By Emma Castleberry
Inns across the world have come together to launch the Still Inn Business campaign. The campaign, organized by Maria Coder of Bed and Brunch PR, is an effort to support inns during the economic downturn resulting from COVID-19 through joint marketing. Small hospitality businesses like inns and bed and breakfasts have been hit hard by the pandemic, with many having to close for multiple months at the height of the crisis.
The campaign has compiled the Inn to Inn Garden Tour, a set of downloadable eBooks that highlight the gardens at participating inns. The three books are broken down into regions: Northeastern US, Southeastern US and a third book covering the West, Midwest, Canada and Italy. Western North Carolina was strongly represented in the Southeastern US booklet, with five regional inns offering virtual tours of their gardens. Those considering a visit will find exclusive discounts offered within the booklet.
Fabrizio and Rosemary Chiariello, innkeepers of the Albemarle Inn, closed for two and a half months during the pandemic and refunded about $22,000 in advance deposits. Their return to opening has been slow, so the Still Inn Business campaign offered much-needed marketing. “The garden tour booklet is wonderful, since it promotes the outdoor environments of inns, and that’s where people are looking for some serenity and comfort right now,” says Rosemary.
Cumberland Falls Bed & Breakfast
Angela Harrell, owner and innkeeper at Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast, experienced a similar financial impact. Harrell says the Still Inn Business campaign has not only provided a marketing benefit, but also helped to keep her spirits up. “When I was closed and the inn was empty, dark and silent, it was very hard to drag myself out of bed and into work,” she says.
Harrell was particularly excited to share her garden’s koi fish in the Inn to Inn Garden Tour booklet. “They actually have personalities and can be pretty amusing,” she says. “I have one black, tiny koi that sits in the reeds and blows bubbles for hours. It’s hilarious. Sometimes you forget how beautiful something is when you see it every day. This campaign renewed my appreciation for this beautiful inn.”
The Lion and the Rose
Karen and Steve Wilson, owners and innkeepers at The Lion and the Rose, have earned themselves the nicknames of “Mr. and Mrs. Wild” for their love of nature, so the Inn to Inn Garden Tour was tailor-made for them. “We are happy to share details about our favorite flowers and plants and we are excited to announce the news about our gardens being certified as a wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation,” says Karen. “This campaign has helped us to stay positive.”
Sweet Biscuit Inn
Susan Shah and John Meyer, innkeepers at Sweet Biscuit Inn, took over the inn in January of 2020. “We were just finding our groove and gearing up for a busy spring when travel came to a halt because of COVID-19,” says Susan. The pair kept their spirits up by “diving in to projects that we would have otherwise hired people for,” she says. “One of those projects was pulling truckloads of weeds and spreading 30 cubic yards of mulch in the yard.” So the Sweet Biscuit Inn was very ready to be photographed for the Inn to Inn Garden Tour.
“The campaign has given us the opportunity to showcase our grounds,” says Susan. “We’ve had a few calls about the discount we offered in the Garden Tour ebook, so I know people are seeing it. I love that we have a way to show people the details and personalization that go into creating a welcoming bed and breakfast.”
“Genuine personal hospitality is key to our business,” says Glenda Cahill, innkeeper at Wildberry Lodge. “Staying at a bed and breakfast is very personal.” Cahill was grateful that many guests accepted gift certificates in lieu of refunds for cancelled reservations, but the pandemic was still a financial disaster and the marketing available through the Still Inn Business campaign has kept her business moving. “We have already received reservations from guests mentioning the Inn to Inn Garden Tour,” she says. “We hope for this to continue as people search for beautiful places to visit.”
To download the eBook, visit StillInnBusiness.com/Gardens-Tour. Albemarle Inn is located at 86 Edgemont Road, Asheville. Cumberland Falls Bed & Breakfast is located at 254 Cumberland Avenue, Asheville. The Lion and the Rose is located at 276 Montford Avenue, Asheville. Sweet Biscuit Inn is located at 77 Kenilworth Road, Asheville. Wildberry Lodge is located at 135 Potato Branch Road, Leicester. For more information, visit AlbemarleInn.com, CumberlandFalls.com, Lion-Rose.com, SweetBiscuitInn.com or WildberryLodge.com.