Why we do not have an availability calendar on-line

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Silverspoon's picture
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Well, in a previous thread you all gave me a piece of your collective mind on the advantages of booking on-line and having an availability calendar on our web site, but today I feel vindicated.  An e-mail inquiry came in from a woman who is eloping in May but wants to celebrate with a few couples in July.  She wants to reserve both suites in the main house for 3 nights for her friends and 5 nights in the cottage for herself and new hubby. Now you all may think this is grand but we do not.  We do have availability but want no part in her gathering.  We do not host groups of 3 couples, nor do we want anything to do with weddings or wedding celebrations.

 Additionally she says, "We’d also appreciate any suggestions you have as to how to make our gathering personal and relaxed.  We will definitely enjoy the walking trails and rent or bring our bikes.  We also would love to explore kayaking! In addition, we are tossing about the idea of having a casual dinner the Sat. eve. of our stay, in which case we likely would have another 6 guests join us.  Is that something you could host/we could cater on-site – a simple, relaxed dinner (BBQ, clambake, for example) for no more than 10, 12 max?  We could certainly all meet at a restaurant, but the patio, the view and the gardens just beckon for a casual celebration dinner with our friends.  It would be just perfect."

So she wants a nice wedding celebration, using our personal private space for a clambake for 12.  I don't think so. I nicely responded that we would be happy to host two adults for a week in the cottage but that we could not host her friends or her lovely party.  I suggested another local inn, which is larger, has more common area and is equipped to meet her needs.  I congratulated her and sent her on her way.

In her next e-mail she threatened to write nasty things on the internet about us...we were her first choice, the perfect place for her party and she was greatly disappointed. A while later she wrote back with a nicer response thanking us for the reply.  I can only imagine the headaches we would have had if we had on-line booking and had to confront her upon arrival.  I feel like we dodge a bullet and escaped a major PITA.

 

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gillumhouse's picture
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Yes, you dodged that one. Keep doing things the way you are comfortable with. It IS your business.

One thing I will point out tho is that if you are full at that time, it will show full /not available on your online calendar. In fact, I need to go in and remove an unavailable I placed on 2 nights in Feb. The City Manager decided we do not need to go!

Re the Planner - I plead guilty in my former life. However, deviations were often forth-coming if we found something interesting. One friend once remarked that she was not surprised I found a destination in a VERY distant location, her suprise was that I arived before midnight because I am known for finding interesting things between here and there. (Problem was there WAS nothing between Dalls/Ft Worth and Abilene. Darn it! I did find a neat town however between Abilene and the church camp where the wedding took place. Do not ask - cannot remeber now)

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02/28/2010

Yes, dodged one!

We also don't have online avail. Same reasons. It's a control thing, I guess, although, I have experimented recently with ReservationKey & am interested, but haven't had the time to set it all up..

Meanwhile, can avoid some of the crazies by weeding them out if we interact with them-more time consuming, yes, but has worked thus far.

I also like having the option of not allowing someone to book 2 nights in a more expensive room & then swap rooms for their final evening to a cheaper room to "save a few dollars" (although the original room was still open). This is no savings for us as we have to fully clean/launder the first room & then the second one after just one night-ugh (someone wanted to do this recently & if they could have booked online themselves would have done so).

Anyhow, for now we remain without an online booking calendar...

Hillbilly's picture
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With Reservation Key you can set this up as an up charge if they want to move rooms or if they book single nights.  We have a lot of single nights that we book.  I now charge $10 extra for single night stays.  It works great.  The crazies that you speak of will still call before they book. Plus I have found that we have less of them staying now.  I think it is because there card gets charged while making a reservation.  While the season is slow I would give it a try.  What do you have to lose?  You can always go back to the way your doing it now.......But you wont!

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Silverspoon's picture
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 We have a 3-night minimum in season and I only book stays that are contiguous to other reservations...no single-night stays for us during our "season".  I do not mind turning folks away who do not want the nights we have to book.   Someone else will book them...or not. Either way, we do not kill ourselves turning over a room for a one-night stay.  With that said, we occasionally get someone who wants an extended stay for, say, 6 nights.  If we only have 5 nights in the suite they want, I will give them a 1-night stay in another suite and then move them.  But that is MY choice, since they never see what we have available.

Madeleine's picture
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I had that the other day. Not that they wanted to move but that they were willing to move for the 3rd night if they decided to stay another night and their room was taken. We do that a lot, however, this was on a package with a greatly reduced 3rd night rate. No, ma'am, I am not going to move you, clean the room entirely and then clean another room entirely for one night at a reduced rate.

Book the 3rd night now if you want it. She didn't.

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Joey Camb's picture
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same as you would be charging the same or more cos its more work! HOwever on the point of online booking if I didn't then I would literally be dead in the water the number of customers who say we always use laterooms or booking.com because from their point of view it is quick easy and provides all the information in one place in an easy format. While Im not overjoyed with the commission I use it myself and for example you are comming to Harrogate for something you put in the postcode of where and it will find you the places to stay in order of distance from where you are going and show you on a map where they are, price reviews and so on all in the same place and book in one simple easy step. Whoever writes their code and designes their web page is a genious. also translates into 15 different languages.

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Staying on topic here - online availability/reservations.  I did not understand your reasoning at first - even with the email you posted here.  BUT when you stated that you were already FULL for the summer - 'you don't need the 11 night (pita's)'  NOW I get it.  You are as busy as you want to be already, people that choose your place are content in calling/emailing.  I am so glad it works for you! 

Here it would not work, if I did not have online reservations, I would miss a good many bookings to a place that does.  BUT, I do have to agree with the others here, people like the one that emailed you are not the type to book online - they call or email.  You did dodge a big bullet, have to agree with that. 

Happy Keeper's picture
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Hmmm.... Am I the only that didin't see anything unusual about couples traveling together. We get that every so often. Heck - we travel with friends. I guess we are a different sort of inn.

 

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Silverspoon's picture
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We do accept reservations for 2 couples traveling together but even that can be problematic.  Last summer 2 couples traveling together cleared off the desk in the common room and set up a bar that they made good use of for 3 days.   (One of the guest suites has a sitting room with desk that could have been used but they choose to totally take over the house.) They asked for many, many suggestions... from limo service to suggesting an itinerary for their major party night out, and we felt like we were their servants the entire time they were here. Now, I know that I have made a generalization about groups... and we have successfully hosted plenty of couples traveling together as well as family groups (mostly regulars).  However, we are FULL all summer...no problem.  We do not need to take on additional work..no matter how much $$$ is involved.  So if we can eliminate the problem guests, or at least keep the probable PITAs to a minimum, we actually enjoy being innkeepers and have fun with our guests and even, possibly, find that we are looking forward to our 24th year inn keeping.

 MY POINT in the original post was that IN THIS CASE, having the ability to screen guests before booking worked in my favor.  That's my point and I am sticking to it! 

Over and OUT.

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Silver, I have to agree that this chick would not have booked online.  She had too many extras and special arrangements to lay out that she would not have just booked the rooms and then have called to make all these grand plans. 

100% of the people here that wanted to book a group, event, special doo-wah, extra meals, "can't you just do such-and-such", all called or emailed me.  And we went round and round, just like you did.  And they were referred to another place and weren't happy that I wouldn't accommodate all of their gazillion requests.  oh, well...

So, I still don't think this is a good argument to not have an online rez system.    But, you are happy with accepting your reservations via phone or email and I get it.  It works for you! 

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Happy Keeper's picture
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Now now now Hold on a minute. You have to remember that I've only been doin` this 6 years and I am a long ways behind you on experience and I know nothing about your business. I really was just thinking in very general terms. You've got your routine, it works, you're full during the summer, and you know who your perfect customers are. You deserve a lot of praise for that.

Sticking to what works is what it's all about and (like I was saying in another thread, the industry is so diverse, that no one answer fits any question we might ask.

Madeleine's picture
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Have you noticed this with couples traveling together- one couple, or most of the time one spouse of one couple is much, much more work than the other 3 put together? That one person always seems to be coming up with something that is not done quite right? Like it's their party and it's their rep on the line if this is not the best vacation ever?

We've had the same couples year after year and it's the same thing year after year. Enough already. You're all adults. If Couple A doesn't like something let them tell me, not you, oh designated complainer.

I have picked some real doozies when we've traveled with other couples. We all laugh about it and everyone says, 'Do it again Madeleine,' no matter how many times I try to have someone else make the reservations and pick the place.

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Maddie, it is amazing to me how 100% accurate your statements are on this topic.  

In fact of the "couples travelling together" theme, or even "Sisters meeting half way"  from all over, I cannot recall any of their faces, except The Designated Complainer, aka "The Planner" in other words, and they all tell me every single time "So and so plans it all and we just show up" so the anal retentive is the planner, Type A personality.  

Even as they walk out the door the next morning "The Planner" aka the control-freak has a big binder in hand with print out of every stop, maps, itineraries and more.  She is the one who pays, she is the one who inspects the rooms to make sure nothing is left behind. She is on schedule and has to get out before 10am to make their next stop on time. She never asks for directions, or things to see before they head out or on the way. She is large and in charge.  Yes, she, always a she. I noticed you didn't say she, but I will.

But on the same token, I think it is the others in the group who feel let off the hook and those are the ones who, say, wander into my kitchen that says Private and has a closed door.  They are like the kids in the family, they get into stuff and go where they shouldn't. The planner never does this. Although in her mothering she will defend them and say "They just wanted to see what behind that door..." 

Brother, am I "The Planner" I think I am, for my family, definately. But am I that bad? HELP ME! I NEED AN INTERVENTION FAST!  

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Madeleine's picture
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Joey Bloggs wrote:

Maddie, it is amazing to me how 100% accurate your statements are on this topic.  

Hey! Is that supposed to mean I'm rarely accurate, given your amazement?

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Madeleine wrote:

Joey Bloggs wrote:

Maddie, it is amazing to me how 100% accurate your statements are on this topic.  

Hey! Is that supposed to mean I'm rarely accurate, given your amazement?

No, just that the clarity was spot on.  I believe most people do not see things the way we see things. I believe most people can have guests stay with them and know nothing about them, no intuition, no insight whatsoever. This is why I mentioned it, spot on!

The other thing with this Cruise Director mentality, is there is no bend, I mean something amazing could be going on and it is not on the itinerary so they will not do it or see it.  I applaud all the hard work, and I also let them know that "half the fun of any trip is in the planning" so I believe (even though it is frustrating) the Planner gets the most out ot it.  Her research has taught her much.

Madeleine's picture
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Occasionally it's a guy. But mostly, yes, it's a woman. I haven't had the experience with everyone else in the party behaving badly. They are usually having fun, tho. Yes, to the binder, if they are from far away. And, I always say to binder lady (guys never have the binder), 'Ah, you're the cruise director, the organizer, the planner, the one who sees that everything is in order. Gotta love that!'

Sometimes I ask where else are they going. (I find this an end run on the planner. If she feels recognized for all the work and gets congratulated, a lot of times the bossiness goes away.)

But, yes, if there is one, I definitely know which one is in charge.

Joey Camb's picture
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I call her the group "MUM" and look for her on check in as speaking to everyone else is nearly as waste of time. When I worked in large hotels I could sniff out the MUM straight away and get her on my side to organise the others and make them listen to what you are telling them as with groups they are always looking round at everything and not listening to your instructions ie in this particular hotel the lights operated with the key fob so you would tell them this on check in, 10 mins later call from room lights arn't working.

Madeleine's picture
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Happy Keeper wrote:

Hmmm.... Am I the only that didin't see anything unusual about couples traveling together. We get that every so often. Heck - we travel with friends. I guess we are a different sort of inn.

 

Nothing wrong with it, we do it too. It's just that she doesn't want groups. Especially not wedding groups given what they then wanted to be able to do on the property. Essentially, host their weding reception for nothing.

Happy Keeper's picture
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It didn't say for FREE, it said cater- that means MONEY in your pocket.

It didn't say reception, it said three rooms for 11 room nights. Some of the best times at our place are when the guests know each other. Everyone is really relaxed.

Like I said- different strokes for us.

Madeleine's picture
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She didn't want a reception at first. In the next contact she wanted a private, on site party for an additional group of people. She's getting married + she wants a dinner for extra people = wedding reception. Extra money maybe. A lot of extra work definitely. It's not extra money if you don't have the proper location. They need restrooms for one thing. And the innkeeper needs to be counting noses to be sure the property is not invaded.

And, yes, all those room nights lost. But sometimes having the whole place taken by people who know each means they take over not only the space provided but any space they can get a toe in.

I've never had a single room gang up on me, but I have had 3 rooms traveling together park themselves in the inn kitchen and make snide comments the many, many times I had to tell them to vacate the kitchen. They wanted me then to cook their food for them because I wouldn't let them use the kitchen. 'We'll be in the living room, having our drinks, call us when you're finished.'

See, that sort of thing doesn't happen when it's all strangers, it does when the herd takes over.

If it's never happened to you then you are truly blessed with wonderful guests. We get a different kind of traveler. So, yes, different strokes. Because I am in the same geographic location as the OP, I get what she's talking about. And I know that many areas never see the kinds of guests that we do. Just saying that I understand that 11 room nights from a wedding group would not the best use of my time and resources.

And, she called it right given the response back from the guest threatening to blast her online.

Silverspoon's picture
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Madeleine,  you get it.  Thanks for the support.  Perhaps it is our geographical location that matters.  99% of our guests are top notch...I'd like to keep it that way.

egoodell's picture
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Happy Keeper wrote:

It didn't say for FREE, it said cater- that means MONEY in your pocket.

It didn't say reception, it said three rooms for 11 room nights. Some of the best times at our place are when the guests know each other. Everyone is really relaxed.

Like I said- different strokes for us.

These kinds of requests usually take over the whole inn and if you have any other guests does not work well.

RIki

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I guess it has been a while since anyone has considered partying at this old girl, perhaps there is something to all those doilies afterall. 

Actually I had a mother pleading with me for her daughter to wed in our gardens on Christmas or NY's Eve.  I told her there aren't any gardens in December. She was adamant and very pushy. I said we can host them here for the wedding night. "Oh no they are staying at the hawly-day inn for that, they got a good rate."

She even called back after being told no once, to convince me how nice it would be. no, again.

Madeleine's picture
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That is just so annoying obnoxious.

Joey Camb's picture
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Its the reason in my booking system I only have 1 room set up as a twin so it keeps out stag and hen doo's this means when a twin booking comes in I move it to a zip and link room which again means a 1 twin is showing. Also just becuase you have online avaliability doesn't mean you have to show everything all the time I know plenty of people who only put 2 rooms on and as they sell put on another one etc means they have the advantage of online booking, prevention of over booking and screening out of groups. It just depends on what you want to show and what software you are using.

Aussie Innkeeper's picture
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I've had guests sit at my breakfast table and tell me that the will NOT stay at a B&B that doesn't have on-line reservations. The younger set, especially, simply cannot believe that there are establishments that will not give them the tools they need to 'do it themselves'.

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Silvers, come on now this has nothing to do with online reservations. All of us get these sorts of calls and inquiries.  

I have to say the online bookings are the ones that are NOT this way, they always call and email a dozen times. Sorry you had to deal with her, she is emotional at being told no.

Hillbilly's picture
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10/22/2011

Agree!........ It should make you feel good she wanted to enjoy your place that much!  I see $$$$$. Should of givin her a crazy price.

Madeleine's picture
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When we get this sort of inquiry it is never from the booking calendar, it is always via a phone call. Mostly because the guest realizes she will have to give me her cc info for all of the room nights and no one wants to take that chance.

AND, most importantly, groups want discounts or other special perks.

I know you're explaining why you like doing things the way you do. Having the online calendar does not present a problem for us with this kind of situation. (It may for others who do all of their booking online, tho!)

You could have found yourself with the same thing by each of them reserving the rooms by calling you individually. And I'd be on the watch for that if you've got a bridezilla on the line.

egoodell's picture
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Silverspoon wrote:

Well, in a previous thread you all gave me a piece of your collective mind on the advantages of booking on-line and having an availability calendar on our web site, but today I feel vindicated.  An e-mail inquiry came in from a woman who is eloping in May but wants to celebrate with a few couples in July.  She wants to reserve both suites in the main house for 3 nights for her friends and 5 nights in the cottage for herself and new hubby. Now you all may think this is grand but we do not.  We do have availability but want no part in her gathering.  We do not host groups of 3 couples, nor do we want anything to do with weddings or wedding celebrations.

 Additionally she says, "We’d also appreciate any suggestions you have as to how to make our gathering personal and relaxed.  We will definitely enjoy the walking trails and rent or bring our bikes.  We also would love to explore kayaking! In addition, we are tossing about the idea of having a casual dinner the Sat. eve. of our stay, in which case we likely would have another 6 guests join us.  Is that something you could host/we could cater on-site – a simple, relaxed dinner (BBQ, clambake, for example) for no more than 10, 12 max?  We could certainly all meet at a restaurant, but the patio, the view and the gardens just beckon for a casual celebration dinner with our friends.  It would be just perfect."

So she wants a nice wedding celebration, using our personal private space for a clambake for 12.  I don't think so. I nicely responded that we would be happy to host two adults for a week in the cottage but that we could not host her friends or her lovely party.  I suggested another local inn, which is larger, has more common area and is equipped to meet her needs.  I congratulated her and sent her on her way.

In her next e-mail she threatened to write nasty things on the internet about us...we were her first choice, the perfect place for her party and she was greatly disappointed. A while later she wrote back with a nicer response thanking us for the reply.  I can only imagine the headaches we would have had if we had on-line booking and had to confront her upon arrival.  I feel like we dodge a bullet and escaped a major PITA.

 

This is exactly why we don't take REAL TIME calendar reservations. Should I have received this inquiry I would have done the same - sent her an email explaining that we could not take her booking as we could not accommodate groups or group functions.

Same thing - except with online booking REQUESTS I can take bookings as well as screen out the ones I don't want.

RIki

Hillbilly's picture
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Just wondering! have you ever thought about this from a guests point of view. Would you like to fill out a form and wait a few hours or days to see if what you want is available? Would you stop looking at other properties while you wait? Something to think about.

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