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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Improve your bed and breakfast business

Improve your bed and breakfast business by Reuben O'connell
Increasingly, we are using the internet to buy products, book accommodation and find information. If you run a bed and breakfast, the chances are you've already started to use either your own website, or others, to advertise your business.
According to a MORI Poll, 35% of the 23 million Britons who have used the internet used it to make purchases. Of these purchases, the most popular were for flights and hotel bookings.
Deciding which website to advertise with, or how to promote your own site, can be difficult, given the amount of options available. With regards to the latter, finding a website you would consider booking accommodation on yourself and is well promoted, with good customer service gives you a good basis to work with. Look for clear, well designed pages that provide clear and comprehensive information on each accommodation provider and compare prices for listings across a selection of sites.
With your own website, creating pages that are easy to navigate, have great images and describe your location, accommodation and facilities well is a good start. Making it easy for people to find your prices and booking information sounds obvious, but it is surprising how many website designers forget the basics. Promoting your website in the search engines is a daunting task considering the amount of competition in this field. Having a well designed website with precise html code that has outgoing and, more importantly, incoming links of a high quality, are just some of the things you need to consider. There are so many bed and breakfasts across the country, making yours stand out from the crowd is important.
So once you've received your bookings and your customers arrive, how do you get them coming back for more and to recommend you to other people. Simple things make all the difference. As well as having a homely, welcoming, environment with areas for guests to relax in, extra touches can make all the difference.
Flowers in guest rooms needn't be time consuming - rather than a full vase, use a small single stem vase with just one or two flowers to make your guests feel at home. Other extras you could consider are dressing gowns and electric blankets in the winter months, an empty jam jar with homemade shortbread next to their tea and coffee making facilities and a complimentary magazine or newspaper of the day in each room. Touches like these only take a little extra time, thought and money to achieve, but can greatly increase your chances of repeat bookings from returning customers and recommendations.
In a communal area, provide good tourist information in a folder, or something similar, with up to date leaflets. Personalise this information by adding your own recommendations of things to see and do in the area and add basic accommodation information to keep your guests informed e.g. breakfast times, house rules. Also take the opportunity to advertise any extras you offer like evening meals and winter break offers. Make books and magazines available in your guest lounge and perhaps put on some music to create a welcoming, homely environment.
Put a couple of business cards in your guest rooms for them to pass on to others, or keep in their wallet or purse until they need to use you again. Perhaps offer a small discount for returning guests as that extra enticement for them to return.
The possibilities of improving your business are endless. Everyone should strive to improve their bed and breakfast and making small changes can make big differences.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Bed and breakfast inns

What is different about bed and breakfast inns than more traditional lodging establishments? Many times, the owner of a bed and breakfast is also the innkeeper, cook, gardener, plumber, laundry person and reservation taker and marketing guru.

If staying at a bed & breakfast is romantic and wonderful, that is because the innkeeper works hard to make it so. While running a bed and breakfast can seem like a dream job, there is much work that goes on behind "the curtain".

How do folks who want to make the jump into innkeeping manage it? Some take classes, some stay at bed & breakfasts to ask the innkeeper questions, and some read books about the subject. Others come from hotel backgrounds and are interested in running their own show now. We used a combination of ways before embarking on our journey in Placerville at the bed and breakfast.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

What is a bed & breakfast and country inn?

Some folks have asked us the difference between an inn and and bed and breakfast. A
bed and breakast or B&B or bed and breakfast inn is usually owner occupied with 1-15 guest rooms. The owners are often in residence on site, as we are at the Albert Shafsky House B&B in Placerville, CA. Located in a legally zoned area, bed and breakfast inns normally meet all local tax, fire, building and health requirements. Some B&B inns also host weddings and business meetings. All of the bed and breakfast inns in Placerville are this kind of B&B.

A country inn on the other hand is an owner-operated establishment providing lodging and meals (generally breakfast and dinner). Some provide dinners to overnight guests only, others have full-service restaurants open to the public. Typically 10 or more guest rooms.

As always, ask the innkeeper!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Gold bug park in Placerville

Hangtown's Gold Bug Park is California's only public park where you can take a captivating underground tour of a real gold mine, hike along two miles of interpretive trails, and actually pan for gold! Guided group tours offered year round - Monday thru Friday ... visit the Gold Bug Mine, Stamp Mill, Streambed and Panning ... Tour is 30-40 minutes for each site. Advance reservations required (530) 642-5238.

Located in the heart of Placerville, the park is on the eastern side of the famous Mother Lode Vein and was once dotted with over 250 mines within it’s boundaries. There are a number of hiking trails within the park that will introduce you to the flora and fauna of the area. Hike along Big Canyon Creek, or hike along the Vulture Claim trail and see the exploratory diggings called “coyote holes” that were left by the miners as they searched out pockets of gold bearing quartz. Big Canyon Creek, a tributary of the American River runs through the park. This creek was first placer mined by Chileans in 1848.

The Joshua Hendy Stamp Mill is an eight stamp mill and was built on the property in the late 1920’s. The stamp mill still stands on its original site.

Two hard rock mines are still open and available for the public to tour. The Priest Mine is the oldest Hard Rock mine in the park and dates back to the 1850’s. This mine is only available for special guided tours. (see Guided Tours)The Hattie Mine (now called Gold Bug) is dated as being started in 1888. This mine is available for self guided tours as well as special guided tours. The Hattie Museum offers displays of mining equipment and drawings explaining many of the various mining techniques that were used and are being used.

The Hattie Gift Shop offers a variety of books, photographs, gold samples as well as other items to remember this famous site. You can also rent a gold pan and pan for real gold in the gold troughs located adjacent to Big Canyon Creek. Gold Bug Park and Mine is a designated State Point of Historic Interest and is part of the National Register of Historic Sites.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Also on Sept 30th - A season of quilts

Gold Bug Quilters presents 2006 "A Season of Quilts"Gold Bug Quilters welcomes you to their Eighth Biennial Quilt Show. They have created a cornucopia of beautiful and varied works of art to share in this year's quilt show. Opportunity quilts, quilts, wearables, vendors, boutique, food, door prizes.Featured artist Lyn Mann will display her quilts & sign books for visitors. Quilt-related demonstrations will be on-going throughout the day. Saturday 10 - 5 El Dorado County Fair Grounds, Main Building and Organ Room, 100 Placerville Drive, Main Exhibit Building, Placerville $6admission. For more information contact: Joan (530) 644-5511

Thursday, September 07, 2006

2006 Boeger Winery Harvest Tours! Sept 30th

Come to Placerville on Saturday, Sept. 30th and visit Boeger Winery! Ever wonder what goes into a wine harvest? Well this year youcan find out! Join us during the heart of harvest time as wepick, crush, press and ferment the 2006 crops. Take a fun andeducational tour featuring hands-on activities, harvest samples,
tastes of the "new wine" and demonstrations by the winery staff. Experience Boeger Winery's Fall bounty first hand. Afteryour tour please enjoy a tasting our newly released wines and a sampling of our newest tasty treats on sale in the tasting room. Tour Schedule: 11:00AM, 12:00PM, 1:00PM & 2:00PMno reservations required. Still have questions? Call Tara at Boeger Winery 530-622-8094 x18

Monday, September 04, 2006

Fall in the Foothills

Fall in the foothills! Warm days for sampling Apple Hill goodies and cool evenings to stroll historic Main Street. Do some shopping, or just relax in Gold Country with us.
Sequoia Restaurant presents their Comedy Showcase featuring Chas Elsner September 6th (Wednesday) 8:00 p.m. in the ballroom. Chas Elsner calls his stand-up act "comedy without a net." His themes generally concern frustrating day-to-day stuff, such as too many remote controls. He has appeared on numerous comedy TV shows on networks including Fox, Showtime, VH1, and MTV. For reservations to the show, dinner and a night at our inn, call us (530) 642-2776.

Marbel Valley Center for the Arts presents the Annual Butterfly Concert on Sept 10th. This year’s theme, “Wings across the USA, Songs of America,” takes a musical trip of toe-tapping songs highlighting regions and cities across our nation. (We still have one room left for Sunday night.)

Finally, our buddies at Wofford Acres Vineyards are having their 3rd Anniversary party on October 1- munchies from the Old Town Grill served 1pm-4pm. Be the first to enjoy new releases 03 Syrah and 03 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Plus, taste the winning blend from the Apple Hill Wine Fest Winemaker’s Competition!

Tanks Alot
We are saying "Tanks alot" in September and October. All guests booking with us for Sun-Thurs nights in September & October who present their gas reciept dated the day of check-in will get $20 off their stay, just in time to take advantage of all the sites of Apple Hill. New bookings only, not valid with gift certificates or other offers. Remember to mention it during booking.
Book your stay now

Apple Hill is Here! Calling all apple lovers!
Apple cider, apple fritters, apple pie, apples, apples, apples everywhere. Time to visit and sample all the baked goodies you can! Mid-week is the perfect answer because there are fewer folks out and about. The Albert Shafsky House is about 10 minutes to the first of many orchards that are now open to serve your apple cravings.
More under attractions...

December 2 & 3 is the 11th Holiday Tour

"The Bed and Breakfast Inns of El Dorado County" open their doors for the season. Come up and take a peek inside the inns, meet innkeepers, sample goodies and maybe pick up a decorating idea or two for the holidays. Celebrate with the innkeepers and purchase a gift certificate for giving (or yourself). As always a portion of the tour proceeds benefits Snowline Hospice.
Tickets are just $15.00 per person and are valid for both days. Tour hours are 12:00 to 5:00 p.m. For tickets call 1-877-262-4667 or visit the website