Tales from an Innkeeper's crypt: Finally...the tree's down
Why did it take so long to take the tree down? (we just did it yesterday). There are lots of reasons, I suppose, but one of the biggest ones is I never wanted to put it up in the first place. I think I'm turning into this Bah Humbug person who experiences Christmas as a chore now. It didn't used to be that way. I used to wallow in the glow of tiny twinkling lights, yards of red silk ribbon, and home-made eggnog. Where did it all go? And who is this person I've become?
How about we blame it on the economy? Or on a delayed reaction to the deflation of a dream; the one where I finally sell my bed and breakfast after 16 years of working in a second career (the first one lasting 30 years), I move to Texas where my darling daughter is waiting with open and loving arms, and I write all day every day. No more dirty toilets, sinks full of dishes and burnt French Toast!
Business , in general, has not been good this year...in fact, the past three years were not financially as lucrative as I had hoped. The economy, of course, is one of the major factors but another huge one is the fact that I had planned on selling my Inn and moving to Austin this past June.
During that time, I started packing up my belongings. Kari was helping me. Since she was buying the Inn, she was as anxious to get me out of Louisville as I was. We completed around 40 boxes, four of which contained all my winter clothes; clothes I could really use now in this below zero weather. But they are sealed and stacked away in my storeroom on the third floor, some of them without labels (thanks to Kari) and I can't get to them. We also cleaned and threw out most of my business files from my three file cabinets, old documents, books, and stuff I wouldn't use in Austin. I turned over a lot of business stuff to Kari.
The point is I really got off track with the business. My head and heart were already in Austin. This definitely added to the slide the business was experiencing. Specifically, I wasn't keeping up with the marketing and sales. I wasn't folllowing up whenever guests stayed here...as a matter of fact, I really wasn't that interested in my guests or engaged in running a bed and breakfast; I had started picturing Kari as the new Innkeeper. I stopped paying for on line listings on sites that would generate business, and I began focussing on yard sales, advertising the sale of some of my furniture, hiring a moving company, and decorating my new home in Austin.
The result was I slid from third to ninth place on a site that was one of my major sources of bookings, I was taken off sites I was no longer paying for, and I stopped going to my two bed and bedfast organization meetings. In 2007, my occupancy rate was 53%, in 2010, in 2010 i1 was 41%. It's always been fairly high for a small B&B, so when I saw the figures from 2010, I was somewhat shaken.
So here I sit, in recovery, trying to get back to that quirky, sometimes cranky,but upbeat and involved Aleksander House Innkeeper (which is me), who cared so much about her Gourmet food, her beautiful hardwood floors and four-poster bed linens, and most of all her guests. Is it any wonder I left the tree up too long?