Observing my husband and sister-in-law as they actively manage our family’s resort property on Lake Champlain has taught me so much about what is important for innkeepers to remember in order to be successful.
First, an innkeeper must be passionate about the guest experience. My husband, Bob, is a fourth generation owner of Basin Harbor Resort and Boat Club. Our family’s resort will be opening for its 132nd season next month, and it has continuously been run by members of the Beach Family. Bob grew up here on the shores of Lake Champlain. After decades of on site management of our resort, he remains passionate about making connections with guests. He does this most frequently by sharing one of his favorite activities, boating, with guests, and while on the Lake he gets to know them and they him. This personal experience is one they remember for years to come. He is present for our guests every single day. He speaks with people from one end of his day to the other, and this personal contact, is something that sets Basin Harbor apart from our competition. If there is a concern expressed or something mentioned that deserves attention, this personal contact allows for it to be voiced and taken care of. After all these years, I finally came to understand that this personal contact, this passion, is what keeps Bob at the helm. He is rewarded by smiles and guests who are genuinely happy to see him all day long.
Second, an innkeeper must always be thinking about new ways to attract new guests. We have multiple generations of families who return to visit us every year. One might think that with such a loyal, core clientele that we just need to keep doing the same things to maintain our business. But this couldn’t be further form the truth. We are constantly strategizing about new offerings for our guests that make each visit feel fresh, new, and wonderful. Most recently, we have added new food venues and events, great fitness classes that take advantage of our spectacular lakeside location, we have renovated our meeting spaces, lobby, and guest accommodations, and we built a brand new 75 slip marina. We work hard to keep the guests coming.
Finally, in our experience, crazy as it sounds, having a couple of friendly golden retrievers has done more to extend our family’s reach than anything else. If a guest hasn’t met us personally, you can be sure they have met our dogs. Especially with the kids who visit, these dogs are beloved. Pets provide ice breakers of sorts, something to connect with others about. Once you start talking about the dog, a personal connection is made- voila!
Whether a lakeside resort or a nine room bed and breakfast, these ideas for success, passion, innovation, and furry friends are tried and true ways to be a successful innkeeper!
Written by Wendy Beach, proud member of the Basin Harbor family since 1986