An Informal, Opinionated, and Brief History Of The Business Of Bed & Breakfasts

The 1980s

The 80’s saw the rise of Bed and Breakfast’s as home owners who enjoyed entertaining, decided to earn some extra cash by opening up their homes as B&B’s. Hallmarks of the owner’s quirks included staying in a room with pictures of the owners family on the wall – or worse – their dolls on the beds. While some did an excellent and professional job, a huge part of the charm was that it was run by amateurs and “not corporate.” Travelers sacrificed convenience for a unique experience.

The 1990s

As the rise in popularity of B&B’s continued, they became more organized – and corporate. “Homes” were built specifically to be B&B’s and they became more organized as income-generating businesses. In some cases, they were also seen as a tax shelter for upper middle class people who were looking for a write off for whom it didn’t matter if they were a viable business or not.

2000’s and beyond

Corporatization and technology came to B&B’s. Booking became more sophisticated – and online booking became an expected part of even a very “low key” B&B operation. Public ratings from Yelp, TripAdvisor and similar crowd source reviews became extremely important. Google search placement and Google Maps meant the difference between a successful business and failing. It became harder for small B&B’s to compete without having a strong online presence. All of these conveinances come at a high price for a small B&B. The advent of AirBnB.com added a new player to the field.

“Those little soaps that you saw… those are cookies!”

Portlandia: Bed and Breakfast – Inspection

Businesses that facilitate travel, and work as liaisons between hotels/B&B’s and their customers have also consolidated and become much larger

Expedia.com and  Booking.com – own many smaller online travel agents such as  Airbnb .com,  Trivago and Home Away. If a small business wants to compete, they need to work with these huge companies which take a hefty percentage of any room that is booked.

At the same time, savvy travelers also became more wary of “fake positive reviews,” photographs that looked “too professional” and obviously paid for advertisements by large companies to boost their web presence. The internet had transitioned from being a level playing field for all businesses to compete with equal access to an increasingly corporate environment with priority given to the paid advertising and those who could pay to optimize their website to be found by search engines.

Dungeness Barn House’s location on search pages had become buried. It was past time for an update. An update on every level and to make it a more streamlined process for our customers, and let us focus more on offering great experiences for our customers – like gourmet breakfasts. And tend our organic vegetable garden.

The website needed to not look like “Grandma’s B&B” and more modern, yet rustic to reflect what the Dungeness Barn House looked like now.

Clare researched different designers and options… Should we go DIY – “Do it yourself” That was quickly ruled out as a “Do it yourself – DON’T” or what Melissa likes to call a “DIYD.” Should we try and slowly update what we have just by swapping out old pictures for new ones? No. The format isn’t right… and it would have to be redone sooner or later. Sooner much rather than later.

Trina Packard of Packard Design Works was clearly the best fit – she understood that we wanted something clean, but warm – to reflect the “high touch” elements of the Barn House. Modern, but also honored the traditions we value. She and Clare did a deep dive into educating Clare about all of the elements that needed to go into the revamp. Clare’s brother Michael Monnin who is a competitive photographer and avid birder supplied many of the photographs. Terms that were initially unfamiliar but now roll easily off of Clare’s tongue: SEO (search engine optimization), OTA (online travel agent), VBRO (vacation rental by owner). She says: “Acronyms… It’s been painful…”

We also wanted the website to be a resource for both locals and visitors to the Olympic Peninsula. While the beauty of this location is breathtaking – many people are not aware of all of the hidden gems and options for inexpensive – and creative day trips.

Some transitions happen gracefully…

Trees turning color in the fall are a beautiful example of that…

Daisies are not…

But in the end…

totally worth it.
Just make sure that you have plenty of chips, candy AND the right designer!

Cultivating Land, Body & Soul

“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.” -Alfred Austin
“Sustainability” is a buzz-word these days usually applied to either environmental issues or to managing one’s time and work/life balance so that “it’s sustainable” (when it usually isn’t).
What creates true sustainability?
Supportive communities and individuals who contribute to those communities. As much as it is appealing to follow the “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” model, and “do everything yourself,” that’s the path to burnout – and is a fallacy. To realize the dream of being independent entrepreneurs with our own bed and breakfast, took the cooperation and support of many people who have become a part of our tribe.

Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade. -Rudyard Kipling

One member of our tribe is Israel – who maintains the gardens and helps with all aspects of the grounds. He brings a wealth of information about the plantings of the property from having worked for the previous owners for the past 20 years. Israel is a legal immigrant who started at 16 years old, knocking on doors in the area and offering to work on people’s yards. From that humble beginning, he now runs a successful business and employs three people. His former instructor for English classes is also a long-term client.
Our gardens are a major feature of Dungeness Barn House – in addition to vegetable plantings, we maintain an ornamental garden with roses inherited from the former owners who transplanted the roses from their parent’s garden. Israel’s favorite feature of the garden is those roses – whose fragrance permeates the air. These traditional plantings are integrated with more modern gardening concepts – including vegetable plantings as ornamental beds.

“Garden as though you will live forever.”-William Kent

Being a part of a community is a long-term commitment – and requires an investment of time and energy over a span of years. Gardening is an art form that evolves over time – and encompasses a wide range of variables from seasonal changes to the maturity of individual plants. The metaphors between communities and gardens are interconnected.

There is a bond that happens between the property and the people who put their love, blood, sweat and tears into it. The land binds us together across generations of owners and caretakers who collaborate to create a beautiful and functional garden. We are joined by a common love of the land. A thriving garden is a reflection of the community and our mutual understanding and respect. In caring for our garden, we also care for ourselves.

“Won’t you come into the garden? I would like my roses to see you.” -Richard Brinsley Sheridan