During my corporate career, I traveled overnight often. The Travel Department of my company reserved most of my lodging. They were privy to the best deals at certain hotels and motels. However, I was allowed to express a preference for my favorite lodging chain. The Travel Department was usually able to reserve my room at my preferred hotel. I had a preference because wherever I stayed, this particular chain offered a clean room with basic amenities and most important, no surprises. Many of the chain hotels and motels are operated by franchisees or licensees of the chain. While independently owned and operated, they are subject to inspections by the franchiser and are required to meet a standard of customer service, cleanliness, and operation. This ensures a certain quality of experience over the particular brand of lodging.
What about your B & B experience? Most B &B’s are independently owned and operated and are not subject to a corporate franchiser’s yearly inspection. How do you ensure that the romantic weekend you are planning at that Victorian inn doesn’t end up being a fiasco? Here are some tips you may want to consider when booking a B & B stay.
While B & B’s are not generally franchised, most states have regional or state B & B associations. When booking a B & B stay, look for some mention of membership in a regional or state association on the inn’s web site or advertising literature. Most B & B associations perform a yearly inn inspection and report to the executive committee or association board. Many associations also monitor and occasionally mediate guest complaints. Membership in an association like this is a good indicator of an operator who is proud of their inn and is willing to open their operation for scrutiny and constructive feedback. Many tourist destinations with a high concentration of B & B type lodging may also have a local association. Look for an indication of membership in these as well. Also check the state’s tourism site if they have one to see if your inn is listed and active in promotion. The Bridgeford House is a member of the Arkansas Bed and Breakfast Association (state) and Alliance of Better Bed and Breakfasts (local) as well as being listed and active on Arkansas.com (state’s tourism web site.)
Another sign of a well-operated inn is membership in the local Chamber of Commerce. Many chambers have a complaint resolution policy for members and guests. Chamber membership is also a sign that the owners/operators are community-minded and attuned to customer service and a great guest experience. Look for a mention of chamber membership on web sites, literature, or ask when inquiring about a potential stay.
Lastly, see what others are saying about the inn you are considering. Well-operated inns will have reviews posted on sites such as Trip Advisor and BedandBreakfast.com. Being an inn operator and traveler, I typically throw out the best review and the worst, and see what the generally satisfied guests are saying about the inn. Too many negative reviews without rebuttal from the management indicate caution, to me.
The bottom line is to do your homework. Staying at a B & B is an investment not only in dollars, but in your comfort, happiness and unique experience as well. You are worth the effort.