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What Is an Innkeeper?

An innkeeper oversees the running of an inn.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 23 September 2014
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An innkeeper is a hospitality professional who runs an inn, an establishment which provides lodging, food, and drink. Innkeepers can be found working all over the world in a variety of settings, from luxury bed and breakfast inns in popular vacation spots to specialty inns which offer features like pet-friendly lodging, historical reenactments, or themed lodging. Working as an innkeeper can be very challenging, with this kind of work being ideal for people who can think on their feet and get along with everyone.

Historically, innkeepers owned their establishments, and they lived on the premises. This is still the case with some innkeepers, but in other cases innkeepers may live off site, and they may or may not own the inn. The advantage of an on-site innkeeper is that services are always available to guests immediately, in contrast with an off-site staffer who must be summoned in the event of a problem. Owners of small inns often choose to run their own establishments because this is cost effective, and because they enjoy the experience.

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The duties of an innkeeper vary, depending on the establishment. In a small inn, the innkeeper may cook, clean, and do everything for the guests. In larger inns, a housekeeping staff may be used for cleaning services, with the innkeeper focusing on taking reservations, helping guests organize activities, and welcoming guests; in some cases, the innkeeper is simply a regular staff member, rather than a manager or head of the inn. In lieu of an innkeeper, a cooking staff may do anything from providing casual breakfast foods to cooking luxury dinners and providing picnic baskets and other food-related services.

In addition to handling the reservations system at an inn, innkeepers are also typically responsible for guest relations. They greet guests when they arrive and help them settle in, and they provide information about the local area which may be beneficial for guests. Guests may make arrangements for various activities before they arrive through an innkeeper, ranging from planning a wedding to purchasing tickets to the museum, and innkeepers also deal with special needs, like guests who may need medical attention during their stay, or guests who want childcare services so that they can enjoy a night on the town.

Innkeepers receive varying levels of education. Some have degrees in hospitality or hotel management, especially if they are acting as the heads of large inn staffs, while others may simply hold high school diplomas, concerning themselves with guest relations and leaving management tasks to an inn manager. People can find innkeeping jobs by looking at local listings in newspapers, and through listings published by professional organizations of innkeepers, which may be available to members only.

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