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Like it or not, first impressions are generally the most important kinds of impressions we can make on another person. While I’m a far cry from a neuropsychologist, I do know that first impressions leave some kind of irreplaceable imprint on the brain. Does that mean first impressions are fair? Perhaps not. But do they exist nonetheless? Absolutely. First impressions stick with most of us as we go about our daily routines. The brain is hardwired to make immediate assumptions about virtually everything our existential selves come in contact with. But where do such first impressions actually commence?

In the case of a guest staying at a guesthouse, my initial inclination was to contend that first impressions are initiated the moment said guest walks through the doors of the inn. But as the wheels of my brain started turning, I clevered up a bit. . . maybe it started the moment they pull into the driveway. However, upon reevaluation, I realized that wasn’t the case either. The first impression begins the moment a potential guest learns of your bed and breakfast. This can happen through word-of-mouth, online research, travel review, or advertisements. The trick is to ensure that this first impression leaves a positive impact, regardless of the source of information.

So, how might one go about ensuring such a feat? For starters: take matters into your own hands as often as possible.

A sturdy, solid, well-maintained, and sharply-designed website is one of your strongest allies. For the technophobes out there, do not fret. Although technology is constantly and consistently expanding, it’s actually becoming more and more user friendly in the process. Whereas in the olden days of website design a working knowledge of the complicated tenets of HTML and CSS was imperative in creating even the most simplistic webpage, nowadays nearly anybody is capable of creating a visually stunning, informative, and enticing website. With useful online tools like www.weebly.com and www.wordpress.com, your bed and breakfast can have a full-fledged useful website in minutes.

While technology is an important tool, you still can’t discount the value of a good-ol’-fashioned brochure. Designing a brochure may be a cinch for some, while others might view it as a tedious chore. If you fit into the latter category, don’t be afraid to enlist help. There are plenty of people out there who genuinely enjoy this type of thing and harbor natural talents for creativity and ingenuity. If you’re one of those types, great. If you aren’t, chances are you know somebody who is. Make certain before you submit the final brochure to the printer that you have read and reread the final draft for grammatical and syntax errors, low-quality or pixilated pictures, and anything else that could be potentially detrimental to the overall quality of the brochure.

Regardless of how you interact with guests before they arrive, remember to keep it courteous, professional, diplomatic, and not overbearing. Phone conversations should be cheerful and welcoming. Guests should hang up with an eagerness to see that the property matches the hospitality you exhibit over the phone with them. Should you miss a call from a guest, be sure to return it as promptly as reasonably possible. Some guests prefer emailing interaction. Respect that choice. Don’t inundate their email inbox with unnecessary emails, but do send them a friendly reminder email about their upcoming stay. Certain online reservation companies like www.reservationnexus.com do this for you, making your job that much easier with an auto notification email that is sent out about three days before the guests’ arrival. It typically includes other practical information about getting to the inn; as well as activities, dining, and shopping options available in the area.

Lastly, the moments leading up to a guest’s arrival are crucial because as soon as the guests arrive they will indubitably size up the property and sees if it matches the descriptions they’ve read about online and in brochures. Therefore, it’s absolutely imperative to make sure that this expectation is not only met but exceeded. Before the guest arrives, do a quick run-through to confirm everything is in its rightful place—the bedspreads are smoothed, the pillows fluffed, the air-conditioning going during the summer, the fireplace blissfully crackling during the winter, etc. If you really want to go all out, strategically plan to have a fresh batch of cookies baking in the oven to serenade the air with a sugary, homey aroma. Also, give yourself a spot of time to freshen up. You don’t want to meet the guests looking like an anxious, disheveled wreck.

No doubt there is much in life that is uncertain and uncontrollable. Consequently, it’s important to take advantage of the opportunities that are within your power and utilize them to your advantage. Follow these simple but potent tricks and your guests’ first impressions will definitely be for the better.