Inn This Edition: 

  • How to Please Your Guests So Much They Become Your Marketing Team
  • Innkeeper Goes Up Against Priceline's William Shatner 
  • Partner with Your Local Independent Bookstore and Hold a Writer's Retreat
  • Sign Up to Have Your Newsletter Evaluated on Free Innkeepers' Emailing Webinar 
Big Mill Bed & Breakfast Courtesy of Guy Livesay
A Goldfinch visits the Big Mill Bed and Breakfast
photo by Guy Livesay
How to Please Your Guests So Much They Become Your Marketing Team
We asked Prairieside Inn's Cherie Antozak to explain what she does to make her guests write such fabulous reviews like this one:  
"The whole house was perfect, and so beautiful. The service/staff was wonderful, very kind and attentive to every detail. Our breakfast was so delicious! Cheri and Paul, keep up the great work, we hated to leave! We will for sure return!" 
We learned from Cheri that it's really about giving guests a feeling of welcome, that you have carefully organized the inn and the warm hospitality because you really want guests to be pleased.

Cheri's "How To" Be Perfect
At Prairieside we feel that keeping a "perfect house" as our guests like to say is really about making them feel welcome in every way.  For me that means engaging all of their senses.
1. Seeing: When they’re here, what do they see?  This is not about good decorating because everyone's style is different and any style done well is beautiful.  It is about keeping things  uncluttered. (It's easier to keep an uncluttered home clean and guests need space for THEIR STUFF!)
2. Smelling: How does our home smell when guests walk in?  We have an air purifier on each level of our home plus we use candle warmers here and there.  I choose candles with food smells like cookies/cinnamon, etc. 
3. Hearing: What do they hear when they walk in?  We play a variety of nice soothing music without commercials or talking. 
4. Tasting: We have lot's of stuff for them to taste.  We tell them we've put out cookies under the cake dome and baked goods under another one and that they may make them disappear.  We've made homemade hot cocoa for them to enjoy, we have coffee and flavorings, a wide variety of teas, and microwave popcorn in case they get the late night munchies. 
5.  Feeling: When they're here, we ask ourselves, how do we make them feel? We greet them like long lost friends. We thank them for choosing Prairieside Suites Luxury Bed and Breakfast.
"When we see them, we ask how they're enjoying their room, and their stay and we ask if we can help them in any way."
6.  Touching: When they’re here we have a philosophy that beautiful things are to be enjoyed.  We want everything they touch to delight them. That means lovely linens, beautiful dishware, warm towels, and heated tile floors, heated mirrors that don’t fog up when they shower and even warm toilet seats! 
7.  Adventuring and Fun Activities: When they’re here we want to ensure that they have a great time and want to come back. At the breakfast table we ask if they have plans for today or do they need suggestions on what they might enjoy. We have a file tote filled with lots of things they might like to do and with directions from our home to that destination with business hours and contact information.  
8. My Business Card as a Security Blanket - When they're here I want them to know it's my goal to not just meet their expectations but exceed them and that I'm approachable. I back that up by giving them a business card with my phone number and telling them that Cheri, the owner, is available on the phone to answer any questions they have and they may call me if they need anything. 
"At Prairieside Suites we love spoiling our guests. They may choose from many packages, massage services and room service options so they can customize and personalize their stay to make it uniquely theirs!  We feel that it’s a privilege to be a part of THEIR special occasions.

Innkeeper Goes Up Against Priceline's William Shatner & Comes Out Victorious (mostly)  

The William Shatner's "haggling" commercials (to get that $69 room) have forever changed how most innkeepers talk to guests. To counter price shopping, innkeepers are learning new ways to articulate their value and to do it over and over. Travelers so often don't understand the economies of scale enjoyed by 100-500-room hotels compared to our 7-10 or 20-room bed and breakfast inns.
One innkeeper, April, of Tubac Country Inn in Arizona fights back! She doesn't mind educating callers about the difference between Priceline's hotels and small independent bed and breakfasts and inns. She takes on the challenge when guests start price shopping.
  • April spends a lot of time listening carefully to the caller, even though they have started out "shopping". She resists the temptation to send them to the motel downtown (a bird in the hand principle). She crafts her replies to their interests. Most importantly, she points out the value of her property to each and every caller
  • She never gets angry. She explains that hotels have certain economies of scale and lots of empty rooms
  • She points out the value of breakfast and sometimes she'll say, "Well, maybe you don't what breakfast"... They always say, "No, we definitely want breakfast."
  • She doesn't offer senior or AARP discounts but she does negotiate on an individual basis. For instance, "Well, how long are you staying?" (She does give discounts for longer stays.)
 In the end, almost everyone who calls opts to stay at the inn in spite of April's holding to her price. 

Work With Your Local Bookstore and Create a Writers Retreat
Bookstore owners have access to all kinds of authors and book events that you can co-create. Here's one you might like to emulate.
Books & Crannies and the Middleburg Country Inn are sponsoring a writer's retreat at the Inn on March 5-6, 2010, in beautiful, historic Middleburg, VA. "You will meet published authors and talk with literary agents about your work. Learn about the complexities and challenges of publishing in today's marketplace. Get a bookseller's perspective on what readers want, how to promote your work and more. The retreat includes an opportunity to have your work read by an established literary agent.
Our Writer's Retreat will be a small, intimate gathering which will allow for personal interaction with our authors and agents, but because space is limited, you must call soon to reserve your spot. We can accommodate a few walk-ins who do not wish to stay at the Inn. Please call for more information.
Books & Crannies: 540-687-6677
Middleburg Country Inn: 540-687-6082
Cost: $250 plus tax
Includes: All accommodations, wine and welcome party Friday evening, Saturday breakfast, lunch and dinner, and Sunday breakfast.
How To: Bookstore
Genie Ford, owner of the independent book store comments, "This is designed to be a small, intimate gathering. As a bookstore owner, I have access to both authors and agents who can come and speak to participants. Also, as a bookstore owner and journalist, I have thoughts, input and ideas to share as well. It is just a matter of pulling together our resources. I am not an innkeeper, but due to my relationship with the Middleburg Country Inn, was able to work with the innkeeper, Jo Ann, to put this together quickly."
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 Dr. Samuel Johnson remarked in the mid-18th century: "There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good inn or tavern."
Deborah and Staff at
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American Historic Inns, Inc.
PO Box 669 Dana Point, CA 92669
800-397-INNS (4667)
Fax 949-481-3796