These were among the dubious responses I received twenty-eight years ago, after returning from my first trip abroad, when I babbled away about the wonderful B & B’s my husband and I stayed in throughout Europe. I was hooked on B & B’s after my first experience, and I returned to The States anxious to share my latest discovery with anyone who would listen. However, my enthusiasm, for the most part, was met with polite nods coupled with wrinkled brow lines that spelled “clueless.” As recently as ten years ago, the questioning looks often reappeared whenever I referred to a B&B/country inn.
“With more than 15,000 professionally run B&B and Country Inns to select from, the choices are as unlimited as the business is competitive.”
No more. It is now the twenty-first century, a new millennium has marched in, and people are in-the-know more than ever before. B & B/country inns came into their own during the last decade, popping up with a greater profusion than mushrooms after a summer rain. Today B & B’s, inspected and approved by AAA, outnumber once-upon-a-time overnight rivals. After staying at a quality B & B/country inn, many agree that even the finest hotel seems less appealing.
With more than 15,000 B & B’s/country inns now in operation, the business has become a major industry which is influencing the advertising of major hotel chains. No longer are B&B’s/country inns dismissed as a passing. fancy. The competition is recognized by various chains, and there are ongoing marketing efforts to reclaim lost guests, keep old devotees, and bring in new clientele. For example, since the rise in popularity of B&B’s, a “complimentary breakfast” has become standard fare at chains which charged for breakfast in years past.
As with any other business, even the most successful B&B/country inn changes ownership. The turnover in the business of inns runs high. Unlike a decade ago, when the selling and purchasing of B & B/country inns were considered financially unfeasible, there are now marketing firms specializing and catering specifically to this market; it is the option-of-choice for most individuals whether they are aspiring or retiring innkeepers. Realtors, who are on the cutting-edge, usually offer detailed Web sites enabling consumers to stay abreast of the latest properties available, photographs, locations, prices; helpful guide links and related links are included.
We are a people living in a fast-paced world where one can travel cross-country or across the world with a click of a computer mouse. High-tech photography and special effects provide opportunities to visit places and see things which we might never have a chance to see any other way. But, remember, scrolling through a virtual Web site of a B & B/country inn is no substitute for personally strolling through the actual property.
During the past four years I have had the pleasure of staying in a wide variety B&B’s in seventeen states and in The United Kingdom. In addition, I have stayed in top-rate American resorts and world-class hotels in London and Rome during this time period. Yet, whenever I have a choice of where to stay, it is always at a B&B/country inn. For me, planning my next trip to a B&B is kind of like planning my next meal, but a lot more fun. Food provides me with nourishment. B&B’s endow me with an invigorating and unique type of nurturing for which I have an insatiable appetite.
Why have I become such a die-hard B&B/country inn aficionado? What are the characteristics of these inns that I find so compelling? Which innkeepers are my favorites? These are topics I will address in forthcoming issues of The B&B and Country Inn Marketplace Resource Guide.
Maxine Pinson is the publisher/editor of The INNside Scoop, a quarterly B & B newsletter which may be accessed or subscribed to at: www.the-innside-scoop.com. She lives in historic Savannah-Georgia’s “Bed & Breakfast Capital.
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