Frictionless Innkeeper Blog

Ideas and Insights for the Innkeeper

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Frictionless Innkeeper PODCAST #18: Linda Hayes, Renowned Innkeeping Consultant, Discusses Creative Investor/Innkeeper Start-Ups, Opening New Boutique/Upscale Properties, and Hiring GMs

For episode #18 of the Frictionless Innkeeper podcast series, we speak with Linda Hayes, a renowned innkeeping consultant with ijk Partners, an affiliate of the B&B team. She discusses creative investor/innkeeper start-ups, the opening of new boutique/upscale lodging properties, strategies for hiring General Managers, and her perspective on emerging innkeeping industry trends.

You can also listen to the podcast at blogtalkradio.

When people think of innkeepers, an image often comes to mind of a couple leaving the grind of the big city to own, operate and live at their property. While this is often the case, there has recently been a rise of investors/innkeepers that are purchasing and renovating unique properties, some of whom don’t live on-site or manage the day-to-day work.

For individuals taking this path, many don’t come from hospitality backgrounds, and need the right guidance for helping them make sound decisions to develop unique boutique/upscale properties that generate a solid return on their investment.

Linda Hayes lends her highly-experienced advice to these complex start-up ventures to enable investors/innkeepers to develop successful properties.  She also provides consultation services to aspiring innkeepers searching for existing properties and existing innkeepers looking to improve operational systems, marketing, and the selection/development of support staff.

In this podcast, Linda discusses the various consulting services she provides, the rise of investors/innkeepers, and how the lodging arena needs to move beyond being “merchants of sleep” to focus on providing quality guest experiences.

  • Linda’s background and how she has worked “full circle” in her initial career and the innkeeping world. (1:00)
  • A rundown on the types of consulting services that Linda offers for investors/innkeepers and aspiring innkeepers. (3:15)
  • Insights into her work with investors/innkeepers and how her experience owning and selling the Inn at Riverbend in Pearisburg, Virginia. (5:04)
  • How Linda works in helping with the design, zoning/planning, and re-use of older structures that transform into lodging offerings. (8:57)
  • The services Linda provides that enhance overall operations for property owners. (16:36)
  • Insights into hiring GMs and partial exit strategies for innkeepers to bring staff to free up their time and resources. (20:40)
  • Where Linda sees the innkeeping industry heading, the rise of Gen A, and how today’s travelers are seeking out unique experiences. (26:46)

We are very thankful to Linda for sharing her insights with us!  You can learn more about Linda’s consulting services, by visiting her website.

Inside Innkeeping Podcast: Frictionless Guest App Drives the Guest Experience

At the AIHP 2019 Knowledge Sharing Summit & Marketplace, Steve Short, Founder & CEO of the Frictionless Guest App, participated in an Inside Innkeeping podcast interview hosted by Megan Smith.

Megan is a renowned innkeeping consultant, who also co-owned and operated The Vermont Inn for 13 years, and served as Vermont’s State Tourism Director. She also recently participated in a Frictionless Innkeeper podcast interview, which you can listen to here.

Listen to the full Inside Innkeeping podcast interview, which highlights how the Frictionless Guest App helps to enhance the guest experience, here:

You can also listen to the podcast at SoundCloud here.

Here are the key highlights from this interview:

  • A high-level overview of the Frictionless Guest App for innkeepers. (:53)
  • How innkeepers can inform guests about the app in their pre-stay email confirmations. (1:33)
  • How the Frictionless Guest App team helps innkeepers to populate their apps with local places to eat, play and shop. (2:07)
  • The history and evolution of the Frictionless Guest App. (3:50)
  • The size and types of properties that currently use the Frictionless Guest App. (4:32)
  •  More about the mapping capabilities in the app. (5:24)

By offering guests an easy way to find recommendations of the best places to eat, play and shop – using any mobile device or desktop – the Frictionless Guest App allows guests to plan their trip starting at the time of booking and easily navigate to recommended places throughout their stay, so that hoteliers and innkeepers play a significant role in improving the experience of their guests.To learn more about the Frictionless Guest App, please contact us here.

Frictionless Innkeeper PODCAST #17: Megan Smith, Renowned Innkeeping Consultant, Discusses How to Increase Revenues and Improve Operations

For episode #17 of the Frictionless Innkeeper podcast series, we speak with Megan Smith, a renowned innkeeping expert and consultant, as well as the host of the popular “Inside Innkeeping” podcast series. She discusses how innkeepers can increase revenues, improve operations, and remain competitive.

You can also listen to the podcast at blogtalkradio.

Remaining competitive in the innkeeping arena is no small challenge, especially in the face of multiple accommodation offerings, and Airbnb growing in popularity. 

However, now is actually a great time for innkeepers to adapt to the changing tourism landscape by pursuing new revenue streams. For example, rather than swimming against the tide of short-term rentals, Megan suggests that many innkeepers consider embracing this change by putting some of their rooms on the Airbnb platform.

She also asserts that there are many great strategies that can help innkeepers greatly improve revenue generation. These include hosting events, mixers, concerts, and weddings, as well as partnering with golf courses, transportation providers, wineries, museums, and art galleries on referral arrangements. 

Another idea is to co-brand and sell local products, as well as focus on your passions – offering surfing lessons as an example.

In this podcast, Megan, who also co-owned and operated The Vermont Inn for 13 years, and served as Vermont’s State Tourism Director, discusses how innkeepers can increase their revenues, improve their operations, and remain competitive:

  •  Megan’s background in the innkeeping industry. (1:05)
  • Insights into Megan’s consulting work. (2:40)
  • How innkeepers can leverage Airbnb. (4:23)
  • Other consulting services and ideas Megan has shared with innkeepers to improve operations. (7:14)
  • Some creative ideas and advice for innkeepers to improve their revenue. (11:20)
  • Insights into how weddings can help drive additional revenue. (15:38)
  • How to secure partnerships with local businesses to create revenue opportunities. (19:32)
  • ·Why this is a good time for innkeepers to be creative and focus on differentiating themselves. (24:03)

We are very thankful to Megan for sharing her insights with us!  You can learn more about Megan’s consulting services, by visiting her website.

Frictionless Innkeeper TIP #3: Host Live Music to Increase Bookings of Returning Guests

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

The Frictionless Innkeeper TIP series is intended to provide practical suggestions to innkeepers. Oftentimes these ideas are provided by our guests on the Frictionless Innkeeper podcast series.

If Bono was right in claiming that “music can change the world because it can change people,” then it seems reasonable that hosting live music at your property can enhance the experience of your guests.

With the rise of house concerts, where musical artists perform in an intimate setting, innkeepers are now presented with an opportunity to differentiate themselves by bringing live music to their properties.  And while the idea of hosting musical events may seem difficult to coordinate or impossible due to limited space, it’s probably easier to make happen than you might imagine.

Wendy Collins, co-owner of The Mission Inn in Cape May, NJ, hosts a monthly concert series from October through April to offer her guests specialized experiences and gain more marketing visibility during the slower winter months.  She invites singer-songwriters from the local area, as well as Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, to perform in the property’s common space, and offers desert and great food during intermissions.

Both the community and guests are invited to attend the performances, and she uses social media to promote the musical events. This has also created a “ripple effect” where the performers and attendees all share their experiences on their social media sites.

And it’s really paid off. Wendy has had guests return over and over again during the offseason to see the performances.

As both music lovers and supporters of independent innkeepers, we thought this was an excellent win-win idea that was worth sharing!

Thanks to Wendy Collins of The Mission Inn  for contributing to this Frictionless Innkeeper TIP by sharing insights during a Frictionless Innkeeper podcast.

Frictionless Innkeeper PODCAST #16: Rob Fulton, CEO of AIHP, Discusses the 2019 State of B&Bs Report and the Future of Independent Hospitality

For episode #16 of the Frictionless Innkeeper podcast series, we speak with Rob Fulton, CEO of the Association of Independent Hospitality Professionals (AIHP) about the upcoming AIHP 2019 State of B&Bs Report and the future of independent hospitality – in part two of this two-part podcast series.

You can also listen to the podcast at blogtalkradio.

The Association of Independent Hospitality Professionals (AIHP) is a nonprofit organization that represents, supports, educates, and advocates for independent hospitality professionals to enhance their personal satisfaction and business success. Founded in 2015, AIHP has seen phenomenal growth over the last four years and continues to gain traction as a key voice for independent lodging.

Last year, the organization issued its in-depth “B&B’s UNBOUND – The State of B&B’s in the U.S.” study, and is gearing up to launch 2019 version of this study.  The updated report will dive deeper into topics around everyday operations, occupancy levels and financial efforts at B&Bs – to allow AIHP members to benchmark and compare their businesses to their peers.

AIHP is also working to help B&Bs best manage some of the most significant changes impacting the future of the industry. For example, the organization is continually seeking to level the playing field for B&Bs with it comes to short-term rental providers, as well as providing educational resources to help properties enhance direct bookings.

In this podcast, Rob shares insights into the upcoming State of B&Bs Study, the future of the industry, and how owning the localized guest experience is important:

  • Insights into the 2019 version of the State of B&Bs Study. (1:05)
  • More about AIHP’s role in helping innkeepers deal with short-term rentals and OTAs. (5:32)
  • How AIHP is helping innkeepers to enhance overall direct bookings. (7:26)
  • How owning the local guest experience is important for innkeepers. (12:18)
  • What the future holds for the independent lodging industry overall. (17:45)
  • How the sector is embracing new innovations that enhance the guest experience. (21:24)

We are very thankful to Rob for sharing his insights with us!  Be sure to listen to part one of this podcast series here.  You can learn more about AIHP by visiting its website.

Frictionless Innkeeper PODCAST #15: Brian Coleman, GM of the Biltmore Greensboro Hotel, Discusses His Service Mentality

For episode #15 of the Frictionless Innkeeper Podcast series, we speak with Brian Coleman, GM of The Biltmore Greensboro Hotel in Greensboro, NC, about the hotel’s storied history, his service mentality and the property’s use of the Frictionless Guest App.

You can also listen to the podcast at blogtalkradio.

The southern United States has some of the most interesting and colorful aspects of our nation’s history. The Biltmore Greensboro is a prime example of a property that took on many lives – from being an office, apartment building and even a location for making illegal moonshine.

In the 1960s, the property underwent a facelift and became the Greenwich Inn with female and male quarters. For every two male guests, they had a butler and there was a maid for every two female guests. The property became a popular destination for notables like Clark Gable, Richard Nixon, Gloria Vanderbilt, Elvis Presley and others. Now the 26-room historic landmark is the only independently-owned and operated boutique hotel in downtown Greensboro.

This storied past and a history of top-notch service to guests lives on today through Brian’s efforts as the GM. And while he always pushes a high human-touch service approach – removing automation and technology that gets in the way of interacting with guests – Brian has recently become a passionate user of the Frictionless Guest App.

In this podcast, Brian shares more about his service mentality and why continually pleasing guests is vital to the success of a boutique hotel like The Biltmore Greensboro:

  • The amazing history of the property. (:55)
  • About Brian’s background and how he came to be the GM of The Biltmore Greensboro. (11:48)
  • Insights into the tradition of English service standards that live on today at the hotel. (13:03)
  • How Brian moved away from automation when it comes to guest services. (16:39)
  • How this service-oriented philosophy has helped with business growth at The Biltmore Greensboro. (20:55)
  • Why the use of the Frictionless Guest App fits into Brian’s vision of service. (25:35)
  • The positive response of guests who use the app.  (28:54)
  • How the Frictionless Guest App helps to get guests to book return stays. (33:03)

We would like to thank Brian for sharing his insights. You can learn more about The Biltmore Greensboro Hotel by visiting its website.

Frictionless Innkeeper PODCAST #14: Rob Fulton, CEO of AIHP, Discusses the Recent AIHP Summit and the Overall State of B&B Industry

For episode #14 of the Frictionless Innkeeper podcast series, we speak with Rob Fulton, CEO of the Association of Independent Hospitality Professionals (AIHP), about the 2019 AIHP Summit, as well as his organization’s 2018 study “B&B’s UNBOUND – The State of B&B’s in the U.S.”

You can also listen to the podcast at blogtalkradio.

The Association of Independent Hospitality Professionals (AIHP) is a nonprofit organization that represents, supports, educates, and advocates for independent hospitality professionals to enhance their personal satisfaction and business success. Founded in 2015, AIHP has seen phenomenal growth over the last four years and continues to gain traction as a key voice for independent lodging.

In 2018, the organization issued its in-depth “B&B’s UNBOUND – The State of B&B’s in the U.S.” study, which focuses on how independent hoteliers and B&Bs fit into the larger travel industry. In the face of the impact of OTAs and short-term rentals, the study found that the sector is actually growing overall, despite these disruptive trends.

In late March of this year, AIHP held its highly successful 2019 Knowledge Sharing Summit & Marketplace in Cincinnati. With events like this, a forward-thinking belief that technology and innovation is essential for helping innkeepers enhance the guest experience, and its commitment to educate its members, the organization is positioned to continue playing a key role in representing the independent hospitality sector for many years to come.

In this podcast, Rob shares insights into the mission of AIHP, its annual 2019 Summit, and key sector trends:

  • AIHP’s history and mission. (1:16)
  • Insights into the recent 2019 AIHP Summit and key takeaways from the event. (3:34)
  • How the AIHP Summit was also beneficial for the Frictionless Guest App. (6:42)
  • Information about the AIHP 2020 Knowledge Sharing Summit & Marketplace, which is taking place in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (10:00)
  • An overview of the “B&B’s UNBOUND – The State of B&B’s in the U.S.” 2018 study. (11:12)
  • Insights into both industry growth and the impact of OTAs and short-term rentals on the independent innkeeping sector. (15:35)
  • Why independent hoteliers need to embrace the new changes that are happening in the industry, and how organizations like AIHP can help. (19:58)

We are very thankful to Rob for sharing his insights with us!  Stay tuned for part two of this interview series, where Rob discusses the upcoming 2019 State of B&Bs report being provided by AIHP and offers a deeper dive into the future of the independent hospitality sector. You can learn more about AIHP by visiting its website.

Frictionless Innkeeper PODCAST #13: Peter MacLaren, Owner and Operator of the West Hill House B&B, Discusses Ingredients for Being an Award-Winning Property

For episode #13 of the Frictionless Innkeeper podcast series, we speak with Peter MacLaren, owner and operator of the West Hill House B&B in Warren, Vermont, about enhancing the guest experience, committing to being a green property, and leveling the playing field with short-term rentals.

You can also listen to the podcast at blogtalkradio.

The secret sauce to being an award-winning B&B often comes down to a wide-range of ingredients. From achieving positive online reviews due to continually pleasing guests to becoming heavily involved in area chambers of commerce to being environmentally friendly, the West Hill House B&B checks off all of the boxes.

As a result, the Vermont Chamber of Commerce recently named Peter the 2019 “Innkeeper of the Year.” This is quite a tremendous accolade because there are more than 400 B&Bs and boutique hotels in Vermont, and the state is internationally known for being a destination for travelers seeking an off-the-beaten-path inn experience.

In addition, Peter and Susan focus on providing guests with insider knowledge on all of the skiing, restaurants, cheese makers, rafting, craft beer festivals, and other outdoors activities in the area. They also offer group breakfasts, which create opportunities for guests to get to know each other better.

In this podcast, Peter shares his innkeeper story, and how they offer an award-winning guest experience:

·      The West Hill House B&B, and how Peter and Susan came about to be innkeepers. (1:07)

·      Background about the property itself, as well as its amenities. (2:47)

·      Background into how they were named the 2019 “Innkeeper of the Year.” (5:00)

·      How Peter defines “guest experience” and how they continually aim to please guests. (7:15)

·      How they provide guests with insider information on local events, restaurants, and attractions. (10:37)

·      Their commitment to being a serious green property, including use of solar power and composting. (14:00)

·      How Peter has been involved in issues like the rise of unlicensed short-term rentals in Vermont. (20:05)

We would like to thank Peter for sharing his insights . You can learn more about The West Hill House B&B by visiting their website.

Frictionless Innkeeper TIP #2: Offer Multiple Breakfast Options for Guests

The Frictionless Innkeeper TIP series is intended to provide practical strategic or tactical suggestions to innkeepers. Oftentimes these ideas are provided by our guests on the Frictionless Innkeeper podcast series.

Serving breakfast has been such an integral part of what innkeepers provide their guests since the earliest inception of the independent lodging genre that it’s literally infused into the name “Bed & Breakfast.” And while no one would logically suggest that innkeepers stop serving breakfast, it is worth reassessing the offering from the perspective of today’s guests.

Here are some questions that seems reasonable if you put yourself in the shoes of the guest: Why serve guests a one-size-fits-all breakfast, knowing that some of them prefer a much smaller version? And if a guest asks for a continental breakfast-sized meal, why should they pay the same amount as another guest who gorges themselves at the breakfast table? Finally, what if I don’t want breakfast at all?

Jim Belote, the owner of The Beall Mansion in the St. Louis region, considered these questions and has adjusted the B&B’s offerings accordingly. “We discovered that many Americans don’t eat full breakfasts,” said Jim. “As such, we developed a variety of packages for breakfast including a discounted continental option that allows guests to help themselves during a three-hour period. It’s all about the guest and providing the right experiences for them.”

It also comes down to the basic principles of choice and being fair. If a guest doesn’t want a big breakfast, then it seems reasonable to offer them other items that are less filling. And if they choose less or none, why not be fair and cut them a break with a discount to their overall stay?

This approach isn’t something that all innkeepers will consider taking but we thought it was an excellent idea worth sharing.

Thanks to Jim Belote of The Beall Mansion for contributing to this Frictionless Innkeeper TIP by sharing insights during a Frictionless Innkeeper podcast.

Frictionless Innkeeper PODCAST #12: Tim Piper, B&B Expert with The Hearthside Group, Discusses Realities of Buying and Selling a Property

For episode #12 of the Frictionless Innkeeper podcast series, we speak with Tim Piper, a renowned B&B expert and  Partner with The Hearthside Group, who provides insights into his services and key trends in the innkeeping arena.

You can also listen to the podcast at blogtalkradio.

When getting into the B&B business, it’s all too easy to get caught up into the romantic vision of being an innkeeper in a bucolic place far away from the hectic pace that dominates life in major urban areas.

To be an aspiring innkeeper, the key is understanding if this business model actually works for you, and if so, develop the right strategies for ensuring long-term success. By taking off the “rose-colored” glasses, prospective innkeepers understand the realities behind running a successful inn or B&B.

Tim Piper offers in-depth business valuation and processes that help both B&B buyers and sellers either find, or sell, their properties. He also offers his popular Aspiring Innkeeper seminar series to help prospective buyers to fully understand how to succeed in this business.

In this podcast, Tim provides detailed insights into the consultancy services he offers for both B&B buyers and sellers:

·      Tim’s background in the hospitality business. (1:04)

·      Insights into The Hearthside Group’s offerings. (1:43)

·      The services that Tim offers for prospective innkeepers, versus traditional real estate brokering services. (2:35)

·      How the buying process works for Tim’s clients. (8:01)

·      More about the services that Tim offers for B&B sellers. (11:01)

·      Tim’s perspective on achieving long-term success as a B&B owner. (18:00)

·      How Tim structures the payment for the services he provides for buyers. (20:44)

·      Why it is important that buyers use consultants like Tim to help them find the right property. (25:34)

We would like to thank Tim for sharing his insights. You can learn more about The Hearthside Group by visiting their website.