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October 2006

Our Members Speak Out

West Hill House, Warren, VT

Question for November: Have you had any wonderful--or horrible--Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday experiences with your guests? Tell all!

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

An oldie but a goodie from September 2002: Donna Gushue, former owner of the Jefferson Inn, Ellicottville, NY, said the Golden Rule of innkeeper communication is: "Do not do unto others as you would like others to do unto you. Ask what the other person wants.” Do you agree? Why or why not?

Donna explains: “When I was a Palliative Care Nurse Consultant, I learned how to talk to people who were dying. One cannot assume that just because you would want to know your diagnosis/prognosis, that another person would feel the same way. Leading questions like,‘What is it like for you here in the hospital?’ or ‘What do you understand about what is happening to you?’ gave me clues as the patient’s needs. I use these same skills as an innkeeper because they help me to be sensitive to guests’ needs for company vs. privacy.”

“Do unto others as you want them to do unto you is the moral way to treat others and also a smart business practice. If we don't know what someone wants, we don't guess. We ask. It is surprising what some of the answers are. We had a woman who stated that she was cold (it was July). Her air conditioner was on high and all of the window blinds were shut. We offered to raise the temperature and then asked her what she wanted. 'Four more pillows,' she said. She was given the pillows and was very happy. We didn't ask her any more questions." -- Carol, Captain Grant's, 1754, Poquetanuck, CT

“One certainly must ask, in order to meet guests’ needs, but it's our job to anticipate their needs and provide more than expected. If we are content to provide an average experience and just inquire to see if there's anything more we can do, we'll get a ‘no thanks, everything's fine,’ and we'll never see the guest again. If we truly enjoy serving our guests, we'll work hard to give them more than they expect. This is not to say that we shouldn't ask if there's anything more we can do, or to find out about special needs, allergies, food dislikes and such – that's simply a requisite of caring innkeeping. A B&B has to have extremely comfortable beds and an incredibly great breakfast, but that's just the beginning.

Choices – in foods, bedding, and amenities – all help meet guests’ varying needs. None of this is expensive; it just takes thoughtful planning. Serving breakfast family-style allows guests to pick and choose among offerings and serving sizes. Providing two pillows per guest, one hard, one soft, is easy and brings thanks from both camps. An extra blanket on the closet shelf can make a friend forever. A three-way bulb in a bedside lamp is a benefit for romantics as well as bedtime readers. The lamp's energy cost can be more than offset by a compact fluorescent bulb in a hallway fixture or lamp that stays lit for hours at a stretch. All it takes is a little thought about what your own travel experiences have been – and if innkeepers don't stay in B&Bs when traveling, they should! Here’s what we like to hear from our guests: ‘This is everything I dreamed about – and more.’"  – Dotty Kyle & Eric Brattstrom, West Hill House B&B, Warren, VT

“Everybody is different, and the best innkeeper will cater to those differences. How satisfied is the guest with a room that’s quiet, elegant, and has a wonderful view, but who couldn’t eat your breakfast? I know because this happened to me. The innkeeper enjoyed serving a beautifully presented seafood soufflé, but I was deathly allergic to it! I never want this to happen to my guests, so a simple conversation about menu choices that acknowledges differences keeps everybody happy. And by the way, isn't it wonderful that we're all so different?”  – Sandy Boylan, Howell House B&B, Sheridan OR


This Month's Sponsor

Special offer!

Sign up for Online Reservations by October 27, and you'll get a free upgrade to the next membership level or a free secondary city listing, valid through the end of your membership. For details, email us or call 800-GO-B-AND-B, extension 4.


Internet Intensives, RezOvation and Expedia, Inc. are hitting the road to bring you comprehensive information about Internet marketing, online reservations, yield management, and property management software. Please join us for these workshops and for an Innkeepers' Appreciation Luncheon. Read more...

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