More Blogging from 2009 Innkeeping Show

Ms. Terry Adams
Boxcar Willie Inn
Branson, MO

Now that we’re halfway through the last day of the 2009 Innkeeping Show And Conference here in Atlanta, I—as a first-time attendee—am stealing a few moments away from all the activities to log a few observations:
1. You don’t have to eat all the desserts. Of which there are lots and lots to sample. PAII and its sponsors treat you well, but it’s up to you—if you can—to exercise self-control when it comes to the many dessert breaks between workshops, on the marketplace floor, and at Wednesday night’s fabulous Dixieland Dessert Party.
2. The Lenox Mall in Buckhead, Atlanta’s Beverly Hills, is not the place to hunt for bargains. OK, so maybe I shouldn’t be admitting that Pam Hatch, our inn’s General Manager, and I snuck away from the show to shop. But it was only for two hours—honest! And how could we not sample a teensy bit of our host city’s delights. We took the MARTA train from the Hyatt, where the show is located, right to the mall. Quick and easy. The mall is huge, gorgeous and home to every high end apparel purveyor in the nation. None of which seem to be feeling the economic crunch, at least if you look at their price tags. But, it’s fun to window-shop.
3. Innkeepers are great dancers. As evidenced by last night’s amazing Great Innkeeper Idea Fair, which was modeled on Dancing with the Stars. Innkeepers who submitted ideas to share with the audience first had to dance a tango or rumba with a professional ballroom dancer and were then judged on both their dance flair and their ideas. Loads of fun. Brave innkeepers. And really terrific ideas to take home.
4. PAII is a wonderful community. There’s a nice camaraderie here and it’s so much fun to share questions, answers and ideas with innkeepers from all over the country as well as with industry leaders. Although I’ve never been to a PAII event before, I have been to two other trade shows already this year. Because they combine lodging association members with lodging buyers, the pressure is always on to network with an eye toward gaining future business. They’re also fun and informative, but you don’t feel you can relax and learn at the same time like you can here at PAII.
5. There’s LOTS to learn. I’ve taken pages and pages of notes, all liberally strewed with stars, exclamation marks and underlines. Can’t wait to get home and put them all into action.
6. Sharing is fun. It’s so rewarding to discuss issues or concerns newbies in the industry and see the look of anxiety on their faces replaced with one of understanding. And to know that someone else is there to do the same for me. ___________________________________________________

Kristie Rosset
Lookout Point Lakeside Inn
Hot Springs, AR

It’s been my pleasure to serve as a Buddy for the PAII conference, checking in with a couple of newbie innkeepers or folks attending the PAII conference for the first time. The trade show has been a buzz of excitement and conversation, not to mention darn good desserts. (Today, the afternoon break included huge canisters of grande malted milk balls, popcorn, sweet & sour balls, and gummy worms–how fun!). How fun to watch the expressions of first timers as they explore the vendors, mingle with innkeepers, and absorb all of the terrific information. One of my new friends is Gary, from Auburn, Alabama. After two days of sessions and workshops, he was FIRED up! When asked what were the two best things about the conference so far, he thought first, and then replied “learning how to better package the inn & weddings, and just being around all these wonderful innkeepers who truly understand our lives!” Gary was grinning from ear to ear. Tonight at the Great Idea Innkeeper Fair, with Dancing With the Stars Judge Impersonators, each innkeeper danced with a professional dancer to the rumba or samba. Wow! Do some innkeepers have two left feet (or maybe just too many knee or hip replacements.) But you should have seen Lynnette from Ithaca show a bit of leg, trying to improve the judge’s scores! The crowd was hysterical! Jan’s idea for the sample itinerary won the most votes. Congratulations for ALL the great ideas! My brain is tired and overloaded, I’ve eaten too many great desserts, my face hurts from laughing so much, and I’m energized and excited about innkeeping. Can’t wait until tomorrow–learning more and enjoying the satisfying company of terrific innkeepers. If you weren’t able to attend–put it on your calendar and in your budget for 2010 in Austin!

Sarah Wilcox
Mountain Laurel Inn
Mentone, AL

“April Fool’s Day at the PAII Conference”

Another wonderful day in Atlanta at the PAII conference. Although the weather wasn’t inviting outside until later, the day inside was bright with ideas and information. The day started off with a panel discussion titled Mastering Online Reviews and Reputation management. It was the hot topic referred to all day so it is definitely a session to receive a copy of if you missed the wisdom today. The Super Session I attended was Customers For Life by Dr. Gloria Wright who is a southerner who knows how to entertain and to inform. Following this session, I had signed up for a one on one appointment with Acorn Internet Services. Several of the vendors offered this service this year. It was great to have uninterrupted time with a professional that I could discuss any aspect of my website/marketing needs. As always, the vendors were very helpful and informative. After my time with Acorn, I headed down to the Trade Show to make some purchases with some vendors that I had been contemplating overnight. It is time to replenish my gift shop with giftware from several of the vendors such as DNJ specialties and Demean Pottery. Let’s all remember to support our PAII vendors. I also just chatted with vendors that I use but don’t necessarily need any items from at this time such as Burco and James Wolf. It was also a good day to run into some innkeepers that I had met in the past from Tennessee and one from Alabama that is new to the business. Of course, the desserts and afternoon snacks helped me to see these people. I even had the chance to speak to PAII’s chief: Jay Karen while I was picking up my commemorative Deneen Mug. As always, PAII conferences give me so many ideas to consider. The afternoon sessions: Increase business during the slow season and the next level of Marketing gave me lots of homework as I try out new ideas and tweak the old ones. Both sessions allowed innkeepers to offer their ideas too which was very beneficial. If you are not here in Atlanta, don’t be a fool and order the tapes. Need to go rest my brain and my feet before the gala tonight!

Author: Jay Karen

Jay is the President & CEO of the Professional Association of Innkeepers International.

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