Is It Valentine’s Day Already?

I can’t believe Valentine’s Day is this Sunday.  That means the Innkeeping Conference & Trade Show is less than a month away.  “Tempus fugit,” as my high school Latin teacher would say.  She would also say “Semper ubi sub ubi,” but that’s beside the point. (Look it up, if you’re interested).  With regard to your thinking about coming to Austin in early March, I’ll bet most of you are in one of these camps:

  • I don’t care what it costs, I love it, I need it, and I’m going…
  • I have to carefully consider the cost (it ain’t cheap), but I know it’s worth it, so I’m going…
  • I have to carefully consider the cost (it ain’t cheap), and I bet it’s worth it, but I just can’t spend the money this year…
  • It’s too expensive.  Period.

And of course, I have a response and two cents for each camp.

I don’t care what it costs, I love it, I need it, and I’m going…

We know – you’re the ones who don the party hats, let loose and just absorb everything you can while you’re at the big event.  Heck, you might have even crossed the line and become a speaker to share your success stories with your peers.  You are our “raving fans,” and we HEART you and can’t wait to see you!

I have to carefully consider the cost (it ain’t cheap), but I know it’s worth it, so I’m going…

Either you’ve carefully saved for the event, or you’re putting it on the credit card, hoping to pay it off when the guests start coming after the ice and snow melt.  You too absorb everything you can, because you know that the return on your investment in coming to the show is very, very good. The more classes you attend…the more people you meet and chat with…the more vendors you talk too…the more you’ll get in return.  We appreciate you taking a risk and investing your time and money in going to an event that is both exhausting and battery-charging at the same time!  It’s not always an easy decision to leave your inn and come to the Innkeeping Show – we know this.  But we also know you are glad for doing it.  We HEART you too!

I have to carefully consider the cost (it ain’t cheap), and I bet it’s worth it, but I just can’t spend the money this year…

It’s been a tough year – maybe even a tough two or three years for some of you.  Running a successful B&B is plainly not easy.  It takes a lot of hard work and you have to keep up with the trends.  If you are getting loads of continuing education throughout the year by attending state B&B conferences, webinars, etc, then I have confidence you’re doing everything you can to keep your business afloat or thriving.  While I think there is no educational experience in our industry that can compete or compare with the Innkeeping Show, and if you’ve been soaking up as much education as you can through other means, I can’t argue with you if you just don’t have the cash and have maxed out your credit cards.  But, if you have some room on the credit cards or have just a little money socked away, you should reconsider your decision to not come to the big event.  Nearly every single innkeeper who attends finds it an amazing value and they bring back ideas that either save them money or make them money – more money than what they spend to come to the show.  The old adage is you have to spend money to make money…and I hate to say it, but it’s very true when it comes to attending an event like the Innkeeping Show.  You won’t regret it.  I’ll bet that among the thousands of innkeepers who have attended our show over the years, we might be able to dig up less than 10 who regretted their decision to come, because it wasn’t a good value.  We want to see you in Austin!  Change your mind!  We HEART you too and want to give you big hugs in Austin!

My business is too small.  The conference is too expensive.  Period.

We often hear from innkeepers who have 3, 4 or 5-room B&Bs, who might also have an ADR around $100 or less, that it just doesn’t make sense to spend “that kind of money” to go to the Innkeeping Show.  I hear you, and I can’t disagree strongly with you.  The fact is that attending our show is expensive.  It’s expensive (travel, lodging, etc), but also valuable and worth the expense for those who experience it.  But there is the issue of scale to consider.  If the gross income for your B&B is $65,000 per year, I can understand why you would opt out of attending a large-scale conference that isn’t cheap.  We know there are a lot of you out there in this camp, and we’re going to do our best to figure out a solution for you.  There certainly are less expensive ways to get your continuing education (PAII’s eLearning series of webinars as an example – included with Gold and Platinum memberships, and only $49 for Silver Members), and we hope you’re taking advantage of those.  Don’t forget our publications, like Innkeeping Quarterly, INNfo and innkeeping – great educational tools that don’t have an added fee.  But…there’s still nothing like meeting face-to-face with your peers, sitting in a classroom with a really smart speaker at the microphone, walking the show floor and seeing the new products, etc.  We want to find ways to make it more affordable for all innkeepers, and still deliver a top-notch experience.  So, please know that the PAII staff is hard at work figuring out how to make our conference more affordable – just like we recently made membership more affordable.  Heck, EVERY innkeeper should now be able to afford membership in PAII, with rates as low as $89 per year.  Like our membership offerings, we want to figure out how to make the Innkeeping Show as affordable and accessible as possible.   In the meantime, you’ll still find innkeepers of very small properties at the show, learning an amazing amount to make their lives easier and business checkbooks fatter.  They are interested in making 2010 more successful than 2009.  As trade associations go, PAII is relatively small.  We could compare ourselves to the 3, 4 or 5-room B&B.  Yet, every year without fail I attend the annual gathering of the American Society of Association Executives.  Compared to the Innkeeping Show price tag of about $400, it costs $800 to attend ASAE’s event!  Not to mention, travel, lodging, meals, etc.  But I will go every single year, as long as I’m an association executive and no matter what size budget I might oversee.  For the innkeepers who think the show is too big for them, we HEART you too and still want to see you at the show!

It’s funny – we often hear criticisms that “PAII is only for the little guys”…and we hear that “PAII is only for the big guys.”  The fact is, we exist for and serve ALL innkeepers, from the 1-room B&B in rural Missouri to the 30-room inn in Santa Barbara, California.  The Innkeeping Show exists for all of you too!  Every single one of you would get something amazing out of attending.  If you’re on the fence, then fall off the fence on the side of attending.  If you had committed to NOT coming, give it one more serious reconsideration.  It’s not too late.  Register today!

Off my soap box now, and down to the basement to grab my snow shovel.  See you all soon – I hope!


Author: Jay Karen

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

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