by Maxine Pinson
Innkeepers respond to a lower-than-hoped-for rating in different ways: disappointment, hurt, anger, or–ideally–a desire to convert a negative experience into a positive one by gleaning beneficial information from the critique. Failure to receive a top rating does not imply one is a failure as an innkeeper or has an inferior inn. Success becomes a by-product of insufficiency when the acquired knowledge is harnessed into action.
Whenever your inn undergoes an evaluation, make sure you understand what standards will be used for the assessment. Do not hesitate to ask specific questions in advance. If you are uncomfortable having your inn rated, it is your prerogative to request that it not be appraised. On the other hand, if you are willing for your inn to be rated or reviewed, regardless of what the outcome might be, keep the following points in mind:
Guests (and reviewers) expect innkeepers to be hospitable, an inn to be clean, breakfast to be tasty. Distinctive above-and-beyond features determine an inn’s degree of superiority over other B & B’s and result in higher ratings.
Ratings by some organizations are meticulously determined by a comprehensive checklist which appears endless. Other appraisals, especially independent ones, may be based upon personal preference and criteria.
A high rating provides encouragement and satisfaction for the innkeepers of an inn. However, it has the potential of making one willing to settle for the status quo and less desirous of striving for greater heights. A lower rating, accepted with dignity and a positive attitude, can provide impetus for an innkeeper to create a stellar inn which shines without a multi-star or diamond rating.
If an innkeeper feels his inn has received an unfair evaluation, he has the right of contacting the reviewer and respectfully asking for specific reasons why the inn received the rating it did. The amount of feedback an innkeeper receives will likely be determined by his attitude. If the appraiser senses the innkeeper is irate or unreceptive to the reviewer’s feedback, information is usually withheld.
The beauty, quality, and superiority of a B & B rests in the eyes of the beholder. Reviewers and innkeepers may differ on the meaning of “good taste” or “quality,” concepts defined by one’s background, personal exposure, and sum total of life experiences. When tastes differ, that does not mean that one person is right and the other is wrong. It simply indicates a difference of opinion. And there is certainly nothing wrong with that.
Most importantly, promote only what your inn actually produces. Beware of using superlatives in your marketing. If you claim, especially in writing, that your inn has the best “whatever” in the state, be prepared to back-up your proclamation if questioned. Make sure what one sees on your inn’s Web site is what one gets when they arrive at your inn.
An inn does not have to be the best to be good. Decide which market you wish to target and make every attempt to meet the needs of the specific guests you are interested in serving. By doing so, you will be gratified and your guests will be satisfied. In the final analysis, it is how you and the guests you cater to feel about your inn that really matters.
Maxine Pinson is publisher/editor of The INNside Scoop, a bi-annual B & B newsletter. The on-line edition of the newsletter may be accessed at www.the-innside-scoop.com/marketguide.html. A resident of Savannah, Georgia, Maxine may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please address article comments to: Claude or Mariette Gagne ~ The B&B and Country Inn MarketPlace
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