Yesterday morning at the the breakfast table, a comment was made which made me think… We’re Not Your Grandmother’s House. The comment was from a couple in their late 50’s/early60’s that was looking for a book to read. They mentioned when they visited B & B’s before, they always have books. I said in 2004, we used to have books but found that no one actually read them. Seems like, these days, guests bring their own books and more often than not have an iPad or an e-reader. And that got me thinking…
And that got me thinking… We’re Not Your Grandmother’s House
Maybe when I first took over the 1795 Acorn Inn Bed and Breakfast in 2004, it may very well have been my Grandmother’s house. Built in 1810, it was full of stuff. Too many things hanging on the walls. Doilies. Full canopies on beds. Even a crocheted canopy in the Angell Room. Gingham checked swags for window coverings with matching tissue box holders. Bookshelves in every room, including six wall-to-wall shelves on the upstairs landing. And a decent collection of VHS tapes. Consequently, this Finger Lakes accommodation was all nicely decorated in a Country Colonial theme, but it felt old. And it wasn’t me. So often a Bed and Breakfast is a reflection of it’s owner.
The Evolution of Bed and Breakfasts
Years, actually decades ago, women stayed at home to raise a family. As a result, when the kids got older and went off to college, they found themselves with not much to do. Hence, in an effort to keep busy at something they were good at and consequently earn a few extra bucks, they started renting out rooms on a short-term basis. Providing breakfast was easy and eventually Bed and Breakfasts came about.
Eventually, it soon became something older couples could do together to supplement their income and make use of their large home. Often it was decorated with wallpaper and years of memories. It was warm and welcoming and a cozy option to staying in a chain hotel. At some point, not too long ago, it became a livelihood for some and businesses were born. Papers were filed with local entities. Income was reported. Taxes paid. Inspections passed. Standards maintained. And marketing plans put in place.
Over the past 14 years, I have watched this business and, how it’s marketed, change drastically. It used to be that 100% of reservations were taken over the phone. Prior to the internet, if you wanted to stay in a B & B, you bought a book or looked at one in the library. Often times you got a description of a Bed and Breakfast and a line drawing on which to base your decision on. Now, with the vast real estate of a website, guests have beautiful photos and complete details about your accommodations, information on things to do in the area and even a way to make a reservation without speaking to a soul.
Additionally, it’s all about search engine rankings on Google and tripadvisor reviews. Guests have airbnb, Vacation Rental by Owner (VBRO), expedia, booking.com, trivago, hotels.com, kayak and more from which to check pricing and availability. As a result, it’s becoming extremely complicated and once again the business is changing. More on this in a subsequent blog.
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