Why people don't stay in BnBs

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Redbirds's picture
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All:

We had guests this past week who gave some insight about the wide range of service/quality that BnBs offer across the country.  The guests were traveling back to the Midwest from the East Coast, and had stayed in two bed and breakfasts prior to staying with us.

We asked if they always stay in bnbs, and they hesitated before saying "mostly."  When asked, they said that "last night was a bit unpleasant.  We made a reservation at the bed and breakfast, and planned on arriving by 6.  Our plans changed and we got sidetracked, so we called that afternoon and said we might be a couple of hours late.  The innkeeper said that they had called too late, that she couldn't make arrangements for them to be checked in, and that 'sorry, I have to charge you the full amount.'"

The guests said they were dumbfounded, and asked if they could at least stop by in the morning for breakfast.  They stayed in a local motel, went to the inn for breakfast where they had scrambled eggs and pre-packaged pastries.  They also noticed a numeric key-pad lock on the door, and commented that the innkeeper could have given them the code and let them check themselves in.

IMHO, this is one reason why people are hesitant to stay in bnbs.  I apologized (from all of us!) and told them they might have recourse to get the charge reversed (although they DID eat breakfast, so that might negate their options.)

The night before they stayed at a bnb and were told pastries, rolls, etc would be outside their door in the morning.  In fact, the packaged rolls and pastries were left at their door the night before (they saw them when they came back from dinner.)

Thoughts?

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See you just joined us. How about an intro first Smiling Welcome to the group.

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The B&B is your home and in my day I would never come into my mothers home after midnight much less expect for her to greet me with a smile. Clearly we deserve a life and the innkeeper should of given them a code but who knows it kinda sounds like they booked that day and the innkeeper may very well have not been there ever and the next door neighbor put a basket of baked goods out for them. There are two sides to every story and we have only one half of the story presented.  Weekly I get a call when I'm off to market to re provision and its a hundred mile drive for us to the nearest store. The phone rings and of course its a guest who has not booked but looking for a room. If its someone I know I give them the code however if its not someone I know they need to return when I will be there from my return trip. I even keep cameras on the front areas and front hall so I can monitor the building when I am away buying pineapples.

Long story short I'm sure if we were presented the other half of the story the innkeeper was away or clearly had other commitments than to wait for a ten pm arrival. In our online arrival I have ETA for the guest to check off. If I can't be present I call them personally and give the code.

Joey Camb's picture
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Our point is more about the fact they charged in full - would have arrived at 8pm if they were a couple of hours late from their original 6pm arrival. Feel a better compromise could have been reached.

As regards breakfast - for me wouldn't have left it out the night before as I don't trust the other guest not to be messing with it during the night but again this may be a very small place ie 2 rooms etc where the chance of that would be more limited.

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Yes, it is sad about the late check-in being denied.  I would be curious about the size of the place and what they were charging.  There is a big difference in the professionalism of some of the folks in the industry, as well as the level of hospitality.  We've been really lucky to only hit a couple of truly bad places over the years and it seemed like a lot of the problems with those B&Bs had to do with innkeeper burnout. 

I was always amazed at the different kinds of folks that we had stay with us and my life was definitely enriched by hosting them!

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seashanty's picture
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well ... as a former innkeeper of a place in Maine, as far EAST in the US as you can get, i take exception to the horror stories.  really?  really??!

i had people show up at 11 pm, one even at 1 am  ... sometimes lost and confused on the dark roads ... i waited up.  (well, i dozed off as i waited) but i waited.  i don't know any innkeeper in my area, and i met several, who would deny a late (and not very late at that) check in to someone who called to say they were delayed.

packaged pastries at both places?  it makes me wonder if my home baked, homemade breakfasts were appreciated more than i thought.  i know there are places that are not allowed to cook on site.  on nantucket, which is gorgeous and where i lived for a time, you could not serve a 'hot breakfast' unless you had a restaurant on site. 

but an innkeeper leaving a breakfast basket outside someone's door the night before instead of getting up really early to leave it ... is that so terrible?? 

what time did they come back from dinner? 9pm? 10pm?  what time were they getting up in the morning?  i was tired at 8 pm from running the place and was always hoping to pull an early night.  i think i'd probably be leaving the basket outside your door at 8pm  if i did such a thing.  then i'd crawl into my room ... assuming every one was checked in, and start on the paperwork and marketing, etc. before crashing.

i won't say there aren't bad places, won't say there aren't bad innkeepers.  but as a paying guest before my stint as an innkeeper and after, i have never been treated like that.  ever.  and i've stayed at maybe 100 places all together in massachusetts, maine, new hampshire and vermont.  some were a bit posh, some were like staying in a spare room.  but i was not mistreated.

just felt the need to defend 'the east'. 

 

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Today is one of those days that amazes me as an innkeeper, and the fun part.

In four days in one particular room we had a couple from Scotland, then a couple (she works at the Smithsonian as a scientist and he is an artist with his work in many embassies, they are younger, they are way way too cool for school), and now a young Mennonite couple on their honeymoon from PA, with very strong Pennsylvania Dutch accents.

Three totally different demographics, so far the first two loved it here, I hope the love birds do too! Smiling

 

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Madeleine's picture
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Isn't it cool to have people from such divergent populations staying, not only with us, but all of them picking the same room!

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and this is why I rarely share about our guests. I only shared from today, because I just checked the couple into the same room, and they were happy to be here. Even with it being an old house, with doilies and antiques.  I am not trying to start a pissing contest. Just wanted to say something positive in this negative thread about bad experiences.

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It is not a contest, JB. My guest & I were talking this morning about how people in town were asking when we opened - who is going to come HERE? (She said she and her sister have been talking about doing B & B as a second career - and she IS aware of the work involved). And here we are 16 years later and these are just a few of the "known" who were each delightful rather than snooty but so many of the "unknowns" that cross our paths make the day. I am fortunate - I have had very few who were NOT delightful.

That conversation from this morning is what made me think of it.

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Yeah, I was thinking today about all the people we have had who were famous in their circles (worlds/environments). Mainly because of the guests this week.

We have hosted the fastest man on 2-wheels (also a motorcycle racing champion), a guitarist with Trans-Siber ian Orchestra, a member of the USA equestrian team when the World games were here in USA, a man with patents that made rockets fly - some valve, a member of Tony Bl air's cabinet, the niece of a Football Hall of Famer, and just this week a finalist from Amer ic an I dol and the 2012 WV Women's Skeet Champion last night. Who woodda thunk that all these diverse people would come to my little Podunk!

And I would be willing to bet that many on this Forum are well-known in the circles they traveled in prior to or since taking to innkeeping.

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That was totally ridiculous to not allow them to arrive after 6:00. Unless their website is very clear that you will be charged if you don't get there in time, I would fight the charge.

I have a friend that will only check people in until 7:30. She'll push it to 8:30 if she has too, but after that, they will need to find another place to stay. She will not charge them though if they can't get there in time. Works for her, but would never work for me.

 

gillumhouse's picture
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I cringe when I hear stories like that. It may be one of the reasons I figuratively grab my ankles. I want my guests to be pleased - so pleased that they hold others to MY standards  of hospitality. No worry folks, we are laid back and easy, but if I can do something to make their stay great, I will. I WILL make a grocery run at 9:30 (closes at 20) to get a quart of milk or something the guest needs - easy since it is just down the road, not 20 miles or more. I WILL make another pot of coffee if the guests come back with friends and want to visit. And I will wait up until 3 AM to get those horses out to the stable and settled. BUT one also must remember that I only have 3 rooms.

I wonder though what the REAL story was - oftentimes it is n the middle of what the guests say they did and what they say the innkeeper did. I know the version of my Mother's stories of her childhood & her sister were quite different than the same stories the Duchess told. The Duchess version had the brothers as the guilty party and Mom's it was the Duchess. The teller usually comes off the the better person or the one with the biggest axe to grind.

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She should have been able to give them self check-in. That's just silly. But yes, the inconsistency from B&B to B&B can be problematic, which is why you need to read the website. And why pictures and description of breakfast are important.

We repeatedly send out emails to guests giving them information as well as advising them about our self check-in after 6PM. The email we send out has specific information on it on how to reply so that we know that they received it and read it. And if they don't give us a check-in time, we have to run around and ensure that we get one, or we are stuck at home for the day, waiting for them to arrive. 

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It's unfortunate that probably each one of us here can share a terrible B&B stay story, more than one in fact.  We try to change the perception, but like the BWTS campaign who paint an unrealistic view of B&B's being contemporary (no doilies) and for the younger generation. 

This is why I won't automatically go to bat for some who show up on this forum with a bad guest story when we don't know who they are, I know we should all stand in unity on this across the board, but I have been in a couple that I don't feel should even be operating as inns! They give us all a bad name.

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we have 4 places where I am that should not be operating frankly but she is trying to turn 1 of them into 3 houses (has got planning work has started) and one of the others is applying for planning to be flats which will get the number down to 2. I will be sad to loose bb's that potentially could be run profitably and loss of bedrooms which we sorely need but I know she won't be able to get rid of them any other way any time soon as people just can't borrow that kind of money.

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we have 4 places where I am that should not be operating frankly but she is trying to turn 1 of them into 3 houses (has got planning work has started) and one of the others is applying for planning to be flats which will get the number down to 2. I will be sad to loose bb's that potentially could be run profitably and loss of bedrooms which we sorely need but I know she won't be able to get rid of them any other way any time soon as people just can't borrow that kind of money.

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This weekend has been back to our usual cohort...50 and up. Semi or completely retired. The huge, glaring difference between this cohort and their kids? The older cohort talks to each other. Whenever someone walks into the dining room one of them says, 'Good morning! Where are you from?' and makes the new arrival feel welcome.

The absolute quietest dining room? All 30-somethings. They are too self-conscious to greet anyone else or pass a word or two between them.

Now, this is not to say that the older crowd doesn't have issues. We do get some who are 'slumming' because they usually stay at much higher end places that just happened to be booked. Oh well, it does them good to see how the poor schmucks get along. Eye-wink And we enjoy their stories about the safaris or Tibetan treks or Mayan ruins or, the latest, their Vietnam adventure.

(That whole sidetrack was about BWTS.)

 

Joey Camb's picture
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this is again why I dislike programs like 3 in a bed etc as it reflects badly on us as an industry as to go on the program you need to be odd or desparat which isn't the majority.

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camberleyhotelharrogate@yahoo.co.uk wrote:

this is again why I dislike programs like 3 in a bed etc as it reflects badly on us as an industry as to go on the program you need to be odd or desperate which isn't the majority.

Only once has this happened to us.   The husband makes the reservation for his wife who is coming to the monthly flea market.

The room description, picture and our policies state that we only allow two persons per room and that a third person would have to rent our second cottage if it was available...it wasn't.

The wife and two of her girlfriends arrive late and we had to turn them away.  We didn't charge them, though we could have,  but we changed our procedures to make sure this kind of thing doesn't happen again.

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Sorry didn't explain properly 3 in a bed is a television program where 3 sets of bb owners go and stay at each others places and creep about checking for dust on the picture frames and rubbish like that. They then have to put what they think the stay is worth in an envelope and the one that makes the most money in relation to what they actually charge wins. Trouble is there is no factoring in about what the price is locally ie a top BB in Blackpool may charge £80 a night a top bb in Harrogate might charge £150 for the exact same thing- it is the market you are in.

What they also do is mix in the most incompatible people possible to make good television with completely different properties so it is really hard to make a distinction. To go on the program you need to have a screw loose therefore it makes all bb owners look batty! had one owner who was going on and on about the difference between coddled eggs and poached eggs! you would think she had been served a turnip!

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3 in a bed is a TV program in the UK.

 http://sharetv.org/shows/three_in_a_bed_uk

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Oh brother!

I have a tendency to ask guests about favorite or memorable B&B stays, and typically I only hear these type stories. Like the guests who arrived at a B&B to find bars on the windows and a pawn shop on one side, and bar on the other! From that I changed the website to describe "how the inn sits" so guests will get a better picture.

For all those innkeepers who think self check-ins are the most inhospitable thing in the world, I disagree, it totally stresses people out, stuff happens. We had guests arrive at 11pm Friday night, accidents on the interstate, they were NOT happy about it, and being told to just arrive safely and when they get here they get here, took a huge burden off them.

As much as people think we are inflexible, we are actually very flexible, we see the patterns and make our policies accordingly. That innkeeper was not very gracious. to have them at breakfast the next morning, well that stinks even more!

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Not the kind of service the gang here provides, that's for sure. However, in our defense, guests really need to understand what they are buying. Was there any indication on their confirmation or when they made the rez that no one would be available after hours and that they HAD to arrive or call by a certain time?

Some places cannot cook meals. Guests need to read the breakfast details or ask. They were, in the case of the pastries, going to get the same thing whether they got it at 10 PM or 6 AM.

Whether or not the door has a keypad is kind of irrelevant. The innkeeper doesn't allow guests to check themselves in for whatever reason. Perhaps she's been cheated in the past or had 5 people and a dog check in at 11 instead of the couple she was expecting.

We stay at a place that leaves all the room keys OUTSIDE. If you're a walk-in you call a number on the door and they tell you to pick a key out of the mailbox and let yourself in. But that's not for everyone.

And yet, those same guests would continue to stay at a chain hotel unless they had similar bad experiences at a lot of them.

I do think taking the money because the guests didn't call soon enough is a bit much. That allows no room for traffic, delayed flights, lost baggage or detours or even getting sidetracked.

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Good points here Maddie.  As we all know there are always 3 versions of any story, in this case the guest, the innkeeper and the truth.

There are many places that can not serve hot meals, our neighboring big city is one of them. A caller the other day went to great lengths to tell me that they should not be able to call themselves a B&B because they can't provide the 2nd B.  It is what it is lady, at least they tell ya! (or at least most do)

After several late arrivers that have pulled the very scenarios you described, it has me a little gun shy every time someone wants a late self check in.  I still do it but leery to say the least.  Now I am covered at least with fees to assess if they try pulling a fast one.  But for those that are running late, for what ever the reason (other than sneaking in a dog - grrr) I want them to feel welcome no matter when they arrive. 

Charging someone because you could not accommodate them (unless it was plainly stated in their policies) is highly unprofessional. 

 

 

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I don't remember any guest telling us about a bad place, but several have told us about quirky bnb's.  Things that certainly made their stay memorable. Like where they were told to bring milk; so they'd have it for their cereal!  But I can say that the last 3 bnb's we stayed at were not good....dirty was the main reason. Dirty and dusty and unkempt.

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Sometimes it is worse to have them rave about some place they've stayed. At the breakfast table. With everyone else hanging on their every word. I wonder if they say the say about us at other places they go?

I always ask guests where they are going next or where they stayed last night 'to get an idea of places to send guests who don't have a rez'. That leaves it open to them to say they liked the other places they've stayed or not.

It's tough when a guest is here overnight and they are then going to spend a week at another B&B. I feel like the ugly stepsister.

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Had a couple stay with us for 1 night recently. Hoity toity attitude. The place they stayed the night before was $450 a night. The place they went to after us $400 a night. They booked our cheapest room  ($150) since it was the only one available for a 1 night stay. Woman says to me "this must be your last room to book".

I just wanted to slap her! We were definitely the 'ugly stepsister'!

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Breakfast Diva wrote:

I just wanted to slap her! We were definitely the 'ugly stepsister'!

I had at least a 10 minute phone call a few weeks ago from someone wanting to book what I don't have...rooms on weekends in foliage season. I had ONE room left and she looked at the photos online while she was talking to me and said, 'Well, no wonder you have that room left, it's awful. Who would want a room with twin beds???'

OK, the room has a QUEEN bed and a twin but she could not see past the fact that it was the ONLY room left. She wanted a choice. You want choice, lady, you call in March, not Sept.

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we have this same problem - we are booked up for a saturday night at least 6 weeks in advance this is pretty average in this area - however had 2 lots of people ringing this week for very specific rooms

(1) needed a ground floor room for his disabled wife - ground floor rooms are very rare here so I would have been looking about 3 months in advance or booked a hotel with a lift not started looking on the monday - for a wedding you knew you were coming to.

(2) lady coming to wedding with grown up son (again knew the wedding was on) needed ground floor room as he has broken his leg. Started looking on the tuesday!

Madeleine's picture
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We had a call a couple of weeks ago for a wedding next year. Asked me to hold rooms so he could call everyone. I gave him 4 days. Not a single call. Released the rooms and he calls the next day to say they changed the date of the wedding. Was I going to hold rooms again? Not on your nellie!

So, no matter what date he's got the wedding on for now, he's already bumping up against other events going on.

We got married in Sept in VT. I had to reserve the church and the hall 18 months in advance. I still had guests trying to make a reservation for a hotel a week before. We explained it to them early on...it's fall in northern VT, call early!

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Madeleine wrote:

Breakfast Diva wrote:

I just wanted to slap her! We were definitely the 'ugly stepsister'!

I had at least a 10 minute phone call a few weeks ago from someone wanting to book what I don't have...rooms on weekends in foliage season. I had ONE room left and she looked at the photos online while she was talking to me and said, 'Well, no wonder you have that room left, it's awful. Who would want a room with twin beds???'

OK, the room has a QUEEN bed and a twin but she could not see past the fact that it was the ONLY room left. She wanted a choice. You want choice, lady, you call in March, not Sept.

AMEN Sista'!

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You two are a hoot. Thanks for the chuckle. 

 

Hey! What's wrong with being ugly ???

But you have a kind hearts. That is what counts!!!

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gillumhouse's picture
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Flower, please e-mail me. I need to ask you something.

gillumhouse's picture
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 feel like the ugly stepsister.
.

Why? You all are so fabulous with what you do, your blogs, and your inns that I HAVE to do something to keep up........

Joey Camb's picture
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ive only had that once and i was booked up for the other nights they needed thats why they had to move so wasn't so bad - just depends on why they are going there doesn't it? ie if its for an event there, its super cheap etc then thats their own bad luck isn't it?

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