2006 PAII conference

Two years ago, when we had no idea what we were doing, we went to a PAII conference (Professional Association of Innkeepers something, pronounced “pie”) in Rhode Island. Last weekend we attended the PAII conference in Phoenix, and we realized that in two years, we still have no idea what we are doing.

I think about how far we’ve come and how much we’ve accomplished in two years, and I realize that we should have started ten years ago. My first workshop was on photography, and at the end of the class I asked, “What if you’re not open yet and don’t have any rooms you can take pictures of?” They said take pictures of the furnishings. I said, “What if all of your furniture is in a tractor trailing waiting to be restored?” They said, take pictures of the building. I said, “What if you’re still under construction and can’t take pictures yet?” They said take pictures of the property. I said, “What if your new septic system went in late last year and they couldn’t reseed the yard before the first frost and so your property is just a giant mudball?” That stumped them for a bit, but then they suggested decorating our bed and taking pictures of that. That, I could do.

Most of the other workshops I took were on marketing, and I got a lot of great ideas. For example, funeral directors are a great source of referrals (but they want you to take “grief sensitivity” training) and schools also have a lot of out-of-town guests. As I just discovered, Lancaster has seven colleges and universities plus Linden Hall, in Lititz, which is the oldest all-girl school in the country. (Their most famous graduate is Bea Arthur, star of Maude and Golden Girls, who I understand dated Dawn’s father for a short while.)

We also networked quite a bit, and met the owners of Flowers and Thyme B&B and King’s Cottage B&B. For some odd reason, I mentioned we were trying to find a range hood that we could retrofit for a fireplace, and it turns out that Don, owner of Flowers and Thyme, installs range hoods! (This led to Don and Dawn having a very technical discussion of duct sizes and flue lengths, while the rest of us looked on in a deeply disturbed sort of way.)

The best part of the conference, though, was the hotel we were at, because it reminded everyone why we like B&Bs. Personal service, unique rooms, friendliness, comfort–all of these were completely lacking at the hotel. We may not have refrigerators in the room, but we won’t charge $4 for a bottle of water, either. (And you won’t have to take a golf cart to get to your room.)