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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I Love Inns(keeping)


Life is full of perfect little moments....upon return from another wonderful CABBI Innkeeping Conference, where I presented about the importance of blogs, this is a snippet of the email I read....

"Dear Rita and Stephanie,
Congratulations on being selected as Blog of the Week on ILoveInns.com.

We at ILoveInns are always striving to bring our members more exciting ways to highlight their Inns and the special communities they live in. In this regard we wanted to share with you that your creative and informative Blog was selected to be highlighted as the Blog of the Week on our home page at www.iloveinns.com."

So, being the responsible innkeeper and blogger that I am, here is a portion of what the iloveinns post had to say 
"Best Bed & Breakfast Blogs by Innkeepers
January 28, 2007 Best Blog: http://www.shafsky.com/blog.htm
Innkeeper & Inn: Rita TImewell & Stephanie Carlson, Albert Shafsky House Bed & Breakfast
Name of Blog: Albert Shafsky House Blog
Why we like this blog: This blog is full of useful information for innkeepers and prospective innkeepers alike. Rita and Stephanie have owned the Albert Shafsky House for 5 years and share with you their thoughts and ideas on running a California bed & breakfast. From how to start a blog, to their "Top 10 reasons to become an innkeeper...or why we did at least", to innkeeper conferences and trade shows, this blog offers detailed information on many aspects of inn ownership."

Any more questions on why or how blogging can help your site?  Ask away.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

This is a great article that appeared in CustomerThink

This is a great article that appeared in CustomerThink that talks about the importance of blogs and blogging to business owners and certainly fits for bed and breakfast owners as well.

Jan. 21, 2008
Top 10 Dumb Excuses for CEOs Not To Be Leaders in the Social Web

By Bob Thompson, CustomerThink Corp.

By now, everyone within reach of a newspaper or web site has heard about the rise of the social web. You might have heard other terms used, like "Web 2.0," "social networking" or "consumer-generated media."

Millions of people are now using the social web to spout off on every topic you can imagine—and some you'd rather not imagine. Or to build networks of hundreds or thousands of "friends" and share photos and videos with them. Or to read and exchange information about what they like, or don't, about all kinds of products and services, from books to restaurants.

These are exciting times for the many newly empowered people. Yet most of what's been going on has passed CEOs right on by. Solid statistics are hard to come by, yet it seems that few CEOs are personally spending their time on the social web, especially when the subject turns to blogging in larger corporations. Just try to find them!

‘If your business is struggling or you are newly in charge, blogging could be just the ticket to help you communicate your turnaround plans with all stakeholders.’

If you're one of those who are staying on the sidelines during this most important phenomenon, you're missing a unique opportunity to engage on a personal level with all your stakeholders: customers, employees and partners. So what are your reasons for not personally diving into the rapidly rising and swirling social web waters?

Whatever they are, in the following 10 points I'll explain why these imagined obstacles are really just poor excuses for not leading this revolution:

Excuse No. 10: You don't have enough time.

Seriously, would you accept this excuse from one of your employees? Last I checked, everyone has the same number of hours in the day. It's all in how you decide to use them. So, what you're really saying is that the social web is not important enough (yet) for you to invest your time in it. But consider this: Some very busy CEOs are blogging regularly, like Bill Marriott of Marriott International. You can, too.
Excuse No. 9: You don't know what to write about.

If this is your excuse, then I have an idea of what you could write, instead: your résumé. As a captain of industry, you're called upon to communicate frequently, to everyone from employees to shareholders to conference attendees. What are you discussing with them? Blogging is a good way to reinforce some of things you're already talking about, except that, unlike typical one-way pitches, you can really engage with people. Quick tip: Get a blank sheet of paper and write down 10 topics that you are personally passionate about. That's your blogging plan for the year. If you're really stuck for ideas, then ask your readers periodically what they'd like you to blog about.
Excuse No. 8: You don't like criticism and negative comments.

Who does? Yet we all have relationships with family, friends and colleagues, where feedback is par for the course. Leadership is not just about telling, it's also about engaging with others. If you run a big company, there's a very good chance that some of the bad news you should be hearing is being filtered by middle management. Would you rather hear about it on a "Dell Hell"-like blog posting that hits CNN or in comments on your own blog? One way or another, customers will have their say on the social web. As a last resort, you could consider starting your blog with comments disabled, but I don't recommend it. That's like saying "no comment" to the media, which just means that bloggers will comment on your not allowing comments. You don't want that.
Excuse No. 7: Web 2.0 technology is immature, so it's better to wait.

Maybe your CIO has been whispering in your ear that this new-fangled "Web 2.0" is not ready for prime time. Not true. Major software vendors like Oracle and SAP are introducing collaborative features into their software suites. As I mentioned in Web 2.0 Powers Up People, my recap of a 2007 Web 2.0 conference, well-known technology brands like Adobe, AOL, IBM, Intel, salesforce.com and WebEx are embracing Web 2.0 concepts and providing more integrated solutions. And there are many other market-proven solutions that provide great function and ease-of-use, at a low cost. .
Excuse No. 6: The chief marketing officer should be the one blogging, to promote your company.

If you really believe this, then for heaven's sake, don't blog. (And tell the CMO not to blog, either.) By promoting only the company line, you'll do more damage than good. But it's still a dumb excuse because marketing is not just about promoting. Anything a business does helps to build a brand and is, therefore, part of its marketing efforts. Your open and transparent communications could help create a more positive and authentic image about your company. That's marketing without marketing, if you catch my drift.
Excuse No. 5: Your writing style makes the dictionary seem entertaining.

Hmm. Thought you had me on this one, didn't you? Well, it's true that, if you can't write so good ... er ... well, then your blog won't be a big hit. But before you give up, take a look at your emails. Are they short, chatty and engaging? Then you, too, can be a blogger! Check out Success & Motivation: Don't Lie to Yourself from Mark Cuban (owner of the Dallas Mavericks National Basketball Association team) for a good example of a message likely to "go viral" in the blogosphere. All that said, if writing is not your thing, then try podcasting: Record an audio message and post it on your web site. You may need some help with this one, but it's not difficult.
Excuse No. 4: Your lawyers say you can't blog because you run a public company.

Then fire your lawyers. Yes, you have to be careful about "forward looking" statements and SOX compliance, but that's not a good reason for leaving a vacuum in what should be your space on the social web. Jonathan Schwartz, president and CEO of publicly traded Sun Microsystems, is a prolific blogger. Somehow he's managed to keep his job, and, more importantly, blogging has help spread the word about the new Sun. If your business is struggling or you are newly in charge, blogging could be just the ticket to help you communicate your turnaround plans with all stakeholders and give the press something to read, too. And that's not all. Comments from your readers could help clarify and improve your business plans. That's how Dell realized that it should continue to offer Windows XP. Tell that to your lawyers.
Excuse No. 3: Bloggers have to post every day.

Says who? Perhaps this myth was started by bloggers with no life. What's important is consistency and quality, not frequency. Find a schedule that works for you. I'd suggest a monthly blog post to start and a weekly check-in to answer a few questions. And then add a new post occasionally during the month when you've got something to say.
Excuse No. 2: Only the kids are using social networking.

Did you know that 148,000 executives sign in to LinkedIn every day? Maybe you'd like to connect with some of them. Or, they with you. My own LinkedIn network is modest (less than 100 connections), but still, without breaking a sweat, I found 500 CEO contacts that I could potentially contact directly or as "friends of friends." As head honcho of your business, you got to your exalted position through relationships and networking. Maybe Facebook is not your style (especially if the numnuts running it continue to abuse user privacy), but you can expect that LinkedIn and other industry-specific business networks will be springing up to serve executives like you.
Excuse No. 1: Setting up your own blog is too much trouble.

Then don't. Get involved in online community sites where you can network and communicate with others with a shared interest. It's more fun than blogging solo, and all of the technology "heavy lifting" is done for you. At CustomerThink, for example, anyone can set up an account in just a few minutes. You can add comments to other posts to get your feet wet and then blog when you're ready. If you're passionate about customer-centric business, we'd love to hear from you!
Many of your customers are already on the social web; the rest will be coming soon. Even if no other CEO in your industry is blogging or using social networking, it's an opportunity for you to be a leader.

Isn't that what CEOs do?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Reviews can equal reservations--here are some recent ones.

Some recent reviews of our B&B...

"I stay at the Albert Shafsky House any time I am in the area (which is usually twice a year).  I have been going for at least 8 years.  The innkeepers are fabulous hostesses, the rooms are spotless and wonderfully decorated and the food is delicious!  I go back every year and feel like I am visiting old friends.  I always recommend the Albert Shafsky House to friends and family."

"Rita and Stephanie are the greatest hosts. We were greeted with a wonderful wine tasting when we checked in and the rooms were cozy, comfortable, clean and nostalgic. We took our parents who stayed in the larger suite and they too were truly impressed by the warm welcome and cozy atmosphere. Breakfast was delightful and the other guests were as pleased as we were at this charming B&B."

"We had a lovely time and a great stay at Shafsky House B and B. Hope to return."
It is comments like this, that make running a bed and breakfast the best profession one could have.

Now that I am an innkeeper, what do I do?

So, you have decided to become an innkeeper and purchased the perfect place...now the trick is to keep your sanity while working your dream job.

When we first took over the Albert Shafsky House B&B in Placerville, which had been a dream, we worked 18 hour days for several weeks.  It was grueling, it was hard and it was stupid...I am sure we were not nearly as prepared for guests as we should have been, since we were exhausted.  There was so much to do...

There is still much to do all these years later, but we have learned how to take care of guests and ourselves.  Treat yourself...take a day off now and then....leave the inn to an innsitter (a good one) and take a vacation...or a long weekend...if you are not rested, how will you possibly take care of your guests?

What's in a name?

Some folks call them inns, some bed and breakfasts, some bed and breakfast inn.  Why all the names?
A bed and breakfast is typically a small, owner-operated home that serves breakfast (full or something close to a full breakfast) to the 1-5 room guests.
An inn also serves breakfast, but also probably offers food to non-guests in their restaurant. Generally speaking, an inn is larger than a bed and breakfast with 6 or more rooms.  Sometime a 1-5 room property will call itself an inn rather than a bed and breakfast--and not serve breakfast.
A bed and breakfast inn is one that either could not decide what to be called or just thought they would make it very clear that breakfast was included with the stay.

Aspiring Innkeepers - Is this your dream?


Do you think you want to run and B&B and become an innkeeper as a profession?  It is a great dream and can become a reality if you are willing...but there are some questions you should ask yourself before deciding if innkeeping is for you.  

Do you have what it takes to greet strangers every day and turn them into paying guests (and sometimes friends) or are you more solitary in your home?  Do you like to make breakfasts and entertain?  How do you feel about cleaning (and yes, I mean toilets too), ironing, laundry, etc?  What about grocery shopping?  How much do you like to mingle and market your property?  Will you employ people to help?  Have spouse that shares your dream?

Running an inn is not just a job, it's an adventure (and a way of life).  It is very rewarding and you will be your own boss.  That is the good news and the bad...now you can decide to live the dream, or just keep staying at inns as a guest.  

We purchased the Albert Shafsky House B&B in Placerville after reading, and staying at several B&Bs, until we were confident that it was not just a dream, but the reality we really wanted.  And have not regreted it for a moment.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Innkeeping As a Profession (IAP) in Santa Rosa


One of the most valuable aspects of the InnSpire Conference is the Innkeeping As a Profession (IAP) Workshop. This two-day workshop gives aspiring innkeepers an insider’s look at the industry and supports them in pursuing their dream.  The Albert Shafsky House B&B innkeepers have been in attendance for the last several years.  We would not miss the InnSpire Conference for the networking, workshops, and trade show is great for staying current in our profession.

As a CABBI member — we need your help in spreading the word about this educational workshop. If you know an aspiring innkeeper, please encourage them to visit the InnSpire Conference website to view the complete schedule for more information.

If you are an aspiring innkeeper, Click Here to sign up for the Innkeeping As a Profession workshop today!
The Hyatt Vineyard Creek is this year's venue which promises to be great fun.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

CABBI conference for bed and breakfast owners and aspiring innkeepers

SUNDAY - TUESDAY, JANUARY 27-29

Hyatt Vineyard Creek - Santa Rosa, California

Innspire 2008
Please come to InnSpire 2008, California Association of Bed & Breakfast Inns' (CABBI) annual Conference & Trade Show as we celebrate 16 years of growing stronger together in this year of partnering with the California Hotel and Lodging Association.

Don't miss out! This is the ONE industry conference that every innkeeper should attend.

Classes like....

The Power of Guest Comments and Blogs
Consumer generated comments (CGCs) such as Trip Advisor and blogs influence more than $10 billion a year in online travel. Use it (or lose it) to increase occupancy, referrals, repeats and create more happy guests and staff. You will receive tips in this powerful crash course on how to use emergent technology.
Presented by Jim Beazley of Beazley House, Stephanie Carlson of Albert Shafsky House, and Sandy Soule of BedandBreakfast.com
Located in Dry Creek I

Yes, I will be talking about creating a site just like this one!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Valentine's Day all month in February

A tradition at the Albert Shafsky House in February is to celebrate Valentine's Day for the whole month. Our pals over at Boeger Winery are offering "Sweets for Your Sweetie" on Saturday, February 9th from 11-4pm for $15 per person.

Impress your sweetie and satisfy your sweet tooth with this fun and deliciousValentine tasting. Enjoy scrumptious chocolates from local favorites FudgeFactory Farms and Annabelle’s Chocolates paired with some of our fine wines. Take home a one of a kind Boeger “lovers” logo glass. You and your “sweetie”can snuggle up to a cup of our very own Rubies Cocoa in our Historic Wine Cellar. And they will have Complimentary Gift Wrap available the day of the event!

RSVP: to Tara 800.655.2634 x: 18 or tara@boegerwinery.com

Why not join us out at the event!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Aspiring Innkeepers

If you long to run and inn or take over a bed and breakfast, do your homework first. Talk to innkeepers, as many as you can. Offer to stay, take them to dinner, whatever they want so you can "pick their brains"...it will be well worth it in the end...afterall, what if you decide that you don't really like getting up to make breakfast, or that chatting with strangers is not your favorite thing...better to learn that BEFORE you commit to changing your lifestyle and purchasing a new home (B&B).

Attend a conference, like the one at the end of the month in Santa Rosa, put on by CABBI and get to know some of the inns and outs of really running a bed and breakfast before you make the change.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

claim

Technorati Profile

Start a blog and toss it

Great article the other day from Remarkablogger about starting a blog, learning and tossing it as a practice blog...without feeling bad.  Michael Martine states " The objective of a starter blog is to get in, learn your lessons, and then get out. Take what you’ve learned and then plan a “real” blog." Amen.  Your first try does not have to be your last, and if you don't like it, you are not overly committed to a domain name, traffic, etc.  

Afterall, innkeepers have plenty to do without starting a blog, but you might get hooked and really enjoy it as a way to reach out to others and impart some of your passion about innkeeping to a wider audience than those who walk thru your doorway.


Monday, January 07, 2008

Are you an aspiring innkeeper?

Join CABBI at the ANNUAL ASPIRING INNKEEPING AS A PROFESSION (IAP) CONFERENCE
REGISTRATION: Choose the 2-day or 3-day workshop
TWO-DAY WORKSHOP
Regular Registration by 1/25: $590 (single) $950 (double)
Onsite Registration: $695 (single) $1195 (double)
THREE-DAY WORKSHOP (includes InnSpire 2008)
Regular Registration by 1/25: $885 (single) $1600 (double) 
Onsite Registration: $935 (single) $1700 (double)
HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS: Please contact the Hyatt Vineyard Creek & Spa directly for your hotel reservations at 800-233-1234 and ask for the CABBI conference rate of $129. This rate is good until 1/11/08. This hotel is located in Northern California.s wine county at 170 Railroad St. in Santa Rosa, in walking distance from the Historic Railroad Square District.
CANCELLATION POLICY: Conference cancellations must be received in writing by 12/31/07 for a full refund less a $25 processing fee. After 12/31/07, no refunds allowed.
REGISTER ONLINE or visit the Workshop page

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Top 10 reasons to become an innkeeper...or why we did at least!


1.  Meet really cool people
2. Enjoy hospitality and serving
3. See people relax in your home and enjoy each other
4. Providing a refuge and peaceful spot 
5. Reading the wonderful comments in the journals or online from guests
6. Have a passion for cooking
7. Listen to new stories from new faces
8. Be your own boss
9. Live a historic home and interact with the community
10. Turn a dream into reality

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Imagination Theater proudly presents Mary Youngblood

January 19th events in Placerville
Three time Grammy Award Winning Native American Flautist 7:30 p.m. Imagination Theater, located at El Dorado County Fairgrounds Preferred Seating $45.00, regular seating $35.00. Seating is limited For more information contact: Call the Box Office to make your reservations (530) 642-0404
Native American Mary Youngblood, half Seminole and half Aleut, is the first woman to professionally record the Native American Flute, and the first woman to win not just one, but two Grammy Awards for "Best Native American Music Album".


Third Saturday Night Art Walk Art galleries and merchants stay open late to host changing art show. Wine, hors d’oeuvres, demonstrations, and entertainment. Sponsored by local galleries and merchants. 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Historic Main Street, Placerville. Free to the public.


The Albert Shafsky House is just steps from Main Street and minutes to Imagination Theater, why not stay with us?  

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Village News in Fallbrook Reports Spelling has officially vacated Fallbrook B&B

Our friend Christina Macone-Greene who reported on the doings at the Fallbrook Bed and Breakfast that Tori Spelling and her husband Dean McDermott "purchased" reports that the "previous owners" are now back in business and we can all breathe a sigh of relief that Chateau La Rue was nothing more than a bad dream, and a worse representation of innkeeping as a profession.

For the whole story click here.  

But not to worry, you can buy Oak Creek Manor for about $2.75 million--and you could probably do a much better job of running an inn than they ever did....and if you really are an aspiring innkeeper, in California or elsewhere, join Rita and I in Santa Rosa at the Annual B&B Innspire Conference.  We will be wearing our Albert Shafsky House B&B in Placerville nametags so come say "Hi".