What would you do?

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Silverspoon's picture
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 It never ceases to amaze me that former guests assume we will be happy to refer them to another accommodation, even though we can accommodate them ourselves.  We just received this e-mail from some former guests from the UK.  What would you do?  By the time they pay for linen rental, cleaning fees etc. they will be paying almost the same amount they would for our ocean-view cottage....but they will be completely on their own.  This is exactly the type of guest who will appear at our door at 10:30am one summer morning looking for advice from us about what to do for the day since they are staying on their own in a bare bones rental and have no idea how to manage.   Here is their e-mail to us:

"Hello, We stayed in your wonderful b and b several years ago and would love to spend a few days there again sometime this summer (It looks like we will be able to be there in early August).But we would also like to stay longer--perhaps for a week or even two weeks.  I wondered if you would be so kind as to advice us about a possible holiday cottage.  We saw one listed in your town--a little house. We would love to rent your cottage--we adored your place and your hospitality, but sadly cannot afford it this year although I hope we can have a day or two with you before we begin our stay. We think we can pay about 1600 per week. Do you happen to know of a small cottage close to the sea that is well appointed..the little one we found looked good, but I can't tell if that is a good place to be, but I thought you might know. We want to have a simple holiday with long walks on the beach, and lots fo swimming and lobster!

Thank you so much for any help or advice you can give!"

 

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Silverspoon's picture
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OK,  so I sent them a reply that was a modified version of Paradise's suggestion.  I am not keen on having them stay again since my notes from their last visit mention that they were high maintenance: Insisted on having a fire in the fireplace inspite of the temps outside being too warm to give a good "draw". She simply would not take no for an answer. I had just cleaned the ashes out and put all the fireplace stuff away for the season but accommodated her and gave it try to no avail. Then she asked for a special tea (We offer about a dozen varieties on the tea cart but apparently not the one she wanted.) Then she asked if we would do some laundry for them.  (No, sorry.) and of course there was the PITA request for a late check out.  (Can't do that, sorry.)

So if we never see them again I will not mind.  Thanks for all your support and suggestions!

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Silverspoon wrote:

OK,  so I sent them a reply that was a modified version of Paradise's suggestion.  I am not keen on having them stay again since my notes from their last visit mention that they were high maintenance: Insisted on having a fire in the fireplace inspite of the temps outside being too warm to give a good "draw". She simply would not take no for an answer. I had just cleaned the ashes out and put all the fireplace stuff away for the season but accommodated her and gave it try to no avail. Then she asked for a special tea (We offer about a dozen varieties on the tea cart but apparently not the one she wanted.) Then she asked if we would do some laundry for them.  (No, sorry.) and of course there was the PITA request for a late check out.  (Can't do that, sorry.)

So if we never see them again I will not mind.  Thanks for all your support and suggestions!

EEek send them on their way!!!!  No need for pitas during your high season!

Riki

 

RIki

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egoodell's picture
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 Oh I did not realize it was your high season! I wouldn't give any discounts then either! 

RIki

Silverspoon's picture
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 Thank you all for your thoughtful comments and opinions.  They all have merit but the only one that resonates with me is JB's. Call me a bitc* but it seems to me like they can afford to fly to the USA, rent a car, spend over $3500 for 2 weeks in lodging plus buy food, but they can only stay with us for a day or two? boo hoo (We have a 3-night minimum in our suites and a 7-night minimum in the cottage so I would not take a night or two reservation during high season in August anyway.)  No way am I going to spend any time making referrals for these people.  We are generally full all summer and really do not need to bend over backwards for someone who will most likely never return. We DO regularly make referrals to other local B+B's during any periods when we are full.  That is a different thing all together. I think I will just respond sweetly, hoping that they can manage a stay with us another time and send them to the local Chamber of Commerce.

This e-mail reminds me of a call I had around Thanksgiving from a foreign couple inquiring NOT for lodging but they wondered if we could recommend a nice place to eat.  WHAT?  GIVE ME A BREAK!  Well, they got me at a week moment and I sent them away with a few numbers to call.  But really.....don't you think some people just push too far?

Joey Camb's picture
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As a Brit I think this is a ruddy cheek! I would only ask for a recommendation if you were full for the dates we wanted ie i had enquired, you said sorry we are full etc its like a friend of mine we have a very busy conference in july its a 5 night minimum and this guy who had stayed before wanted to book 2 nights ie cut down she said sorry its 5 night mimimum and he went bezerk saying she should take him and all that (yes and block a 5 night run I don't think so) I said she should have said "if I asked you to take $700 out of your pocket and give it to me would you? no? then why are you asking me to do the same?.

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 and of course, you realize they are not going to stay with you again, right? They only "said that" they have no intention, as they stated they want a rental. They might try to pacify you with this and justify it to themselves by -- stopping in to say hello and thanks for the recommendation.  Just what you don't want. 

Wait, we don't do this for the fun? I almost forgot.  ha ha

(Back to the thing I say all the time, when you rent a room at this inn, you do not RENT ME. For some reason there is a line where people assume that the innkeeper is "theirs" once you swipe their credit card. I know that sounds creepy, and it is! We all have this creepy feeling now and again...and we have to say "you can't afford me!" and smile about it.  As nice and accomodating as we are - yes we are OFF the forum - this does mean you get the song dance and magic tricks because you stayed here for a night or two.)

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Joey Bloggs wrote:

 and of course, you realize they are not going to stay with you again, right? They only "said that" they have no intention, as they stated they want a rental. They might try to pacify you with this and justify it to themselves by -- stopping in to say hello and thanks for the recommendation.  Just what you don't want. 

Wait, we don't do this for the fun? I almost forgot.  ha ha

(Back to the thing I say all the time, when you rent a room at this inn, you do not RENT ME. For some reason there is a line where people assume that the innkeeper is "theirs" once you swipe their credit card. I know that sounds creepy, and it is! We all have this creepy feeling now and again...and we have to say "you can't afford me!" and smile about it.  As nice and accomodating as we are - yes we are OFF the forum - this does mean you get the song dance and magic tricks because you stayed here for a night or two.)

You can't afford me OR my family!!!  - that one for the gun packing turd that called my son the 'man servant'!    I'll never get over that, nor will I let our son forget it either

 

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 I am not their friend & if they are not staying with me, nor am I their personal travel agent..having said that "off record," here is what I'd reply:

"Thank you for your interest in the XYZ Inn We actually do have availability for your dates & would be pleased to accomodate you in our XYZ cottage at XYZ per night. Please keep in mind that this rate includes X, Y, Z, & .... & of course you have built-in concierge service as we are an owner-occupied property & thus are here to be sure that you make the most of your valuable vacation time while staying with us.

Our registered guests, keep us so busy that, unfortunately, we aren't able to keep up with the current pricing/amenities of other properties.

We hope to have the opportunity to welcome you back soon!

Best,

ZYX..your name"

Silverspoon's picture
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Paradise wrote:

 I am not their friend & if they are not staying with me, nor am I their personal travel agent..having said that "off record," here is what I'd reply:

"Thank you for your interest in the XYZ Inn We actually do have availability for your dates & would be pleased to accomodate you in our XYZ cottage at XYZ per night. Please keep in mind that this rate includes X, Y, Z, & .... & of course you have built-in concierge service as we are an owner-occupied property & thus are here to be sure that you make the most of your valuable vacation time while staying with us.

Our registered guests, keep us so busy that, unfortunately, we aren't able to keep up with the current pricing/amenities of other properties.

We hope to have the opportunity to welcome you back soon!

Best,

ZYX..your name"

Oh I missed this one!  Great response Paradise.  Do you mind if I take it verbatim?

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 Please do Smiling

I've answered this way so that althought I KNOW they have said they are looking for a recommendation elsewhere, if I have space, I'm basically telling them they can stay here or stuff it (much more nicely).

We also get folks (someone else mentioned) who call about restaurants, ferry service, taxis, etc. I also now ask, "Oh (surprised voice) do you have a reservation with us?" "No, oh, then let me check our availability for you (innocently)-which dates would you be interested in?" (yes, I haven't even addressed thier dumb question which has nothing to do with my business) At which point, if they say, "Oh, we aren't staying & don't intend to" I say, (VERY sweetly) "Oh?! I'm SO sorry.. well, I would love to help, however as our guests keep us busy 24/7 (innocent, little laugh here) we really can only accommodate concierge service for folks who are staying with us. Please do give us a call back if you'd like to check our openings in the future as we'd love to have you as our guests! Have a great day!"

Killing them with kindness... 

Madeleine's picture
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We get calls about the oddest things. When I ask why they called us they say they did a search on 'wildlife parks' and ours was the only phone number that came up! Of course, I then go try their search terms and a lot of times, yes indeed, there's my blog! showing up ahead of the actual venue they were looking for.

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 Yup! They also tell us they are calling us because we are the only ones with a working number/who answer the phone... 

Madeleine's picture
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Paradise wrote:

 Yup! They also tell us they are calling us because we are the only ones with a working number/who answer the phone... 

I've heard the 'you're the only one who answered the phone' comment.

gillumhouse's picture
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"Hello, We stayed in your wonderful b and b several years ago and would love to spend a few days there again sometime this summer (It looks like we will be able to be there in early August).But we would also like to stay longer--perhaps for a week or even two weeks.  I wondered if you would be so kind as to advice us about a possible holiday cottage.  We saw one listed in your town--a little house. We would love to rent your cottage--we adored your place and your hospitality, but sadly cannot afford it this year although I hope we can have a day or two with you before we begin our stay. We think we can pay about 1600 per week. Do you happen to know of a small cottage close to the sea that is well appointed..the little one we found looked good, but I can't tell if that is a good place to be, but I thought you might know. We want to have a simple holiday with long walks on the beach, and lots fo swimming and lobster!

Thank you so much for any help or advice you can give!"

I have been mulling this over all morning - thought I would do something different and think before I spoke. I see this as saying, "we loved your place but would like to try something a bit different this year". They are asking about one particular place and then go on to ask about small cottages close to the sea. Does your CVB have a listing of cottages on their web site that you could copy & paste to send to them? I would NOT do any price investigation for them nor would I give them a comparison of prices to yours because (IMO) it will make you look as if you are grapsing for their business. Be pleasant - So happy you enjoyed our hospitality and loved our area enough to return. Here is the list from our CVB of cottage rentals. Unfortunately, I really am not familiar enough with any of them to give a recommendation of one over the others . We would love to have your reservation for whatever time you choose to visit us again. August will be high season so we suggest you make your reservations soon at whatever accommodation you choose.

egoodell's picture
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 Why not give them your estimate of the two week stay and all expenses that will add up and your two week rate to show that they will be paying the same for both. List the amenities that each of you have and maybe you will swing them to your side?

RIki

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Can you offer a discount for a 2 week stay? Also can you get a referral commision? We get these all the time in Rio, and sometimes we trade them for money or good will.

Silverspoon's picture
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 We do give a $25/night discount for a weekly stay in the ocean-view cottage but we do not need to offer any other discounts during August. In fact, the last week of July and the first two weeks of August are the most popular weeks of the summer.  I am thinking of going up in our prices...not down! No one in the area will pay a commission for a referral.....there is no need to....By the time school gets out in June, the entire area is booked solid for those 3 summer weeks.

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toddburme wrote:

Can you offer a discount for a 2 week stay? Also can you get a referral commision? We get these all the time in Rio, and sometimes we trade them for money or good will.

Interesting Todd. See how you are, that is not what I thought, and yet that may be it, perhaps they were hinting at a discounted stay.  Seemed to be kissing up quite a bit! 

Prime location - beach resort in peak season, sure no problem! haha

Good thinking 99.

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I agree with JB, it is a compliment to you and your hospitality that these folks are asking for your input.   Let's face it, they're being up front to tell you that they can't afford your nightly rate for an entire week, but they love your area.  People are trying to manage their vacation dollars wisely and there is nothing wrong with that.  I'd help them out if I could or send them to the local CVB for more options and Trip Ad for reviews. 

You've got them back for a day or two!

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Madeleine's picture
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It always amazes me that they can afford to fly in, have a week or 2 vacation, eat out but don't think they can afford 'our' rates.

We try to be as helpful as possible because you just never know when they will have the money again to pay our rates. I refer callers/emailers to TA if the place has reviews and state that I don't know the owners but maybe the reviews will help them. Most of the time, the rates where they want to go are exhorbitant so it doesn't hurt me to give the phone number if I know it.

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Once they stay with you they think you are either:  a) their new friend or b) their personal - for life - concierge.

If it were me, I would state something to the effect that "We look forward to hosting you again here at the ABC inn and cottage, as a B&B we are not familiar with vacation rentals, you may have to contact the chamber of commerce for information. MERRY CHRISTMAS!"

(I hear you and I concur, it is frustrating.  BUT, I will tell you that it is actually a compliment, they feel you are in the know and can advise them, so take that for what it is worth, aye)  Smiling

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