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March 2007

Our Members Speak Out

The Inn at Buena Vista, Buena Vista, CO

Question for April: Getaways geared toward saving the planet are attracting both media and consumer interest. Many B&Bs are leading the way with environmentally-friendly practices; what do you do to promote a green environment?

Email your responses to
Sandy@BedandBreakfast.com. If we publish your comments, we’ll thank you with a $25 credit in our Featured Properties Auction program!

You were asked: Do you think attending innkeeper conferences is worthwhile? Why or why not?

“Attending an innkeeper conference is one of the best things you can do for yourself. After 15 years as an innkeeper, I can definitely attest to the fact that meeting, fellowshipping, and sharing ideas with other innkeepers is essential to maintaining your enthusiasm and staying energetic and positive about innkeeping.
“There is no better shoulder to cry on than that of a friend who has walked a mile in shoes that are very similar to yours. Invariably, my list of worst moments isn't half as bad as someone else's; it's very cathartic to laugh over incidents that may not have been funny at the time, but are downright hysterical when shared with people who understand what it's like and have even more outlandish stories. At each conference I've attended, I've learned a great deal, been inspired with many new ideas, made some great friends, and walked away thinking I am one of the most blessed people on earth to be an innkeeper.” – Sherrie Hansen Decker, The Blue Belle Inn B&B and Teahouse, St. Ansgar, IA
“In general, I have to say yes, I believe that conference attendance is worthwhile. It gives us a chance to talk with folks we don't normally see. We get to learn new practices that enhance our inns and improve efficiencies. Well-organized and effective conferences make me feel like I haven’t wasted time or money.
“I have attended PAII Conferences and believe that the one in Providence, RI, was one of the best I ever attended. I attended the InnDeep Seminar in Cape May, NJ, and got an excellent preparation to be an innkeeper. I am a member of the Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers of Colorado and find their annual conference to be of consistent high quality.
“I would like to see some regional conferences and have thought of attending nearby state conferences so I could expand my referral network to places where most people are traveling from to get to my inn.” – Sandra Schrawder, The Inn at Buena Vista, Buena Vista, CO
“I always attend my state conference. I would not dream of missing it, as I consider it one of the most worthwhile uses of my time. I get to see vendors with products I would not have known about otherwise; I changed syrup vendors because of a conference. There are workshops and speakers who always have some nugget of information I can use. It also gives me an opportunity to network with our other members. We are so spread out around the state that we rarely have an opportunity to meet at other times; we are busy tending to our innkeeping!
“Conference is the time I allocate to me as my paid vacation since it is an allowable business expense. Since it moves around the state, I get to see places I would not have any reason to visit if not for the conference.
“We have our annual meeting at the conference and decide the direction we want the association to go. Our association has been able to get legislative changes to benefit the industry and the pursuit of that legislation was determined at conferences. Miss it? No way!” – Kathleen A. Panek, Gillum House Bed & Breakfast, Shinnston, WV 
First guests, revisited
“I bought Kemble Inn on June 26, 2005. It was during the highest season with Tanglwood Concerts, Jacob's Pillow and Shakespeare and Company. The transition period was agreed to be for a duration of two weeks. Moments after the closing, the old owners disappeared, leaving me high and dry in a new place. Hurriedly, we began to make some changes in the arrangement of furniture and flowers on the main floor. (Kemble is a splendid mansion in the Berkshires and the decor at that time was not in harmony with the architectural beauty of the place.)
“Just as we started, my first guests arrived. We began apologizing and welcoming them at the same time. They just said, “We will be happy to help, and since this is our area of expertise, perhaps we can suggest some ideas for the placement of furniture and furnishings." Cary and Mary Clayton of Bilboa Island, CA have remained my friends ever since. I plan to visit them in California this winter.” – Bosa M. Kosovic, Kemble Inn, Lenox, MA
"The best 'first time' story I have ever heard belongs to Hilltop Haven Bed & Breakfast in Toronto, Ohio.
"They have a two-guestroom shared bath ranch house. Their first guests arrived while her husband, who had been iffy about starting a B&B, was at work. He came home and went into their room to change out of his work clothes. As he came out of their bedroom, the guests’ teenage girl came out of the bathroom attired in bra, panties, and a towel around her freshly washed hair. He said hello, and she said hello as they passed in the hall. He then went into the kitchen and said to his wife, "I think I am going to like this bed and breakfast business." – Kathleen A. Panek, Gillum House Bed & Breakfast, Shinnston, WV

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