Welcome to my new blog site, at the Benner House Bed and breakfast in Weston, Missouri. I truly enjoy seeing new people everyday, cooking, coming up with new ideas, and sharing as many ideas as I can with those of you who like to read about idealistic entrepreneurs. 🙂 In my posts I plan to write a little more in detail about innkeeping in the Midwest, and also share some stories that might help others take the plunge as I did in becoming B&B owner. As a person who might have had a job change, or took a detour on the way to their future, every person that I’ve met as an innkeeper has a fascinating story to tell.
I think the one truly most important aspect needed to start a career as an innkeeper, is education in marketing. Before anyone can get to your prospective inn to try out your world famous food, or your “just-like-grandma’s” hospitality, they have to find you first.
In this recession (and we are still in a recession), I discovered early in the game how marketing can affect everything. As things have changed, and advertising dollars are being spent more wisely (at least for those of us who learned to budget and survive), the key is to get more for your money. The internet has been a beacon of hope for those of us that are the peons of small business. Google and Facebook are two very good places to start. They are free, and offer place pages for you to post pertinent information, location, pictures, videos, and it’s all free. Free. You will learn to like free stuff.
Another important factor that is at the very top of my list is Customer service. No matter who comes in my front door, I want to make them feel special and feel at home. I hope that the service and respect they receive from me is better than anywhere else. Everyone is different, and each person who walks in the door is coming from a stressful place. It could be good stress, or bad stress, but nonetheless, they are coming to me to relax, and take their minds off their life for a little while. When they are making their reservation, I’ve found it is always helpful to refer them to the local professional massage therapists. After a while, if you learn how to talk to people — daily — you can get a sense of their stress level as soon as they walk in the door. This is also helpful.
As I close this post, I often think back to a certain high school civics teacher, (a coach), who asked us about what our plans were for the future. When he got around to me I asked, “How do you know what direction you’re going to take until you’ve already gotten to where you’re going?” He didn’t reply but looked at me like I was nuts. Not everyone’s choice in life takes them to where they think it will. So which direction are you going…all I can say is….standing up, with both feet on the ground. 🙂