Marilyn and I had the opportunity to visit Corrales, New Mexico, last week when we traveled to the Chocolate Turtle Bed & Breakfast. Dallas and Nancy Renner listed their inn for sale, a gem of a lifestyle inn that has strong business. The village of Corrales, just outside of Albuquerque, is right out of a movie. Although only 20 minutes from the hub of Old Town Albuquerque, there are no sidewalks, no street lights, no traffic signals, about 7000 people, about 2000 horses and loaded with unique boutiques and GREAT restaurants (that’s another posting soon!).
Nancy took us to a small pottery shop, however, which really prompted this posting. Hanselmann’s Pottery shop doesn’t offer anything so unusual that any pottery purveyor couldn’t provide. It’s inventory is adequate, colorful and full of the American Southwest style and colors that Marilyn and I enjoy. We bought a large fruit bowl and, of course, I needed two of the large beer mugs in turquoise and earth tones.
But that is not what is unusual about Hanselmann’s. Other than us shoppers, there are no people in the shop! There may be a few out back on their pottery wheels or however they make this stuff, but nobody in the store. Want to buy something? The prices are well marked and you just fill out a little piece of paper and slide it into the envelope along with your cash or credit card number and slip the envelope into the slot of the cash box on the table. Totally on the Honor System! Totally blew me away!
According to Nancy, they have been doing it this way for years. And my mind wandered to how this has application
to the innkeeping industry. No…I don’t mean putting a cash box on the check-out desk…nor do I mean ignoring the good practices we all use as we take care of the fiscal responsibilities of our businesses. But the TRUST. What a marvelous feeling to be TRUSTED. What a compliment Mr. Hanselmann is giving his patrons…he TRUSTS them. My next visit to Corrales (probably when the inn transfers) will find me again in the pottery shop. He has won my LOYALTY as a repeat customer because he TRUSTS me.
Honesty is not a novel notion to me. As a West Pointer, we live by an Honor Code that goes way down deep into our souls. But in this era of crime, entitlement, lack of accountability, and self-centered greed, it can be difficult to earn TRUST. But what a marvelous reward of loyalty and repeat customers.
A few ideas that come to mind for an Inn to develop trust:
- Do what you say you are going to do. Did you promise to make reservations? Did you promise the upgrade? Don’t forget.
- Does your website really reflect what the inn really looks like? Surprise your guests with MORE than they expect!
- Are there signs that say “These (robes, mugs, towels) are for sale” to prevent theft? Are your signs sending a message of distrust?
- Is your cancellation policy unnecessarily strict?
- Do you NOT trust kids or pets? Do you NOT trust their parents?
- Do you cancel a reservation if the deposit is not received on time?
Being trusted is an important element leading to loyalty. And we all know that loyal guests are those that return time after time to visit us.
Wow…it really felt good for a potter who has never met me to TRUST me unconditionally. Scott