfield, NH. Instead of giving information stretched over a weekend, we are now doing it in one day … all day Saturday, but always at an inn!
Why attend a seminar for aspiring innkeepers? We hold our seminars at inns, often ones run by seminar grads, because they are models whom you should emulate. Observe the owners: the way they serve breakfast, interact with each other in a positive manner, complementing each other easily, giving space and allowances for their differences. But sadly, in this one-day seminar, our attendees often choose not to stay the night – is it the expense, a time issue?
Why do we want you to stay at the place we chose for the seminar? It is to see the rooms, to talk with the proprietors. It is the best learning experience there is: to see successful innkeepers at work, pick their brains during breaks, sit at the bar after hours to talk with them. It is small price to pay, the cost of the rooms for one or two nights, when you are contemplating first a purchase of an inn, then remodeling, redecorating and marketing it.
Seeing the details that made current innkeepers successful is the first step for you to understand the details of what buying an inn is all about. Make notes about the linens, featherbeds, robes, the soaps and shampoos, to use as comparisons for your future purchase.
So why should anyone interested in innkeeping attend such a workshop? And what are you supposed to gain from it? I have always held the belief that it is crucial to understand that innkeeping is a business. You should buy a viable inn business, and then embrace the innkeepers’ lifestyle; this is an incredible change for you to adapt to, a change that will be easier after seeing other innkeepers in their milieu.
Sometimes inn owners offer a week-long apprenticeship to our graduates, as Gloria and Phil Teber did from the Arrowhead Inn, in Durham N.C. Take a look at Daina Hill, their apprentice, who is doing a fabulous job at her successful inn in Camden, Maine.
You will want to do things in your own style, never exactly like these role models, but you also want to know what made them successful. Every owner’s inn is a reflection of their values and taste and that will be true when you become an owner as well.