Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Innkeeping is not for wimps!

Your innkeeper at The Claiborne House B&B in Virginia http://www.claibornehouse.net/
Things they never told you about being an innkeeper
When people are thinking of taking their first steps toward innkeeping, many around them are quick to give advice. They will warn of the toil involved, the strength of character and the stamina that are needed, the long hours... But however much warning is given, one is always quick to disregard it and shrug one's shoulders because really, how hard can it be?

After years of innkeeping, we have seen hundreds come and go, many who lose it all in the transaction, from marriages to financial ruin; eager at the start but quickly disenchanted and just as eager to get out. But you cannot just walk away, the investment is too large. Only a small percentage of people who walk into the world of innkeeping stay there once faced with this harsh environment.

Below is a list that I compiled of all the realities of day to day life as an innkeeper, based on my own experiences (and here). This is AFTER you own the inn, not the process leading up to it!

What you can expect from making a living as an innkeeper:
1.                You'll must almost always have a smile on your face, to welcome guests who are happily on vacation (even when exhausted, sick or worse).
2.                You'll always meet new people but have few friendships, because your social life deteriorates into non-existence.
3.                You'll find it hard to start relationships because alone time will become a precious thing.
4.                Your sense of humour will degrade into the politically correct and socially acceptable as you have to watch your p’s and q’s all the time.
5.                You'll eventually start swearing like a sailor in the privacy of the kitchen when dealing with difficult people on a regular basis.
6.                You'll turn into an anorak/monomaniac and always turn all conversations back to the inn, as this is what people want to ask you about.
7.                You'll earn a pittance for years/decades, if you earn anything at all.
8.                You'll gain a vast amount of weight, as in the freshman 15 as you can’t see beautiful food wasted, so whatever is left from afternoon refreshments you eat.
9.                You'll never ever have a tan ever again, you only go outside to go shopping or business chores.
10.             You will spend every waking hour marketing your inn.
11.             You will learn all social media, because you have to, not because you like it.
12.             Your knees will get destroyed.
13.             You'll live in a constant state of sleep deprivation, indefinitely.
14.             You'll have to ask your friends to plan everything around your schedule, which is in complete opposition with their availability, because you work every weekend, and every day.
15.             You'll become of a very highly strung nature, quick to have an answer for everything, as that is expected of you.
16.             You'll become more prone to temper flare ups with those you love.
17.             Your awareness of other people's lack of efficiency and common sense will increase and your tolerance of it will decrease. A GPS is not the best thing since sliced bread!
18.             You'll spend the largest part of your life cooped up in a small space of a very large house, a collect all room or rooms, hearing other people’s noise, living daily with a strangers who will become your only social interactions.
19.             You’ll soon feel like Dr Phil when guests pour out their lives traumas to you, without asking them.
20.             You will work longer hours than you ever imagined possible or thought legal.
21.             You will spend all your waking hours with your shoes on, ready to meet guest’s questions and needs, never getting a chance to just soak in a nice hot bath.
22.             Your shortest work days will be longer than most people's longest, and your longer work days, which make up about half of your working week, will be longer than the average person is awake in a day.
23.             You will find no one gets it, sometimes even your spouse or partner who lives in the B&B with you.
24.             You will not cook gourmet dinners at home. You'll be too tired, and too fed up of cooking. You will eat a bowl of cereal for dinner many nights.
25.             You will be the subject of guest intrusions. Opening closed doors to see what is behind them. Curious sticky beaks who want to see how innkeepers live. Officially, it will be as a test of character. In reality, it will be as a form of entertainment.
26.             You will end up spending so much time working that your innkeeping colleagues online will know you better than your partner/family/friends do. (What friends?)
27.             You will meet and form strong bonds with types of people whom you'd previously never even have imagined sharing conversations with. An online forum will become your fix.
28.             You will be in a constant state of stress. As nothing ever goes as planned and things break at the most inopportune time!
29.             You will be used to illicit affairs under your own roof. You will not blink an eye at sexy undies found in a bed.
30.             You will always be irreplaceable and will be expected to constantly give 110%, as each guest thinks they are the one and only.
31.             You will take calls daily from those who want something for free.
32.             You will be used to always using the last on a roll of toilet paper.
33.             You will always be exhausted. Sleeping in is something you long for in a far away galaxy.
34.             You will not be allowed to call in sick for a hangover.
35.             You will be used to saying the same thing every day for weeks and months on end, and saying it with a glimmer in your eye.
36.             You place your work before any other part of your life in your list of priorities. Everywhere you go, people in the community only ask you about your Inn.
37.             You will have every marketer online/email and on the phone treat you like an imbecile.
38.             You will be hard pressed to make off season bills, every year.
39.             You will never be congratulated on your work. Very seldom thanked, even when you go the extra mile to make a guest feel extra special.
40.             You will be used to waking at the crack of dawn and having a guest show up after midnight without a call.
41.             You will watch as your hard work and dream gets trashed online on Trip Advisor by a guest who tried to sneak a dog and 5 kids into their room.
42.             You will be expected to cook for family gatherings such as Christmas EVERY SINGLE YEAR. But you are rarely available for family gatherings, due to having guests at the inn.
43.             You will have fewer celebrations, as you are expected to be open year-round, and people want to stay with you on holidays. This means you will also be working on your birthday, and you pray for nice guests who appreciate you, and show up for breakfast!
44.             You will have to work many menial positions, even though you own the business.
45.             You will patch up walls and furniture from guests who feel it is okay to destroy your home.
46.             The better the B&B is, the longer the work hours become, the more pressure you end up under, the more unhealthy your lifestyle will become. You try to get outside, to take walks to have some downtime, but the phone always rings, and there is always a list of things to be done!
47.             You might on occasion make a mistake, and every time you do make a mistake, someone will notice it and make you understand that you are clearly a subhuman because only a subhuman could make such a mistake. (Innkeepers are robots)
48.             None of your friends or family will understand what is involved in your work and you will never be able to make them understand. Ever.
49.             You will spend vast amounts of money on upgrading the business and making customers super comfortable and happy, and yet in your own quarters you have hand-me-downs from the inn.
50.             You will not wince at vomit, blood, urine (or worse) found in a guest room.
51.       You will find every cent you earn goes back into the B&B, for maintenance, renovations, and upkeep. (AKA the money pit)
52.             If you are the right type of person, you will thank your lucky star every single day for the rest of your life for making you take the best decision you ever did and become an innkeeper. And you will fall in love with your job and never look back.
Claiborne House Bed and Breakfast of Virginia
Claiborne House Bed and Breakfast of Virginia
Photos and rewrite from your innkeeper at
The Claiborne House B&B of Virginia

Claiborne House Bed and Breakfast of Virginia
Special packages at the Claiborne House B&B
Wake up and smell the coffee
Input from an experienced and seasoned innkeeper on the reality of running a bed and breakfast. InnkeeperVA is now in her 10th year of innkeeping at The Claiborne House B&B, enjoying blogging as much as all other aspects of running the inn itself! See her funky blog Coffee Talk here.
This list is not to scare you, but to share what innkeeping is really like. If you feel you are ready to take on this challenge please print this list.
Thank you to Kloii for Wake up and smell the cake; "50 things they never told you about being a chef"
Which was the inspiration for INNKEEPING IS NOT FOR WIMPS.

Your innkeeper at The Claiborne House B&B has found the journey of innkeeping to be a blessing. Hard work? Heck yeah! But overall would not take any of it back, to be anywhere else! As the saying goes "Shared joy is double joy; and shared sorrow is half a sorrow." This is a fulfilling business to be in! Stay tuned for part two, where we share all the inncredible moments in innkeeping!

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