A-dapting: (verb): adjusting oneself to changing conditions… 

When Ellen O’Day saw dozens of kayaks and canoes passing by the Clarion River Lodge, in Cooksburg, PA., she saw the opportunity in a heartbeat.  She set up some umbrella tables and chairs on the bank, fired up her grill, iced down some cold ones, and sold 4 cases of beer, a kajillion hot dogs and burgers, and got some local exposure that is hard to buy.

“I see my guests and visitors as my employer” says Ellen. “They tell me what to do…and I listen and I do it”.

The comment reminded me of a favorite quote by Gandhi…”I must see where my people are going so that I may lead them.”

Adapting to the changing marketplace in the B & B industry to meet the new trends and offer what the guest is asking for is easy to say. But recognizing which practices and policies actually hinder this change is usually more elusive. “Most innkeepers are too stubborn to change…afraid to adapt” she insists.   “They cling to current practices and habits.  I discovered my niche is with weddings and events and have made the changes to capitalize on the demands of my customers”.

Ellen’s full service restaurant, open to the public as well as guests at the 32 room lodge, changes its menu every 2 weeks to 2 months.  As seasonal prices of food fluctuate, so does the menu…offering local, seasonal variety and changing menu items that guests seek out to explore.  Even the kids’ menu offers sliders and mac & cheese.

The Adaptation principle offers advice to all innkeepers. Is it time to (sincerely) self-reflect on those policies and practices that are not adapting to the demands of the guests?  Do you have cancellation policies that are too stringent? (Are they really even needed?)  Are you afraid to change your dog policy?  Are you too stubborn to change your kids policy?  Are you ignoring Facebook or TripAdvisor because they are too technical? (Your guests aren’t). Do you anger your guests (they won’t show it) when you charge unnecessary late check-out fees if their feet aren’t out the door by 11 am?

Times are tough enough right now without shooting ourselves in the foot.  Take a moment to discover those practices or policies at your inn that are ready for change. Adapting to what our customers want is always a good thing.

Happy Memorial Day, All!    Scott




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