Hotel Online  Special Report


  Historic Inns Embrace the Superior Small Lodging Brand
ST. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA (October 27) - The historic inns and bed and breakfasts in the nation’s oldest city no longer find it sufficient to market themselves as charming, owner-operated accommodations.  In an increasingly competitive industry, these unique properties are even challenged when marketed as warm-weather havens.  Where do they turn?  The good news for one group - The St. Augustine Historic Inns Association (SAHI - pronounced “say hi”) is that their historic inns and bed and breakfasts have found a way to strengthen their marketing efforts by adopting the quality standards of a national association, which assures guests of a quality stay.  By affiliating with a unique quality brand, Superior Small Lodging (SSL), SAHI offers the benefits of historic luxury matched with contemporary quality standards.

“Our brand identity is boosted by the Superior Small Lodging (SSL) program and is a testament of our commitment to our guests.  SAHI had to align itself with a reliable quality designation, and that was SSL”, says Russell Thomas, Past President of SAHI and its current Chair of Strategic Planning.  “The biggest mistake you can make is to become too cavalier or assume that guests will instinctively know how good you are”, says Thomas.  "If nothing else, the utter passion SAHI holds for quality standards says we understand guests’ needs.”

Quality standards have long been a concern for SSL.  Its designation is a mark of quality among small lodgings; its program highlights standards as being fundamental to the guest experience for two reasons.  First, guests are becoming increasingly discerning and seek excellent value for their money.  Second, quality standards, both physical and operational, are increasingly becoming baseline measures rather than benchmarks for the small lodging sector. 

”Certainly, building a quality brand is key in today’s hospitality industry”, says Catherine Arthur, Executive Director of SSL.  “We’re pleased that SAHI is using the SSL designation program to drive their own quality branding and, indeed, their sales”, says Arthur.  “The industry is coming to grips with the fact that quality branding is successful in driving sales dollars; that’s the bottom-line.” 

“The winners during these precarious times appear to be small lodgings that can enrich the guest experience through quality measures. SSL provides that platform for SAHI.  The primary market orientation of historic inns and bed and breakfasts is leisure travelers, who seek quality, private, R&R locations and lodgings.  And that’s what SAHI is about”, says Joe Finnegan, a SAHI member.

“This is all quite refreshing”, says Professor Donal A. Dermody, President of SSL, “because the focus on quality mirrors the expectations that our guests have of the industry.  It’s all about quality experiences as a return for dollars spent. Visitors today demand this return – and they should!”

While the encouragement of SAHI’s independent operators for the SSL program is seen as a means of distinguishing their inns and bed and breakfasts, it is also recognized that the SSL program began with Fort Lauderdale small hotels in the late 1980s.  “The goal has always been to increase standards within the small lodging sector.  The SAHI initiative points to the development of an overarching SSL brand as codes of standards among quality small lodgings – any type, anywhere,” says Dermody.

About SSLA

SSLA is guardian of its Superior Small Lodging brand. The association develops, owns, and manages its brand designation in over 30 destinations throughout North America.   Its portfolio of lodgings with 50 rooms and less currently includes small hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts, and cabins.  It represents over 10,000 hotel rooms in ten states.

About SAHI

Based in St. Augustine, Florida, SAHI was founded in 1992 by owners of B&Bs and historic inns dedicated to high standards of hospitality.  All SAHI members have successfully completed a voluntary review program that recognizes standards of quality in the area of cleanliness, safety, guest comfort and host professionalism and integrity.   The inns may be visited through the SAHI website:

Catherine Arthur
Superior Small Lodging
Also See: Superior Small Lodging LINK’s to Guest Loyalty Program / August 2003

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