One of the most common questions we get is how do we stay so chipper with guests and always seem to be having fun. The secret to successful innkeeping – avoid burnout. If there is any one thing besides what amenities, sheets, towels or any other item I can suggest to new innkeepers it is to make sure you don’t burn out. It’s really hard sometimes to not take a booking or to get away, but I can guarantee that not doing so will eventually result in either prematurely burning out and quitting the business or in your feeling resentful of what you do and your guests and that isn’t good for business.
All innkeepers are people people or they wouldn’t be in the business. That being said, being around people all the time can and does get difficult sometimes. We all have good days and bad days, sick days and healthy days, but we have to put on a happy face and not let our guests know anything is out of the ordinary. They deserve your best so in order to give your best all the time, you have to decompress and get away. I’m not talking about a day trip, I’m talking about actually going somewhere for a couple of days or more. If you are near the inn, you cannot really relax and 24 hours really doesn’t do it. It takes at least 2 days to get that feeling of rejuvenation necessary to counteract burn out.
We have been very good at this from the beginning. We generally schedule one two day getaway per quarter and perhaps one of those will be slightly longer in length. We budget for it and make sure we block dates off in the calendar so we don’t accidentally take bookings. There are months where we literally won’t have a day off for weeks on end unless we actually block them off so this is crucial, particularly in peak season, which is May-October.
While some innkeepers may feel like this is business suicide, they are not weighing the pros versus the cons. The cons are loss of business for those days. That’s it. The pros cannot be over estimated. Giving yourself a chance to do things you enjoy, spend time with those you love and generally just relaxing are crucial to your overall health and wellness. This isn’t just something that’s important for innkeepers. I would argue it’s important for everyone. There is no mystery to the fact that many of the countries that continuously get ranked the highest for happiness also happen to have the most paid vacation days. Businesses in these countries recognize that they will get much better work out of their employees if they are rested and happy. It’s a win win for everyone involved.
For us a getaway doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Sometimes the best trips are those that involve just sitting around in a hotel room, reading a book and ordering room service. All the things we normally don’t have time to do at the inn. Other times, it may involve crazy activities like skydiving or roller coasters. We keep it varied so that we can rejuvenate our whole bodies, minds and souls. Most recently we took a week to visit family in Florida. Not only was it nice to get out of the cold, but more importantly it was an opportunity to spend time with people we care about and to nurture those relationships. I can’t imagine a better way to spend a vacation.
So don’t worry, be happy and don’t burn out. Get away. You won’t regret it. Life is too short to worry about the what ifs and to put things off for the future. You never know what the future holds so living for the now and making sure you are doing everything you can to seize each day is priceless.