Bed and Breakfasts, in a nutshell, are a personal, 'grandma's house' type of vacationing experience. The all-inclusive feel of a house, home cooked meals and a gracious host is a nice recess from a buttoned-up hotel.
For many Bed and Breakfast owners, the duties and responsibilites that are involved in management can be tricky. Guests will often overlook the attention to detail and will forget that running a Bed and Breakfast is hardly a simple operation. Imagine a Bed and Breakfast to be a 'simple, lemonade stand' operation? Think again and be reassured that it's a full-time job. Owners are responsible for management of the property, upkeep of grounds and buildings, presentation of experience, amenities, meals, and not to mention, the overall 'experience' of the guests! Owners: take these food and hygiene tips for your Bed and Breakfast to ensure a premier experience for your guests and pay special attention to legislation (differs by state) that may apply!
1. Keep Bacteria Away!
From the South Carolina Bed and Breakfast Act:
"A refrigerator or an oven used in a residential kitchen shall have a nonstationary, interior thermometer to monitor foodtemperatures. The storage temperature for perishable foods shall not exceed 45 Fahrenheit. The preparation temperaturefor baked foods shall be 140 Fahrenheit or more." One of the worst mishaps for a Bed and Breakfast can be food contamination. Guests may already be a bit skeptical about food preparation from a stranger, and stories of sickness and/or unsanitary food can push a Bed and Breakfast out of business, if not from guest reviews, from health violations.
2. Leverage History!
A thorough Bed and Breakfast will explores the history and prestige of the property with their guests. For Bed and Breakfast owners, be sure to educate yourself (and your guests!) on the significance of the property, the house, and other information that you can uncover about your dwelling. If guests expect a 'down-home' experience, fill their wonder with a little history lesson. This form of "storytelling" and property intelligence can be the 'hook' that seperates an "average" Bed and Breakfast experience from a memorable one.
3. Keep grounds polished and the website current!
We often say that beauty is on the inside, but in the case of Bed and Breakfast's, this insight is sometimes overlooked. Owners can sometimes be so caught up in guest interaction and in-house management tasks that they may neglect the outside grounds. Instead, owners should rememeber that the property has an "image" and that image is affected by the first impressions of guests. If guests notice untrimmed hedges, dead grass and a general lack of cleanliness on the outside, why should they expect different on the inside?
Also remember that if your homepage displays a fancied picture of your inn/property, make sure to rotate the image based on seasonal changes. Summer travelers aren't exactly encouraged to stay a Bed and Breakfast that looks stuck in the winter, and vice versa. Update, update, update!
4. Read Reviews and Respond!
Remember that your online presence is very important in customer influence. Since you are a 'personalized' hotel room, potential guests are more likely to seek reviews and real-time examples of the service. They want to ensure the quality of the service, since there isn't neccesarily a brand to attach themselves to.
Be aware that even with a bad experience, guests will appreciate the personal response. Often, guests with bad experiences (who recieve responses from the owner) are slightly less "negative" in the eyes of potential guests, since the owner has publicly addressed the issues and is taking a proactive approach. As a property owner, this mentality is important for reassuring would-be guests.
5. Above and Beyond
Your guests are likely seeking an escape from the branded Motel 6's and uniformity in lodging. They want a special experience, and will depend on you to lead the show. Create your own theme, your own feeling of 'home', and hone in on the small details. Would-be occupants will notice the hand-embrodiered napkins and the special "twists" on classic meals. Turn your "Chicken Cacciatore" and "Grits and Gravy" into a "House Special" or "Grandma's Gruel", and keep perpetuating the "home away from home" feeling.