Posts Tagged ‘B&B’

NABB Member Writes Articles About B&B Industry

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Cher Maybee is co-owner with her husband of Barn Anew Bed and Breakfast in Mitchell, Nebraska–near Scottsbluff and Gering. Please add her first and last name to the end of this link in order to read these articles. There are about 5 so far…

Why We Love Being a B&B Owner

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Vacation Rentals – Friend or Foe? What do you think?

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

#On My Mind – Vacation Rentals – Friend or Foe?  What do you think?
By Jay Karen, PAII CEO
Anyone paying attention to the travel industry these days knows about the rise and success of the vacation rental as a popular lodging option.  Sites like VRBO, HomeAway, FlipKey and others have skyrockted in popularity.  Many cities around the world are concerned with the increased use of houses, apartments, and condos as vacation rentals, possibly altering the culture of buildings and neighborhoods.  Everyone in our industry knows that HomeAway bought last year, so it brought the vacation rental question into the forefront for our industry.  But how are innkeepers supposed to see the vacation rental market?  Friend or foe?  Of course, it’s not so black and white.

Activities undertaken by the vacation rental industry and its major players may end up benefiting the B&B industry.  For two years now, HomeAway has run commercials during the Super Bowl promoting the hotel alternative.  Since B&Bs compete with hotels (and we do, for those who say we don’t compete with hotels), I like this advertising.  It gets people thinking about alternatives to what can be the “cookie-cutter” experience.  HomeAway received a big infusion of capital from Google Ventures not long ago, and they recently filed to become a publicly-traded company.  The escalating scale and scope of this company will hopefully mean more propaganda to get travelers moving in the direction away from hotels.

Popular vacation rental web sites also provide another distribution channel for innkeepers to market their rooms, cottages, or cabins.  Not all rental opportunities on these web sites are condos and entire houses – some property owners rent rooms as well.  Many innkeepers have months during which occupancy drops to single digits.  Vacation rental web sites may be a great place to experiment with renting the entire B&B out to groups for days or weeks at a time.  I know several innkeepers who are having great success renting rooms on sites like HomeAway.  Think about it this way – there could be some kind of corporate sales training or other group-type function happening near you, and people booking blocks of rooms may not be thinking “B&B” when doing their homework.  But I’ll bet many are looking at vacation rental web sites.

One thing in particular I like about the HomeAway purchase of is the possible cross-pollination of opportunities.  Maybe HomeAway will find a way to market B&Bs to their vacation rental customers.  Maybe there are technology or marketing ideas that are highly successful in the vacation rental world that will find their way to the B&B world.

But, I do have concerns about the rise of vacation rentals.  When I think about the Gen X and Gen Y traveler – heck, maybe all travelers – and their likes and dislikes, I cannot help but be concerned about vacation rentals.  More and more, travelers seem to want it “their way” and they want it to be fast and easy – everything from the search process to the booking process to the on-site experience.  Some of the top reasons people don’t stay at B&Bs are the real or perceived notions that they will be forced into social engagement with strangers (that includes the innkeepers), that they will have to deal with policies and procedures that make the experience difficult (and which exist to make the lives of innkeepers easier), and that they just don’t know what they’re going to get when they arrive.  Will it be quiet or noisy?  Will the food be good or bad?  Will the innkeepers be absent, perfectly present or intrusive?  Who knows, right?

With vacation rentals, people oftentimes get the benefit of having a nicely decorated and clean experience that rivals just about any typical hotel experience.  When I say nicely decorated, I mean that many are outfitted like upscale homes.  Most have kitchens or kitchenettes – some might even be stocked with rations.  Vacation rentals can feel like “home away from home,” which been the calling card of the B&B industry.  Most have free WiFi.  There is likely no concern from travelers that they will have to encounter anyone but the people they are traveling with, so no fears of socially-forced/socially-awkward possibilities.  They can come and go as they please without worrying about bothering other guests or the innkeepers (I’m in someone’s home, so I better be on my best behavior).  And, they can be found in just about any town or city where B&Bs can be found.

Of course, we know that the best of breed in the vacation rental market cannot compete with the best of breed in the B&B market.  A well-run B&B by a caring innkeeper, who has figured out the right recipe for taking care of all kinds of guests and their wishes provides something that no vacation rental can – the warmth of hospitality.  That’s not my concern, because I know that travelers who get the “B&B bug” after staying at one good B&B will come back and come back often.  What I am concerned about is being bypassed completely by travelers have never stayed at a B&B, who get the” vacation rental bug” after a good experience, and who harbor the prejudicial stereotypes that the average traveler harbors about B&Bs.  Why risk staying at a B&B, where the experience could go either way?  Why not stay at a vacation rental where there is a good chance the experience will likely be what you expect?

Maybe this is another reason why we need the Better Way to Stay campaign more than ever.  Maybe the hotel market is not what we should be worried about.  Friend or foe?  If you’re not using what that industry has to offer innkeepers, then they’re only a foe.  If you are using what they have to offer, then they could be more friend than foe.  What do you think?


B&B or Big-Box? from Hotel Interactive

Friday, March 4th, 2011

B&B or Big-Box?
Social media is stirring this sleeping micro-giant of the Lodging Industry. Here’s how they’re doing it.
Friday, March 04, 2011
Daniel Edward Craig

“I have no doubt we will be stealing some market share.” – Jay Karen, President & CEO, Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII).

Social media, the great equalizer, has allowed bed-and-breakfasts and independent boutiques to compete for the attention of travelers online with big-box, chain hotels. And when it comes to creative content and compelling stories, small, independents properties have emerged with some of the strongest voices.

Recently, the Professional Association of Innkeepers launched a campaign called “A Better Way to Stay” to convince travelers—especially Gen X and Y—to choose inns and B&Bs over hotels. PAII’s President & CEO Jay Karen calls it “a true grassroots campaign” that will feature “fresh and edgy content—perfect for social media—never seen from our industry.”

To find out more, I caught up with Jay. Here’s a condensed version of our Q A session.

Some wear boxers, others brief; some prefer B&Bs, others hotels. Convince us: Why choose a B&B over a hotel?

That’s easy! Do you prefer your breakfast made from food off a Sysco truck or hand-picked by an innkeeper (most likely sourced locally)? Do you like never having to pay for wi-fi? How do you feel about free parking? Historical settings? Beautiful properties? Afternoon or 24-hour free snacks? Sometimes wine and cheese hours or afternoon tea? Local knowledge of the best places for recreation and dining? Also, B&Bs are considered by many women business travelers as safer than hotels.

Guests at B&Bs aren’t just a room number and a stat that adds to the RevPAR and occupancy charts – they’re people looking for more than just a room, and innkeepers enjoy delivering more than an electronic key card.

Do B&Bs compete more against hotels or other B&Bs? Should hotels be worried?

When someone chooses a B&B, it’s safe to say they likely chose that B&B over another B&B, not a Hilton or Marriott. We compete with hotels every day of the week. I firmly believe that the loyalty index among B&B guests is much higher than hotel guests. And in the new world of social media, more and more loyal guests will be telling their friends and families about their fantastic experiences.

I’m not saying hotels should be shivering with fear, because our total room volume is incredibly modest by comparison, but the playing field has certainly been leveled in this new age of connectivity. I have no doubt we will be stealing some market share.

Lately there’s been a lot of controversy over the authenticity of online reviews. What’s your position on this?

My belief is that the vast majority of online reviews on travel sites are legitimate – at least in our neck of the woods. Travel websites that do not authenticate reviews by verifying that reviewers actually stayed at the properties in question have an inherent weakness. But the concept they rely on is that the law of large numbers will overcome that weakness … the wisdom of the crowds. There’s going to be the occasional fool or fake in the crowd, but the thought is they will be drowned out.

There is a problem with that in the B&B world – we don’t have the large numbers that hotels do. A good B&B that is actively soliciting reviews from guests will still only have a few dozen reviews over the course of a year – not a few hundred. A few bad apples can spoil things a hell of a lot faster for a B&B with 5 rooms than a hotel with 500 rooms.

To me, the bigger problem is review sites claim little or no responsibility when it comes to the details within the review and won’t get involved in the veracity of the reviews. When it comes to negative reviews that have been embellished or falsified, the property owners have everything to lose. Joe Schmoe Reviewer has nothing to lose, and that’s still very troublesome at times.

TripAdvisor: friend or foe of innkeepers?

On balance? Definitely a friend. While we still suffer from second-class-citizenship on the site (we’re mostly found behind the “hotels” moniker instead of beside them, like vacation rentals, in the most visible areas of the site), the site allows the smallest of inns to compete with the largest of hotels in the same city. TripAdvisor is a great site for those who love doing their homework when deciding where to stay.

TripAdvisor reviews can work really well for local, independent players. The rest of the commerce on the site, i.e. banner ads, booking, etc., is no friend to the innkeeper. Nine out of ten B&Bs do not participate in the GDS system, so when someone is searching for availability, we are left out almost completely. It would be good to build a bridge with the off-GDS platforms that most B&Bs use and the TripAdvisor availability search tool.

Over the past few years, we have gained a good bit of attention through our high-profile discussions with TripAdvisor. I believe we have been the only lodging organization that is persistently meeting with their senior staff about parity, fairness and responsiveness with their very powerful system. I’ve been blogging about it since 2008.

Do B&B’s play the OTA game?

B&Bs generally do not play the OTA game for a few reasons. Those who do play the game, though, are generally pleased. The reasons for opting out include not being able to afford the commission structure (25-30%), the lack of good information on the guests that gets passed between the OTAs and the innkeepers, and the lack of supply with which to play in the yield management game. It’s a bit of a hassle to contribute only one or two rooms to the system and have to manage that.

Companies like have done a good job building that bridge between an innkeeper’s PMS system, booking engine and the OTAs, but it takes a lot of hands-on management on the innkeeper’s part to make it all work. Oh, and then they have to go turn three rooms, shop for tomorrow’s breakfast and respond to the latest online review.

The major search engines are still the biggest players for B&Bs. Google Places (and various iterations of Google Maps and Google Local) have always been an influential player, and even more so if they keep stepping up their game in the travel space.

Given such limited resources, which social media tools and resources if any do you recommend B&B owners engage in?

Facebook – no doubt. There is no better tool that allows a happy B&B guest to tell their hundreds of friends and family what a wonderful time they had. We haven’t even seen the beginning of the fruits Facebook will produce for innkeepers. I’m encouraged greatly by the social buying sites out there – especially LivingSocial. Twitter is great, but only if you’re posting content that is relevant to Twitter users, and if you look at it as a search engine.

How is 2011 looking for the innkeeping industry?

The only weak point in our industry as a result of this recession has been the transaction market. Our RevPAR, occupancy and revenue numbers have remained steady. Changes in travel preferences have benefited our industry – the desire to stay closer to home, long weekend trips, smaller, boutique properties (duh), etc. Therefore, we are generally poised for strong performance in the coming months and years, as long as the economy doesn’t tank again.

Our biggest challenge seems to be that more and more gets added to the plate of innkeepers each year, but nothing gets taken off. Innkeepers pine for the days when SEO was the only internet-related marketing game they had to keep up with. Keeping all the plates spinning in an ever-more-complex world is a big challenge. But that’s where PAII comes in, right Daniel?

Daniel Edward Craig is a former general manager turned hotel consultant specializing in social media strategy, storytelling, and reputation management for the lodging industry. He is the author of three hotel-based novels, a popular blog, and various articles about issues in the hotel industry. His new e-book, The Hotelier’s Guide to Online Reputation Management, is now available. Visit or email Twitter: dcraig.

Copyright © 2011 Daniel Edward Craig. All rights reserved.

When travelling, should I drink tap or bottled water?

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

When travelling, should I drink tap or bottled water?


Alexander Torrenegra

October 19, 2010Posted in: Responsible Travel

Many of us have decided to stop drinking bottled water for sustainability reasons. This is easy to accomplish at home, but what are the options when travelling? Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Travelling to a “1st world” country? Most high per capita countries have very strict levels of quality for tap water. In fact, laws regulating the tap water in the United States are comparable to those regulating bottled water. More info.
  • What do most locals drink? If most locals are comfortable drinking water directly from the tap, you may be fine as well. Just ask.
  • Bring your own bottle and ask your host for water to go. For example: host Kaye Newton, from Peaceful Palms B&B in Australia, provides filtered tap water to guests. She even encourages them to fill up their bottles when leaving for further travel (congrats Kaye for leading by example!)
  • Natural juices are a great alternative to water. Ask the cook not to add water to the juice. It tastes even better!
  • In developing countries, water quality may vary in different areas of the same city. Poor and undeveloped areas may not enjoy the same quality controls as more favored and touristy areas. Be careful.
  • Bring a portable water filter. I own this one and it works pretty well. Great for hiking!
  • Beware of fake bottled water. Although this may only happen in poor countries, you should always make sure that the seals on bottles are intact before you open them.
  • Finally, but most importantly, always use common sense.

Top 5 myths about staying at a bed and breakfast inn

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

The Evolution Of The B and B
Top 5 myths about staying at a bed and breakfast inn

* accommodation
* B&B
* bed and breakfast
* inn
* myth
* USA & Canada

The Evolution Of The B and B

When travelers were asked by the California Association of Bed & Breakfast Inns if they had ever stayed at a bed and breakfast, some of their answers led to the discovery of interesting myths surrounding B&Bs.

B&B decor is limited to lace doilies, paisley wallpaper, antiques, and patchwork quilts
The decor of some inns recall earlier eras, but increasingly, more inns are trending toward clean, sophisticated decor with modern furnishings and amenities. Even many Victorians feature individually decorated rooms to appeal to a variety of tastes.

You have to share a bathroom with other guests
The majority of inns offer private bathrooms. For those that don’t, most have policies of only renting rooms with shared bathrooms to families and couples traveling together to ensure the safety and comfort of guests.

You have to eat breakfast with total strangers and eat whatever the innkeeper prepares that morning
Many inns offers guests a variety of choices for breakfast and pride themselves on accommodating guests with special diets or food allergies. Some offer brunch featuring lots of items.

You have to abide by a curfew set by the innkeeper
Curfews are one of the most common myths. Guests usually are given keys to the main house and guest room doors, providing them with the flexibility to come and go as they please.

B&Bs are only for couples and strictly prohibit children and pets
Many inns offer family units with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, and a number of inns offer pet-friendly rooms as well. These pet-friendly inns are also a good resource for pet-friendly restaurants and activities.

Ideas for Your Inn

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Ideas for Your Inn

This beautiful vase will wow your guests this holiday season. Display anywhere it will get the most attention!

You will need:

15-inch oversized glass vase
20 frosted glass ornaments
5 yards wired ribbon
White Floral Tape
20 count set craft lights with white wiring
2 packages Crystal Fiber

What you do

Start with a 15-inch oversized glass vase that has enough volume to contain the ornaments, lights and crystal fiber.

Wire Up the Ornaments: Remove the caps from all the frosted ornaments. Insert one clear light into each glass ball and secure it with white floral tape.

Put in the Crystal Fiber and Arrange the Wired Ornaments: Layer some crystal fiber in the bottom of the vase, then layer several glass ornaments on top of the fiber, placing the cord towards the center of the vase so it is not visible from the outside. Add some more crystal fiber and more ornaments alternatively and use some of the fiber in specific places to hide the wire.

Tie on the Wired Ribbon, Plug in Your Lights and Enjoy the Results! Use enough ribbon to tie full bow with multiple loops. Wired ribbon is great for shaping and arranging the loops for a more pleasing effect. Now you are ready! Plug in and enjoy your wintery new Crystal Reflections vase!

Design by Rita Fleehart

This tip courtesy of

Travel and Tourism Conference Observations by NABB Members

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

I thought it would be good to share the observations that we as NABB members learned at the Nebraska Travel and Tourism Conference that took place in October in Lincoln, NE.
Harriet Gould, newly elected President of the Nebraska Association of Bed and Breakfast (NABB), with Pine Crest Farms B&B in Valparaiso, NE, stated that there were three important things that she wanted to incorporate. 1. Get a Facebook account set up for NABB, 2. Encourage members of NABB to use social media to market their business, 3. Encourage building business partnerships in our individual communities.
Linda Ard, board member of NABB and owner of Burchell’s White Hill Farmhouse Inn in Minden, NE, stated that 1. Marketing through social media is a must, 2. Signage must be carefully planned and constructed, 3. There is a great potential in marketing at Farmers’ Markets across the state, 4. Meet the interests of our target markets that we are hoping to reach.
Suella Hanlon, newly elected Vice President to the Board of Directors for NABB, sole proprietor of The Hanlon House B&B in Scottsbluff, NE, says that the most meaningful thing for her is partnering, collaboration, “co-op”etition, and all the other words that are most important in describing our manner for working with each other in every conceivable fashion!

Nebraska Trails News

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Visit the trails and stay at a B&B!

Nebraska Trails News
September 20, 2010

Web Sites Offer New Features

The Nebraska Games and Parks Commission recently revealed an exciting new tool on their web site that all trail supporters will enjoy. Whether you are a biker, hiker, equestrian, water and motorized trails users, check out the Commission’s new GIS (Geographic Information System) page at:

This page provides an interactive map detailing trails and their amenities at Eugene T. Mahoney State Park, Platte River State Park and Branched Oak State Recreation Area. Be sure to check back for updates as more park area trails are added.

According to Nebraska Game and Parks this page also includes a very helpful feature for those looking for special trail events. Listed under the Trails home page, go to Resources, then Trail Events. To have an event added to the list, send an email to

Who uses Google Maps? Did you know that there is a new feature bicycle users will find very appealing? Google has started including bike routes in many U.S. cities including Omaha and Lincoln. Go to type in Lincoln or Omaha, on the More tab pull down and select Bicycling. The bike routes will show up as green lines.

Fremont/Pathfinder Trail System

The City of Fremont’s trail system is a work in progress according to John Schmitz, director of Fremont Parks and Recreation. Currently, three trails on the east and west sides of town and one connector trail are completed.

The finished trails are the FEVR/Airport Trail (1.5 miles), Military Trail (1 mile) and the Johnson Lake Trail with a connector (1.1 miles total).

There are three projects in the planning stage that have been awarded grants with completion, possibly one to three years away. When these projects are complete, a continuous trail system will run from Johnson Park on the east side of Fremont to the State Lakes, west of Fremont. Additional plans, exists so that the trail system leading to the south and east will eventually connect to the Western Douglas County Trail System near Valley.

A local favorite of the existing trails system is located within Johnson Park, where the trail and connector, loop around Johnson Lake and through the arboretum. The beauty of the natural elements on this section is attractive enough to have gotten first time users outdoor and on the trail.

The trails system in Fremont has had such a huge impact on healthy living trends in the town that planning for additional trails to be built in the future will continue.

Swing by Fremont to get a little exercise and relaxation, and maybe find a favorite fishing hole. To check out what is available at Johnson Lake go to:



Annually, the Nebraska Recreation and Parks Association (NeRPA) presents awards to professionals, organizations and park projects that merit recognition. On Monday, September 13, the Nebraska Trails Council and the Papio Missouri River NRD were awarded the “Benefits are Endless Award”. Accepting the award for the NTC was Secretary Karen Andersen.

In 2009, “A Natural Fit” a joint conference at Ponca State Park was successfully sponsored by these three organizations: Nebraska Recreation and Parks Association, Nebraska Trails Council and the Papio Missouri River NRD. NeRPA thanked these groups for their commitment to enriching park and recreation opportunities for Nebraska through the numerous educational opportunities that they provide.

Become a sponsor of the Nebraska Trails Council’s new “Nebraska Trails News” a monthly email publication, sent out to over 200 trail advocates.

For just $50 you can co-sponsor an issue and fill one of these two spaces to advertise your business, trails group or an event.

For a $100 an issue you can fill both spaces for even more advertising.


Email us at: netrailscouncil@

What are the two longest “Rails to Trails” trails in the United States?

Cowboy Trail (321 miles when completed)

Katy Trail in MO. (225 miles)

Become a sponsor of the Nebraska Trails Council’s new “Nebraska Trails News” a monthly email publication, sent out to over 200 trail advocates.

For just $50 you can co-sponsor an issue and fill one of these two spaces to advertise your business, trails group or an event.

For a $100 an issue you can fill both spaces for even more advertising.


Email us at: netrailscouncil@



Dave Heineman

U.S. Senate:

Mike Johannes

Ben Nelson

U.S. Representatives:

1st District-Jeff Fortenberry

2nd District- Lee Terry

3rd District- Adrian Smith

Government website:

Other Trail News

· The Steamboat Trace in southeast Nebraska has been completely reopened from the Nebraska City trailhead to the city of Brownville. There are still a few rough spots from flooding between Peru and Brownville. A big thank you to the Nemaha NRD for getting this great resource back on line as soon as possible.

· The Nebraska Games and Parks reports that clean-up efforts from flooding on the Cowboy Trail are continuing. Some repairs and bridge work are awaiting FEMA and other federal agencies funding. The Cowboy Trail remains open safely open from O’Neil to Valentine which is a total of 123 open trail miles. The trail clean-up and repair crews really deserve all of our thanks, as well as the leadership of the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission.

· The Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT) recently sent a letter of support to members of congress for the Recreation Trails Program (RTP) that is up for congressional approval. The Nebraska Trails Council was one of many prestigious groups and/ or individuals that sent their support for RTP and were thanked by CRT for adding their name to the list of supporters. To find out more about RTP click here:

Oprah Winfrey Is Planning to build a B&B in Hawaii

Friday, October 8th, 2010

OPRAH Winfrey is reportedly planning to build her own bed and breakfast in Hawaii!

The TV talk show host — whose The Oprah Winfrey Show is in its last season — is renovating a 12-bedroom inn on the island of Maui that will be low-key, rustic retreat.

“Oprah’s planning on having a high-end bed and breakfast for her friends and wealthy customers who like the quiet of the Mai countryside ,” a source told American tabloid the National Enquirer.

“It will be a place for people to rest and reflect.

“Oprah plans to personally play hostess on the ranch when she is on the island.”

Oprah has evidently experienced what a difference a B&B can make for the traveler!

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