The Inn at Elk River: Quantifying success in high-touch hospitality

Delivering a unique customer experience is paramount for small hospitality businesses like The Inn at Elk River. 

Delivering a unique customer experience is paramount for small hospitality businesses like The Inn at Elk River. 

Sometimes, you just want peace, tranquility, and a brief escape from the noisy trappings of modern life. For almost three decades, the Inn at Elk River has been delivering just what the doctor ordered for frazzled folks looking to slow down and enjoy nature’s majesty, with a few creature comforts included.

Situated in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, the Inn at Elk River is an eight-room bed-and-breakfast that promises a relaxing retreat in a Williamsburg-style mountain setting, where guests can enjoy hiking, fly fishing, horseback riding, skiing, or just some quiet time. For co-owners John & Malinda Lowery, Bill & Loretta Dodgen, Richard & Ann Miller the biggest challenge is efficiently delivering a white-glove experience so guests keep coming back and spread the word about our Inn and our hospitality.

“In hospitality, everyone is faced with this challenge these days,” John Lowery, Managing Partner says. “We only have eight rooms, so our space is somewhat limited from a revenue standpoint. We have to keep every room filled if at all possible.”

In the past, hospitality entrepreneurs like these owners would focus on delivering a great customer experience and let everything else take care of itself. That’s a fine start, but it’s not enough in today’s market. That’s why these owners are taking control of their destiny.

To do this, he uses Womply to quickly and easily get key business insights and take actions that improve the customer experience and business performance. A few examples:

Know where you stand

Most small businesses don’t have great visibility into their own customers and company financials, much less competitors and market trends. With Womply, these owners get information about how the company, local competitors, and consumer spending are doing in daily snapshots that are easy to read and understand.

Specifically, the owners look for trends in daily revenue and compares the company’s performance to other similar businesses with the Leaderboard feature, and watches consumer spending patterns in Womply, as well. In this way, they can see if a sales trend is affecting only their business or the market in general, which influences their marketing decisions.

“If you don’t measure, you’re going to lose in business today,” John says. “Womply takes the time and effort out of measurement, which is extremely valuable for a busy business owner like me.”

Delight your customers

It’s a delicate balance to exceed customer expectations, repeatedly, and still stay profitable. You have to really know what customers care most about and focus on it. Perhaps just as importantly, you have to know the things they don’t care about so you don’t put time and resources into things that don’t matter.

In the past few years, reviews on popular sites like Yelp, Google, and TripAdvisor have emerged as great sources of information about what customers care most about. Reading and responding to all of them might seem daunting, but John sees it as mission critical.

If somebody takes the time to write a review and you don’t respond, shame on you,” Managing Partner John Lowery says. “That’s rude and unacceptable in my opinion. People are trying to help you run a better business, so at least listen.”

To drastically reduce the time of managing all those reviews, John uses Womply Reputation Defense to get notifications when someone writes a new review on dozens of sites and then respond to all of them from one place.

Responding to online reviews has direct benefits — some studies suggest your revenue increases just by responding to reviews, positive or negative. You also get great insight into what your customers love about you, and what they wish you’d change.

“We’re always trying to find that uniqueness that brings customers back,” John says. “We’ve found a lot of answers in online customer feedback.”

As one example, John found that customers loved the quality of the breakfast for two that is included in the booking. The inn prides itself on signature dishes like peach stuffed French toast and breakfast sausage casserole — “not just a bowl of cornflakes,” John says. Knowing that the unique breakfast offering matters to repeat visitors justified the ongoing investment.

For a relaxing getaway, book a visit to the Inn at Elk River, (www.elkriverinn.com) or call (828) 898-9669 for the #1 bed-and-breakfast rated by Trip Advisor in the North Carolina mountains over the past few years. Summer and fall are the busiest months, but you can also plan a ski trip, as the inn is located a short 5 or 10 minute drive from popular resorts like Beech Mountain and Sugar Mountain and Seven Devils or Appalachian Ski Resorts are also nearby. 

If you run a hospitality business, ask your credit card processor about adding Womply to your business or request more information from one of our experts.