Several weeks ago, Susan Curtiss from Simple Haven Bed and Breakfast in Wilson KS contacted me about being a vendor at the Annual Kansas Bed and Breakfast Association Conference. It's been really busy, and I keep telling myself I need to learn to say "no" sometimes. On the other hand, my journey with Artisan Soaps has been amazing, and enjoyable, and I had to say, "yes."
So this morning, I got up early enough to enjoy one of those Kansas sunrises on my way to the new Sundstrom Conference Center in Lindsborg KS. Driving across Kansas was a perfect preface for this conference. After all, Bed and Breakfast owners work at being 'Masters of Hospitality' for many of our Kansas travelers.
Holly Lofton, Director of the Lindsborg Convention and Visitor's Bureau, and other Ad Hoc community members talked about branding, and specifically, what they have done to brand and reinvigorate the Lindsborg community. Their success is obvious; Lindsborg is a quaint town with lots of character, culture, art, and more. Ad hoc members talked about how they chose to make a commitment to not look backwards anymore, but to focus on moving forward. To keep themselves on target, everyone was given a yellow card which they were empowered to hold up whenever anyone started looking backwards, rather than forwards. Fortunately, the yellow cards are rarely used. The idea of refusing to look backwards towards the way things use to be, and instead, choosing to turn a page and move forward into a new future, may be a helpful orientation for other rural communities who struggle with a history of diminishing populations and resources.
I was also grateful to meet Marci Penner, Executive Director for the Kansas Sampler Foundation, and a well-known advocate for rural Kansas. Marci provided Bed and Breakfast owners with some wonderful feedback that she received from 60 people about the good and bad aspects of their bed and breakfast experiences. The challenge is that a bad experience at one Bed and Breakfast reflects badly on the whole Bed and Breakfast Industry. The same could be said for the Handcrafted Soap Industry, and so many other industries as well. Whether we are business owners in the same industry, or business owners in the same community, we really depend on one another for our mutual success.