The Official World of Asheville Bed and Breakfasts
If you've ever searched for a bed and breakfast on the internet, you've probably come across a variety of websites of bed and breakfast organizations, and may not exactly understand what each one is. I'll try and explain it here.
Bedandbreakfast.com is the 800-pound gorilla in the B&B community. Besides having the country's most popular B&B directory (listings aren't cheap), this for-profit company also provides many B&Bs (including Hill House) with their internet booking and rooms accounting services and acts as our liasion to national booking sites, such as Expedia and Travelocity. Also, if you've ever rented a home or a condo, chances are it's been through bedandbreakfast.com's affiliate companies, HomeAway and VRBO.
The most important national association is the nonprofit Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII). It's very inexpensive to join, but its role is limited to largely offering educational resources, sponsoring national and regional conferences, and lobbying the federal government and national media on our behalf. North Carolina Bed and Breakfast Inns (NCBBI), also nonprofit, does much the same on a state level and additionally provides members with an inspection/certification and sells gift certificates. However, with no paid staff, its activities are even more limited than the national organization.
In Asheville, bed and breakfast warfare could put the nastiest of college sororities to shame. The founding members of the Asheville Bed and Breakfast Association (ABBA) were overthrown in a coup d'etat a few years ago, and left and formed their own association, Legendary Inns of Asheville. The biggest difference between the two groups is that although both are simply marketing alliances, ABBA pretends that its a legitimate trade association (like PAII or NCBBI) in order to restrict competition, while Legendary Inns doesn't.
Bill and Terry Erickson, the wonderful previous owners of Hill House didn't belong to either organization, telling me that they just preferred to steer clear of the vicious local politics. After I bought Hill House, I sought to join ABBA, as I had PAII and NCBBI, with whom I had each just filled out an application and written a check. ABBA, however, felt I first had to go through something like fraternity/sorority rush. On one visit, ABBA's membership chairperson, sat on the Hill House porch me, and one of our national/cultural windsocks was blowing in her face. She could have moved her chair 6 inches. But, she didn't. After a few months, ABBA denied Hill House membership without a reason, saying (just like a fraternity or sorority would) that the vote was secret.
One long time Asheville B&B advisor says that a couple of old, second-rate inns with declining business have gained influence in the organization and blackball any possible new city member who would threaten what business they have left. Welcome to Peyton Place, ahem, the world of Asheville bed and breakfasts.
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