Things that wasted your time or need to change

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Every year after the busy season has passed for most of us I ask this question -

In your day to day innkeeping: What things did you do that really did not benefit you, your guests or the business? What things will you consider doing differently in 2012?

This can be operational, personal, financial, etc

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Okay back on track here...This is a B&B, not a restaurant, the whole package idea is to have fresh flowers in their room and a romantic picnic in some romantic place in these mountains or near a lake, river or waterfall etc. It is NOT to sell lunches.

We DO deliver breakfast to the room, we have been for a few years now. People people this thread is about what was a time waster for you and didn't work or things you will do differently, I was sharing my package that didn't sell BECAUSE it required two nights and people mostly book packages for one night, here.  Smiling Please stop trying to FIX this.  

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 sorry

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Joey Bloggs wrote:

Please stop trying to FIX this.  

Many of us can add "trying to help JB when she doesn't want help" to one of the time wasters this year in need of change!   It ends up wasting both her time and ours.

I learned my lesson on this one, finally, a few weeks ago, but it's comforting to me to see others also forget and offer unwanted suggestions occasionally.

On the other hand, the suggestions offered were good ones and possibly useful to others reading the thread, so I say no real harm done.

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Another thing that needs changing is my attitude. It did not serve me well this year. Need to look at that over the winter and see how I can help myself keep a happy face on more often than I do.

Looking at dumping some packages that don't sell. Adding some that will earn us more money for things we do for free right now. Tired of being taken advantage of. Which might have something to do with the attitude problem.

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One biggie that wasted a lot of our time this year was the WiFi network. About 80% of our guests said they couldn't connect to it. We have spent probably 40 hours or more and several hundred dollars trying to fix it. In the latest round of 'fixes' we finally called our DSL provider and complained that our bandwidth was being artificially limited, that we could get 3 computers connected but as soon as the 4th one hit, bam, everyone was knocked off.

The tech support guy told us we needed to up the service to double what we have now even though we told him we've already done that twice this year to no avail. He said that was the only option. We called sales and the salesman told us we couldn't upgrade, this area doesn't support that level of speed. However, he said, he lives in a house full of geeks and they run on the same internet pakcage we have with no problems, so we should try this and he gave us a list of things to do. (Interesting that sales knew more about the problem than service did, but we take our help where we can get it.)

Another trip to the WiFi hardware store, another 2-3 hours spent setting up a whole new router and we'll see how things go when we're full again and everyone has their electronics on.

If it wasn't an absolute requirement, I'd dump WiFi for guests altogether. It's not worth the grief we've gotten.

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 What brand of router are you using?

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We were charging a weekday rate and a weekend rate. Plus on weekends once a month, there is a popular flea market nearby that opens on Thur - Sun, so we were charging the weekend rate on those certain weekdays. Is that clear as mud to you?  ;) Anyway, we decided to raise our weekday rate to the same as weekend. Now we charge the same rate everyday and that has made things easier for us.

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Mtatoc wrote:

We were charging a weekday rate and a weekend rate. Plus on weekends once a month, there is a popular flea market nearby that opens on Thur - Sun, so we were charging the weekend rate on those certain weekdays. Is that clear as mud to you?  ;) Anyway, we decided to raise our weekday rate to the same as weekend. Now we charge the same rate everyday and that has made things easier for us.

Hear hear! I get lost when I go to a website and have to go through the obstacle course of room rates. When I see that, I think "No wonder people just call" if I can't work it out and i do this every day... Just tell me how much it is per night, thank you very much.  Now for packages etc, it is another animal.

BY THE WAY, that was what tanked this year for me, so I am rethinking it. In a nutshell, I offered this fantastic picnic package, but...it was for a two night stay only because I wanted my hamper back, well no one booked it, at all, this entire year.  I have discovered those who splurge on a "package" will only stay one night - anniversaries and bdays mostly.  So what will I do? I am thinking IF I can buy these picnic hampers at walmart next year I will include them into the package. They sat there all summer long this year, not in years past, so not sure if they will be there next spring, summer and fall.

Now for me, this is the thing - I don't want to pre-purchase a bunch of them, I HAVE NO PLACE TO SToRE THEM, I really don't, not in the least. But for all the marketing on it no one wanted it for two nights. dang it.

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Joey Bloggs wrote:

BY THE WAY, that was what tanked this year for me, so I am rethinking it. In a nutshell, I offered this fantastic picnic package, but...it was for a two night stay only because I wanted my hamper back, well no one booked it, at all, this entire year.  I have discovered those who splurge on a "package" will only stay one night - anniversaries and bdays mostly.  So what will I do? I am thinking IF I can buy these picnic hampers at walmart next year I will include them into the package. They sat there all summer long this year, not in years past, so not sure if they will be there next spring, summer and fall.

Now for me, this is the thing - I don't want to pre-purchase a bunch of them, I HAVE NO PLACE TO SToRE THEM, I really don't, not in the least. But for all the marketing on it no one wanted it for two nights. dang it.

JB, I pack my lunches in insulated bags the size of a brown bag lunch with a carry handle. I get them from the Sheltered Workshop for $5.50 printed with my logo and contact info. Each guest gets a bag and then they DO take them to work with their lunch (I have had feedback that they do).  put a bottle of cold water, a sandwich, cuke spears & baby carots, a small container of Pringles (because it is a "hard-shell"), 3 mini-muffins from that morning, and napkins. I also include a .5 oz bottle of waterless hand cleaner in one of the 2 bags. That small amenity gets a LOT of thanks. I think it cost me about $60 for 90 of them. When I give them their lunches, I tell them the bags are theirs as a gift of the Gillum House. of course, I have built the cost of the bags into the package price.

Since my packed lunch packages are either bike, motorcycle, or horse, the fact they are brown bag size and with a handle makes them OK. A hamper would be too big to deal with.

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 Thanks for the info K, not interested in a packed lunch. It is a romantic picnic for two.

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the bag is cool (ha small pun) but as well as being an excellent "free" gift it takes your marketing with it everywhere it goes! ie back to the office when they get home.

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Joey Bloggs wrote:
Now for me, this is the thing - I don't want to pre-purchase a bunch of them, I HAVE NO PLACE TO SToRE THEM, I really don't, not in the least. But for all the marketing on it no one wanted it for two nights. dang it.

Thermal totes, maybe - like this?  You can probably get them personalized if you want.  I have one that I got for free from a grocery store and I love it.

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Those are neat totes! I could see having those for a picnic. And the guest can reuse it when they get home.

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 Joey, maybe think of something other than a picnic basket. Like a nice large gift bag, nice paper plates, etc.  Stuff that you don't expect back. I don't know exactly but you get the idea.

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Mtatoc wrote:

 Joey, maybe think of something other than a picnic basket. Like a nice large gift bag, nice paper plates, etc.  Stuff that you don't expect back. I don't know exactly but you get the idea.

But the point is NO ONE BOOKED the package.  I don't want to give them something that is not a picnic basket. That is what it is all about. If they want to pack a lunch they can get one at subway.  

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 If no one booked the romantic picnic, then maybe change it to a packed lunch to go and see if they'll book that.  If that doesn't sell, then forget the whole concept. Come up with another deal, like a romantic breakfast delivered to your room. 

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Joey Bloggs wrote:

But the point is NO ONE BOOKED the package.  I don't want to give them something that is not a picnic basket. That is what it is all about. If they want to pack a lunch they can get one at subway.  

If you are set on the picnic basket then you're stuck with figuring out how to get someone to book 2 nights. Do you do the picnic basket as an add on or a package deal? I think you're limiting yourself by making the artificial requirement that it be the picnic basket and not something else. My guess is some guests would really like to have a picnic lunch to stop where they want and not to have to bring everything back with them.

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That is why this forum is a great sounding board. Sometimes you can't see the chaos on the other end of this connection when someone posts something. Smiling  Some only come here when they have terrible issues to deal with, we accomodate that to, but wish they would stop in when things are running smoothly as well and share themselves, their inns and their experiences.

In other words, give us more than the crappy stuff. 

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The sheets menu came from this sounding board. It is one of those things that did not cost a lot to offer and if it does not work out, no biggie. The Penny Pincher is just up the street.

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Odd one here- I used to serve juice individually. After Alibi's 'how do you serve juice' survey earlier, I bought those pitchers that Eric mentioned. Haven't looked back. Guests help themselves, I don't throw any full glasses of juice out any longer (guests taste the juice before pouring a full glass) and I've cut back dramatically on the amount of juice we buy. Guests take less juice than I was pouring for them.

I might get another pitcher for the summer to put out iced tea at breakfast. 

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Madeleine wrote:

Odd one here- I used to serve juice individually. After Alibi's 'how do you serve juice' survey earlier, I bought those pitchers that Eric mentioned. Haven't looked back. Guests help themselves, I don't throw any full glasses of juice out any longer (guests taste the juice before pouring a full glass) and I've cut back dramatically on the amount of juice we buy. Guests take less juice than I was pouring for them.

I might get another pitcher for the summer to put out iced tea at breakfast. 

But...you also have them sitting off to the side, not ON THE TABLE. So pour it and sit down, or get up and get it and sit down, right? So for a communal table having it on the table within grasp might be the opposite effect. That is a good time and cost savings, plus someone can grab a glass prior to breakfast, right? When they get their coffee? 

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Right next to the coffee & tea. So it is a matter of get it, sit down, get more if you want. Only a couple of people have taken a 16 oz water glass and filled it with juice.

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Madeleine wrote:

Right next to the coffee & tea. So it is a matter of get it, sit down, get more if you want. Only a couple of people have taken a 16 oz water glass and filled it with juice.

So, don't put out 16 oz water glasses! Put out wine glasses, they can use them for water or for juice.

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Eric Arthur Blair wrote:

Madeleine wrote:

Right next to the coffee & tea. So it is a matter of get it, sit down, get more if you want. Only a couple of people have taken a 16 oz water glass and filled it with juice.

So, don't put out 16 oz water glasses! Put out wine glasses, they can use them for water or for juice.

I don't put out 16 oz water glasses for juice, I put out 7 oz juice glasses right next to the pitchers. However, there is always a selection of glasses, mugs, wine glasses available to the guests and if they show up with one of those in hand, I'm not going to stop them.

I would be shot if I put wine glasses out for juice and water. They take up too much room the dishwahser and usually end up causing a second load to be run when guests use them at night.

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We were using Martini glasses for certain items... we went stemless to save space.

The restaurant supply place has the glasses for verrines, which has saved us quite a bit of space in the dishwasher. All stemless and sold by the number of cl that fit in the glass. Made serving yogurt and such so much easier. 

But we still use wine glasses for juice or water.

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If they were things that were of no benefit to us, our guests, or our business,  then we eliminated those things as we discovered them.   It's can be costly to wait.  Is there something magical about waiting until the new year to change?

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Proud Texan wrote:

If they were things that were of no benefit to us, our guests, or our business,  then we eliminated those things as we discovered them.   It's can be costly to wait.  Is there something magical about waiting until the new year to change?

Sometimes we have to wait until the season is over in order to have time to implement changes. Although we needed to start taking deposits at time of booking, trying to do that mid-season is a nightmare. So, it happened last week. Well after the season is over and well before reservations for next season kick into high gear. Easing into something allows it to be tweaked when there aren't a million other things going on.

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Madeleine wrote:

Proud Texan wrote:

If they were things that were of no benefit to us, our guests, or our business,  then we eliminated those things as we discovered them.   It's can be costly to wait.  Is there something magical about waiting until the new year to change?

Sometimes we have to wait until the season is over in order to have time to implement changes. Although we needed to start taking deposits at time of booking, trying to do that mid-season is a nightmare. So, it happened last week. Well after the season is over and well before reservations for next season kick into high gear. Easing into something allows it to be tweaked when there aren't a million other things going on.

We don't really have seasons,  but then again, we mostly only have guests on the weekends.   So, I shouldn't be such a grump.  I can't imagine the hectic situations that most of you experience.   I don't have the constitution for it.  We have the luxury of idle time to think and rethink things.

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Proud Texan wrote:

Madeleine wrote:

Proud Texan wrote:

If they were things that were of no benefit to us, our guests, or our business,  then we eliminated those things as we discovered them.   It's can be costly to wait.  Is there something magical about waiting until the new year to change?

Sometimes we have to wait until the season is over in order to have time to implement changes. Although we needed to start taking deposits at time of booking, trying to do that mid-season is a nightmare. So, it happened last week. Well after the season is over and well before reservations for next season kick into high gear. Easing into something allows it to be tweaked when there aren't a million other things going on.

We don't really have seasons,  but then again, we mostly only have guests on the weekends.   So, I shouldn't be such a grump.  I can't imagine the hectic situations that most of you experience.   I don't have the constitution for it.  We have the luxury of idle time to think and rethink things.

See, that is why we need to wait- too busy. No time to think about ramifications in season; we spend most of our time reacting. NOT a good situation. But, sometimes, not being able to think a thing over too much allows us to make a snap decision that we would have arrived at anyway but without the hassle!

 

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Proud Texan wrote:

If they were things that were of no benefit to us, our guests, or our business,  then we eliminated those things as we discovered them.   It's can be costly to wait.  Is there something magical about waiting until the new year to change?

This is a rehash, as RHJ stated something they did/changed. 

This is also a time to rethink how you did something, for example if you are caught up, this meaning very busy in day to day operations you may not have realized something that was more waste than benefit. So yes, this is a good time to do it. Some innkeepers are "busier than a one armed paperhanger" and therefore when it slows down they can re-evaluate things. They can look at the figures too and see what changes can or should occur.

Another might be your thinking of changing online reservation systems for the next year. Year end stuff in the office and elsewhere...

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 Well, we already did one. Went from four rooms to three. We never once rented out all four at the same time, although the two cheaper rooms had equal bookings. We rethought the furniture and layouts, rearranged, and now we have an office (a real space to do paper/computer work in, instead of perching at a table or in the bedroom...).

If it doesn't work, we can always go back (we didn't sell off the beds, just moved them). But we might as well make better use of the same space.

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