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Country Inn

This winter has been a season of learning for me.  It has also been a lesson in patience, perseverance, and frustration.

 Late last year, I was notified that the only on-line reservation system we have used had been sold to a large international company. We had to either convert over to the new company or set up with a completely different company over the winter.  I must first explain that our old system was not a “real time” reservation system.  It was merely a way folks could request a reservation.  We could accept or deny the request, but we had complete control over the process and some discretion on how we would handle the request.  I quickly discovered all this was going to change. The new on line procedure makes and confirms reservations, based on availability we provided, in real time and without any consultation from us. 

Now, for many of you, this is completely understandable and expected in today’s online process.  This is standard operating procedure.  But we always liked to be in touch with potential guests, find what they wanted, make suggestions, and help them complete the reservation.   Now, travelers seek and find their destinations on line, pick out a room, enter their credit card information, and the reservation is confirmed….instantly.

So, I started the conversation process and immediately ran into problems.  I could not find a way to describe our inn. Instead, I was given a list of options and asked to click on the one that best described the type us.   I could choose from B&B, resort, hotel, cabin, yurt, beach house, lakeside home, elegant townhouse and so many more.  But there was no option for what we have called ourselves for 67 years, a COUNTRY INN . There was no option to indicate that our room rate includes full country family style breakfast (not buffet, not continental, not a la carte) or our hearty southern family style dinner. 

In short there was no flexibility on many items.  I had to choose and describe our inn by selecting cookie cutter options.  The company wasn’t very helpful or available to help either. I decided to select another online system that was a little less stringent.  They were more helpful, but I still had to invent ways to fully describe our operation.

But my task was not complete.  I also decided to add three On Line Travel Agencies (OTAs).  You know them.  They advertise all day long on TV.  That’s right, I am moving into the 21st century.  I have finally understood that these platforms are the ones constantly used by all travelers, not just the young ones.  In my heart I knew this would have to happen and that it will increase our visibility and attract more guests.  It is a new world where we will have less and less contact with potential guests until their actual arrival.    

This process has taught me two important lessons.  Number one, I am old and out of touch.  Number two, we need to address the question of who we are in today’s terms.  If folks don’t know about Country Inns, we need to figure out what they recognize and how to adapt.

It is sad to me that folks don’t seem to know about country inns.  For a while now, I have noticed that many newer guests refer to us as a B&B.  Country Inns have been around almost as long as our country.  They were prominent in New England in the 1700s as a place for travelers to stop. The main feature that distinguished them was the food.  Country Inns served big breakfast and bountiful dinners.  Some served a lunch as well.  It was a one stop destination for tired travelers.  Norman Simpson formed an association of his favorite inns and wrote a travel book entitled “Country Inns and Backroads” that was published for many years.  He loved to tell of the unique inns that were located off the main roads, usually in somewhat remote areas.  Upon his death, his association of Innkeepers stayed together, but slowly was overtaken by a new breed of lodging; the Bed and Breakfast. The B&Bs were usually much smaller, only offered breakfast, and many times were quite elegant.  This was a far cry from the Country Inn. 

There is a place for all types of lodging from the B&Bs to the Boutique Inns, to the traditional hotels and motels, and even to the country inn.  Travelers have different tastes and requirements.  There are places that are luxurious with all the perks such pools, hot tubs, and spas, and fine dining.  And there are places that offer a slower pace, beautiful scenery, and home cooked food.   Today’s traveler has many choices…

Hemlock Inn sits on 57 wooded acres near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park atop a peaceful mountain. We have beautiful mountain views, southern style meals, and quiet nights filled with gentle voices and the sound of crickets.  We are a Country Inn….

We open Monday, April 22 for our 68th year.  We invite you to join us.  We’ll be waiting for you

Speak Your Mind

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This winter has been a season of learning for me. It has also been a lesson in patience, perseverance, and frustration. Late last year, I was notified that the only on-line reservation system we have used had been sold to a large international company. We had to either convert over to the new company or set up with a completely different company over the winter. I must first explain that our old system was not a “real time” reservation system. It was merely a way folks could request a reservation. We could accept or deny the request, but we had complete control over the process and some discretion on how we would handle the request. I quickly discovered all this was going to change. The new on line procedure makes and confirms reservations, based on availability we provided, in real time and without any consultation from us. Now, for many of you, this is completely understandable and expected in today’s online process. This is standard operating procedure. But we always liked to be in touch with potential guests, find what they wanted, make suggestions, and help them complete the reservation. Now, travelers seek and find their destinations on line, pick out a room, enter their credit card information, and the reservation is confirmed….instantly. So, I started the conversation process and immediately ran into problems. I could not find a way to describe our inn. Instead, I was given a list of options and asked to click on the one that best described the type us. I could choose from B&B, resort, hotel, cabin, yurt, beach house, lakeside home, elegant townhouse and so many more. But there was no option for what we have called ourselves for 67 years, a COUNTRY INN . There was no option to indicate that our room rate includes full country family style breakfast (not buffet, not continental, not a la carte) or our hearty southern family style dinner. In short there was no flexibility on many items. I had to choose and describe our inn by selecting cookie cutter options. The company wasn’t very helpful or available to help either. I decided to select another online system that was a little less stringent. They were more helpful, but I still had to invent ways to fully describe our operation. But my task was not complete. I also decided to add three On Line Travel Agencies (OTAs). You know them. They advertise all day long on TV. That’s right, I am moving into the 21st century. I have finally understood that these platforms are the ones constantly used by all travelers, not just the young ones. In my heart I knew this would have to happen and that it will increase our visibility and attract more guests. It is a new world where we will have less and less contact with potential guests until their actual arrival. This process has taught me two important lessons. Number one, I am old and out of touch. Number two, we need to address the question of who we are in today’s terms. If folks don’t know about Country Inns, we need to figure out what they recognize and how to adapt. It is sad to me that folks don’t seem to know about country inns. For a while now, I have noticed that many newer guests refer to us as a B&B. Country Inns have been around almost as long as our country. They were prominent in New England in the 1700s as a place for travelers to stop. The main feature that distinguished them was the food. Country Inns served big breakfast and bountiful dinners. Some served a lunch as well. It was a one stop destination for tired travelers. Norman Simpson formed an association of his favorite inns and wrote a travel book entitled “Country Inns and Backroads” that was published for many years. He loved to tell of the unique inns that were located off the main roads, usually in somewhat remote areas. Upon his death, his association of Innkeepers stayed together, but slowly was overtaken by a new breed of lodging; the Bed and Breakfast. The B&Bs were usually much smaller, only offered breakfast, and many times were quite elegant. This was a far cry from the Country Inn. There is a place for all types of lodging from the B&Bs to the Boutique Inns, to the traditional hotels and motels, and even to the country inn. Travelers have different tastes and requirements. There are places that are luxurious with all the perks such pools, hot tubs, and spas, and fine dining. And there are places that offer a slower pace, beautiful scenery, and home cooked food. Today’s traveler has many choices… Hemlock Inn sits on 57 wooded acres near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park atop a peaceful mountain. We have beautiful mountain views, southern style meals, and quiet nights filled with gentle voices and the sound of crickets. We are a Country Inn…. We open Monday, April 22 for our 68th year. We invite you to join us. We’ll be waiting for you