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With much heartache but still hopeful

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birdwatcher

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I am so thankful that I can come to this forum and thankful that I can vent and give some advise and given honest advise from all of you. We are (my husband and I) trying desperatly to keep our B & B because we have put everything we have into it. We have poured our money, heart, soul and love for this wonderful place.
I am so heartbroken over what we have to do to at least keep this place if not as a home closing it down for a little while (maybe years) so that we can get our bearings. We have had a great time and eventhough we don't have the revenue to fix our website, we spend what we can on fixing what is broken, buitifying what we have and just keeping two wonderful 1916 homes up to par with the 3 acres of mountain side property beautiful. I truly love this place and I would not want to just walk away. So, we are seeking innkeeper employment for a long term commitment so that we can do what we love to do and we do it well.
Our guests have been wonderful, we have had guests from all demographics. We've had honeymooners, anniversary's, birthdays (with a surpirse family party of 16) we've had rafters, climbers evev base jumpers, we've had kids we've had retirees, old ones that we kept company while the young ones went rafting, we've had college students and we've even had baby's and PITAs as well and we've yet to have a complaint or bad review. We've cooked and served breakfasts, brunches and lunches for up to 20 and dinners for up to 30, we've had groups here and I have loved this job more than any other job that I've ever had.
We have uncovered treasures up the mountainside that is truly one of a kind property....birdwatching? Ha, we have them all and we are also green and eco-friendly. We've done so much to this place and its truly a diamond in the rough....walk through our hedge and you will think you are truly in paradise..this is no lie.
Can you tell how much I love this place? I'm sure all of you love your places as much as I love mine. So....without further ado...what would you all do if you where out of $$$, your revenue cant even get you through the off season (Nov-March) and you can't find employment where you are? We are good at what we do and we are willing to relocate for a while, we even have someone to come stay here to keep tha place from falling apart.
Well enough ranting...would love to hear your stories of your ups, your downs and your AHA....moments.
Is it a matter of survival without loosing everything?
 

JBloggs

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Birdwatcher I am sorry to hear that. We're here for you. <hugs>
 

seashanty

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oh, i have so many ideas but i don't know what would be practical for you.
your website needs big pictures and site optimization ... about a month ago there was a poster who said he would revamp a website at no cost to show his capabilities. he emailed me off forum and seemed very nice. anyway, it's worth a try!!!! i am going to look for the email and the post ... maybe you can connect and he can help you.
there was also a poster in the spring or summer who works doing online customer service. this might get you a little income. i don't know.
i am going to search.
even as you search for other options, you have to continue to run and promote that b&b ... hold on.
(hugs)
 

birdwatcher

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thanks you all..of course we are going to hang on as much as we can. yes let me know.. i'll take all i can
 

seashanty

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Mr Design is the forum member who offered to do a site for free for a member who wasn't ready to go.
please contact him by finding his name in the member list. i don't know of his skills, but it worth a try if you are a complete novice and your site needs help.
 

seashanty

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okay ... it's Oceans who does the work from home
here is the thread where it is explained. it would be great to get an update on Oceans' situation and if this is still working out.
 

gillumhouse

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Were you unable to do anything with the cakes? Spread the word in the area - is there a bakery your side of Beckley? You may be able to work that angle to get through to Spring. Hype the bird watching. Can you take some photos of the birds? Big ones? Do you get enough snow down there for cross-country ski? I have a great place to do that but not enough snow. I know Beckley gets dumped on somethines - do you? I wish I knew more about your area. Do you have bookings for Bridge Day? Post a Bridge Day Special on your Home Page. You need to highlight the endless wall etc. There is a climbing company in Fayetteville - talk to them about a partnership or discounts. You do dinners - make a Specials button on that web site and post a Family Thanksgiving - you relax, we do the work. I am pulling at straws. Never be afraid to call me to bounce ideas. You know where I am.
I have been where you are and it is not easy - scares the crap out of you actually - but have faith, that is all that got me through.
 

birdwatcher

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thankfully we are full for brigday.
We partner with one rafting company and are on the climbers website for lodging, yes, I have bird pictures but not nig ones. No, we cant do the winter thing till we get better heating...cold in house in winter. Yes there are many bakeries in Beckly, did not have time not $$ to get the cake thing going this year but thinking about the coming holidays and some festivals around the area.
Yes, I pray daily...thanks so much K. I know you've been there. I still feel like an outsider in your state sometimes, specially around this area. Am open to anything at this point.
 

Breakfast Diva

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What about offering your services as innsitters? You certainly have experience!
 

scrambled_eggs

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okay ... it's Oceans who does the work from home
here is the thread where it is explained. it would be great to get an update on Oceans' situation and if this is still working out..
seashanty said:
okay ... it's Oceans who does the work from home
here is the thread where it is explained. it would be great to get an update on Oceans' situation and if this is still working out.
Working at home this way can be great. I have taken a break from the online customer service for a while. The past 5 months there has been no time to dedicate to scheduling hours to do online customer service since I have been so busy with guests coming and going. I only had two days with no guests from May 1 to now. This time of year I need to focus on the guests. If you have the time available you should try it. ACD Direct is a good company to work through.
 

Samster

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I hope that you'll be able to hang in there. It sounds like you love being innkeepers. More {{{{{{hugs}}}}}
 

Paisley

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You can clearly hear how much you love your home/business. I am an "aspiring" and, when I viewed your website, I didn't "see" the property the way you described (which sounded wonderful!). Some large, possibly professional pictures would bring this site to life! Hope it all works out for the both of you ...
EDIT: Clearly, I didn't read the whole thread. Obviously changes on the website aren't an option for you right now. I just needed to add my two cents because the B & B that we have been looking at is BEE-YOU-TEE-FULL!!! However, that clearly does not translate visually when you view its website. This was just all very fresh in my mind ... but I should have paid more attention.
 

Penelope

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Birdwatcher, I have goosebumps on my arms as I read your post. It is so filled with sadness, longing, and hope...all at one time.
I am looking at your site right now. Please, please, please, do some SEO on your site. Your first page (home) is not fully optimzed. At the very least, put your location in your title tag. It can't hurt and until you've tried to update and optimize the most visable thing about your b&b, I don't think you've officially tried EVERYTHING. Please take no offense to my words. I really am pulling for you to succeed. I don't want you to close up your doors. But I think that just making some minor changes in your site's components can make a HUGE difference. It might not make the difference today or tomorrow, but SOON the effects will be felt and seen.
I am sending you a big hug and a "you can do this". I have faith in you and your husband that you can turn this around and make it better than ever...with just a little bit of tweaking
 

Penelope

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You can clearly hear how much you love your home/business. I am an "aspiring" and, when I viewed your website, I didn't "see" the property the way you described (which sounded wonderful!). Some large, possibly professional pictures would bring this site to life! Hope it all works out for the both of you ...
EDIT: Clearly, I didn't read the whole thread. Obviously changes on the website aren't an option for you right now. I just needed to add my two cents because the B & B that we have been looking at is BEE-YOU-TEE-FULL!!! However, that clearly does not translate visually when you view its website. This was just all very fresh in my mind ... but I should have paid more attention. .
Paisley said:
EDIT: Clearly, I didn't read the whole thread. Obviously changes on the website aren't an option for you right now.
Where did you read that? I must have missed it, too...
 

gillumhouse

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thankfully we are full for brigday.
We partner with one rafting company and are on the climbers website for lodging, yes, I have bird pictures but not nig ones. No, we cant do the winter thing till we get better heating...cold in house in winter. Yes there are many bakeries in Beckly, did not have time not $$ to get the cake thing going this year but thinking about the coming holidays and some festivals around the area.
Yes, I pray daily...thanks so much K. I know you've been there. I still feel like an outsider in your state sometimes, specially around this area. Am open to anything at this point..
I still feel like an outsider in your state sometimes, specially around this area. Am open to anything at this point.
This is nothing against you or your DH. I am an outsider here! I was an outsider where I grew up. My Mom was from Chicago! Here, it will not matter if I live here 100 years nor how involved I am in what is happening, I will always be an outsider - I call me an alien. I grew up in WV which helped me - some - but they do not "know my people", the old who's yer Daddy. It is not a looking down on or being against, just the way things are. It kind of goes back to the days when a stranger was welcoimed in like a long-lost family member and it turned out to be a revenuer or a coal company person buying up mineral rights from people who did not understand mineral rights.
As for bakeries, my thought was if there are NO bakeries closer than Beckley (I know they have several) there may be a market for your cakes and other baked goods.
 

Country Girl

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Don't give up! I think if you can get someone to update your photos on your website that would be a huge step. All your information on your site is great and informative. Have you tried reaching out to a European market? Many Europeans love bird watching and will travel across the country in search of a variety of birds. If you can get on some free European B&B sites that might help. We've seen a huge increase in European guests in the past few years so I think they have plenty of spending $$ right now.
 

seashanty

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so ...
am i correct that except for one guest suite which is in the house you live in, the other guest rooms are in a separate house and you cannot afford to heat it so cannot be open in winter?
 

EmptyNest

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we even have someone to come stay here to keep the place from falling apart.
So, if you have someone who will live in the place...will they pay anything to you for living there? If you go, does that mean you have jobs to go to???
I agree with others here. Your web site is your main marketing piece, yours does nothing to get people wanting to stay with you. Honestly ...to me..it seems more of a hostel look than a B & B.
The web site is where you should have put your money the very first thing. Now I realize this place and yours are not in the same "niche" market...but they are on the New River in VA and see the difference between your site and theirs?
You also don't have on line availability and reservations...a must for travelers today. Too bad you can't heat the place....is there sking close by?
 

Morticia

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Almost all of the innkeepers I know have someone working outside the inn, especially this year. If you do not have the skill set to work from home at some sort of occupation and you cannot find jobs where you live, maybe someone has suggestions for 'work from home' online situations. Someone here used to take reservations for Disney from her house.
I don't see how you can leave 2 buildings for the winter and expect a good outcome when you return.
Things are dire everywhere this year.
 

seashanty

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i keep thinking about you ... and your situation ... i don't have a lot of the details.
where i was ... it was seasonal ... late may to as long as i could hold out in october ... the heat was a huge issue because the building was not properly insulated ... some rooms had virtually no insulation ... none in the attic, none in the basement ... electric heat each room with its own thermostat. my biggest challenge was i could not say there myself as there was no heat in the little room for me so i would have to sleep on the sofa in the breakfast room that also served as my living room. even would get ice in the toilets upstairs! it was much warmer in the breakfast room than in my little room. everything closed in winter except the general store ... even the restaurants ... and i was not able to get a permit to serve meals because i lived in there and did not have a separate kitchen. if i had been able to do other meals at the time, i would have tried offering all inclusive packages ... breakfast and dinner ... another challenge for me was little snow .. mostly ice .. because it was a harbor village. so no skiiing or snowshoeing. my first year, i stayed until mid december because i was really trying to stick it out and needed professional help to get all the water drained out of the building to close up.
i did get random folks who needed a place to stay ... had come to visit relatives ... especially over thanksgiving ... and the relatives either didn't have room at their home or it was not practical for folks to stay at that home. they stayed with me and i was so happy!
without knowing your layout ...
what i did was to close the upper most rooms first and close that area off completely ... locking the door at the top of the stairs so there was no access to the third floor for guests.
then i had the most desirable rooms available for guests on the second floor ... i kept the temperature extremely low up there unless we had guests ... then i would light up the place, heat their room only and common areas ... the others were down to like 40 degrees ... all rooms shut. i had some of those little portable woodstoves that are electric heaters that look like real flames ... in the rooms that remained bookable. they are made by dimplex and people thought they were real fire. all that was missing was the crackling sound. the electric bill for running them did not soar. i bought them off ebay in order to save money.
some of the places in the area take on winter boarders ... i don't know anything about those arrangements which have their own rules so you need to know.
that first year, since i was there anyway, i made the most outrageous offers for rooms for the night to people - sometimes including basic breakfast, sometimes not. and i did get some takers. a lot of time it was people who had come to the 'end of the road' and were tired, not wanting to go back 1/2 hour drive to just get to the main road. but as soon as they were out the door, that heat went DOWN.
i also offered my breakfast room as a meeting room over the winter. had a couple grief groups and other meeting groups who paid me a little money to let them sit there and talk. anything to make a few dollars. for a little more money i would provide coffee and muffins. if not, they could bring their own. this was charged as other sales and i believe i had to charge a little tax on that.
if my ideas are making your head spin, i do apologize. i am just trying to remember all the things i did to bring in a little money to pay the overhead in the off season.
please do take advantage of the offers mentioned to help you with your website.
 
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