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Innkeepers group encourages Connellsville to put out welcome mats for B&Bs

Emma Strong (left) and Lucy King were two of the Connellsville representatives who attended the recent Innkeepers Trade Show and Conference.

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Friday, March 29, 2013, 6:00 p.m.

There is a future for bed-and-breakfast establishments in Connellsville.

Several officials represented the city recently at the Mid-Atlantic Innkeepers Trade Show and Conference held in Maryland. They returned with positive outlooks for the future of bed-and-breakfasts in the city.

Connellsville City Councilman Brad Geyer attended the event for two of the three days. He said he was surprised at the number of innkeepers who attended.

“I came in assuming I would be speaking to them but quickly found out that the people we really need to get in touch with are consultants. I was unaware of the network of innkeeper consultants that I feel will be more beneficial to the city,” he said.

“This group of people are who you talk to if you want to open a bed-and-breakfast. A consultant will tell you what you need to do,” Geyer said. “I think we need to be on their radar so when someone comes to them and says they want to open a B&B, they will say Connellsville is prime, go there.”

Geyer said he was able to secure contact information and was able to open dialogue with many of the representatives, who will be invited to visit Connellsville.

“I expected to be talking to people that were ready to open a B&B, and there were some people like that,” he said. “I talked to one or two, but if you get to talk to the consultants then they talk to 10 people.”

Geyer said networking was the most beneficial aspect of the trade show.

“We represented Connellsville in a good light, and we have to keep doing that. It was a valuable experience,” the councilman said.

Emma Strong of the Allegheny Trial Alliance, which was representing Connellsville, said the conference was a success.

“We met many aspiring innkeepers who were impressed with what Connellsville and the surrounding Laurel Highlands has to offer. We met quite a few people that were from Southwestern Pennsylvania, as well as folks that were from or had family in the Connellsville/Uniontown area,” she said. “It was fun to tell them about all of the new things that Connellsville has to offer since they were there last. In addition, we met some inn consultants that had some really great advice about how to promote Connellsville better, as well as how to easily show people what great activities are available in our area.”

Lucy King, owner of Connellsville Bed & Breakfast in the West Side, also attended.

She said the Pennsylvania Association of Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers will write a blog about Connellsville's creative way to attract lodging.

“We may have two potential B&B owners,” said King. “Also, an inn broker asked us many questions as to why Connellsville would be a good location to locate. He was very satisfied with our answers, and hopefully he will send people our way.”

“It was great to have Lucy and Brad there,” said Strong. “Having a B&B owner at the conference advertising for more B&Bs was truly a testament to our great demand for lodging. Also, people were impressed that a city councilman traveled 3.5 hours to attend the conference advertising for Connellsville. Some innkeepers we met lamented about struggling with local government and various inhibiting ordinances. We were happy to report to them that our local government is supportive of our efforts to attract lodging to our city as well as general business development in Connellsville.”

Nancy Henry is a freelance writer.

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