Thursday, August 28, 2014

What is the Advantage of Booking a Hotel Directly vs Through an OTA?

Today I read an interesting article in Travel and Leisure magazine about the advantages of using a travel consultant vs. online booking, and I couldn't help but relate it to my own experience of owning/operating a bed and breakfast inn. 

It's true that the proliferation of the Internet and rise of online booking intermediaries have made it easier to compare prices, see guest photos and book a room on the fly. When booking a room at one of the chain properties, this may be the best way to go, because pretty much all the rooms are the same regardless of whether you're in Boston or Bangkok. However when you're  
looking for a bed and breakfast inn - an experience, not just a bed - it's better to book directly, and here are the reasons why:






Broader Choice of Rooms

All hotels pay a substantial commission to the booking intermediaries. Consequently, smaller hotels, such as bed and breakfasts, may not put their premium rooms on the block for sale, particularly during high or holiday seasons. By booking through the property's own web site or reserving on the phone, you will get your choice of available rooms.

Ability to Change a Reservation Easily

It's easy to sort out a reservation change with the property owner with one phone call. Changing a reservation made through an online travel agency may require several phone calls before you get a live person, and even then it can be a difficult process requiring communication with the innkeeper through a "middleman".

Unpublished Deals

It's a fallacy that you will get the lowest rate by booking online. To preserve "rate integrity", the rates are the same on all channels. Bed and breakfasts frequently have discounted deals, such as a military discount, last-minute booking discount or a "stay six nights and get the seventh night free" discount. However, these are only applicable to direct bookings. 

Better Customer Service

Innkeepers have a vested interest in keeping their guests happy.  We will spend as much time on the phone with you as necessary to ensure all your questions are answered thoroughly. Want the room with the best view? We'll spend the time describing it so you can make an informed choice. Never been to the area before? We'll be able to recommend the best restaurants, shopping and sightseeing attractions. There won't be any unpleasant surprises when you arrive.

Complimentary Perks

Everyone likes to be unexpectedly delighted. Perks such as a free upgrade to a more luxurious class of room or a complimentary bottle of champagne, are sometimes available, but only on non-commissioned bookings.

In summary - the Internet has definitely transformed the way we live, but sometimes it's better to do business the old-fashioned way.


Ros Bruno
Innkeeper
The Whistling Swan Inn
110 Main St.
Stanhope, NJ 07874
973-347-6369
www.whistlingswaninn.com
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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

What Can I Read this Summer?

Finally summer is here. The days are longer, the flowers are in bloom and I'm wearing short sleeves at last. Growing up in rural central New Jersey, summertime meant kicking up our heels after a long school year. It meant biking around the neighborhood with friends, learning to dive backward and waiting with eager anticipation for the ice cream truck.
Sweet days of summer, doing what I love best

As a voracious reader then, and now, one of my fondest memories was hunkering down in the hammock under the old oak tree with a good book. Remember, this was before central air conditioning. In fact, we had no air conditioning at all, so midday we ran for the nearest shade and moved as little as possible.

I still plan my summer reading each year. Here are some of my favorites, old and new, in no particular order of preference - just books that have made a lasting impact. 

Bonfire of the Vanities - Tom Wolfe, 1987
Wolfe's first novel captures the essence of Wall Street greed and the excesses that defined New York City in the 1980's.

Making Time: A Life Beyond 'Cheaper by the Dozen' - Jane Lancaster - 2004. This is a biography of Lillian Gilbreth, the founder of ergonomics. Most of us recognize her as the mother in Cheaper by the Dozen, however she was a world-renowned engineer and psychologist in her own right who developed modern conveniences such as the foot pedal garbage can and efficiency designed kitchen, all while raising 11 children.

The Help - Kathryn Stockett - 2009
Set in the Civil Rights South, The Help examines the relationship between a privileged southern belle and two African American maids, and her quest to write an expose about racism and the disparities between the haves and have nots.

The Bucolic Plague - Josh Kilmer-Purcell - 2010
Written by one half of the Fabulous Beekman Boys, this memoir recounts how the author and his partner purchased and restored an historic mansion and goat farm in Sharon Springs, NY. Over the last five years, they've launched a lifestyle brand that has revitalized the town.

A Hundred Summers - Beatriz Williams - 2014
This is a story of friendship, love and betrayal among Rhode Island's glitterati in the 30's. It's good beach reading.

These are some of my favorites. What's on your bookshelf this summer?

Ros


Ros Bruno
Innkeeper
The Whistling Swan Inn
110 Main St.
Stanhope, NJ 07874
973-347-6369
www.whistlingswaninn.com
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Friday, June 13, 2014

Where Can I Buy Comphy Sheets?

In my previous corporate life, earning a living depended upon my ability to meet deadlines and exceed customer expectations. As the owner of the Whistling Swan Inn, my deadlines are largely self-imposed, but exceeding customer expectations definitely ranks #1 on my priority list.

Never in a million years did I dream I'd be writing about bed linens. After all, sheets are sheets, right? I used to think so, but now that earning my living is somewhat dependent upon my guests having a restful night's sleep, my brand loyalty is with the Comphy Co. Located on the west coast, they sell fine bed linens exclusively to bed and breakfasts, spas and fine hotels.

So what makes them so great? Although they feel like luxury high-count cotton, they are actually made from a breathable micro-fiber, which means they dry quickly and you don't have to iron them. They are also pre-treated to resist stains and are non-allergenic.


I'm thrilled when guests tell me they've never slept so well. When they want to know where they can buy the sheets, I'm even more thrilled, because that means they want replicate their Whistling Swan Inn experience at home.

The sheets come in a come in a variety of colors. As an FYI, the silver blue is more of a blue/green/grey tone. Sizes are California king, King, Queen, Full, Twin and Twin XL. 

Comphy sheets are not available for retail purchase, so if you would like a set of these exquisite linens, please give me a call or drop me an email. As an added bonus, there is no sales tax and shipping is free.

So why not pamper yourself? After all, we spend 1/3 of our lives in bed, so isn't worth it?


Ros Bruno
Innkeeper
The Whistling Swan Inn
110 Main St.
Stanhope, NJ 07874
973-347-6369
www.whistlingswaninn.com
Check availability
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