As we were getting ready to open our bed and breakfast in the fall of 2007 we were doing some market research on what type of guest would stay at bed and breakfast. We posed the question to my brother-in-law who, at the time, traveled quite a bit for his job, “What would a business traveler look for when staying at a bed and breakfast?” His response was simple and direct, “I would never stay at a bed and breakfast!” I wasn’t prepared for that answer but I continued asking him why he wouldn’t stay at a bed and breakfast and he proceeded to tell me his reasons.
First, he didn’t want to be in a stranger’s house. He thought it would be like visiting his mother or aunt but only worse because they were a stranger and when he was traveling he wanted some peace and quiet. He didn’t want to be in someone’s guest room, you know, that room in the house with the old uncomfortable furniture. Obviously if you made the bed too comfortable house guests might never leave. Or, perhaps he would be staying in the kid’s room that is away at school or has moved out, but mom and dad kept the room the way it was in high school. Even worse than staying in a stranger’s house would be the requirement to eat breakfast and speak with strangers. Out of all his excuses I found this one to be the strangest comment he made because Jeff is not afraid to talk to strangers, is quite intelligent and can carry on a conversation.
Ok, maybe he isn’t our target market. I assumed our target market was someone traveling away from home needing a safe and comfortable place to stay while away from his/her family. A place that isn’t as sterile or impersonal as a hotel. A place where you are fed a great breakfast before you head off to work or meeting, then it hit me. Before we decided to open a bed and breakfast, I too would have never stayed at a bed and breakfast either. It just wasn’t on my radar. When I traveled to a conference or convention I stayed at a hotel, preferably a Marriott because I wanted to get those loyalty points, much the same way as I tried to fly on United. The thing about Marriott, the rooms in Washington, DC weren’t much different than the rooms in San Francisco, same bed, same decor. You knew before you got there what to expect. It’s kind of like flying. You know the lines are long, getting through security is always a pain, the seats are small the food…well, no one flies for the food and so on. I chose Marriott and United out of some sort of loyalty and since I had never stayed at a bed and breakfast there was no loyalty, They just weren’t on my radar.
After stepping back and thinking about it from Jeff’s point of view I understood the challenge that was ahead of me. If very few people have ever stayed at a bed and breakfast then how am I going to get them to change their thinking so that they will consider a stay at a bed and breakfast? Our rooms are much nicer than a hotel, our food is much better than the breakfast buffet at the hotel; our amenities are much nicer… I know, I sound like a parent; my kid is smarter, faster, prettier than…
Well, it’s been six years since we opened and Jeff still hasn’t stayed at a bed and breakfast while traveling for business but I have stayed in lots of them since we decided to become innkeepers. There have been some really great ones and then there have been some that…..let’s just say that will be a future blog post. We do have some very loyal business travelers that wouldn’t consider staying any place but here, but still the vast majority of business travelers don’t stay at a bed and breakfast. Having said that, I will be publishing more posts about our industry so that the next time you are traveling you will at least consider a stay at a bed and breakfast and if your travels ever bring you to Lynchburg, Virginia you will want to stay at The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast.
This blog is the start of a new approach to marketing. Before I would stand up and tell you how great we (I mean my bed and breakfast) are, all the awards we have won, all the wonderful experiences our guests have had…and because you are polite you would listen and then go about your day and the next time you traveled you guessed it, you wouldn’t think about staying in a bed and breakfast, you would just go online and book your hotel room. My new marketing approach is trying to get people to start thinking about bed and breakfasts, hopefully mine, but if not mine than someone else’s.
I know change is hard and the fear of the unknown may be what’s holding you back or probably, you like me 6+ years ago it wasn’t on your radar.
Before I close, I would love to know your thoughts. Would you consider a stay at a bed and breakfast? Have you stayed at a bed and breakfast? When you travel, does it even cross your mind about staying at one?
Hey, they aren’t (most of the time) scary places. Here is a link to a video (its less than one minute) of our bed and breakfast. I just wanted those who have never stayed at one or even knows about them to be able to peek inside one of one of them. It’s like going to the beach and dipping your toe in the water before you take the plunge. After watching the video is a bed and breakfast option on your radar? Please be brutally honest…I think getting the word out about bed and breakfasts is going to be a big job…I just want to know how big of a job I am undertaking.
Please shoot me an email with your thoughts and comments: mike@TheCarriageHouseInnBandB.com
Richard Thomas Watts, better known as R.T. had the home at 404 Cabell Street built for he and his family in 1878. Today the home is The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast in historic Lynchburg Virginia and was named as one of the top 10 Bed and Breakfasts in the United States by BedandBreakfast.com. On the anniversary of his death we are reprinting the obituary that was published in Lynchburg News on September 22, 1911.
Citizen, Business Man and Veteran Passes Away After Long Illness.
Richard Thomas Watts, aged 78 years, one of the pioneer wholesale merchants and for many years a man prominent in the financial affairs of the city, died yesterday morning at his residence on Cabell Street where he had been ill nearly two years. Mr. Watts’ illness dated back to a stroke of apoplexy which was sustained on November 17, 1908. He recovered from that sufficiently to be about, but never gave attention to business. For some days his condition had been critical and the end did not come as a surprise today, for it had been expected for the past day or two.
Mr. Watts was a native of Bedford County, having been born on September 5, 1838. When but a youth he went to Salsibury, N. C. and at the age of 18 years started in business with the firm of G, M. and A. T. Jones. Later, he went to Selma, Ala.,where he was a partner in a merchandise business with A. T. Jones. When the war between the States broke out, Mr. Watts enlisted as a private in company A, Second Virginia cavalry, joining that command at Manassas Junction. He served as a private and color bearer with that company until he was recommended by General T. T. Munford, now of Lynchburg, for promotion as adjutant of Whites battalion, this promotion coming for bravery. He held that command until May 6th, 1864 at which time his horse was killed under him and he was wounded and taken a prisoner at Spotsylvania Courthouse. He was sent to Fort Delaware, where he was held prisoner of war until the surrender took place, after which he returned to his old home in Bedford.
Later he came to Lynchburg and together with his brother, the late J. W. Watts, and brother-in-law, the late George M. Jones, formed the well-known house of Jones, Watts & Co., this being one of the first wholesale houses of the city. In 1888 he retired from this concern and became largely interested in coal properties as well as holding other large financial and industrial institutions of the city. Until his health gave way he was vice president of Lynchburg Trust and Savings Company and a director in the Lynchburg Cotton Mill, as well as in other private industries of the city.
Mr. Watts was educated at Emory and Henry College, having spent several years there before the war.
On April 22, 1874, Mr. Watts married Miss Emma M. Hurt, a daughter of the late Stephen H. Hurt, who, together with four sons and a daughter, survive. The children are: R. T. Watts Jr., Dr. Stephen H. Watts of the University of Virginia; James O. Watts, R. C. Watts, and Miss Mary Watts, all of whom were present when the end came.
Mr. Watts was a member of Court Street Methodist church, having been faithful in his attendance upon its services until sickness prevented him from doing so.
The funeral service will take place this afternoon at 4 o’clock from the residence, and the burial will be at Spring Hill.
General T. W. Munford, who recommended the promotion of Mr. Watts, has prepared the following tribute to the decease:
Adjutant R. T. Watts entered the Confederate Army as a private in Company A, Second Virginia Cavalry, from Bedford County, then commanded by Capt. W. R. Terry, who was promoted to the Twenty-fourth Virginia Infantry as its colonel, succeeding Colonel Jubal A. Early, and subsequently becoming brigadier general of Pickett’s Division, Col J. W. Watts a brother of the deceased, succeeding Colonel Terry at the re-organization of the army in March 1862, was elected lieutenant colonel without opposition. He detailed his brother as courier at his quarters. He soon attracted my attention by his dash and strict attention to all duties. At a sharp encounter between General Ewell’s division, to which we then belonged, and General Hooker’s division near Bristoe station the day before the second battle of Manassas, it became necessary for General Ewell to retire his battery because of the advantage of position and metal of the enemy, but is was a delicate . Ewell was not there to bring on a battle nor to run, he ordered me to send a sergeant and four men to gather up the debris left by our crippled battery, not wishing to show that it was a retreat. Courier R. T. Watts was dispatched for this detail and soon returned with the four troopers. General Ewell said to me: “Where is the sergeant?” The reply was: “He has not yet gotten up.” I replied, “Watts will take them himself and the next time the sergeant will listen to his instructions.” Watts was then told by General Ewell to go to that position and gather up every buckle that belonged to the battery. We were watching and they were soon dashing up to where the battery had stood. The enemy opened fire upon them, but they literally swept the deck and brought off everything.
General Ewell remarked to me: “That fellow should be a sergeant, for he has won it by distinguishing himself.”
The next day in the great cavalry fight he was made by my order sergeant major of the Second Cavalry.
Col Elijah White, whose original company had served some months with the Second Cavalry, wrote me a note requesting me to send him a man to act as his adjutant and believing Sergeant Major R. T. Watts qualified he was dispatched and graciously accepted the offered position, and he more than once exemplified his qualifications and satisfaction for the promotion.
“Adjutant Watts was a quiet, unobtrusive, active soldier. Like his noble brother, when his name is mentioned in the presence of old comrades it will ever be with pride which only Confederates felt toward each other and understand.”
We have been fortunate to have hosted guests from around the globe. Most of our international guests have been from Europe and include people from England, France, Italy, Germany, The Netherlands and Spain, but we have also had several from Australia. Some come to visit the wineries, others to explore the outdoors, but the vast majority come because this area is rich in history to include Appomattox Courthouse, the site where our Civil War ended almost 150 years ago.
It’s interesting to get a different perspective on life in the US from those who are visiting from different countries. Things that we seldom think about intrigue some of our guests, such as how inexpensive our gas is, how big our cars are, how wide our highways are or the interesting bugs and insects we have. Of course ever once in a while politics come up or other serious topics.
One thing we have started doing when we have guests from different countries is flying their flag. Everyone has loved pulling into our driveway and seeing their country’s flag. Recently the stays of a family from England and a couple from Italy overlapped and we had their two flags flying (above photo).
Typically we have two American Flags but if you drive by and you see one or more flags from different countries, you know we have international guests staying with us. When you do see our two American Flags, one is our current flag (it has 50 stars) and the other one is the flag that would have been flown when this home was completed in 1878 (it has 38 stars).
If you will be visiting this this country, or if you are already here, consider booking at The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast. The area is rich in history and there is so much to see and do. Don’t make the mistake many of our guests do and book a two or three night stay, we can keep you busy for at least a week. Give us a call at 434.846.1388 or book on line.
Wow! Our front porch was just featured in another blog post. Last week, BnBFinder’s blog post featured properties with rocking chairs and porches. There was the beach photo at Amelia Island, Florida, the mountains in Sautee Nacoochee, GA , The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast (that’s us!) in historic Lynchburg and the woods of Shepherdstown, WV, The theme of the blog post was enjoying summer in a rocking chair of a bed and breakfast. The blog post can be seen at: www.BnBFinder.com/RockInnPorch. All the photos were very inviting so if you are looking for a place to escape to this summer, why not try one of these properties!
It is an honor to be placed in the same category as these other great properties. If you are in the area, please feel free to stop by and enjoy our front porch!
If you have ever been to a bed and breakfast, then you know breakfast is one of the things that separates us from a hotel. After all, breakfast is in our name! Recently The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast in historic Lynchburg was mentioned by the Virginia Travel Corporation (VTC) on their blog post, Everyone Loves Breakfast. There are over 400 bed and breakfasts in Virginia and to be listed with 9 other great bed and breakfasts is truly an honor.
Since the VTC blog post (click the link above to see that post) mentioned our Pumpkin Waffles I have included a link to that recipe. We hope you enjoy this recipe and the others on our blog as well as those of our fellow innkeepers. Remember, breakfast is the most important meal of the day so if you need inspiration please check out the blogs of those listed in the VTC blog.
This weekend was a contradiction. Saturday the sun was shining, the sky was a bright blue and temperatures were in the upper 50’s. Yes, it looks like spring is here. Time to think about cutting the grass and putting in the garden.
Sunday…The sun hasn’t been seen all day. The sky is grey and snow started falling about noon and five hours later our saucer magnolia blossoms are covered in snow. Time to get the snow shovel out and start clearing the walks and drive way. What happened to spring?
When the snow stopped falling Sunday night we had about 6.5 inches of the white stuff, more than we had all winter!
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