Required Reading For Aspiring Innkeepers

May 24th, 2010 by Mariah

Required Reading For Aspiring Innkeepers

Many who have had the privilege of staying at a Bed and Breakfast or Country Inn have fantasized about owning one. Those that have gotten the chance to become an Innkeeper, quickly realize that it is a lot more challenging then choosing what color sheets to put on the beds. Hospitality and a smile is a good start, but only the beginning if your Inn is to be truly successful. Below is an excerpt from a story that the Boston Globe ran on May 23 entitled: “Running An Inn Isn’t A Simple Life”. It should be required reading for those considering “Innkeeping” as a future career.

Debbie Lennon, Proprietor

Kennebunkport Inn

Call Debbie Lennon an innkeeper and she cringes because it’s a word that conjures up images of Bob Newhart, playing a befuddled Vermont innkeeper coping with a leaky roof and wacko townspeople. Lennon, the proprietor of the Kennebunkport Inn in Maine, is more of a professional hospitality manager than a frazzled bed-and-breakfast owner.

Sure, she has her share of leaky faucets, horror guests, and power outages, but in-season, her staff of 50, from general manager to housekeeper, takes care of the daily operational details, while Lennon oversees the strategic direction: marketing, finance, and business administration.“Behind every guest stay, there are hundreds of transactions to produce that experience. People may not understand the dynamics behind the scenes: changing light bulbs, clean bedding, wake-up calls, check-in,’’ Lennon said.

Unlike numerous refugees from corporate America who romanticize the experience of owning a quaint New England B&B and end up burnt out, Lennon knows the ins and outs of owning a hotel firsthand. In college, she worked at a Cape Cod resort, rotating through different positions, including chambermaid, bartender, and room attendant. She went on to train at two major hotel chains, rising to general manager and regional vice president. But she always wanted to own her own business, and purchased the Kennebunkport Inn with her husband 10 years ago.“It’s the classic New England inn; and serendipitously, we had our rehearsal dinner here when we were married,’’ she said.

What advice would you give to aspiring innkeepers?

The hotel business is 24-7. If a property is small, work is completely hands-on, cleaning toilets, making breakfast, or checking guests in. People fantasize about owning an inn and living in New Hampshire or Vermont, where it’s idyllic and a quieter lifestyle, but it’s a lot of hard work.

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