Iowa Bed & Breakfast Guild
9001 Hickman Road, Suite 220
Des Moines, Iowa, 50322, United States

Harvest Moon Innkeeping

  • Michelle

Harvest Moon Innkeeping -- An Interim Innkeeping Service for B&B Owners

“Caring for your business your way”

Michelle M. Bliss, Interim Innkeeper

700 5th Ave SW, Altoona IA 50009
Phone: 515.967.4103 (hm) 515.689.8915 (cell)
Member: IBBG Committee

I would like to introduce myself and my business to you. My name is Michelle Bliss and I have Harvest Moon Innkeeping – an Interim Innkeeping service.For those of you who are not familiar with me, or my business, I am happy to take this opportunity to give you a little background on both.
I am an Iowa girl, born and raised in Des Moines. Dirk and I have two grown children and a beautiful new grandson. My educational background is in the Health and Human Services field. I worked for many years with the Des Moines Public Schools as an Educational Interpreter for deaf and hearing impaired students.

When I left the school district I went to work for the Polk County Attorneys Restorative Justice Program and Polk County Victim Services. There I worked with victims of violent crime. After a few years I left the county and went to work for Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa. It was during this time that I became enamored with all things "Bed and Breakfast".

Dirk and I had gone on a little trip to the north shore of Minnesota and happened upon a beautiful B&B that looked out across Lake Superior. I was ready for my work in the world to take a less stressful path so when we left there fully relaxed; I started to think seriously about the Bed and Breakfast industry and did some research. We attended the PAII conference for aspiring innkeepers in Chicago and when we returned home I picked the brains of the Innkeepers at the Butler House and The Cottage. I then did an internship with The Cottage and ended up working there a little over two years. I gained a tremendous amount of knowledge and all kinds of experience. I do believe every Innkeeper could write a very entertaining book!

Initially I had entertained the idea of having our own B&B. Then I read an article in the PAII newsletter about Interim Innkeeping. I took a real interest in this much to Dirk’s relief. Since I had never had a B&B of my own it was important that I have the right training and credentials, including insurance. PAII offered an Interim Innkeeper certification program that I completed, then Dirk and I spent a week in Colorado in a very intense Interim Innkeeper training. I felt very confident and suited to this profession when we left there. To add to those feelings, on the drive home there was a harvest moon and that is how I arrived at the name.

Many of you have seen me at the IBBG or the IBBIA conferences marketing my business and some of you have used my services more than once! Good for you!

Being an Innkeeper is a demanding lifestyle and it is important for you to schedule time for yourselves away from the Inn, quality personal time. I know during quiet periods, many Innkeepers just close their doors to get away. As you are aware, the B&B market is very competitive – being unavailable, at any time is risky and potentially costly. Guests will understand if you are booked, but will take their current and possibly future business elsewhere if you are closed.

My services provide that continuity and protect the income stream for your B&B.I recently asked a few Innkeepers what value they realized in hiring an Interim Innkeeper. They ALL spoke of "peace of mind in knowing that things were being well cared for and the guest experience would not be compromised". Next were; "no loss in revenue and no loss in bookings". This is a big one. Innkeepers often think they cannot afford to hire an Interim Innkeeper, I would say sometimes you can’t afford not to! I spent the month of March working at a B&B in Galena, Illinois and booked over $6,500 in reservations for them. They were thrilled and I was too!

It is my goal to provide you with my professional services at a price that is mutually satisfying.The next time you need a break for whatever reason, consider calling me. I will spend some time talking with you about your B&B and learn what your specific needs are. If you decide you want to use me as your Interim Innkeeper I will come to you, at my expense, for a day of getting to know you and your B&B. I will leave you my Interim Innkeepers Manual, which is an in-depth questionnaire about your Inn, its mechanics and working operations. It is my "go to" book and comes in very handy.

Harvest Moon Innkeeping has been in business for 8 years now and I have loved every minute of it. I have worked for Innkeepers all across the state and in Illinois. I am very proud to work in this industry as a professional and serve the wonderful Innkeepers here in Iowa. It is all I hoped it would be and then some! I am very grateful to many of you who have mentored and supported me along the way.

I'd like to leave you with a testimony of my services from Annie Medrano of Annie’s Garden Guest House in Amana:  "What a pleasure it was to leave our home and guests in Michelle’s quite capable hands while we attended a wedding last fall. After meeting Michelle I knew that she was more than qualified to handle the business aspect and day to day running of our bed and breakfast. But further to find her professional and detailed attention to taking reservations, answering phone questions, fielding emails and resetting rooms for repeated guest turn over to be beyond my highest expectations and left us completely at ease. Our guests left the most glowing messages praising the delicious breakfasts and how much they had enjoyed Michelle’s friendly welcome. We had the extra treat of enjoying some samples of what Michelle had prepared for breakfast that morning: an apple strata which was absolutely delicious. I recommend Michelle very highly!"

The next time you need a break for WHATEVER reason, consider visiting with me. If you decide to use my services, I will come for a half day visit (at my expense) to get to know you and and your property. Now, no two B&B/Inns are the same and I prefer to quote rates based upon an evaluation of your needs and the size of your Inn. It is my goal to provide you with my professional services at a price that is mutually satisfying. I look forward to talking with you.