Innkeeper Education in a COVID-19 World

Hand Holding Clock No Time to WasteThe sheer volume of information available to lodging industry professionals regarding COVID-19 is astonishing. National and state organizations, travel companies, reservation companies, real estate agents, directories, and more are providing educational opportunities in written, podcast or webinar format. Even digital marketing firms are offering FREE classes that were once only available through a subscription, or coming late to the party with promises of education that is “unlike anything that has been offered before in our industry” at affordable rates.

As many innkeepers are presented with copious amounts of content, they naturally feel overwhelmed. They find themselves spending innumerable hours listening to webinars, trying to sift through vast amounts of information that has not been tailored to what they need to know during this unprecedented situation. And many are left on their own to search for the hidden morsels they need to identify, grasp, and apply as they prepare to reopen and market to a new type of traveler.

We Adopted a 3-Step COVID-19 Education Approach

When confronted with the COVID-19 virus potentially devastating small businesses, we embraced the challenge to do what we have always done – race to help our innkeepers get through this incredibly difficult time. We launched our COVID-19 kick-off, “Navigating the Waters of COVID-19 for Innkeepers” on March 24, 2020.

3 prong recovery approach grey, teal, orange

Step 1 of Our 3-Step Approach

Amidst disappearing bookings, a new marketing strategy at this early phase would have been inappropriate. First and foremost, innkeepers needed help with finances. Therefore, we began weekly educational sessions to help innkeepers secure both funding and payment deferment options.

Since no two properties are alike, we presented many different financial options during our COVID-19 webinars so innkeepers could choose the options that fit their situation best. For example, we spent the first four weeks helping our clients secure EIDL advances, track EIDL full loan progress, and submit PPP loan applications, including national and regional grant possibilities. These four weeks were crucial for our innkeepers, especially since new applications for the EIDL/PPP loans were suspended on April 16, 2020. Helping our clients get in the queue for funding ASAP was of the utmost importance.

Step 2 of Our 3-Step Approach

Our education then moved onto reopening strategies. We developed a 9-step process, with the order of presentation being chosen by a client survey where innkeepers voted on what was most important to them. We then launched our “Preparing to Reopen” bi-weekly sessions on Friday, April 24, 2020.

    • Part 1 – Bookings & Reservations
    • Part 2 – Cleaning & Sanitation
    • Part 3 – Food Service
    • Part 4 – Guest Rooms
    • Part 5 – What to Do if Someone Contracts the Virus at Your Property
    • Part 6 – Cancellations Upon Reopening
    • Part 7 – Public Areas
    • Part 8 – Staff Safety & Training
    • Part 9 – Contactless Check-In

Step 3 of Our 3-Step Approach

Our final step will begin Friday, May 22, 2020, once our reopening strategy sessions are concluded. Step 3 will focus on marketing strategies for attracting the new guest, as well as techniques and tips for innkeepers as they prepare for travelers to return.

As with any educational program, we must ask: Is what we are teaching, and how we are teaching it, really helping? More specifically, is the 3-step educational approach we started back in March helping our innkeepers prepare to recover? The answer is a resounding YES!

graph with blue orange and grey indicators

We encouraged all of our Advantage Plan clients to register for our COVID-19 webinars, whether they were able to attend the live webinar or not, so they would automatically receive the handouts, PowerPoint slides, and access to the recorded webinar. Those who registered are in blue, those who attended are in orange, and those who had to leave early are in grey.

 

Why We Know Our Expert Education is Working!

Regarding the data above, there are two incredible take-aways:

  1. After two months of ongoing webinars, our Advantage Plan innkeepers continue to return, which indicates that our educational information is meeting or exceeding their needs.
  2. We have had so much information to share, that some of our classes were over two hours long! What’s more, our innkeepers stay for the duration, which is evident by the low abandonment rate.

Granted, some may find it odd that a digital marketing firm decided to take on all this non-marketing type education for our clients, but that is what sets Acorn Internet Services apart from our competitors. We care deeply about the success of our innkeepers and this industry. Therefore, we are willing to roll our sleeves up and do the hard work that needs to get done to help, especially now, during this crisis.

 


 

Much of what we are teaching regarding COVID-19 is time-critical, which means there is no time to waste. Now is the time to create your reopening strategy and new-traveler marketing plan. If you have not received the support you need to help you successfully move forward, we encourage you to join our Advantage Plan innkeepers today.

In addition to all our pre-COVID-19 Advantage Plan services:

  • Level 1 & 2 Advantage Plan clients receive access to our DIY COVID-19 Starter Kit.
  • Level 3 & 4 clients receive personalized recovery plans developed with the help of their project manager to guide them through this difficult time.
  • All Advantage Plan clients have access to our extensive COVID-19 Dashboard Portal containing every topic, article, video and link that we have taught, shared, written or recorded, organized into a simple to use format.

We encourage you to reach out to our sales team at 877-226-7699 or sales@acorn-is.com.
You may also complete our online sales inquiry form.

 

What our Advantage Plan Clients are saying…

“You have been a lifesaver through not only this pandemic and all the research and training you have provided, but in getting our inn up and running in general. Your knowledge, resources, and personal troubleshooting are the best and I am so glad we have partnered with you! Now that we’re at the next level, I love it that Will keeps me on my toes, helps me through issues, and gives me the incentive I need to keep going, press on and accomplish what needs to be done to continue to build our business. Truly, I was clueless until we connected with Acorn and I most likely would have been left behind with all the other B&B’s in the area who are now closing.”

Penny Eldred – The Rosemont Inn Bed and Breakfast

“Thank you, Lisa, for this and everything you and your team have done throughout this crisis. We really appreciate all the guidance Acorn has provided these past few weeks. All of you have made this a little less scary.”

Greg & Patrice Wisner – Arcadia House Bed and Breakfast

“I just wanted to say thank you for everything you’re doing for us innkeepers and our industry – now and always. I feel like I have listened to a million different webinars in the past few weeks, but I never get as much out of them as I do Acorn’s – and especially the Friday COVID-19 ones. I cannot imagine how much time and effort your whole team is putting into just gathering the knowledge and information for all this – please know that it IS appreciated!”

Tiffany & Robert Bertram – Tiffany’s Bed and Breakfast

 

Acorn Internet Services is the Gold Standard for Innkeeper Education in our Industry

Acorn has been providing consistent, timely, expert-led education for over a decade. Acorn’s education program is tailored to address innkeepers’ specific needs, and taught in a way that allows innkeepers to easily connect the dots and apply what they have learned to benefit their businesses. Providing this type of dependable expert education is not easy. It takes hours of investigation and preparation by a team of experts who are passionate to help innkeepers understand what they need to know, when they need to know it.

Acorn is at the forefront of our ever-changing environment, setting the standard as the leader in mobile-first responsive design, ADA compliance, and GDPR preparedness, the architect of the BookDirect.education movement, as well as creator of Support-Small-Biz.com and the Stay-Safe-Stay-Small-Stay-Inn initiative.

 

18 thoughts on “Innkeeper Education in a COVID-19 World

  1. The Acorn staff, guided by Lisa, Marketwatch Managers and the rest of team, have been a lifesaver for us during the COVID crisis. While I had an inordinate amount of time on my hands to be able to conduct research on everything that was going on, it was just overwhelming to try to wade through all of it–nevermind trying to figure out fake news from real news! And in swoops the Acorn Team ahead of every other marketing firm out there (in my head I picture a bunch of superheroes–you know, like spiderman, batman, etc.) with literally everything I needed to stumble through this mess. I can’t even imagine the amount of time and research you’ve done to insure we had all of the information to make informed decisions about everything from financial assistance to future marketing. With Acorn, the guidance and knowledge is always there, –and first with it–and without a doubt Lisa and her team actually CARE about our business–no matter the size. Whether it’s a two room B&B or an 25 room Inn, they take the time to speak with you and get you through it–offering insight, suggestions, guidance and at times just an ear to listen to meltdowns! You guys have truly been a lifeline through all of this—I can’t imagine working with any other team.

  2. When everyone is bombarding you with COVID-19 suggestions, rumors, webinars, zoom meetings and message groups it’s been great to have a resource like Acorn ….who are both at the head of the information curve and great at filtering out the noise so that we are focused on what is relevant and important to a B&B businesses.
    Their timely input has helped us successfully navigate our Our EIDL and PPP applications.
    Their re-opening advice has been comprehensive and thought provoking.
    We look forward to their marketing guidance as we start to try and claw back some of the lost revenue caused by this virus.
    Thanks Acorn.

  3. In a world where “advice” is more often then not the literary equivalent of a shrug, an actual shrug, or deafening silence the Acorn CoViD webinars have been a life raft in a seas of troubles. I’m sure we would have gone nuts waiting for the EIDL money if we hadn’t known that almost nobody had gotten it yet. Instead of spending endless hours wracking our brains trying to think of all the things that needed to get done before we reopened we can just take their list and spend that time actually doing them. Bed and breakfasts are probably last last owner-occupied businesses around; getting to meet fellow innkeepers sharing that unique status enhance our perspective on the crisis.

    Good job Lisa and Annie and the rest of the Acorn folks. In no little part thanks to you we are going to make it through this.

  4. Thank you so much, Lisa, for all the priceless information! I so appreciate all the amazingly hard work you and the rest of the Acorn team have done to help us navigate these uncharted waters. And, as always, I am grateful for your guidance and suggestions. It’s a blessing to us all to have you to turn to!

  5. I am overwhelmed easily which is why I became an Acorn Advantage client. I find the webinars invaluable even if I just take one item from each one and address it I’m ahead of the game. My mailbox is deluged with emails regarding Covid-19 and it’s impossible to go thru everything. Thank you Lisa, Annie and team for helping us get thru all the issues that we face as innkeepers, not just with Covid-19 but with all those hoops we find ourselves having to jump thru!

  6. Acorn’s educational resources are outstanding…even when it’s information I already know, it’s good to hear it reiterated and put together in a whole story that is helpful, useful, and all in one place.
    It’s clear that Acorn is focused on what’s best for both individual innkeepers and for the industry as a whole. Of course, as a business, they are interested in making money for themselves as well – but I am continuously amazed at how inexpensive, cost-effective, and valuable their marketing and educational services have proven to be.

  7. From the beginning of the events playing out around me, I have been inundated with advice, webinars and support from thousands of emails. It took weeks to figure out what to click through to read and what to delete. Most importantly… what webinars were going to help me and would I take away the best and pertinent information to support myself, my team and my hotel. I always knew ACORN would be a source of information, I DID NOT know how valuable it would be! Your webinars have contained all the answers and even questions I didn’t know I needed answered! I now have my team attending your webinars. I am taking screenshots and sending the information to elected officers and business owners in other industries. And well as the fact that your support team has been amazing in working with me and my website, blogs and Facebook to ensure that my rebound will be V shaped!

  8. We are so grateful to Acorn for showing incredible initiative in getting all of us up to speed and prepared for the future. Lisa and her team corralled us together within the first week hotels closing down by starting a weekly, then twice weekly call. To start off, she quickly became well versed in the financial aspects and got all of us hotel owners in gear to apply for financial assistance right away. Thank goodness she was on top of this because if she hadn’t, many of us would have missed the opportunity and would have lost out on this financial assistance. (As we know now, very soon after the funds were available, they were GONE!) Following the financial applications, the Acorn team initiated calls to help us get organized for re-opening and these sessions have been invaluable. In these unprecedented strange times when sometimes you feel like you want to crawl up in a ball and hide until it’s over, the Acorn calls rallied us to get ready. Somethings the only thing in my calendar are these calls and that has given me purpose to keep moving forward (and no joke, a reason to get up in the morning!!). In addition to the Acorn team, her other hotel clients are sharing information and ideas so that we can have a combined set of resources at our finger tips. We may be little hotels, but after these sessions, I feel like we have equal footing with the big guys and we will be equally, if not more, ready to re-open safely and successfully! All of these sessions have been extremely well organized and so helpful!

  9. Wow, I don’t really know where to begin! I’ll just say that Lisa, Annie, and the team at Acorn have been Allstars for us during this pandemic. From assisting with the CARES act and other aid available to assist us, sending last-minute newsletters to prompt us to contact our legislators so that our industry’s voices could be heard, creating the support-small-Bizz.com website where its clients, as well as non-clients, could share their information and stories, to conducting bi-weekly webinars to cover COVID updates and all of the things that we need to consider as we plan to re-open as quarantine is lifted, to creating a special COVID resource section in the client portal for us to refer back to….these are just a few things that the team has done to help us.

    They even had Acorn Facemasks made and sent to us. I know that the Acorn team has spent many, many hours researching and pushing out valuable info to help us thrive & survive during these uncertain times. I am proud to be an Acorn client and to have access to invaluable information that they have and will continue to provide for us. Without a doubt, the Acorn team has been and will continue to hold its “ROCKSTAR” status in my book!

  10. Thank you and you team for all of the investigation, consolidation of information and superb communication.
    I cannot thank you enough for your dedication to our industry and to each individual inn.

    Because of the effort of Acorn-is we had access to timely financial information that helped us evaluate options and to get into the queue for the relief funds that made sense for us before they ran out.

    Because of your guidance and leadership we are able to discuss re opening challenges, sort through the “pile” and make action list that helps us feel that we can open and still keep everyone safe.

    I am sure we still have a lot to learn, but I am confident you and your team will help us get through.

  11. The time and organization of information that Lisa and the Acorn staff has prepared for innkeepers is priceless! Thank you for extending above and beyond care for your clients.

  12. The work done by Acorn has helped me organize and wade through this confusing time. Although I listen to many webinars, these in particular we useful as they specifically help me in my business.

  13. I was very impressed with the amount of time and energy the Acorn team has put into getting ahead of this virus situation relative to tremendous impact on our industry. And I was extremely grateful that the information they had so comprehensively put together for us was in such an easy “one-stop-shopping” format for me as I am consumed with how to keep from going under during these times and do not have the time and energy to seek out all the various sources of information they were using to get the info we need. They have always struck me as a very dedicated team of hospitality professionals even though they have gone in the direction of websites and inn marketing and away from actual innkeeping. I try to tell them as much as I can that I am very appreciative of their work and I will do it again here – Thanks so very much!

  14. We are level 3 customers of Acorn, and we could not be more pleased with the support, inspiration and cajoling we get from the entire Acorn team. We had significantly increased our business in the 2 years since we bought the Flag House Inn in Annapolis MD. Acorn supported us since day negative 60, meaning they started supporting us 2 months before we settled on the property

    Fast forward 2 years and Acorn has brought so many great ideas and resources to us. The webcasts, the advice, the monthly advisory calls, especially during the pandemic, gives us confidence we are going to survive and come out of this mess in great shape. Thank you Lisa & team!

  15. As a Bed & Breakfast owner, I want to say how grateful I am for education that’s focused directly on our industry, especially now. The vast amounts of information put out by various hospitality industry groups, state and national organizations, and government entities has been overwhelming at times and it is nice to know that there are educational resources geared toward us innkeepers specifically.

    Your team is always prepared, organized, and somehow also always two steps ahead when it comes to knowing information pertinent to our business, which you then share in an organized and thoughtful way. This is a huge deal to me right now because the webinars and other resources are helping me navigate through all the COVID-19 information in a more prepared and organized way myself, and as a result, I’m much less stressed. So not only am I keeping my business focused and on steady ground, but I’m also able to stay focused and on steady ground mentally. Emotional well-being is so important in this business, and I hope you guys know that you are also contributing to that aspect of our business in a positive way. Many thanks!

  16. So true about the over whelming information right now about Covid-19. I’m receiving at least a dozen emails daily. Acorn is my “go to” to get all the up to date factual information I need.

    Ashley Mon, Hamanassett Bed and Breakfast, Chester Heights, Pa.

  17. Being a small Bed and Breakfast during Covid-19 has become very trying. The uncertainty we all face each day, while now our new normal, has been stressful. Add to that the amount of local, state and federal updates in which information has been either lacking, or conflicting, adds another layer of stress. Not knowing where or who to turn to for help, let alone answers has been exhausting.

    As an Acorn client, we are so very thankful for the amount of work Lisa and the entire Acorn team has put into keeping us informed. They have been working tirelessly to share information not only on help for small businesses, such as the PPP and Idle Loans, but also helpful articles and resources on health guidelines, sharing information with guests, and state pertinent information . The amount of information Acorn has shared, and continues to compile and share with their clients has been incredibly helpful and will continue to lead the way for us during this crisis. Our deepest thanks for Acorn’s leadership; we couldn’t do this without you!

    Pam Kowalewski, Vrooman Mansion Bed and Breakfast, Bloomington, IL

  18. Thank you to the entire Acorn team for your terrific pivot to help your clients in this alternate, trans dimensional universe in which we currently live. You’ve amassed a ton of great information that has been extremely helpful. We appreciate the extra mile(s) you’ve gone during this time of great turmoil. We don’t feel alone and that in itself is huge.

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