The Professional Association of Innkeepers’ 2016 conference is just a few months away. The PAII sent us a questionnaire to fill out, and as we did, we realized they’d given us a great opportunity to share our story with the world. Here’s what we had to say.
1. In 500 words or less, please tell us about your business:
We have been in business since 1952. We began with a store called County Linen Center in Doylestown, Pa. (Bucks County), selling linens for bed, bath and dining for the home. Since we had many local hotels purchasing from us, we recognized that innkeepers could not purchase luxury linens in small quantities at wholesale pricing.
So we went nationwide in 1988, calling ourselves InnStyle. At that time, most hospitality industry suppliers only offered products by the dozens and did not offer fashion products.
Smaller properties did not have the opportunity to purchase in lower quantities (something we offer) at a wholesale price. We became a distributor for many top companies, including Tempur-Sealy.
Our suppliers and customers recognize that our team offers POS (Positively Outrageous Service) to our nationwide customers.
2. What do you see as the biggest challenges to the innkeeping industry at this time?
Our biggest challenge as a 30-year industry vendor is getting potential customers and current clients to realize we are totally committed to providing the best service, quality and pricing within their budget.
We realize we are very fortunate to have many loyal customers who understand we are not just selling products but are offering a personal shopping service. We send samples at our own expense. We ask our customers to feel the fabric, check the colors.
Our customers can view our website, call us for questions and volume pricing or ask us to find a product not seen on our website. We will look for any product that a customer may need and give them our best possible price. If we are not at the lowest price or we cannot find the product that they would like, we understand. But we appreciate the opportunity to try.
3. What trends are you seeing in your own, specific industry that are important to innkeepers?
We look for products that we think will work well for our innkeepers, not necessarily trends for the general consumer.
We are offering a unique product called InnStyle 600 thread count 100% pima cotton sheets and pillowcases, which do not require ironing for the life of the product.
We are the only company offering this sheet throughout the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. We’ve tested the sheeting you find in retail stores that claim they are wrinkle free, and they don’t perform as well as InnStyle sheets.
You should always be careful with sheets that claim to have a high thread count, and look at the small print on the package. Many sheets that “feel like cotton,” are actually 100% polyester.
Another product that performs well for innkeepers is a sheet & duvet that is manufactured specifically for hospitality. We offer this sheet, pillowcase & duvet which is different from any sold to general consumers, a sheet that’s ring spun cotton on the outside with a microfiber/polyester woven into it. You sleep only on the cotton side which is more comfortable and cooler than polyester.
There are also many new towels that offer less washing and drying time. One that we offer is a micro-cotton towel which absorbs 200-250% of their weight which makes them absorbent and economical. This towel takes much less time to dry which also helps the environment.
Consumers want green products, which is why we’re seeing towels and sheets from materials like bamboo and tencel.
Another – unfortunate – trend is the bed bug invasion that’s hit hotels all over the country. Many years ago we introduced innkeepers to protective covering and other products to prevent bed bugs in guest rooms. Our innkeeping customers are very knowledgeable about this now and many are purchasing these products to protect their properties.
4. What is your favorite thing about the B&B community?
We enjoy our customers as much as the B&B community enjoy their guests, and try to do our best for them. We admire the B&B community as we know that they are working 24/7. It cannot be an easy job, but they make it look effortless and enjoy the service they provide their guests.
It’s always a pleasure to see our innkeeping customers at conferences….to be able to socialize with them in a relaxed atmosphere. They are a very special group of people.
5. Do you have any new products/services that you’re introducing this year?
We are always looking for new products to offer our customers. We have added the Tempurpedic line to our Sealy/Stearns mattress hospitality line.
We are affiliated with Grosfillex commercial patio and pool furniture. This is not the furniture customers can purchase in stores, but is manufactured for commercial use.
We have added many new amenities to our line including 1-cup and 2-cup coffeemakers, new hairdryers, dispensers with shampoo, conditioner and body wash. We are continually looking for new towels, sheets and top of the bed products.
We are always searching for innovative products that will help maintain innkeepers’ properties & increase their revenue by offering quality bedding and other amenities for their guests.
We offer to ship any products to innkeepers’ guests who would like to purchase anything that they may have used in the B&B property or have seen on our website.
The innkeepers directly invoice their customer. We invoice the innkeeper at their cost. It is a wonderful opportunity to increase the innkeepers’ revenue and not stock products if they do not have a Gift Shop or Shelf space. Many customers have taken advantage of this opportunity.
6. Please provide us with the URLs for your website, social media and any blogs to which you regularly contribute.