I struggled to write a Merry Christmas/Year-end blog post for weeks. And I didn’t write one. Then, I struggled to write a Happy New Year blog. And I didn’t write that one, either. However, although 2020 was a challenging year, Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast is still here and we’re moving forward as best we can. We are still in business!
Our lives changed in 2020, and some things will never be the same. Though I typically do have a joyful heart, I found myself sometimes feeling sad and let down in 2020. I suppose we all did. We have all been touched by the pandemic in some way, and I’m sorry for the losses so many have experienced. It has hit our own little world, and many have been hit much harder than we have. We still have our health. Some have faced serious illness and even the death of friends and family, and it’s been so hard to watch our friends and loved ones deal with such challenges.
We made changes in our operations to keep our guests, our staff and ourselves safe. As my friend said, “You look at your website and see a picture of beautiful flowers and then all of a sudden… BLAM! You’re hit in the face with your Coronavirus statement.” I don’t like it, but it’s a necessary statement that shows that we’re still in business.
We live daily with personal restrictions. Although I sometimes did not handle the restrictions as pleasantly as I could have, we’re wearing masks and keeping our distance, spending much more time at home than ever before. I’ve worked from home for my entire career, but the pandemic has definitely clipped my wings.
My heart misses travel, from short road trips to distance travel. My heart misses hosting our Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast guests. We missed seeing a lot of our regular guests in 2020, but we met some new ones, and that helped. It’s not all about the money with me. My heart is more focused on getting to know our guests and meeting their needs. I miss that. We are still in business and I believe that our guests will come back one day – hopefully soon.
I miss interacting with people on a regular basis. I love the people I see every day, but the pandemic really showed me how much I miss getting to know and visit with others. In late April, my buddy drove 45 minutes to deliver my birthday present(s) to my front porch. I caught her on the Ring doorbell and by the time I got out there, she and her husband were gone. I quickly called her and all but begged her to come back. “I’ll social distance! I’ll stay on the porch and you can stay in the front lawn! Just please come back!” I needed to see her face. Yes, we talk and text regularly, but I could not stand knowing she was that close and I could not see her. Thankfully, they came back and I was able to visit with them. From a distance, of course. Check out my birthday gifts. It’s the first time I was ever given toilet paper as a gift!
Thankfully, Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast is large enough to offer space for “social distancing,” so we are still in business. I sure don’t like encouraging our guests to be distant in any way, but… that’s just the way we currently roll. Although I never saw myself as a hugger, I sure do miss those end-of-visit hugs!
We lost a large number of reservations and experienced a significant loss of revenue in 2020. We eliminated COVID-related cancellation fees, so when reservations were cancelled, we lost the full amount of the reservation.
On the bright side, although our revenue was reduced by more than half, we still contributed more than $1100 in PJ’s, underwear and toiletries to children and youth entering foster care, through the generosity of our guests and friends. Although we were not making any money in 2020, we were still in the business of serving others!
We are planning for the future when people start traveling more. I was able to reduce my DCFS work hours in 2020, and finally, after probably three years, I spent time revising our “annual” marketing plan. We had to really limit our marketing dollars, but we kept our commitments to vendors we were obligated to and we were able to push forward with several upgrades. A beautiful new, more cost-effective website gave me the opportunity to express myself in creative ways as they guided me through the development process. Our friend photographer Justin Hurley spent many hours getting just the right shots for the new web site. Please take a few minutes and check it out!
In 2020 we were introduced to bloggers who were willing to help us share the Blessings experience in exchange for room nights. That’s a scam, right? Wrong! I’ve been approached in the past, and after doing some research had always declined, but the timing was right for giving it a chance. (We didn’t have paying guests, anyway!) Joanie and Jenni B. and Tom and Jeanette Simpson from Worthy Detours, have shared the Blessings experience beautifully in social media, blog posts, YouTube videos and photographs. What a blessing they have been to our business and to our community, letting people know we’re still here and that we are still in business.
My goal in 2021 is to really focus on the blessings – the simple gifts that are sometimes overlooked. There were many blessings in 2020, but many times I was more focused on the challenges. We still face pandemic-related challenges, but I look forward to what this new year holds! My prayer is that you will be open to recognize God’s blessings this year, too.
Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast is an award-winning all-suite inn located in Jacksonville, Illinois. We offer many amenities, including accommodations in a 130-year-old vintage mansion, Wi-Fi, expansive lawn and gardens, all-season fireplaces, and multi-course breakfasts. Come see us! Our reviews reflect that guest satisfaction is a high priority. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube to see how we’re moving forward in 2021. We are still in business!