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Holiday open house

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inncogneeto

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We are mulling over the idea of doing a holiday open house.
For those of you who have done this, has it paid off?
I'm thinking 4-6 hours on a Sunday afternoon, cookies, hot beverages and maybe live music, feature our gift shop items for sale for holiday shopping...
Where have you found to be the best places to advertise such a thing?
Thanks in advance...
 

Morticia

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I'm interested in what you get for responses. We've done 3 open houses (a group of us) this year with each open house garnering ONE attendee. I think getting the word out is what we haven't been able to accomplish!
 

greyswan

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Last year we were part of a community Holiday tour of homes where we had about 75 come thru. It was just to tour the house.. refreshments were at another business. We had an open house this past Sept for our 1st year anniversary in business and only had 30 people show up and that was with the chamber of commerce's help. Our town is doing a post Thanksgiving merchants holiday evening, but we're too far away from downtown to get any visitors so we're opting out this year. Having live music may be a good thing to draw people in - maybe your local chamber of commerce would help in getting the word out in their newsletter or flyers. Good luck!
 

gillumhouse

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WE did a Christmas Open House Tour quite a few years ago now. It was a benefit for the Lord's Pantry. We charged $1 donation at the door. A local craft shop decorated 2 of the guest rooms and I did the third one. I had cookies, muffins, coffee and hot cider in the dining room they came in the front door, up the stairs, back down, into the dining room for goodies and out the kitchen door.
Write a press release for the local paper 2 weeks before. Write a new press release to the local paper(s) 1 week before. Announce it in church.Print flyers and leave them around town. Does your town have a local call in radio show? Call in and tell them about it. Contact the local clubs - Garden, Lions, Kiwanis and tell them.
Edited to add post it on your web site and if your town has a web site see if they will post it there. Also the CVB.
And I believe we turned about $50 over to the Lord's Pantry.
 

Don Draper

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Our first Christmas here at the Inn we did a community open house...it was a great opportunity for us to meet our neighbors as we had just moved in. We are on a main thoroughfare, so had yard signs made up with the date and hours. We are also a tourist town so did rack cards and put them at the CVB office and at area restaurants, banks, etc.
We had hot chocolate, cider, Christmas cookies, etc. and had a great turnout...it ended up mostly being locals which was nice for us, to get to meet folks. We did sell a good amount of mugs, ornaments, etc. as well. Turns out many of the locals had never even stopped by the Inn before, they were curious but not bold enough to come ask for a tour sometime. They loved touring the Inn and getting to know us. It was a really fun time.
 

Penelope

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I think it would help if you had an older house that people were nosy and wanted to be able to get in to without seeming nosy. I work in an Inn that is an older, grand house that most locals don't know exist. Those who do know it exsits, really want to see inside it.
Are you in an area that you could collaborate with other businesses? I know we had a thread recently from Sunshine about decorations and holiday open houses in town.
Sorry if this seems disjointed, I'm fighting (and losing the battle to) a migraine.
 

Penelope

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inncogneeto said:
For those of you who have done this, has it paid off?
Your wording here has me wondering if most/some of your business comes from locals or companies or colleges already.
Where I work, locals represent a lot less than 1% of our business.
I want to make sure I understand this as a future idea for myself: An open house would be geared towards the locals. They aren't necessarily going to want to "get away" to the own town, but they might pass on your information to family members/friends/whoever and that's where it would pay off, right? But how would you know?
Do you live in an area where you do dinners or teas? The locals could get to use you for that. But that might not put heads in beds.
 

EmptyNest

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We did it our first 2 years here in conjunction with a Community Holiday Tour. I would have never done it just for myself. But this was for charity so we did it. Was alot of work, but we enjoyed it but after 2 years and no guests as a result of it...we declined to do it again. Was just not worth all our effort. I am now donating all those never used decorations to our church:)
 

EmptyNest

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I'm interested in what you get for responses. We've done 3 open houses (a group of us) this year with each open house garnering ONE attendee. I think getting the word out is what we haven't been able to accomplish!.
See that is the thing...doing it on your own with not alot of $$ to do publicity...doesn't really make it. If it is done in conjunction with an event which has alot of publicity say seeking donations for a charity or something like that..then they seem to do better. People around here "love" to be voyeurs and see what everyone has inside their homes...small community thing you know:)
 

inncogneeto

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inncogneeto said:
For those of you who have done this, has it paid off?
Your wording here has me wondering if most/some of your business comes from locals or companies or colleges already.
Where I work, locals represent a lot less than 1% of our business.
I want to make sure I understand this as a future idea for myself: An open house would be geared towards the locals. They aren't necessarily going to want to "get away" to the own town, but they might pass on your information to family members/friends/whoever and that's where it would pay off, right? But how would you know?
Do you live in an area where you do dinners or teas? The locals could get to use you for that. But that might not put heads in beds..
I mean, has it resulted in bookings or referrals from locals? We don't get a lot of this, but we get a lot of looky loos, folks that want the tour for future family stays...
We can only do dinners/teas for overnight guests, everything else must be catered...no commercial kitchen...our county rules...
Thanks everyone for your input, I'll let you know how it goes if we do it!
 

mooseberry

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I was just about to place the same thread..haha
I did put an PR in the paper, but not "locally", but sort of.
The closest regular newspaper comes out of Fairbanks, which is 210 miles from my house...but...our community reads that paper too.....so I should have lots of publicity.
I will also send out mailers, hang fliers, etc...
But my main question is what are good foods and bad foods to serve?
Is it rude to ask people to remove their shoes, since it is winter out, lots of snow and I don't like wet carpets?
Any hints and tricks someone likes to share?
Thanks,
maggie
 

Willowpondgj

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I was just about to place the same thread..haha
I did put an PR in the paper, but not "locally", but sort of.
The closest regular newspaper comes out of Fairbanks, which is 210 miles from my house...but...our community reads that paper too.....so I should have lots of publicity.
I will also send out mailers, hang fliers, etc...
But my main question is what are good foods and bad foods to serve?
Is it rude to ask people to remove their shoes, since it is winter out, lots of snow and I don't like wet carpets?
Any hints and tricks someone likes to share?
Thanks,
maggie.
For our shin dig, we will probably put out cookies, a cake, hot beverages and a local caterer is going to bring some light hor d'oeurves to promo her catering company....
 

gillumhouse

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I was just about to place the same thread..haha
I did put an PR in the paper, but not "locally", but sort of.
The closest regular newspaper comes out of Fairbanks, which is 210 miles from my house...but...our community reads that paper too.....so I should have lots of publicity.
I will also send out mailers, hang fliers, etc...
But my main question is what are good foods and bad foods to serve?
Is it rude to ask people to remove their shoes, since it is winter out, lots of snow and I don't like wet carpets?
Any hints and tricks someone likes to share?
Thanks,
maggie.
Is it rude to ask people to remove their shoes, since it is winter out, lots of snow and I don't like wet carpets?
Can you put a big mat/rug at the door (and one of those "brushhog" brush things that is a bristle boot scraper) and get some of those vinyl runners I have seen to mark the walkway where you want people to go? I do not think people would be all that receptive to removing shoes - unless that is the norm for your area. It would NOT go over well here.
As for foods to serve, I would go with cookies, brownies, hot cider, hot chocolate, coffee perhaps a veggie tray. Totally finger food that is not messy. You just want to have a "refreshment" (do a sample of what you serve at your inn - muffins or cookies or sweet rolls) not a meal.
 

Morticia

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I was just about to place the same thread..haha
I did put an PR in the paper, but not "locally", but sort of.
The closest regular newspaper comes out of Fairbanks, which is 210 miles from my house...but...our community reads that paper too.....so I should have lots of publicity.
I will also send out mailers, hang fliers, etc...
But my main question is what are good foods and bad foods to serve?
Is it rude to ask people to remove their shoes, since it is winter out, lots of snow and I don't like wet carpets?
Any hints and tricks someone likes to share?
Thanks,
maggie.
Good foods...simple, one hand snacks. Nothing requiring plates. A variety of holiday cookies, some sliced tea breads, that sort of thing. Bad foods...anything with a sauce or requiring plates and utensils to eat with or serve with. Hot cider is a good offering as well. You don't want to get into the whole caf/decaf all the coffee fixings routine or all you'll be doing is amking coffee! Be sure to ask a couple of friends to help out if you think you'll get a crowd. You want to be sure everyone gets their questions answered and that they don't go where you don't want them. (ie- into your space or using bathrooms you don't want to have clean. It also helps with those who might have 'light fingers'.)
If folks in your neck of the woods are used to taking off their boots on entering someone's house, then just make sure you have a 'seed' pair of boots by the door so they realize you expect them to that at your place. Even if they are not used to it, most people will if they see other boots lined up. Otherwise, make sure you have good, thick mats right inside the door!
 

seashanty

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i had a holiday open house the first year to coincide with the village's christmas themed open houses. i allowed guests to go into the first floor guestroom and one guestroom on the second floor. the other guestrooms i locked. food was only in the breakfast room where the tour ended and this went over very well. two volunteers were with me to keep food and drink in the breakfast room. i had the fires going, christmas music playing, christmas lights on all over the place (only christmas lights ... no other lighting ... which made it cozy and lovely) ... i had a box for donations to a warm clothing drive for a local shelter (used but clean and wearable) ... served hot mulled cider and coffee plus goodies. and at the exit, rack cards with a big sign 'we hoped you enjoyed your vist. please take a card. happy holidays' it was mainly locals who came (we were closed to guests anyway) but locals sometimes refer others to you. plus it was fun.
 

swirt

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A bunch of B&B's in our area (two small towns over from us) did an openhouse day in connection with the town's holiday festival in December. Each inn did cookies and some had teamed up with wineries so the winery sent a person (using the winery's licence) to do wine tasting in the inn. It seemed like it had a good turn out and I think their was a $10 donation ...that it seems to me was donated to a local charity or United Way. We attended incognito (curious as cats we are) and it was interesting to see many of the places. They had a good turn out as there was always a bunch of people at each place that we stopped. Most of these places were "in town" so it could have translated into some local referrals for family and such.
It was pretty well advertised because it was included on all the holiday festival postings. I think they got quite a bit of local exposure, but I'm not sure if it translated into much as far as bookings. My guess is that it didn't, because it has been a few years and they have not repeated the openhouse since.
 

Morticia

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A bunch of B&B's in our area (two small towns over from us) did an openhouse day in connection with the town's holiday festival in December. Each inn did cookies and some had teamed up with wineries so the winery sent a person (using the winery's licence) to do wine tasting in the inn. It seemed like it had a good turn out and I think their was a $10 donation ...that it seems to me was donated to a local charity or United Way. We attended incognito (curious as cats we are) and it was interesting to see many of the places. They had a good turn out as there was always a bunch of people at each place that we stopped. Most of these places were "in town" so it could have translated into some local referrals for family and such.
It was pretty well advertised because it was included on all the holiday festival postings. I think they got quite a bit of local exposure, but I'm not sure if it translated into much as far as bookings. My guess is that it didn't, because it has been a few years and they have not repeated the openhouse since..
We do the holiday open house every year. It's publicized with the other holiday events. We went from having it on Wed (no takers) to hosting it on Sunday (better turn out, still all locals wanting to see 'inside' the historic buildings). No bookings from it, but we get to meet folks who we see all the time walking or at the grocery store.
 

gillumhouse

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The immediate return in bookings may not happen. This is definitely something for the locals to get to see what you have. What it does is make people aware that you are there. Of course there will always be the dunderheads who even after 13 years and doing everything except stand on my head spitting nickles on US Rt 19 will say, "I didn't know we had a B & B in ......"
However, down the road when friends or family come to town they may remember you are there. I have had things in the past that paid off 14 years later. Of course with the B & B you hope not to have to wait that long, but it is like any advertising - it is getting the word out that you are there and gets the looky-loos all at once.
 

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