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Bed and Breakfast Model For Success

May 10, 2003

by Kit Cassingham

Understanding what the guest needs and how to satisfy that need is a critical aspect of being a successful B&B innkeeper. Learn to make your guest feel comfortable in a new situation, appreciate the give and take of the innkeeper/guest interaction, and enjoy your success.

Do you wonder what the difference is between B&Bs and other types of lodging? Why are some people "B&B people" while others are "non-B&B people"? This discussion is my explanation of what I see is the difference. This will help you better understand the importance of your role as an innkeeper and the guest experience you create for your market niche.

Elements common to all quality inns and outstanding innkeepers:

  1. Appreciation of the guest situation as shown by the innkeeper's inspiration in problem solving before the problem appears (e.g., wastebaskets where needed, lights usefully located and bright enough for reading).
  2. Hospitality by showing concern for the guest's personal environment and reducing guest trepidations with gestures of warmth and thoughtfulness.
  3. Service to the guest by anticipating their needs and placing their comfort first.
  4. Vulnerability of the innkeeper in creating their idea of comfort and sharing that with strangers, risking rejection or criticism, or even adoration and appreciation.

Elements common to all guests:

  1. Concern for their personal environment.
  2. Willingness to risk an unknown situation and environment.

Christopher Alexander is an architect and has written a marvelous book about his theories of design. He addresses making people comfortable starting from when they enter town, as they proceed to your house or place of business, entering your grounds, coming into the building and what characteristics make them feel "at home". I have excerpted some of the sections he writes about for inns, places of lodging because I think they are such pearls of wisdom.

A person who stays the night in a strange place is still a member of the human community, and still needs company.... At all times, the innwas a wonderful place, where strangers met for a night, to eat, and drink, play cards, tell stories, and experience extraordinary adventures.... There is a deep need for company -- for stories, and adventures, and encounters. It is the business of an inn to create an atmosphere where people can experience and satisfy this need.... Make the traveler's inn a place where travelers can take rooms for the night, but where -- unlike most hotels and motels -- the inn draws all its energy from the community of travelers that are there any given evening. The scale is small -- 30 or 40 guests to an inn; meals are offered communally; there is even a large space ringed around with beds in alcoves.
    -        -Christopher Alexander in "Pattern Language"

Guest/Innkeeper dynamics are a give and take. You must "receive" to balance your "give". You have to refuel your energy and soul to maintain your ability to give freely; "receiving" is one of the ways to accomplish that. [More on this, from the perspective of avoiding burnout, is addressed in the e-book Daily Operations.] You may find this another challenge and another part of your "balancing act". Maintaining this balance helps minimize your frustrations and burn out and encourages enjoyment of the haven you have created for the traveler -- your guest. Innkeeping success includes taking care of yourself.




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