Brace yourselves for the latest "expected" amenity

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gillumhouse's picture
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An innkeeper in "green" country just posted a question on PAII. She had a from a potential guest who wants to "plug in" his electric car while there. She was asking how much she should charge since electricity is not exactly free (she also thinks he was expecting it to be free). I asked her if she was going to "charge his car" for free was she going to fill my gas guzzler for free. She thinks this may be the first of many calls and wants to have a policy (and - here it comes) CHARGE in place.

 

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 I got this tweet, here is an innkeeper using her noggin to promote a charging station in her town - on her blog.

New Car Charging Station and Farmer’s Market in Sparta, Wisconsin: NEW ELECTRIC CAR CHARGING STATION right here ...

 

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seashanty's picture
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it's kind of frustrating to come up with hard numbers.

the green websites make it sound relatively inexpensive and suggest solar powered charging ...

some other sites talk about lots of $$$

maybe when the technology catches up the price will come down. like computers!

 

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gillumhouse's picture
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I think I told you I am Prez of the Council of Churches. We are meeting Monday night and in the wake of the emergency situation we are still recovering from (storm hit June 29 and about 600 customers in my county were still without power this mortning), I am going to try to create an action plan to be pro-active for shelters in emergencies - not a government function.

You would not believe the liability issues that will have to be considered to offer the PUBLIC a place to shelter in time of emergency. What if someone damages something - will insurance cover it? Do we have the right to refuse anyone? as in sex offenders, drunks, druggies? The things we would be required to provide... I am still researching. If we would consider providing food - a whole other set of issues. What if the churches do not have power - lighting issues.

This thing with the electric cars is something with issues that need to be considered. As businesses serving the public, you are subject to a whole new set of rules and regs. It is not like you are just plugging in a toaster - if it is plugged in incorrectly it could be someone or something that GETS toasted.

My initial thought to the shelters issue was no big deal - the churches have centers or basements - but it really is more than that. Think hard before jumping in.

muirford's picture
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 Electric cars in their current state of technology have a niche - around town hops, short commutes, city driving, urban areas where you can find most of what you want within a 25-mile radius.  We are a long way off from electric cars being used for road trips of any length.  This is not a urgent, imminent demand that anyone needs to brace themselves for.  Market to the 'green' guests in other ways, if you want them. 

If you have a B&B within 30 miles of Seattle, WA, Portland, OR, an island like Hawaii, or a major metropolitan area where you might get commuters to take a weekend at your place - you might consider what it would mean for your business to have a charging station. Otherwise, I can't imagine that it is worth the time and expense to prepare for it.  Given what's happened in the last few weeks, you'd be better off preparing for having no power and investing in a generator and a gasoline storage tank.  Even with 6 or more rooms and being in a major metropolitan area, I'll cross that bridge if it ever gets to me.

BTW, there are towns in the Northern U.S. - Watertown, NY comes to mind - where 30 years ago the parking meters were already equipped with electric outlets.  People use them to charge electric heaters in the car's engine block so they can start it when the temperature is crazy cold, as it often is.  Charging needs can be managed.

 

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I agree, Muirford, that guests who request a charge will be a very rare occurrence for the majority of innkeepers.  Technology is marching forward though as our country moves toward higher mpg standards and car manufacturers will be producing more hybrid vehicles and all electric vehicles,  and this could be a niche for certain innkeepers as you pointed out.  If you already have an approved charging station for your own vehicle, it's something you could offer.  There's no difference in my mind in terms of safety than a guest plugging in their mobile phone to be charged.  If your inn doesn't have the capability, it doesn't have it.

I think there are cities that are considering adding EV outlets to parking meters.  Heck, you can pay for parking meters via your mobile phones now! 

B&Bs need to consider what might add to their bottom line.  There will be a major water attraction here in a year or so within walking distance of our house, so safe or offstreet parking for small trailers or cars carrying kayaks/canoes would be a great amenity for a downtown B&B here.  We had folks with really pricey bicycles that liked being able to secure them here when we had our B&B. 

A generator for power outages is definitely a good idea!

 

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Arks's picture
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I'm picturing adding just a 240V outlet they can plug in to. Their vehicle must have its own charger (the $800-$1000 piece of equipment). I can tell the car owner what type receptacle I have and it's up to them to supply the adapter if their plug doesn't match my receptacle.

If I can't do it as simply and inexpensively as that, then I'm not interested. But it would be a nice thing to offer, as long as it doesn't cost a lot to put it in.

Reminds me of the people who book with you because you have a whirlpool tub, then they never use the tub. Just being able to say you have it available is enough to win over some people.

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Arkansawyer wrote:
If I can't do it as simply and inexpensively as that, then I'm not interested. But it would be a nice thing to offer, as long as it doesn't cost a lot to put it in.

Reminds me of the people who book with you because you have a whirlpool tub, then they never use the tub. Just being able to say you have it available is enough to win over some people.

So true!

And really... I wonder how much one of those breathing machines that people use while sleeping runs up my electric bill? Or their laptops and cell phone chargers?

Kk.

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If the 240v works out (let me know how the research goes) I'd be willing to spend the $300 to get it hooked up here. I don't think I'm close enough to city for it to work but after reading about the guy owning a McD's franchise who put one in, what the heck. It's a lot cheaper than a spa tub.

Plus, the person would get 'priority' parking! Right next to the building. (Can't have other guests tripping over the charging cable.)

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seashanty's picture
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i was reading about equipment costs to have a dedicated charger outlet and installation ... with PERMIT and inspection for a business that offers it to the public ... about $10,000

interesting reading about free charging stations where the car is all charged but people leave their cars plugged in all night so others can use it, etc.

another new thing to think about and anticipate questions about.  thanks for bringing the discussion on board kathleen!

 

Madeleine's picture
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Not offering it to the public and looking at a 'home' version because we don't expect an influx of vehicles, it looks like $1000 for the unit and then that again for the installation.

So, probably not this year.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405297020340550457659906089417200...

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 I have a hybrid so it charges itself. Most electric cars out today can't go much further than 35 miles on a charge and those that do also use gas...so let them use their own gas. And charge it when they get home.

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Since I don't provide a gas pump for guests,  it is highly unlikely that I will be offering this feature in the near future.   I will be long dead by the time electric cars are the norm.

Arks's picture
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Proud Texan wrote:

...I don't provide a gas pump for guests...

The difference is that they can drive to a gas pump and fill up in 5 minutes. Recharging an electric car takes hours, meaning they'll generally need to do it overnight at your place. They can't be expected to go park at a public charging station and wait hours to charge up.

Granted, it's currently a rare thing that won't be something everybody wants to offfer now.

I'd say if it's just a matter of having a 240V plugin available, it would be fairly cheap and easy to have an electrician get you up and running. But if you have to also buy an $800 piece of hardware (some kind of charger/converter) to offer this, that's a different story.

Still investigating...

gillumhouse's picture
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Thank you. You and Eric Arthur have brought up the 2 things I thought of immediately - how much is it going to cost to make it available and how many will be using it. for me with 3 rooms - it could be negligible but for those #1 in an area where those cars will be found in possible quanitiy AND #2 have 6 or more rooms, it could be a big deal in $$.

I was thinking pro-active. I have always been ready to look at the possiblity of being the only one to offer something BUT I also prefer to look at the potential cost to me before offering it. IF these things do get a niche - there is also a push for natural gas power for cars and stations being set up here in WV - isn't it better to have rather than just saying "it will give me a leg-up" to looking at the potential costs and having the policy in place.

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 Like Muirford says, it is something road trip worthy (I am saying that but addng to her comments), like those who have convertable sports cars, they will seek out inns with off street private parking for their babies, this is in a similar vein (imo). You can be added to a directory or something that electric cars would be SURE to use when they get out and about.

Maybe there will be an electric car rally? Oh wait, they already have that at Disneyland. Smiling

Perhaps one of my allt ime faves as a kid! The car of the future, autopia.

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"Recharge and Energize at our B&B"

I wrote a blog article about going green, but it was based on paddling, walking, climbing, biking...thanks for the reminder, time for another one.  

We did the joint innterativeinns article on PARK IT and SAVE! sharing things to do once they land at the inn and won't need to use their vehicle.

 

 

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 My inn is within 100 miles of a major metropolitan area, not known as a 'green' area necessarily but certainly of the demographic that might buy an electric car.  My guests have arrived driving hybrids, motorcycles, zipcars and Humvees but I've never had an all-electric car and I've never had a potential guest inquire about the availability of a recharge.  It may be coming but not that quickly, and definitely not fast enough that any one needs to run out and invest in charging stations tomorrow.  Some B&Bs may offer it - Samster is right, it's probably those innkeepers who are also interested or who have electric vehicles themselves - and it will be a novelty, a niche market. Offering a list of local charging stations, if you have them, is probably enough, and no different than telling guests where to buy gas.

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Let us remember that for the most part it will not be just one charge up, but several unless they are only one nighters. If this does become more of the standard (don't see it happening soon) and a free amenity, I see prices needing to be raised in order to keep up with the bill. One car, at $2-4 is not going to make that much difference in your monthly bill, but multiply that by your ave occ. and it compounds things....

gillumhouse's picture
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Sorry, Folks. I feel like I grab my ankles enough. I give all sorts of stuff for free and have reached the point where I think enough is enough. If electricity is that cheap, who cares if they leave every light on in the house and run the A/C full blast with the windows open. Free Wi-Fi, free cable, fancy amenities, free gas cards,  now free fill up your tank. Sigh...,

Thankfully, will not have to deal with the question - I do not think they have enough "juice" to get to us. I will go back to my cave now.

Arks's picture
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I wonder if there’s a “recharging station here” logo to display on a website similar to the Wi-Fi available and similar logos.

Need to offer a 240V recharging station. I've read that 120V takes overnight to recharge most cars, while 240V takes just a few hours. Guests would like to see 240V available.

Need to find out what female connections the various cars require to plug into. Surely it's standardized in the industry. Yeah, right!

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Here's one of the places we stayed that has a charging station.  At a quick glance, I don't see if it's complimentary or not.  I do know that they do a lot of truly "green" things at this B&B.  And, it was a great place to stay, too!!

We have a friend with a Chevy Volt and it would take 8-10 hours to fully charge the depleted battery with 120V, so Arks is right that 240V is the way to go. 

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it's all very new to me and out of the realm of my experience.  i guess it depends on just how much it will cost for cars to charge, what equipment is needed, etc.  what if you have nine rooms and 5 of them want to charge up their car?  just sayin' ....

 

although ... i had a guest with a motorized wheelchair type thing that he asked to charge each day and evening for a few hours at a time.  it was a bit awkward setting it up out of the way of everyone else since the chair was for outdoor use and couldn't come in the house ... it had big wheels.  i wouldn't consider charging him, was delighted he stayed.  he offered to pay, but i said no.  he left a nice tip in the room.  this is very different, i know. 

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There are actually some B&Bs/inns that offer discounts along with a complimentary charging station for electric vehicles.  I have stayed at two of them - one on the East Coast in my home state and another one on the West Coast in California. 

Some vehicles require a special charging station, others (Chevy Volt) you can plug into a standard home outlet via the car's portable charge cord.

 

Arks's picture
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COOL! This is a nice convenience you can charge for, just like flowers and chocolates. Imagine somebody driving to your area from "off", arriving at your B&B in the late afternoon/evening, tired from traveling. Do you think they then want to go driving around your strange-to-them town looking for the city or utility company charging station so they'll be "gassed up" to strike out tomorrow? (Especially if it takes a few hours for a car to recharge.)

I know for myself, I'd be delighted to be able to just plug in at your B&B and go to my room with my family while the car charges. I'd pay for that convenience, a reasonable amount above the actual cost of the electricity. I think most people would.

The next question, how to control the outlet so it only works for paying guests.

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I don't know about other jurisdictions, but our electric company has set up a number of charging stations. It is $2.50 per charge. Our electricity runs 7.75c per kw (residential), so basically if I estimated this correctly, they are estimating that 32 kw is needed to charge an electric vehicle. They can pull out their electric bill, calculate their per kw price and double it for the markup.

I think Vermont is in the range of 12.75c per kWh, so that makes the wholesale cost of electricity charge about $4.08, adding the markup, so $8 to $9 for the charge.

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Eric Arthur Blair wrote:

I think Vermont is in the range of 12.75c per kWh, so that makes the wholesale cost of electricity charge about $4.08, adding the markup, so $8 to $9 for the charge.

It's 16 cents here. Why mark it up? Why charge at all? Some guests stay in the shower for 30 minutes. Some of them use every possible amenity available and walk off with what they can't use at the moment. The innkeeper should get the facts on the amount of money this is going to cost (minimal) and then use it as a marketing tool. 'Recharge your batteries and your car's as well!'

If the inn is in VT, they should jump on this bandwagon. Take pix of the guest's car charging up. Make a little sign for the outlet with a car with a big smile on its grill.

As JB would say, 'Blog it baby!'

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Okay, other side of the coin, it's an added expense that you are absorbing, so either you put your price up to cover it, or you lower your profits. I assume that you don't want to lower your profits, so you will likely add it into the price.

But we also have different considerations. For some people it might be an amenity that you throw in, but not for me. I can't afford it. 

I know that calculations are different for you, but in the city a parking space has costs. Around here, a parking space is about $50K to purchase, or about $7 a day in mortgage payments. Sure in Vermont you can get 50 acres for $50K in some places, here it's a single parking spot, before city property taxes and insurance. So just to get them to the plug costs me $7 a day, never mind the electricity. 

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Eric Arthur Blair wrote:
Okay, other side of the coin, it's an added expense that you are absorbing, so either you put your price up to cover it, or you lower your profits. I assume that you don't want to lower your profits, so you will likely add it into the price.

That's not really the entire list of options.  It can also be an added amenity that will increase your occupancy, so that even if your per room profits are lower, your overall profit is higher.  

We all have lots of variable costs per room for standard amenities.  One room uses all the soaps and takes the individual bottles of goodies, another doesn't.  One room takes $3.00 worth of snacks from the snack basket, another doesn't.  Some guests drink a pot of coffee in the morning, another drinks a cup.  If the added cost of electricity is in the pot of coffee/snack basket range, I wouldn't see the rationale in charging for it.  IMO, that puts us in the realm of the hotels, with the $4.50 bottled water, $10 cashews, and $15.00 internet fee.

It seems like it would be clear to me that if free parking isn't one of your amenities, then free electric for charging your car is not going to be an amenity.  Apples and oranges.

 

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If your occupancy can handle it. Mine, can't. In the summer I usually max out on occupancy and increasing my rates changes my clientele.

In the inner city, the costs of the parking spot and electricity are well over $10. That's actual costs. Certainly more than a few snacks and a pot of coffee. Everyone in the inner city charges for parking, it's an amenitity used by maybe 20% of my customer, higher in the summer, much much lower in the winter.

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Eric Arthur Blair wrote:
If your occupancy can handle it. Mine, can't. In the summer I usually max out on occupancy and increasing my rates changes my clientele.

From a strictly business viewpoint, why would you consider adding any amenity if you are already at the occupancy and price level that you want to be?  I add amenities if I want to a) raise my rates, b) increase my occupancy or c) have a cause that I feel strongly about and want to support (eliminating plastic water bottles).   I can't think of anything that doesn't fall into those categories.  Even keeping up with the Joneses (my competitors) is really just an aspect of occupancy - if you don't have the same amenities your competitors do, you'll lose occupancy to them.

I get that your parking costs would be too high, since you have to actually obtain the parking before you could even consider offering a charge.  It's really not the same comparison for those who already own their own parking.  Apples to oranges.

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Madeleine wrote:
 The innkeeper should get the facts on the amount of money this is going to cost (minimal) and then use it as a marketing tool. 'Recharge your batteries and your car's as well!'

Excellent marketing blurb!  Better than gas card giveaways...

Madeleine's picture
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Now that is interesting! Had not thought of that. Now have to think of that. We only have one parking space anywhere near an outlet.

Here we go...$2-$4 to charge a car.

That said, let's do a little math. In Portland, Ore., where electric cars are gaining ground and the local utility is providing charging infrastructure, electricity runs about 6 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). The new Mini E, which is still in field trials, uses .22 kWh per mile, which translates to 22 kWh for 100 miles (160.9 kilometers) of driving. And in Portland, 22 kWh will cost $1.32.

http://auto.howstuffworks.com/how-much-does-it-cost-to-charge-an-electri...

Judging from the Portland, OR example it would cost around $3.50 to charge a car here. So, not really all that much.

If you want to figure out how much it costs to charge a car in relation to other stuff around the house, here's a calculator:

http://www.csgnetwork.com/elecenergycalcs.html

 

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We gave up waiting on the MINI E!   

I think that if this is something important to you personally and you have a charging station for your own vehicle, or this is something that is going to become increasingly popular where you're located, providing this service for your guests (either free or for a nominal fee) would be a great marketing tool.  The logistics of where to actually install a charging station could be a deal breaker for a lot of B&Bs/inns. 

People where I live have really not gotten into totally electric cars much, but more and more hybrids are on the streets here.  There is a charging station at the Nissan dealer but I don't know what or if they charge there.... 

gillumhouse's picture
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She is not planning to be free either. Suggested she call a few dealers as=nd ask how much it costs. I also have no clue as to if you need a special hook-up (volts/amps). If so, the cost of that needs to be built into the fee. I suggested $25.

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 Go George Jetson!

seashanty's picture
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i would direct such guests ( or potential guests ) to this  site

 http://goo.gl/50QaK    that's a DOE link

and i think there's an app for it as well

i don't know how much it costs to charge a car ... but it seems that the driver buys points to use one of these charging stations, i don't see it as free.  looks like they prepay into a card system.  not free, sorry!

 

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