Friday, 15 September 2017

The Concierge Service of B&B Accommodations Over a Hotel in Ottawa

All the really good hotels in Ottawa have excellent concierge service and a great Bed and Breakfast accommodation is no different. An exceptional concierge can make the difference between a 2 star hotel rating and an intimate 5 star home experience; taking a ho-hum experience and turning it into lasting memories. That's what I'm going for here at Spoiled Rotten Bed and Breakfast.  

Since March, when I joked I made the top 10 Trip Advisor list, I have actually surpassed 13 and made number 9 in Ottawa out of 54, AND in only three years of opening! I've had 29- 5 star reviews on Trip Advisor, 79 on Airbnb and 17 on Google+.  What an honour.  

I used to think running a B&B would be so much fun but striving for #1 is hard work.  If you are doing "it" right as a B&B host, you will not only be a the chief, cook and bottle washer, but a housekeeper, translator, shopper, educator, social director, adventure sharer, organic gardener, travel agent, maintenance person, chauffeur, masseuse, and life coach.  Doing it solo makes it even that much more challenging.

In the last two weeks I have learned basic Mandarin, practiced my French, and spoken to guests in a variety of languages that quite honestly, no one understands. I coordinated a first doctor's visit for a man with a pinched nerve, planned for the doctor to speak the same language, and chauffeured him and his translating daughter to explain the issues to the doctor. It turns out, Vietnamese doctors don't necessarily understand Mandarin. Who knew? 

I am all about healing and health. I run bubble baths to ease guests' aches and pains (or for photographers who rent my space to photograph their models). 
I have voluntarily rubbed more shoulders and given more Indian head massages to more headache ridden people than I can count. Most everyone walked away happier, feeling better; human touch can heal so much.  I offer full massage (sorry, no happy endings) with my 40 years of giving massages.

I've educated people about medicinal marijuana, patiently hung people from the inversion table, and talked up the benefits of the bed of nails (see photo) which they all must try and most do purchase from me afterwards, even if they have grumbled the whole time about the pain. It does work.

I've even helped a young lady dye her hair.  I do virtual reality for all my guests.  Give me a challenge and I am up for it.

I am quite good at fielding troubled situations with Airbnb. I know better than the average Joe how the system works and if someone comes to me from another place who "dun them wrong", I will intercede, especially if their English is rough.  I will do my best to get them their refunds and make the changes. It's what any Superhost would                                                                    do. :) That's me! 

I always whisk the younger children away to the basement for a surprise photo shoot (with the parents' approval). We go to the upsidedown room and I have them lie on the floor, strategically below the palm tree and raise their arms and legs. When the picture is taken, I invert it and it looks like they are hanging from the ceiling. Cheesy but cute and they love it

The parents and families also get another photo shoot by the VIP/ Mugshot wall, complete with their name and number and stipulation that they cannot smile on the second shot. All these pictures get sent to the guests when they arrive home. Only two people have refused to pose and it was only because they were in the Corrections department and thought I would use it on the web. Nope, so one relented and he and his wife enjoyed posing. 
(Thanks Brent for posing here.)

I have taken guests needing maps to my local CAA for some free ones on me and then to the only open car shop to get their brakes fixed before it closes. We've taken random buses home and they were given detailed information about what's to see and do in Ottawa and where they should have supper within walking distance as their car's tied up. Afterwards, I draw up a map where they should go with my business card so they can get a small discount.

I have even gone so far as to lend out my underwear to needy guests. Let me explain. She was an elderly woman going to see a wedding and forgot her dress slip which flustered her immensely so I lent her one of mine that I haven't worn in 40 years. Thank gawd I'm a hoarding pack rat. Later on she was heard to tell a group of family 'how wonderful an experience it was at this bed and breakfast where the lady even goes so far as to give you her underwear'. Good Lord, the old time rock singers are going to be lining up for miles to get my underwear. Maybe now would be a good time to buy some new non maternity stuff that doesn't look like granny came to visit.(sorry no picture with this one.)

I'm hyper-alert to the cues around me to make every experience special. While my guests are out smoking I will hear one of them say, “its cold out here” and before they can get the word "here" out I'm already outside with the blanket to wrap around them. They are torn between thinking, wow, that was nice, to is that weird lady never going to stop skulking around and listening to our conversations? (I was working in the kitchen with the patio door open). Often, guests will arrive after a longer trip or camping/biking journey and want their clothes washed. I offer to do it and mix them with mine. I don't charge but occasionally they will make a monetary donation which is nice.  

My house is full of maps of downtown, the key hotspots of Ottawa and I have lists for everything from what to do this weekend to what to do in general and what are some free must see events.  I will mail these to you after you book.

Now the stuff you don't know...
Make no mistake, being a concierge is great but what's tough about running a B&B is you are always "On". You give up your freedom to a personal life if you're doing it solo and you find it's a solitary existence because you can never attend the parties and the outings with your friends.  Spring, summer and fall no longer exist in your world unless you find a balance. It sounds sad but once you accept you're not entirely in charge of your own life, you enjoy the guests and the laughter and the impact you have on their lives. The hugs and the promises to see them again and stay at their places always make the visits memorable. Maybe one day I will even make a cross country “Where Are they Now” trip to see all my wonderful past guests.

Running a B&B is part therapist, part life coach and a huge part concierge; definitely not the life of service for most people. You have to be a special breed of life-form or a little insane, but a darned good mix of both works best.

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