Frictionless Innkeeper Blog

Ideas and Insights for the Innkeeper

Subscribe and Stay Current about Important Innkeeper Topics!

Frictionless Innkeeper PODCAST #39: Randy Bangs, Owner of Get Heads in Beds, Discusses Marketing and Branding your Property

For episode #39 of the Frictionless Innkeeper podcast series, we speak with Randy Bangs, the owner of Get Heads in Beds, a marketing and consulting firm for lodging professionals, about the value of marketing and branding for properties.

Marketing is a key differentiator in the lodging industry, and the true driver to securing new guest reservations. Though having the internal resources to manage every aspect of marketing can be challenging.

Get Heads in Beds is a marketing and consulting firm that fills in these gaps for lodging professionals. As the name suggests, the firm is all about helping properties to drive up overall revenue through increased bookings. Unlike traditional marketing firms, Get Heads in Beds charges nothing up front, and is only compensated when new revenue comes in the door.

We are very thankful to Randy Bangs for sharing his insights with us. You can learn more about Get Heads in Beds here. Randy is also the owner/innkeeper of the Stewart Inn.

Frictionless Innkeeper PODCAST #38: Jim Snediker, Co-Founder and CEO of Stock Mfg Co., Discusses Branded Workwear for Differentiating Your Offerings

For episode #38 of the Frictionless Innkeeper podcast series, we speak with Jim Snediker, Co-Founder and CEO of Stock Mfg Co., who discusses how lodging professionals can differentiate their offering through the use of branded workwear.

Lodging professionals can differentiate their offerings by the use of branded workwear to project an ideal brand image, reinforce a consistent guest experience, and bolster overall employee morale. Jim Snedicker and his team at Stock Mfg Co. are experts at the aesthetics of clothing for the hospitality industry.

Since 2012, Stock has designed and manufactured custom workwear for some of the best bars, restaurants, and hotels in the world. With roots in the fashion industry, the company offers a wide-range of stylish branded uniforms, including shirts, blazers, light jackets, aprons, and baseball caps.

We are very thankful to Jim Snediker for sharing his insights with us. You can learn more about Stock Mfg Co. here.

Guests and Properties Can Now Text Message with the Newly-Released v5.0 of the Frictionless Guest App

Today we released v5.0 of the Frictionless Guest App, which allows properties and guests to use text messaging to communicate

The purpose of the Frictionless Guest App has always been to help lodging professionals connect with their guests so they can provide them with an incredible stay experience. Giving guests recommendations for the best local places to visit or information about their property is the fundamental way this is accomplished, and we continue to find other ways to connect guests with their lodging providers.

Frictionless v4.0 gave guests the ability to place orders for any property offering – whether it be breakfast, a bottle of champagne or any other services, packages, etc. – and communicate any special instructions or needs.

The new Frictionless v5.0 continues to build on the mission of connecting guests to their lodging providers by allowing text messaging conversations. A guest or property can initiate a conversation by sending a message through the Frictionless Guest App, which gets sent as a text message to the mobile phone apps of the guest and property. This way, both parties can get notified immediately and the conversation can continue through their mobile phone text apps or through the Frictionless Guest App.

The new Frictionless Guest App v5.0 allows the messaging to occurs seamlessly and keeps the entire conversation for the guest or property to reference or continue later on. In addition, the property can establish groups of people they wish to be a part of the conversation. For example, if a guest sends a message to Housekeeping, multiple people can be set up to receive the text message on their mobile phones and everyone can respond to be a part of the group conversation.

Ready to connect with your guests through text messaging? Please contact us here to learn more about the amazing new v5.0 of the Frictionless Guest App!

Frictionless Innkeeper PODCAST #37: Richard Aday, Founder, CEO & Principal Engineer at ThinkReservations, Discusses the Evolution of their Offering

For episode #37 of the Frictionless Innkeeper podcast series, we speak with Richard Aday, Founder, CEO & Principal Engineer at ThinkReservations, about his company’s origin story, and how listening to customers has driven the evolution of the company’s solutions that help property owners to streamline operations, while also enhancing revenue growth.

Sometimes company origin stories can be the most inspirational, especially when an entrepreneur’s love for travel translates into the creation of a next-generation property management and booking system.

When Richard Aday was working as a computer engineer at Amazon in 2012, he went on vacation to Puerto Rico, and on the fly, he pitched the idea of a next-generation reservation system to the hotel manager, which would ultimately become ThinkReservations.

From there, Richard and his twin brother, Alfred Aday, focused all of their energy on building a product exclusively based on listening to what customers want, which has been the key to their success. Today, the company’s lodging reservation software is used by more than 1,600 properties in 48 states – serving over two million guests each year.

For lodging professionals, these insights reinforce how solutions like ThinkReservations are designed with them in mind, and how the company’s solutions can help drive revenue growth.

We are very thankful to Richard Aday for sharing his insights with us. You can learn more about ThinkReservations thinkreservations.com.

Frictionless Innkeeper PODCAST #36: Paul Wegert and Jenifer Neptune of Boutique Hotel Professionals Discuss Boutique Lodging Differentiation

For episode #36 of the Frictionless Innkeeper podcast series, we speak with Paul Wegert, Chief Executive Officer and Jenifer Neptune, Chief Investment Officer, and both Co-Founders at Boutique Hotel Professionals, a management company specializing in boutique properties and unique, curated guest experiences.

When it comes to creating a truly unique boutique property, it’s vital to provide a one-of-a-kind luxury experience that is individualized, and offers local market flare for sophisticated travelers.

Boutique Hotel Professionals helps boutique properties to gain this level of differentiation through its disciplined property management capabilities – which spans from experience curation to property development and management. The company’s flagship property is The Inn at St. Johns, a AAA four-diamond resort and conference center located in Plymouth, Michigan.

There are many insights from this podcast that are certain to help lodging professionals develop curated guest experiences at their properties.

We are very thankful to Paul Wegert and Jenifer Neptune for sharing their insights with us. You can learn more about Boutique Hotel Professionals here. 

Frictionless Innkeeper PODCAST #35: Karen Thorne, Owner of the Bed and Breakfast Academy, Discusses Training for Innkeepers

For episode #35 of the Frictionless Innkeeper podcast series, we speak with Karen Thorne, Owner of the Bed and Breakfast Academy, which offers training and ongoing support for aspiring and existing bed and breakfast owners.

The secrets to successfully running a bed and breakfast can often be elusive, especially for aspiring innkeepers. Fortunately, Karen Thorne, the owner of the UK-based Bed and Breakfast Academy, provides a wide-range of tools, trainings and courses to enhance marketing, operations, and increase overall bookings for any innkeeper.

As an innkeeper for 17 years, Karen brings knowledge and insights that help innkeepers succeed, and she now offers online courses in today’s COVID-19 environment.

We are very thankful to Karen Thorne for sharing her insights with us. You can learn more about the Bed and Breakfast Academy here.

Frictionless Innkeeper TIP #11: Lessons in Vision and Perseverance

Photo by Jonathan Bell on Unsplash

Whether you are a seasoned lodging professional trying to emerge from the ruins of the COVID pandemic or recently starting out as a new innkeeper, success can seem nearly unachievable.  And while the journey may be long and daunting, the good news is that you’re not the first to go down that road.

You can learn, if not be inspired from those who have faced some incredible challenges and emerged with successful lodging businesses.  Take the case of Wendy Kelly, who we recently interviewed for our Frictionless Innkeeper podcast series

Through uncharacteristic circumstances, Wendy and her husband became the owners of the Agate Beach Motel in 1990 with absolutely no experience in hospitality.  They soon found themselves faced with one of the biggest challenges of their lives.

At the time, the property was far from being operational, with broken windows in the units, and yellow tape across some of the rooms because of previous drug activity.  Through a vision of what she wanted the motel to be and pure perseverance, Wendy was able to turn Agate Beach Motel into an award-winning property.  She has since purchased and renovated the Wall Street Suites, a top-rated boutique property in Bend, Oregon.

There are several lessons that we took away from our discussion with Wendy and the story she told us.  Here are some that we hope will help and inspire you on your journey toward lodging success:

  • A vision is essential: Before you take any journey, you have to know where you want to go.  You don’t have to have all of the details but you have to have a vision of what you want your property to be in the future.  Without it, you won’t know how to get there or be able to persevere when you face the many challenges along the way.
  • Where do you start?: I remember seeing a business documentary where Wally Amos, the founder of Famous Amos cookies, was being interviewed about his entrepreneurial success.  The interviewer wanted to get his advice for people starting out with a new business idea, so he was asked “Where do you start?” and I thought his reply was brilliantly simple: “You start from where you are.  You start from right here, right now.” In other words, the current situation is what it is, so get with it and work with what you have.  It’s the only way to determine how to overcome the obstacles in the way of executing your vision.
  • Process makes perfect: You can’t do it all yourself and the only way you can have others do things the way you want them to be done is to create processes and make them an integral part of your business.  In talking with Wendy, it became apparent that she is very process-oriented and that mindset has contributed greatly to her ability to build a successful organization.
  • Make incremental changes: You want to create a property fitting of your own unique vision but you don’t need to reinvent the lodging industry.  As you “start from where you are”, make incremental changes and keep improving over time.  Start with industry norms and tweak them according to your vision of how you want to manage your property.
  • Pay attention to the details: You have to prioritize and work on what’s most important first, rather than getting weighed down by the details of insignificant things.  As the “7 Habits” author, Stephen R. Covey, once suggested, don’t get  mired “in the thick of thin things.”  On the other hand, you can’t forget the old adage that “the devil is in the details.” If you implement processes that fit your vision, paying attention to the details allows you to incrementally improve them and get you closer to your vision.
  • Hire people based upon “soft skills”: Many of the people working for Wendy’s properties were like her – they started without any experience in the hospitality industry.  While experience is sometimes necessary based upon the position, a service-oriented and wanting-to-learn mindset is essential.  When hiring at my organization, we call these “soft skills” and have found them to be one of the most important factors in hiring successful people.
  • Keep the faith and persevere: Nothing of any real value in life comes easily.  But if you stay faithful to your vision, you’ll be willing to persevere when the challenges sometimes seem insurmountable. 

Wherever you are in your journey to make your vision a reality, learning the stories of people like Wendy Kelly can help inspire you during the toughest of times.  Have a vision, start from where you are NOW, build detailed processes, hire caring people, and keep the faith.

Good luck!

Thanks to Wendy Kelly, the owner of the Wall Street Suites and the Agate Beach Motel – two independent/boutique properties in Oregon – for contributing to this Frictionless Innkeeper TIP during a Frictionless Innkeeper podcast.

Frictionless Innkeeper PODCAST #34: Darci Bartlett, President of the Non-Profit Interim Innkeepers Network, Discusses Temporary Staffing Options

For episode #34 of the Frictionless Innkeeper podcast series, we speak with Darci Bartlett, President of the Interim Innkeepers Network, a nonprofit organization that helps to place short- and long-term temporary innkeepers at properties where the owners need to take time off.

Being an innkeeper is a 24/7 job that can be all encompassing, where taking time off is a luxury that does not happen very often. Whether you need to attend an important event, supplement your existing staff during peak periods, or simply get away to recharge, the Interim Innkeepers Network connects innkeepers with experienced temporary staff across the United States and provides a seamless transition for a wide range of needs.

This episode will certainly give innkeepers a sense of relief to know that there’s a trusted staffing service that can help in many situations.

We are very thankful to Darci Bartlett for sharing her insights with us! You can learn more about the Interim Innkeepers Network here.

Frictionless Innkeeper PODCAST #33: Wendy Kelly, Owner of Wall Street Suites and the Agate Beach Motel, Discusses Her Unexpected Innkeeping Journey

For episode #33 of the Frictionless Innkeeper podcast series, we speak with Wendy Kelly, the owner of the Wall Street Suites and the Agate Beach Motel – two independent/boutique properties in Oregon – who discusses her unexpected innkeeping journey and secrets to success.

It’s often the unexpected things in life that can both challenge you, and provide a path to long-term prosperity. When Wendy Kelly and her husband acquired the Agate Beach Motel in 1990, they had zero experience in hospitality, and the property required massive renovations for it to even be guest ready.

Fast-forward 31 years later, and the Agate Beach Motel is now an award-winning destination by the sea. Wendy and her husband parlayed their lessons learned to also owning the Wall Street Suites, a boutique property in Bend, Oregon that is ranked #1 in the region by TripAdvisor. 

This episode of the Frictionless Innkeeper podcast series will inspire any new innkeeper to keep on keeping on!

We are very thankful to Wendy Kelly for sharing her insights with us! You can learn more about the Agate Beach Motel here, and the Wall Street Suites here.

Frictionless Innkeeper TIP #10: Creative Ways to Differentiate Your Property

Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

It is often the most challenging times that spark a creative movement. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to heavily impact the lodging industry, it presents the opportunity for innkeepers and boutique hotel owners to develop new ways to differentiate their properties.

In late 2020, we published a series of COVID re-opening stories that provided tips and insights from innkeepers on how they have pivoted their businesses during the pandemic in order to survive and oftentimes thrive.

In addition to these insights, Christa Freeland of the Founder House Austin provided some creative tips for property owners in a recent podcast interview we did with her.

“Now is the time to shine,” says Christa. “It’s amazing that we have this golden opportunity to be more creative and different, and redefine hospitality.”

Here are some ideas provided by Christa, as well as some other innkeepers we’ve interviewed, intended to help you get creative and try to differentiate your property:

  • Find the one thing that makes your property special, and fully leverage that to current and prospective guests.
  • Host live music events.
  • Hold socially distanced spin classes outside.
  • Project creative visuals on your property to draw attention to it.
  • Find your passion and focus your property’s offering around it. For example, Dan Tatarka loves to brew beer, so he and his wife Terri have made beer the central attraction to the guests they host at WildManDan’s Beercentric B&B.
  • Hire video jockeys to hold socially distanced electronic music/art events.
  • If historic sites are close by, host a knowledgeable tour guide for breakfast with your guests and have them talk about it.
  • Partner with local crafts people and have them hold exclusive classes for your guests.

Thanks to  Christa Freeland, an entrepreneur, former tech venture studio executive, and the manager of the Founder House Austin, for contributing to this Frictionless Innkeeper TIP. Be sure to also listen to our first podcast with Christa where she discusses how the Founder House Austin shifted from solely being a Bed and Breakfast to being part of a co-working and co-living space for entrepreneurs.