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Thursday, January 25, 2007

InnSide Innkeeping at our Placerville bed and Breakfast

Well, we are finally off to the California bed and breakfast conference in Irvine to spend time actually planning and thinking about what it is we do as innkeepers here at our Placerville B&B. I will certainly post some tip and tricks we pick up while at the events/seminars upon our return.

In our absence, we will have one of our trusty innsitters minding the inn and taking care of our bed and breakfast guests. We know he will be great! He always gets rave reviews on his cooking.

Speaking of which...a good innsitter is an important part of running a bed and breakfast. With the average life cycle of an innkeeper at about 7 years due to burnout, it is crucial to remember to getaway yourself once in a while and that means either shutting the bed and breakfast or finding someone to take your place while you get pampered yourself!

So, you want to be an innkeeper? Know an innsitter too!

Monday, January 15, 2007

InnSide our Placerville bed and Breakfast

Here is a story that ran in December 2006 about some new innkeepers in California and what they are doing with their bed and breakfast dream. The timeline is really not so bad, Rita and I looked in January and had our first guests in June of the same year so I can't really see that it is much of a whirlwind....


Whirlwind Inn
Couple goes from bed-and-breakfast patrons to owners in less than year
10:00 PM PST on Thursday, December 28, 2006
By DOUGLAS QUANThe Press-Enterprise
When your business is running a bed-and-breakfast inn and your promise is to pamper, finding time to unwind can be difficult.
Such is the case of Karl and Connie Sweigart, the Temecula Wine Country's newest B&B owners. In the three months since they took over the 10-bedroom Mission-style Loma Vista Bed and Breakfast inn, they've managed a one-day trip to San Diego, but little else.
On top of their regular duties, the Sweigarts have been juggling talks with television producers who are scouting locations for a reality TV show.
The show, which will air on the Oxygen network, will feature actress Tori Spelling and her husband, Dean McDermott, as they attempt to run a bed-and- breakfast. If the show is anything like the Sweigarts' reality, it could prove an endurance test for the pregnant Spelling.
There's rarely any downtime. Spa fixtures need replacing. Guest towels have to be bought. Are there enough sausages? Is the coffee warm?
And, oh, who can forget the couple who, on their anniversary, locked themselves out of the bathroom in the middle of the night?
Story continues below

Frank Bellino / The Press-Enterprise
Connie Sweigart, top, center, who with her husband, Karl, own the Loma Vista Bed and Breakfast in Temecula's Wine Country, visits with some of her guests after serving them breakfast.
"It's 24 /7," Karl Sweigart said on a recent Saturday morning as he and his wife served eggs Florentine and French toast to a houseful of twentysomething guests.
Not that they are complaining.
After years toiling in the corporate world -- he was a human-resources director, she was an event planner/caterer and a real estate agent -- they were ready to be their own bosses.
Karl has even eschewed his monthly trip to the barber and let his locks and beard grow.
On a Whim
The Sweigarts' transformation from boardroom players to biscotti makers was achieved with breathtaking speed.
It started in February, when the couple, then living in Fountain Hills, Ariz., were guests at Loma Vista and learned that the 5-acre property surrounded by citrus groves was for sale.
Somewhere in the parking lot -- after they checked out and before they reached their car -- Connie, 51, turned to her husband.
"Honey, guess what we're doing next?"
Karl, 57, didn't put up much resistance.
"She has fabulous intuition," he said later.
In March, they sent the owners a notice of their interest in the property. They saw it as not only a way to free themselves from the corporate world, but also a worthy investment.
The Temecula Wine Country is booming. The Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association represents 22 wineries. About two-dozen individuals, companies or investment groups have expressed interest in starting one, said Linda Kissam, the association's executive director.
After sending the letter, the Sweigarts did research by staying at several bed-and-breakfast inns in Southern California and Arizona. Connie read the "Complete Idiot's Guide to Running a Bed and Breakfast."
On Sept. 14, they welcomed their first guests.
Not So Glamorous
At least half of all B&B owners in the state are preretirement couples who have fled the corporate world, guesses Stephen Willey, president of the California Association of Bed and Breakfast Inns and an innkeeper for 30 years.
Many aspiring innkeepers discover that the start-up costs -- purchasing the land, making sure the kitchen complies with county codes, designing a theme -- are prohibitive.
Most owners either have landed a large inheritance or have assets tucked away, Willey said.
Then there's the fatigue.
The average innkeeper quits the business within five years because of burnout, Willey said.
B&B guests are demanding more creature comforts and services these days. And B&B owners face increasing competition from large hotel chains that are providing more personalized services.
It's not enough anymore to pamper guests with a comfy bed and a nice meal. B&B owners have to be ready to recommend good restaurants and local attractions or to arrange for a massage therapist. Wireless Internet connections are a no-brainer.
"If you've got a headache and don't want to clean the kitchen, tough," Willey said. "You've got to accommodate these people."
And you've got to do it with a smile.
Running a bed-and-breakfast inn is not always as glamorous as it seems, said Valorie Ashley, 56, owner of Ville De Valor in Julian. Ashley leads a seminar for aspiring innkeepers on behalf of the B&B association.
To be successful, she said, you've got to be a self-starter, people-astute -- and a little crazy.
Resolve
The Sweigarts seem up to the task.
They strive to greet guests at the door, no matter how late the arrival. When the couple can't be there in person, they'll leave a note along with the keys at the door.
But there's more to the couple than frilly linens and new-age music. They are still businesspeople and are taking the talks with the TV producers very seriously.
The producers also have been scouting locations in Idyllwild and Temecula and a decision is expected soon.
The Sweigarts know the publicity could be great for business. And renovations to the property could be part of the deal.
Not wanting to jinx their chances of landing a contract, the Sweigarts have obeyed producers' wishes not to talk more about the project.
They know that when the stress level mounts, they can't convey that to the guests.
"We're not fast-food," Connie said. "We just have to slow down."
Reach Douglas Quan at 951-368-9479 or dquan@PE.com
More About Innkeeping
The California Association of Bed and Breakfast Inns will hold its annual conference and trade show Jan. 28 through 30 in Irvine.
Information: www.cabbi.com

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Innside Innkeeping tips and tricks

The best thing you can do for your inn or bed and breakfast is to have a great website and then promote it as many places as you can (that make sense). Having links to and from your site help you in the search engines for ranking and ensure that your guests will find plenty to do while they visit and may help them decide to spend multiple nights with you, at your bed and breakfast.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

CABBI workshops

As the conference gets closer, the more excited I get at the thought of the workshops....every time I have been to the innkeeping conference I take away new friends and new ideas from from each and every workshop I make it to. And Rita goes to different ones so we can cover twice the amount of ground. I hope to see some fellow innkeepers at Innspire!

I am going to be attending the following workshops at CABBI Innspire:

Small Property Idea Fair
Have fun in this interactive workshop where fellow innkeepers will share those ideas that have proven successful! All attendees will receive a compilation of these ideas discussed at the workshop.

Build a Better Website
Leading B&B website designers provide a free critique of participants' websites at this workshop. Learn about what works on your website and how to improve it to convert more lookers into bookers. Follow in the successful path of other innkeepers through website case studies. Learn how you can increase your profit from a better website design with a review of "before and after" websites and discover what is hot and what is not. Actual revenue increases and return on investment (ROI) will be shared for each case study.

Search Engine Optimization Secrets
Want to increase your revenue for free? Of course you do, and you will be surprised how quickly you can with a few tips and tricks. Expert Scott Crumpton asks for just an hour and he will show you everything you need to know to get your site to the top of Google, Yahoo and MSN. He will cover everything from simple keyword research to link strategies as well as debunk a few myths along the way. Forget what you think you know-it's what you don't know that is costing you money every day.

Tool Time From A to Z
CABBI Past President and contractor Rick Andersonis one handy man! This hands-on demonstration is guaranteed to be educational, informative and fun! Learn simple steps to make your repair jobs easier.

Market Niches & Value-Added Packages
A panel of successful niche marketers share how they developed their customer base and how to target a particular interest. Increase revenue by creating value-added packages such as wine-tasting tours and romantic weekend getaways; market to bike and sports enthusiasts and accommodate guests traveling with pets.

Empty Beds and Empty Wallets?
Placing a Dollar Value on Your GuestsMarketing costs range from 5-20% of an innkeeper's budget, yet few innkeepers understand how to best allocate their time and measure their limited resources. This workshop will help you estimate acquisition and retention costs, conversion ratios, and how best to use such "pay-to-play" marketing tools as online advertising through directories, search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC), and website design, as well as "pay-if-they-stay" marketing tools like online reservations and gift certificates.

Create Your Own Marketing Plan
This session is designed to assist B&B owners/managers to develop an actionable marketing plan. Learn how to create a market planning model as well as the thinking process needed to transform your property into a market-driven business designed to increase revenues.

Passport dates....

Time to get your passport applications filled out for El Dorado County Wine Weekends, coming up on March 24 & 25 and March 31 and April 1, 2007. This event always sells out early so don't delay in getting them in the mail by January 19th.

Passport holders receive a 10 oz. souvenir wine glass and passport that will be stamped at each winery visited. Wineries offer special "Passport Only" wine discounts and access to all wines and events put on by each winery.

They also offer complimentary foods and desserts to try with port selections.