One of the aspects of ijk Partner’s consulting work is visiting a new inn or bed and breakfast during it’s “soft opening” or shortly after new owners have completed their purchase of an existing inn. Early in December, I visited three such properties, one in the Catskill Mountains and two in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
On my first morning at the new property, four rooms of guests from the visiting marketing/public relations team checked out. Our first mission: “let’s go see how they used the room!” I hope you do this often at your property to observe the behaviors of your guests during their stay.
So, what are you looking for?
We walked in and stopped inside the room. I asked the managers to look around and tell me what they saw.
- How was the bed used? The guest were all singles, so what side of the bed did they sleep on?
- Were all the bed layers used to stay warm?
- Where were the decorative pillows placed?
- Was any furniture rearranged?
- Were clocks, chargers, or lamps moved to a more useful location?
- Was the luggage rack moved from the closet?
- How many towels were used in the bathroom?
- Were the amenities used? If yes, which ones?
- Was the robe used?
- What temperature is the thermoset set to?
- If an amenity or treat was provided on arrival, was it consumed or packed to go by the guest?
So, what did we learn, and what was the impact?
- Makeup on hand towels resulted in the immediate request (photo taken supported the request) for black makeup cloths. Approval was instantly given to order!
- The amount of waste in packaging and product for a one-night stay with the use of amenities confirmed the desire for large bottles for shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and possible containers of cotton pads and Q-tips rather than individual packaging.
- Thoughtful placement of lamps, charging stations, etc. should be considered from accessibility from the bedside.
- Decorative pillows, while very pretty, just end up on the floor!
During my next site visit to an inn just purchased by new owners, I actually restaged the room after my first night and presented the new look to the owners the next morning. Just by removing the very old and flat decorative pillows, folding the quilt down to the end of the bed to review fresh clean sheets, and repositioning furniture, every aspect of the room felt usable and fresh. The desk, originally facing the wall, now faces the view out the window.
Ultimately, we visited all guest rooms, removing over 60 very flat and dirty decorative pillows from the beds and chairs. We also repositioned furniture to increase the usefulness of areas of the room. The best thing about all this? We didn’t spend a dime!
If you are an innkeeper or manager, I hope you’ll do this soon. Walk into your least popular rooms and think about what might make the room more popular. Has the room changed, and your photo on the website isn’t accurate? This is critical if you are making lots of changes since what the guest booked might look very different.
Just starting to look for a bed and breakfast or inn to purchase? Add these ideas to your checklist when you are the innkeeper!
I would love to know what you found, so please come back here and share your findings!
Watch for upcoming blog posts about linen and storage closets and the improvements we made there too! Thanks for reading!
Linda Hayes works with owners, innkeepers, managers, and aspiring innkeepers of small inn, bed and breakfasts, and boutique hotels across the nation providing consulting services at all levels. For more information about the range of inn consulting services available, please click here or email Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org