Holiday Tips for Innkeepers

The holidays are quickly approaching and with them come holiday travel. For bed and breakfast owners, the holidays are an excellent time to wow your guests with special touches and establish your inn as a favorite they'll return to year after year. Here are some tips, from basic to above-and-beyond, to help you prepare for the holidays and make the season shine for weary holiday travelers:


Know your travelers

It's important to know the profile of holiday travelers so you can best address their needs. According to our winter traveler survey, 24 percent of people are planning a holiday getaway, and 57 percent of them plan to stay at a bed and breakfast. Their reasons are various: About half are looking for a romantic trip with their significant others, while almost 35 percent are looking for a quiet retreat to take a break from family and friends and the holiday hustle and bustle.

About 91 percent of holiday travelers polled will be driving, while only 9 percent will fly or take a form of public transit. It is a good idea to ask each guest that makes reservations how he or she will arrive at your inn. If you have the resources, offer to pick up your guests at the airport. For the majority of guests, who will be driving, make sure to have plenty of sand and salt, and a shovel on hand to keep your driveway and parking spaces clear and hazard-free.


Room Prep

When preparing for the holidays, keep decorations light and cheery in guestrooms. One excellent idea is to provide a vase of fresh wintry florals. Consider a fresh arrangement of holly, winterberry, red twig dogwood, French tulips and white spider mums in a rustic vase. Or choose an interestingly shaped vase for each room and fill them with a single aubergine Crowfoot. Another idea is potted winter blooms, but skip the standard poinsettia and choose a Chinese evergreen, Amaryllis, or Cyclamen for a burst of freshness to greet each guest.

Consider offering guests plush robes and slippers for the holidays. Have a small basket of essentials in each room, including toothbrushes, floss, shampoo, soap, hairspray, and other basics you think guests might forget during the hectic holidays.


Holiday Food Prep

Start planning your holiday menu a month in advance so you're prepared during this busy season. If your inn serves Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, order the holiday turkeys, ducks, or hams up to three weeks ahead of time. You can also make stock or sides early and freeze them for easier meal prep. For Christmas, make cookies a month in advance and freeze them to eliminate the need to constantly whip up new cookie dough. Or, just freeze the dough itself so you can easily pop cookies in the oven each day.

If you have a coffee and tea bar, add holiday items to it for a special treat. Include things like: pumpkin coffee creamer, peppermint tea, hot cocoa, cream liqueur, and other holiday flavors.


Decorate

Choose your decor wisely! In order not to leave anyone out, it's best to go with non-religious holiday decor, like ribbons, bows, garland, and lights. But you could also decorate with a menorah and a decorated Christmas tree. When choosing a tree, consider whether you will have time to clean up fallen needles from a fresh tree. If that will be too much work, consider a fake tree instead. Keep decor simple and tasteful.


Gifts: Think Local

You'll make a big impression on guests if you give them each a small gift upon arrival. Partner with a local business, such as a chocolate shop. The owner can offer you a discount on chocolates, and in turn you can promote his or her business. Other good ideas include locally made soaps and bath products or a gift card to a nearby coffee shop.


Holiday Activities

Keep your guests entertained with winter activities by offering add-ons or package deals for the holidays. You could offer a boutique shopping tour, a chocolate-tasting tour, or a package that includes outdoor activities like sledding, snow-shoeing, ice skating, or cross country skiing. This affords you a great way to work with local businesses and cross-promote each other. But keep in mind that holiday fun can be simple: In a recent poll, nearly 80 percent of people reported enjoying sitting by the fire during the holidays, and others said they enjoy drinking hot chocolate and constructing gingerbread houses.


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