Thursday, March 15, 2012

Pinterest - Innkeepers Should You or Shouldn't You Get Involved?

The latest buzz in Social Media is Pinterest.  There are statistics out there that indicate that it is sending more traffic to people's websites than Facebook.   I wasn't sure, but thought I should investigate this new media.  I wanted to be able to give a first hand opinion as to its value.

Let's just say, I am convinced.   I have set up just a few boards in Pinterest - Inn Caring  that I have been working on.  One is Inn the Kitchen and the other is In the Garden.  I uploaded a lot of my own pictures.  In addition, as I have found other pictures on the internet that I like, I have pinned them and added them to my boards.

The other day, I found a picture of a bright sunny daffodil on a bed and breakfast blog that I follow.  I repinned the picture to my board with a comment.   Later that evening, to my surprise, I had likes and repins from people whom I didn't know.   By the next day, I had 7 likes and 8 repins as well as 2 comments which of course I answered.  Does this platform work?   You bet it does!  When I add pictures, I try and give a personal view of what I think about the picture or why it was something special to me.  Of course, if someone does make a comment, I always answer and try and engage them in more conversation. 

I have continued to pin pictures and every once in a while, I'll make a comment that I've put up new pictures to my boards on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  

Innkeepers can take this concept and expand it in a variety of ways.  You can highlight food you make, your gardens, or your rooms.  You can add a board for local restaurants, local shops, places to see or events that take place in or near your area.  If you do weddings or events you can post pictures showing off your facilities.  The possibilities are endless.

So, if you haven't done so already, it is time to get on the Pinterest band wagon. 

Lynda and Howard Lerner
Inn Caring
www.inncaring.com

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Service Animals and Your B&B - What you can and can't do

There are many Bed and Breakfast owners who think that just because they have a "No Pet" policy they do not have accept service animals in their establishments.  This is not the case.  A service animal is not considered to be a pet, but rather an animal that has a job to do that is necessary for the well being of their owner.    In addition, there are other bed and breakfast owners who will argue that they are a small inn (under 5 rooms) and they live on the property, therefore, they do not have to comply.  Again, this in not correct. 

A publication put out by the U.S. Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division - Disability Rights Section  addresses what an establishment can and cannot do.   The link to the entire publication is    
         http://www.ada.gov/regs2010/smallbusiness/smallbusprimer2010.htm#serviceanimals

The article covers a lot of different things, but I felt that it was important for B&B owners, managers, and interim innkeepers to see the section that specifically deals with Service Animals.  I have copied the section below and underlined, and enlarged three important areas.  The first is a definition of a service animal as of 2012, the second is excluding comfort or thearpy dogs from a service dog category, and the third explains the only two questions that you can actually ask a guest.  

It would be helpful if there was an official certification which service animal owners were required to carry.  Unfortunately, that is not currently an option.

Reprint from U.S. Department of Justice Publication:  Service Animals

Often businesses such as stores, restaurants, hotels, or theaters have policies that can exclude people with disabilities. For example, a "no pets" policy may result in staff excluding people with disabilities who use dogs as service animals. A clear policy permitting service animals can help ensure that staff are aware of their obligation to allow access to customers using service animals. Under the ADA's revised regulations, the definition of "service animal" is limited to a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person's disability. For example, many people who are blind or have low vision use dogs to guide and assist them with orientation. Many individuals who are deaf use dogs to alert them to sounds. People with mobility disabilities often use dogs to pull their wheelchairs or retrieve items. People with epilepsy may use a dog to warn them of an imminent seizure, and individuals with psychiatric disabilities may use a dog to remind them to take medication. Service members returning from war with new disabilities are increasingly using service animals to assist them with activities of daily living as they reenter civilian life. Under the ADA, "comfort," "therapy," or "emotional support animals" do not meet the definition of a service animal.

A service animal gives a can of soda to a young man using a wheelchair.
Service animals provide many types of assistance for people with disabilities.

Under the ADA, service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the service animal's work or the individual's disability prevents him from using these devices. Individuals who cannot use such devices must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls. Businesses may exclude service animals only if 1) the dog is out of control and the handler cannot or does not regain control; or 2) the dog is not housebroken. If a service animal is excluded, the individual must be allowed to enter the business without the service animal.

In situations where it is not apparent that the dog is a service animal, a business may ask only two questions: 1) is the animal required because of a disability; and 2) what work or task has the animal been trained to perform? No other inquiries about an individual's disability or the dog are permitted. Businesses cannot require proof of certification or medical documentation as a condition for entry.

RESOURCES -   ADA INFORMATION
U.S. Department of Justice
For more information about the revised ADA regulations and 2010 ADA Standards, please visit the Department of Justice´s ADA Website or call our toll-free number.
ADA Website
http://www.ADA.gov/
ADA Information Line
800-514-0301 (Voice)
800-514-0383 (TTY)

24 hours a day to order publications by mail.
M-W, F 9:30 a.m. 5:30 p.m., Th 12:30 p.m. 5:30 p.m. (Eastern Time) to speak to an ADA Specialist. All calls are confidential.

"Reaching Out to Customers with Disabilities" explains the ADA's requirements for businesses in a short 10-lesson online course (www.ada.gov/reachingout/intro1.htm).
ADA National Network (DBTAC)
Ten regional centers are funded by the U.S. Department of Education to provide ADA technical assistance to businesses, States and localities, and persons with disabilities. One toll-free number connects you to the center in your region:

800-949-4232 (Voice and TTY)http://www.adata.org/
Access Board
For technical assistance on the ADA/ABA Accessibilty Guidelines:
800-872-2253 (Voice)
800-992 -2822 (TTY)
Internal Revenue Service
For information on the Disabled Access Tax Credit (Form 8826) and the Section 190 tax deduction (Publication 535 Business Expenses):
800-829-3676 (Voice) or 800-829-4059 (TTY)http://www.irs.gov/
Lynda and Howard Lerner
Inn Caring
www.inncaring.com

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Innkeepers - How Safe is Your Refrigerator?


Your refrigerator is essential to your bed and breakfast.  How safe is it? The following is a check list of some refrigerator does and don’ts.
   Most importunately, the temperature in your refrigerator should be kept between 35° - 40°.  The freezer should be at 0°.  Refrigerator thermometers should be placed in both the refrigerator and the freezer compartments.  The thermometer should be placed in the middle of the compartment for maximum accuracy.  

Image Courtesy of FSIS-USDA



Cooling is lost every time you open and close the door. To maintain optimum temperature in your refrigerator, do not open doors any more than is absolutely necessary. 

   Proper air circulation is essential.   If the contents of the refrigerator are too tightly packed together, efficient cooling will not occur and spoilage will be accelerated.  Do not block the air vents in either the refrigerator or the freezer.  Additionally, the compressor unit will have to work harder to keep the optimum temperature.  
 
   Clean the refrigerator regularly.  Also, clean up any spill or leakage as it occurs. 

   Consume the food prior to its expiration date.  Use an indelible Sharpie marker to indicate the expiration date.  This is especially important on items such as milk, cream, and cheese; which, accordingly to many health departments, should be discarded no more than a week after opening.     
             

Image from Crate & Barrel
   Fruit and vegetables should be stored in the crisper of your refrigerator (place a piece of paper toweling on the bottom to absorb and liquid).  If your refrigerator does not have a crisper, use plastic tubs (which can be found in stores like Walmart, Target or Crate & Barrel).


    Fruits and vegetables breathe require air circulation. If your refrigerator has crisper drawers, this will help to prolong the life of your foods. Tupperware makes a line of containers specifically designed for the refrigerator. This line is called FridgeSmart www.tupperware.com This product line regulates the air flow needed to keep your fruits and vegetables longer. Items such as celery, carrots, cucumber, and grapes require less air flow, while lettuce, beans broccoli, spinach, asparagus require more air flow.  

  While door shelves are convenient, they are also the warmest area in the refrigerator.  Do not put highly perishable foods there.  They are designed for condiments, soda, bottled sauces, etc.  Every time the door is opened, the temperature of these products changes immediately.  Be sure to check any opened containers often. 
   Meat and eggs should be stored on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. Again, place the meat products in plastic tubs. Eggs need air circulation around them. It is recommended that you not remove them from their cartons for optimum air circulation.

Lynda and Howard Lerner
Inn Caring
www.inncaring.com

Thursday, March 1, 2012

What's an Innkeeper to do when they need to get away from their Bed and Breakfast?

When we owned our own Bed and Breakfast, there were times when we needed to get away.  We had an eight room inn and sometimes we just couldn't be there.  We, as innkeepers, needed time off to renew our own energy.  Sometimes, a family emergency, or happy occasion, may have happened, and we wanted or needed to be away.  For us, as for many other innkeepers, it was not an option to just close the doors of the bed and breakfast.  Over the ten year period of time that we owned the B&B, when we needed to get away, we used the services of professional interim innkeepers to help give us some relief.

So what are  professional interim innkeepers (also known as inn sitters)?  They are individuals who may have owned their own inn at one time (such as ourselves), have taken classes and have done some supervised shadowing of other innkeepers, or had actual experience working at B&B's.  They act as independent contractors.  Many of us also belong to professional associations such as PAII or the Interim Innkeepers Network, however, these groups are not placement agencies.

Professional interim innkeepers strive to operate your Bed and Breakfast in the same manner as the owner/innkeeper does so that the Bed and Breakfast guests do not see any difference in the type of service they get. Can we be the owner/innkeeper, of course not. However, we try to come as close to what is currently done as we can.

So next time you feel that you have reached overload or you have some family matter that you want to attend, don't despair, think of us.  We can help give bed and breakfast owners or innkeepers peace of mind in knowing that their revenue stream will continue and that they can get some special time away to renew and recharge their energy.
Lynda and Howard Lerner 
Inn Caring 
www.inncaring.com