Business Traveler Do's and Don'ts
Top Doís and Doníts from
an American Road Warrior Who Loves B&Bs
As a professional speaker and entrepreneur who travels often, I love
everything B&B owners represent. Iíd much rather write you checks then give
my dollars to a faceless corporate hotel chain. Many of you provide comforts
and amenities not available at most hotels. At its best, a B&B truly feels
like a home away from home.
Unfortunately, when Iím on the road 100-plus days a year, more often than
not Iíve chosen to stay in the local chain hotel. Many B&B owners want to
cater to business travelers but donít have a clear sense of our needs and
what things make us run away screaming. Fortunately, itís preventable.
The Golden Rule does not always apply
ďDo unto others as you would have them do onto youĒ is not always applicable
to business travelers. Many innkeepers assume that what makes them tick is
also what makes us business travelers tick, when often the reverse is true.
Generally speaking, you enjoy decorating your house to appeal to visitors,
serving delicious food, and entertaining guests. I enjoy all of those
things, but for better or worse, Iím in town to work.
You take pride in your breakfasts; often we business travelers have no time
to eat them. You are eager to share your knowledge of local tourist
attractions; we want directions to the nearest Kinkoís. You take pride in
your antiques; we need an adjustable office chair and a useable table or
desk. Instead of the golden rule, apply the platinum rule: Do unto others as
they want to be done unto. How well do you apply the platinum rule? Here is
a list of questions to ask.
- Do I allow late arrivals and early departures? How about
early arrivals and late departures?
- If I offer one of those, can I deliver on that promise? I
once called a B&B to ask whether a midnight arrival after a late
speaking engagement would be OK. The host said not a problem. Upon
arrival, I rang the doorbell, and no one answered. I knocked on the door
with the same results. I walked around the back of the house and tried
the kitchen door with no success either. I would have called, but it was
a rural area without pay phones or cell phone coverage. I finally
flagged down a passing car and asked them to call the B&B for me.
Luckily, that worked, and the bed-headed owner appeared at the door in
his pajamas a few minutes later.
- How flexible is my cancellation policy? Most hotels allow
cancellations up until 6 p.m. the day of arrival, with no penalty or
fee. That may not be realistic for B&Bs, but the closer you can get to
this, the better.
Privacy and Boundaries
- Does each guest room have an exterior door lock? Honeymooners
arenít the only ones who want a little privacy. Just as I lock the door
to my office, I want to be able to lock the door to my room.
- Do I offer ďdo not disturbĒ signs for guests to hang on their
doorknobs? The option of a sign is a very good indicator of your
willingness to respect my privacy.
- If my parking situation requires cars to block each other in, is
it clear that I will never move a guestís car unless absolutely
necessary? It should go without saying that you should not drive a
guestís cars unless the guest is literally sound asleep or in the
shower, and his or her car is blocking another car.
- Do I allow guests the option of eating alone? For many
business travelers, flexibility with breakfast is more important that
eating a specially prepared meal. Sometimes being able to eat cereal, a
bagel, or a muffin at an early or late hour is more valued than your
- Do I allow guests the option of eating a cold breakfast on their
own schedule (within reason)? Time is money for business travelers,
so make everything as efficient as possible, unless your guests have
made very clear they have some downtime and would be happy to be
- When a guest arrives, how long does the check-in procedure take?
Make the check-in process as smooth and short as possible. Ask guests if
they have time for the house tour and history. You can easily include
this information in your room folder so that guests can read it on their
Rooms built for work, as well as rest and play
- Do guestrooms have a desk or table? Is it at a comfortable
height for typing on a computer?
- Are the lights adequate for reading? How well-lit is the desk
and the area around it?
- Do you offer wireless Internet access? If so, how reliable is
it? Have you tested the strength of the signal in each room?
Many B&B owners have put a tremendous amount of time and money into
making guestrooms appealing to couples looking for romantic getaways
(king-sized bed, double whirlpool, in-room fireplace, leisurely multi-course
breakfasts), but donít have a clear sense of what business travelers want.
Please, save your knickknacks for the common areas of the house, where
your doll collection can be appreciated by all. Your guestrooms should have
ample space for business travelers to work. Figure out the sources of noise,
and reduce or eliminate them. Maybe that creaky floorboard has been creaky
so long you donít even hear it anymore, but we will. If possible, have a
king-size bed. I know they are expensive and take up space, but thereís a
reason why they are standard in most hotel rooms. While youíre at it, stay
at a hotel and make a checklist of the standard amenities. Iím continually
surprised at how many B&Bs miss the most basic things: hand towels, wash
cloths, adequate towel bars, extra toilet paper.
Speaking of hotels, think about ways you can distinguish yourself
Innkeepers can excel in some areas that arenít an option for hotels; here
are a few of my favorites:
- Scent-free rooms and windows that open. Iíve never stayed in
a B&B in which I couldnít open the windows for fresh air. Thatís
wonderful: a lot of hotels reek of cleaning chemicals and seal their
windows. Please donít make the mistake of putting air fresheners,
potpourri, or other artificial scents in the room; these make many of us
quite ill (that includes all types of guests, not just business
- Competitive pricing: Discounts for business travelers are a
great way to bring your prices in line with your hotel competitors,
particularly during weekday or off-season times when occupancies are
- Local knowledge: When I stayed at the Marianna Stoltz house
in Spokane, WA, the innkeeper heard we were headed south to Washington
State University and warned about speeding through the town of Coalfax.
Sure enough, were stunned to see cars crawling through the town, fully
aware of its reputation for being a speed trap. Without her advice, we
would have blown through, obliviousĖĖand probably would have been nailed
with a hefty speeding ticket.
- Bicycles and other perks: One of my favorite leisure
activities is bicycling, so any B&B that offers bicycles for guests to
ride is adding a major perk for me. Favorites for others might include
saunas and hot tubs; libraries with magazines and books to read (and
even take); wine and cheese hour; and late-night snacks.
- Dare to be different. When I looked at lodging in the
Madison, WI, area, the Arbor House stood apart from its peers because of
its environmentally friendly theme. In Pennsboro, WV, the fact that the
Rose Hill Inn is actually on the bike trail was a big bonus for me (not
to mention the free bikes offered to guests). Figure out what makes your
place unique and interesting -- particularly compared to others lodging
options in your area -- and build on that.
Most importantly, ask for feedback. Provide comment cards and other
ways for your guests to tell you anonymously what they liked about their
stay and what they didnít. This one move could literally be worth tens of
thousands of dollars Ė if not more Ė to your business. Many guests will
encounter something that could have been improved about their stay but will
be too polite to tell you if you ask them face to face. Instead, make clear
that you want their opinion and that youíll act on their suggestions. Think
of the comment cards as free consulting, and use the advice they contain to
improve your business. In addition to hosting more low-maintenance, happy
business travelers, youíll probably increase your occupancy rates overall.
When Marshall Miller isnít traveling, he lives in Albany, New York, with his
partner, Dorian, and cat, Allegra. Marshall and Dorian are sex educators who
speak at colleges and universities around the country.
This Month's Sponsor
More travelers than ever before received BedandBreakfast.com Gift
Certificates in 2005.
These lucky folks may soon be new guests at your B&B,
youíre participating in the BedandBreakfast.com Gift Certificate
program. Watch for increased gift certificate traffic in the upcoming
To join the participating inns, just
log in to your Home Base, or
for more information.
Online Trade Show
Click here to view our Online Trade Show. Are you a vendor?
Click here to find out how to get featured!
with your property ID and password for details on the number of page
impressions and click-throughs your B&B has received as a result of all
BedandBreakfast.com online marketing, including property listings, Featured
Property, and Inn of the Month advertising. More information
To update your entry, post specials, and renew your membership, please log in
with your property ID and password. Can't remember your password?
Click here, then enter your
property ID and we'll email it to you.
Don't like your password? Once you're logged in to Home Base, just click "Membership," select "Change
Password" ( No. 7 in dropdown menu), and choose another
that's easier to remember.
Inns for Sale
ďYou have the best site for
BnBers Ė hands down. Your staff stands above the rest in going the extra mile
for those wanting to market as well as sell their B&Bs. Thank you again; Iíll
definitely recommend the site.Ē
Pam, Historic Smyser-Bair House, York, PA
Innkeepers Information Center
Need more info?
Youíll find lots of educational articles on our site for your convenience.