Why it pays to sleep around for Bed and Breakfast owners

I wrote a post awhile back about Viewing your restaurant from a customers perspective, and it occurred to me after spending a weekend away at a very nice B&B, to wonder how many innkeepers have actually stayed (and not just one night) in every single room in their own B&Bs. I mean packed their bags and literally “checked in”.

I bring this up because, as an example, the B&B I just stayed at recently had wonderful hosts, a delicious breakfast, comfy beds and great amenities, but the toilet paper holder just wasn’t very functional. Every time someone went to use the loo, the toilet paper fell off the decorative holder. How annoying was that? Trivial, but annoying.

Did this mar my whole stay? Absolutely not. Did I forget to mention it the innkeepers? Yes I did, because it was a very minor problem. (am I emailing them after I write this post? Yes 🙂

It got me to thinking though, how many small things that the usual guest may have a small problem with, that doesn’t really affect the overall stay, but stays in the subconscious and they forget to mention it to the innkeepers.

As innkeepers (I know I would feel this way if I had an inn) you go out of your way to try to make a guests stay perfect. So to me, take one step more and go a little further.

I recently wrote a post about Attracting Business Travelers to B&Bs, and in them I listed some very minor pet peeves about staying in B&Bs. If I think back to recent stays, not just in B&Bs, but hotels as well, I can list a bunch of minor things, that if the owners or managers had actually stayed in the rooms themselves they would have noticed.

Two different places, big armoires that had flat screen TVs in them. Terrific idea to get them out of the way and not be an eyesore. Defeats the purpose of having a TV for guests to watch though if the armoire doors won’t stay open, and keeps slowly swinging closed.

Defective or misplaced toilet paper holders seem to be huge one. The one that was 2 feet from the commode really made my day so to speak, LOL

The water faucet that sprays a little too hard when turned on all the way. I tell you it’s a real pain having to find another set of clothes to wear, when you are on your way out the door, and all the sudden you are wearing water polka dots.

What are you supposed to do with all those pillows and comforters (especially when it’s 90 degrees out)? They get piled on chairs. I’m not suggesting you do away with them, they look gorgeous, but perhaps put a place aside where guests can put them. The places that have luggage racks generally get used for that oversized comforter and my luggage ends up on the floor, and the pillows I put on chairs, and then end up with no where to sit when I want to put shoes and socks on the next morning.

I am not trying to nitpick about very minor things, but more to make the point that if innkeepers spent actual time (sleep time, activity time) in the rooms they let guests sleep in, they might notice some minor things, like the very bottom drawer of the dresser that just doesn’t want to get unstuck easily.

As innkeepers you want to make your B&Bs perfect, take a look at it from a customer’s point of view, it’s a fresh perspective, and it will help you to better understand and fix any small issues that can make a very small (but lasting) impression on a guest.

I would suggest setting up a log, so you can track when you’ve stayed in the rooms as well. Did the other rooms have guests at the time? Was it a weekend? What season was it?

You may find things like the room that is perfect in three seasons, in the summer the air conditioner blows directly on the sleepers (so you could consider moving the bed), or the suite upstairs you can hear a TV playing (so you consider moving the location of the TV stand against a wall that doesn’t connect with an adjoining guest room). You wouldn’t know these things otherwise.

When was the last time YOU stayed in your rooms.


About Chef Forfeng

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7 Responses to Why it pays to sleep around for Bed and Breakfast owners

  1. InnkeeperVA says:

    B&B owners and innkeepers (hired). And this will sound gross, but even sitting on the toilet lid, pretending to be a guest would, you can see what they see, dust on the vents, baseboard,TP too hard to reach, all those little things CAN annoy a person.

    But agreed stay in the rooms as a guest, this means pack a bag and then see where everything fits, or doesn’t fit. Are there areas for stuff? Enough chargers for electronics? etc.

  2. Really great post, even i will apply those things in my own bed & breakfast business. Thanks for share the post.

  3. Thank you for the great post! We are getting ready to open a B&B in Virginia and this has been one of the things on our minds. I look at service in the way Disney does. Everything matters. And its the small things that people take for granted that can make or break someones stay.

  4. Thanks Heather,
    Very important point and yes and no ……. we stayed in almost every room of our B&B , but we got ourselves some test guests and more than one 🙂 We asked our friends as well as our kids and their partners to test-sleep in the rooms.
    We tried that with the motel we owned before, never made it through all the rooms during the 10 years we owned it but it helped a lot to even spend time in there and “consciously” look at and test ever detail in the room.
    What also helps on many levels is to provide ‘comment-card’ in all rooms so that guests have the chance to write down a little note about things they noticed while staying.
    As always ….. great article !! Love your ideas and input!
    Abadin European Style Bed and Breakfast Hawkesbury | L’Orignal

  5. Fiona says:

    Hello Heather

    You have hit on a valid point. We have stayed in all our rooms, and made sure everything worked – and the reason we stayed in them was specifically to test them out. We found a few niggles, for sure, and it gave us the opportunity to put them right.

    I recently stayed at a B&B and the kettle lead was only just long enough to reach the dresser from the socket – and we had to take the light out of the socket to use it! You’re right, these little things are annoying, but it may mean that people don’t return… and as that’s the thing we want the most, (repeat guests) then we definitely have to consider it!

    Fiona Potts,
    Gwaenynog Farmhouse B&B

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