Since 1846, Washington House Inn has been welcoming guests to Cedarburg, Wisconsin. Over the course of its 175 year history, the inn has seen its share of facelifts and ownership changes. But for the past 37 years, the beautiful Cream City brick building has been in the careful hands of Innkeeper Wendy Porterfield. During her tenure, Washington House Inn has doubled in size and become an internationally recognized, award-winning destination. Innkeeping is an age-old profession, but the digital era would bring new challenges and opportunities. That’s where Mailchimp partner Allison Crumpton came in. White Stone Marketing, a Nevada-headquartered marketing and website design agency—that Allison co-founded with husband Scott Crumpton 27 years ago—specializes in promoting boutique inns and hotels. It was the perfect firm to champion Washington House Inn’s digital evolution.
What prompted you to hire White Stone Marketing?
Wendy: We have 34 rooms, which can mean we’re dealing with up to 1,054 room rentals in a month. As an innkeeper, I have to be a jack of all trades. On top of managing all the front of house duties (as well as 26 staff), I also handle all the repair and maintenance—our buildings are from the 1800s, so there’s a lot of upkeep. It’s a consuming occupation, but one I love. Taking care of our guests is my favourite part of the job. My least favourite? Handling all the marketing.
Washington House Inn predates Google (by more than a few decades!), how has adapting to the digital age gone?
Wendy: I'm a paper and pencil kind of person, but that's not how you do business any longer. 37 years ago, it was a different world. So, for a while there, I was just running after the train all the time. No matter which direction I was going in, I was behind. So, White Stone taking over our marketing was a huge load off my shoulders.
Prior to hiring White Stone Marketing, what was your online presence like
Wendy: Our first website was pretty clunky. We convinced one of our more digitally savvy employees—a biology major with no web design experience—to make it. It was basically an online business card. We knew it needed improvement, but when you get busy, well, you don’t look at your own website.