So you want to become Innkeeper Chapter 1

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Goodbye!

Madeleine's picture
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For MY book...the dilemma of the open kitchen. We provide guests with the means to prepare their own coffee and tea, a microwave to heat whatever, plates, glassware, utensils and a fridge with a freezer section all to keep them the hell out of the kitchen. (Which is open. Has no door nor means of installing one. And a HUGE sign that tells guests in no uncertain terms that they do not belong here in the dark in the kitchen.)

But, you know where we found them. Cooking their dinner. WTF is wrong with people???

When asked WTH they were doing, they responded, 'Oh I guess we don't belong in here?' REALLY??? You think?

Just a rant. Not looking for solutions to the problem of the boundaryless who walk among us. It doesn't help I'm sick as a dog. I have ZERO tolerance when I'm sick.

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Ice
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We have and open kitchen and so far (knock on wood) no one has ever used it.  They put their doggie bag in the refrigerator but that is it.

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what they don't get is that its not so much the cooking - its the cleaning up afterwards and prep time! they don't know what pans you need for the morning or will load the dishwasher etc

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Maddie, I how you feel better real soon. Being sick is NOT fun and when you have clods to deal with makes it worse. Get some rest - it might help.

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Don't you just wish that you had a floor that opened in two and dropped people into a shark tank, just like in Live and Let Die.

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Eric Arthur Blair wrote:

Don't you just wish that you had a floor that opened in two and dropped people into a shark tank, just like in Live and Let Die.

They're headed next for your neck of the woods.

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Thanks! I have KNIVES in my kitchen.... all prepared.

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People will pilfer more than outright steal. Every office in the world loses all its sticky tape before Christmas.  (Of course this is stealing just the same, but they try to legitimize it, like stealing chocolates from the source, ie the bag if they can find it at the inn).

The one thing missing here of late is a magazine that we were in, it is a Blue Ridge Magazine, and not a big deal, but a photo I submitted was in it, and I put a note on that about it. Someone prob swiped it without even reading the note, to read on the road later.  I wish they would have taken any of the other editions. No big deal, if I put it out they are liable to take it.

But really unless it is something noticeable anything here could be stolen and I wouldn't even be aware of it.  I was aware of the entire bowl of tea-bags missing after the Brits left (since they were the only room, it was pretty dang obvious), sorry you are encountering Lipton at other inns or hotels, does it give you the right to pilfer all of my nice teas?

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Joey Bloggs wrote:

People will pilfer more than outright steal. Every office in the world loses all its sticky tape before Christmas.  (Of course this is stealing just the same, but they try to legitimize it, like stealing chocolates from the source, ie the bag if they can find it at the inn).

The one thing missing here of late is a magazine that we were in, it is a Blue Ridge Magazine, and not a big deal, but a photo I submitted was in it, and I put a note on that about it. Someone prob swiped it without even reading the note, to read on the road later.  I wish they would have taken any of the other editions. No big deal, if I put it out they are liable to take it.

But really unless it is something noticeable anything here could be stolen and I wouldn't even be aware of it.  I was aware of the entire bowl of tea-bags missing after the Brits left (since they were the only room, it was pretty dang obvious), sorry you are encountering Lipton at other inns or hotels, does it give you the right to pilfer all of my nice teas?

 

We have had all our teabags and/or indivdual creamers taken. I mean if they had used them while staying here, well, that's that. Seems weird to me. But my mom used to take all the soap products  from hotel rooms.....so it's just one of those weird things.

 

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Guilty as charged with taking the soaps - at a HOTEL. I keep them in my travel case so when I visit a friend B & B I do not use their stuff (overhead) - I use from the hotel supply.

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I have on my registration form on check in - Please be aware that any mess or damage to the room outside what it normally takes the chamber maid to clean will be charged at the rate per hour plus anything else it costs to put the room back into service.

Any noise or disruption caused to other guests that requires a discount will be charged to your card.

I find making them sign just under this focuses their minds somewhat.- I would rather have prevention rather than cure -

Also isn't your place non-smoking? no matter what the substance? in the uk I could have the police called out to them - drugs or no drugs

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For the record the Cavernous hole is a bit smaller than a fifty cent piece and is of a conical angled cut. I spotted immediately. It would of taken my partner months to see it. I wish I had his ability not to see obvious things.

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Seriously? Cut out part of the carpet? 

They can pay for it, or you can call the cops and they can explain they pot to the cops...

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If I took it in it be a couple hundred  dollars and probably out of the room for 1-2 months or I can fix it myself for probably five dollars.  I used the same rug to fix the roller coaster wood floor after guest tilted a ac into the room. Believe it or not if you put a rug of this size and weight onto a warped wood floor, that wood floor will lay down flat again within a years time. Its so frustrating that we open our homes to strangers and human nature is what it is and they always seem to conceal the damage. I wish they would of left it burnt and let me tackle the situation than make it worse by cutting the burned area from the rug. Thing is I probably would of strangled her if she would of admitted to it. Anger I've learnt takes time to dissolve and separation from  the anger is a must to allow it to dissolve. But you guys are great for letting me vent! You saved me from going to prison for strangling another person and saved me hundreds in therapist bills.

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We have had excessive damage here as well. Finding it BEFORE the guest had checked out allowed us to present them with a bill, charge them, get them to sign the cc receipt and that was that.

However, also have friends who had damage done to their place, got the guest to sign the cc receipt and then got threatening phone calls from the guest's brother saying bad things would happen if the innkeeper didn't refund the money.

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I often wished it be appropriate to do a mid stay walk through of the room. We use the door hangers to freshen a room and respect the rights to privacy when the guest lock the door. A few years back another guest tilted the ac unit towards the room and you guessed it the water came in and instead of notifying us, they would through towels on the floor to contain the water. I've learnt in seven years of doing this if they insist on paying in cash they usually are more of liability. I was successful once last year in collecting for damages but our location on a three State line means most of our guest are from other States. Its near impossible to litigate over State lines without a great expense to yourself.If a guest insist on cash I do make them sign a separate sheet that lets me collect in court if there are damages. I do think a book about Inn keeping that really spells out the good and the bad should be written. I think its great that this website exist so those that are kicking the idea around can read what actual people in the business say.I am also lucky that between my partner and there is almost nothing we can't fix ourselves. I think I'm going to glue the weft in place where they cut through it and needle punch wool of the same color into the void to fill it. Luckily they did not cut through the canvas backing of the rug.  The glue will go down in the weft after the felting takes place. For now I moved the 12x10 rug two feet under the couch. I have a skilled rug hooker coming to stay at the end of the month and I'm so going to have her look at it. She may actually do a traditional repair and dyes her own wool. At this point I'm grateful anger has passed and using my God given noggin to now fix the situation.  A friend of ours who runs a B&B for the city of Dubuque has has changed the policy page on there website and I am working on changing mine to be more in line to her site.

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Steven James wrote:

I often wished it be appropriate to do a mid stay walk through of the room.

Get rid of the door hangers that allow your guests to 'deny' you admittance to the rooms everyday. We clean every guest room everyday so it's easier to find those problems ahead of time. Even if a guest says there's no need to clean, we open the door to be sure there's nothing needing attention. (A/C left on, heat running, windows open in a storm, wet towels everywhere.) It doesn't mean we'll clean, but we will protect our property.

We don't go into the room if the guest is only in the house one night. But, you might consider a turn down service to get you into the room if you're finding more problems than usual.

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We tried the "Do Not Disturb" hangers and we gave up. They leave it on when they don't want to, they use it to keep you out because they damaged something or are doing something illegal or immoral.... Nope, done! We go in each day. You can ask us not to, but we always need to clear the trash, sorry. We don't do DND.

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I like your thinking Eric and its where I'm leaning on going to.....I said recently to my partner while we make money like a business this is clearly and still our home. Some B&B's are strictly profit making  or as someone said Newhart Inns. For me this is my home and my memories and I really should have no guilt taking control of my home. I find it unusual how the average guest does not respect our homes and I often wonder if its a generational thing because if I were visiting my mothers home  there are strict guidelines of conduct. My biggest pet peeve are the furniture decorators or those who rearrange. I would never go into my mothers home to stay and think I have the right to move her beds and then leave them for her to move back. I had one wacko this last Winter who removed all the wall art and placed it in the closet.  Can you believe it!!! I came across  another demented person like this and they stated they did not like things with eyes. Luckily she left the next morning and two days later she called asking if she could come back and my reply of course was NEVER! She evidently was not liking her motel/hotel accommodations! LOL. The expensive art I keep alarmed and more than once have been awakened by alarms going off. I love asking them what the need was to remove a painting from its wall. As of yet not one has given me a clear answer.  Its even more fun to alarm the glass cases and ask them what is it they wanted to see when those alarms squeal off. I love seeing humans turn bright red and still find it fascinating how they think they have the right to go into sealed cases, cabinets, and curios. I've learnt if you add signage and state the piece is alarmed it makes them want to gain access even more LOL.  It is alarming not to pun, how the American public think because they pay to stay at a place be it hotel , motel, B&B that they have the right to invade every aspect and can do whatever they want with no consequences for there actions. Clearly something has changed in my lifetime.

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It's not generational. For me I always worry when a guest calls my B&B a "Hotel". A hotel is a place where no one respects property. It is the Car Rental with the CDW. And you know how many people want to buy a rental car after they are finished with it. There is NO ONE who takes better care of your home than you. 

Schadenfreude is the word you are looking for. And I've been contemplating putting a dummy camera with a blinking red light inside of my laundry area. It's a door marked private and I just let myself imagine that they respect me enough to not go in. But how embarrassing would it be to open it up and see the flashing red light of a camera staring at you. 

I've had minor furniture movement. I keep furniture in the rooms to a minimum and not much in the way of movement. But you can never tell what will throw people. My mother used to cover the mirrors at my grandparent's place in Florida because she hated waking up at night and seeing someone staring back at her in the moonlight.

PS: Can I contribute $10 to your paragraph fund? You know, that thing that tells us a different idea is coming.... Smiling

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LOL I'll try harder! with the paragraphs.

I totally put a camera out onto the street and then this last year because of towel, pillow, and yes even some blankets I put a camera in the front hall that monitors all the homes cross roads. I felt bad at first about doing it and would even turn it off for those whole house rental guest that come regularly. However it has dropped the MIA items mentioned above to nearly none.

I overstock the shampoo, hand lotion basket to give the sticky fingers something to grab and feel like they are getting away with something. On my profile photo you see a large Jack o lantern he is filled with Sams club candy we go through anywhere from 3-6 pounds a week or 10-20 dollars. Cheaper than cookies or cheese and wine but amazes me because the camera looks down on it how some will fill every pocket they have.

Cameras in common areas I am beginning to learn is a good thing! The one at the door going outside is a blessing in disguise to see who is coming and going has become a invaluable friend. It also is so nice to see a car pull up and beat them to the door before they ring the doorbell fifteen times thinking someone is on staff to receive them. Can you tell my other pet peeve? I think it should be illegal to ring a doorbell more than twice. I wish someone would invent one that only rang twice and then had a ten minute zone before it would be heard again. Unfortunately my partner will not allow me to to run 120 Volt charge to the doorbell. He said it be cruel and unusual punishment to animals! For those occasional ones that are buzzer happy I've been known to show them Miss manners book on etiquette and usually the wife thanks me on the side. 

I use Unidens camera and Sams club actually has some of the best deals on two and three camera/monitor sets. I call it my baby monitor for adults.

In the past I could easily be missing 1-2 hundred towels, and up to a dozen pillows....usually we get the pillow swapper they leave the tear stained pillow from home and swap my pillow case onto it like we may not notice. I also write my B&B name in permanent maker on the pillow with the room its in and the count ( Thornton House Peach room 1 of 6 ) Making sure all down feather pillows are from the same maker in each room. Believe it or not some stolen pillows have been mailed back or left on the porch with a sorry note.

The cameras and the pillow trick have stopped almost all the trickery. I also use the P-touch labels and document the closets and back up stuff http://pinterest.com/pin/57069120248121768/ (a photo as a example) I also number the wooden hangers which also use to disappear in flocks. The P touch I also use if anything for "The peoples comfort" are stored in drawers, cabinets..... As Martha would say, "Its a good thing"

On Pinterest I go into some detail on running a home such as ours and many of my tricks are documented on it.

Can you tell my Father was military?

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Thank you for the paragraphs!

A couple of things...I am STUNNED at the amount of things that were stolen from your place. And I mean STUNNED. I hate to jinx myself here but we've lost a FEW wooden hangers (they came back a few years later) and a dozen mugs.

Maybe my towels and bedding are crap. Who knows. But they've never gone missing.

I am also surprised by the cameras. I guess you need them, but I can't imagine having them here. Especially over the candy dish. That's where I hang out!

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If a lot of people are stealing, to me at least, this is an indication that you don't have your target audience, somehow. I don't know if they are thinking that you are too expensive and they have to steal or that you are too cheap and you are getting the people who do steal.

Why do I say this? Because the biggest thing that I have had a guest take in the last three years is one of my travel guides (which we treasured because it was the first travel guide to include us.) The person who went into my cupboard took a towel to use (a new and unwashed towel, so they got to rub formaldehyde all over themselves). I have a few who ask if they can take a banana, clementine or such from the bowl for later. Of and a few who don't pay for the bottled water in the room (a whole $2 worth).

Heck, I have at least two extra towels that guests have left and more hangers than when I started (and I throw them all out when I know the inspector is coming because I'm downgraded for having anything but wooden hangers.)

Okay, I have to admit that I don't use down pillows, mostly because of allergies. But something is definitely wrong if they are stealing this much.

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We are at the top end for pricing in our area and all the other B&B's usually reset to our prices. In these last few years we froze our pricing to fit the economy we  tightened our belts like everyone else. I can't wait to raise the prices again and plan on it after the elections in the new year.

I use to do concierge work for the Palm Beach Hilton in Florida and also another 4 1/2 diamond hotel in upper Wisconsin. Everyplace I have worked has considerable loss in all these areas so count your luck you have had so far. I have almost thirty years experience in the hospitality industry.

Palm Beach Hilton I witnessed more than one bed being thrown from a window, and by different "guest"  So with that being said maybe its just wealthy people that feel entitled? I'm not sure, I do know I'm the purchasing person now and I know full well the day I had my 365th guest this year and cross referenced my toilette paper and you be amazed at how many rolls 365 people used.

I was amazed when reading one post in here where people purchased the towels and bedding from. It seemed most were buying from retail stores or chain stores like Target/ TJ Max and I purchase everything in bulk in dozen and fifty lots at wholesale pricing specific to the hospitality industry.

I do know this is the best year I had for loss since I implemented everything I did. It appears we finally have it under control. It be nice to blame it on employees but since its just my partner and me I know he's vested in keeping the assets here.

The camera in the main hall and the one out to the street level  have easily paid for themselves in one year alone. Trust me I felt horrible putting these onto my home but once I saw those numbers go down this year my smile returned.

I have to wonder if I'm doing higher numbers of guest through my home than other B&B's and if that plays into it or is it because I'm located deep in rural America between two major cities where most my guest are coming in from. Off the top of my head I say 90 to 95 percent of my guest are internet and non local guest. It be a interesting survey to ask where a Inn/ B&B believes the bulk of the business comes in from. Mine undeniable is Internet driven.

On a side note a friend of mine claimed she never had any loss at her B&B and she came to a point where she was busy enough to hire a employee. I became friends with the employee and to my surprise the employee verified everything I know to be true in the hospitality industry. Some people think its bad business to admit or talk about it. I however take the other road and say knowledge is power. I confronted my friend with the employee present and asked her point blank why she denied it and she turned several shades of red.

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Our losses are mostly of the annoying kind. Lately it's been forks, but before that it was teaspoons. I therefore won't put out the good stuff, instead it's Chinese goods with fancy Swedish names. I buy extra sets every once in a while. Never lost a sheet set, though sometimes I'd be willing to give it to the guests at EOL, instead it goes to charity. My towels are bought in bulk from Costco and don't last as long as Maddies, but using a fabric-safe bleach means they lose their fluffiness long before they lose their threads. We do throw more out because people abuse them. 

Maybe because we are small. Maybe because we are more personal. Maybe because I am so often around in my office with a view of the front door, things don't travel. Maybe because I'm spartan about certain things. I use soap distributors around the house, so they can't walk away with the shampoo, etc. I put up a few packets of things, but not too much, so taking is evident. Maybe I don't notice if they take a few extra tea bags (since I have so many out). Maybe because so much of it is not in their bedrooms. Maybe because I have actual masking tape holding in the items on the shelf in private areas or that I could towels. I don't know what it is, but I don't seem to have that kind of pilfering happening here. 

My price point might also be to blame. We have found that if our price is too low or too high we get the kind of guests that we don't want. The backpacks show up when we are too low, the snobs when we are too high.

As for toilet paper. I have several in the bathroom. I had one lady who used 7 rolls in two day... and dispensed a lot of hand soap. Okay, maybe she was leaving with the handsoap, I don't know. But all the centres of the toilet rolls were in the trash. I don't know what she was doing with it, maybe pica? But it is one of the few times we have had paper taken. We do know what some people use a LOT more toilet paper than others. And use a lot more shower gel than others (usually those who haven't figured out what a facecloth is for, but that's another story.) But outright theft? 

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I was amazed when reading one post in here where people purchased the towels and bedding from. It seemed most were buying from retail stores or chain stores like Target/ TJ Max and I purchase everything in bulk in dozen and fifty lots at wholesale pricing specific to the hospitality industry.

We used to get our towels from an outlet that gave innkeepers an additional 20% off the outlet price. I went there earlier this year and they told me they couldn't do the discount any longer because 'you people' were clearing off the shelves. Hmmm. I buy everything in one swoop vs selling it 2 towels at a time and this is a problem?

On the way home I stopped at JCP and bought a nice Royal Velvet towel that I'll be able to buy again and again. They didn't have enough in the store so they shipped them to my house for free. Out of the 40 towels I bought, one was 'bad'. It needs a hem, which I'll get to later on in the winter.

I am planning to use these towels for 3-4 years. That's about how long I get out of an inn towel. Then they go to the homeless shelter because the only thing wrong with them is that the edges are frayed a little.

I get my bedding (sheets, blankets and quilts) at JCP or Kohls or Target. Wait for the sale, use my SIL's account and get another 20% off and I'm good to go. Plus, the more I buy on her account, the more bonus points she gets. I'll probably buy some new blankets from a woolens outlet up the street from me. They have gorgeous colors.

But, my stuff doesn't go missing. I guess if it did I would be buying from a wholesaler, too.

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The majority of our biz is from the internet. Not from local sources. Occasionally we get a nice article in a magazine or a newspaper and we see an uptick from that market.

But, I was serious about only losing a dozen mugs in the 6 years we've had the logo'd ones. Teaspoons disappear but I wonder if guests don't just throw them in the trash by accident. Toilet paper, tissues, all of that easily removed stuff stays put. Tea bags will wander off. I don't find them in the trash so they must have gone into pockets.

When we first got the Keurig we found a guest sitting in the living room with a stack of the pods. Asking her if she needed help operating the machine got the pods put back.

And, we did have one woman who said, 'Sugar in the Raw! I love that stuff. No other place we've stayed has had that!' And it was all gone every day. Again, no wrappers in the trash so she was hoarding it.

But these are the outliers. These are not the average guests.

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I am with you, Maddie. In 16 years (now into the 17th) we have never had anything stolen. I have my "gift shop" in the dining room with jars of jelly, honey, apple butter, CDs of the Community Band, my logo'd mugs, and tins of tea plus a huge array of teas in tins for tasting and a tray of mugs to be used sitting on the sideboard. Storage room upstairs with no lock with towels, pillows, sheets - lots of STUFF - and nothing walks. Only thing that "walks" here are the books we encourage our guests to take.

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We better watch out, soon you will be using bullets and numbering. cheeky

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Eric Arthur Blair wrote:

PS: Can I contribute $10 to your paragraph fund? You know, that thing that tells us a different idea is coming.... Smiling

I'll throw in $10, too.

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Et tu, Madeleine!

 

I totally need a ghost writer to do a book, I'm so dyslexic I worry about everything I write and try to check it thrice. I am quite humorous though in my own defense. I also am filled with the knowledge of ten men. I will try harder! honest!!!

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Steven James wrote:

Et tu, Madeleine!

 

I totally need a ghost writer to do a book, I'm so dyslexic I worry about everything I write and try to check it thrice. I am quite humorous though in my own defense. I also am filled with the knowledge of ten men. I will try harder! honest!!!

SJ we want to read it, and learn your ten men knowledge, but can't, so well done inserting a few P's now and again. Thank you.  

Sometimes we have to add them where they don't belong, just so everyone can read it all (like I just did). yes

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I am so sorry that you guys get the crazies. So far (and I am eternally grateful) mine have canceled before they arrived.

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I'm so lucky I'm going out for dinner tonight with two friends that use to own a B&B in NY state and walked away from the light. I know they will have me in stitches tonight with worse nightmare stories than my poor old rug story. I lurked for a few months on here before logging in and the funny part of it is. I realized its just not me and we all seem to be in very similar boats. I found it comforting after awhile to know I'm not alone. I would think everyone of us does not do this out of love for strangers but basically does if for a love a history and a way to maintain a manner of living and preserve a home and its history. I learnt I am this homes Custodian a long time ago and it owns me not the other way around.

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Have you contacted them yet?

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I hope you confronted them about the carpet. If not then, I would definitely contact them. Do you have a policy about charges for room damages. If you don't..better get one NOW! Good luck with the rest of the season.

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This is my friend B&B policy page which the City of Dubuque owns the B&B Its basically the way I'm changing mine too and I be curious what the rest of the people on here think. Its very heavy handed to cancelations but I love it. For damages however I think I want a hourly fee also.

 http://www.fourmounds.org/Portals/0/Event%20Whole%20House%20policies%2011.pdf

 

I like also they are taking not just one night of a rental up front but 50 percent. So if someone is coming for four days they are taking two days up front and the cancelation guide lines are strict but Ohhhhh so devine.

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Wow!!! Sounds like you had a great time. Did you have policies in place to have the guest pay for your thousand dollar rug?

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Well sure we do but just try and collect on them! 9 out of 10 times as you know we lose. Short of having evidence the day before the event and signed witness statements its near impossible for us to collect. Its frustrating at best and luckily we have this site to rant and complain. Fall always seems to bring out the most evil guest

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Steven James wrote:

 Fall always seems to bring out the most evil guest

It's summer here that does that. We look forward to the fall and the 'sane' guests coming back. They were a little late this year...

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Last night the home was 72 plus degrees on all three floors and had a request for extra heat. Sooooo of course I gave them a space heater and guess what,  two hours later they requested another one. Two space heaters and 72 degrees. the crazies are out! I don't cook breakfast I pull a "Newhart" in this department but the two space heater quarters are next to the kitchen and there I was bullets of sweat pouring off my face this morning. Soon as they left I opened all the doors to cool the place down. Eeeeegads the fun never ends. I need to send myself on a vacation next Fall. Luckily I scheduled three more retreats before the end of October. I' love my post menstrual stitching, hooking , quilting ladies. Give me a retreat any day over regular B&B guest. With a group over just a couple at least a democracy or a monarchy seems to take place. Love hearing ten woman yell at the eleventh woman to put a sweater on.

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Steven James wrote:

 I' love my post menstrual stitching, hooking , quilting ladies. Give me a retreat any day over regular B&B guest. With a group over just a couple at least a democracy or a monarchy seems to take place. Love hearing ten woman yell at the eleventh woman to put a sweater on.

That. is. awesome.

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Joined:
09/26/2012

Penelope I do have one regret if I could redo my last seven years I would not go after your average Joe B&B guest for business. I point blank would have catered to these retreat groups. For me they basically are what keeps the doors open and the bills paid. I cater to several of these groups now and they all book anywhere from 1 to 3 times a year. I knew I was doing these right when the one  woman booked a retreat for all her extended family for Christmas. It was a hoot to finally meet some of the husbands who up to this point I only knew by breakfast table talk. Thing is you hear so much about them I could of named everyone of them just by the stories I have heard and laughed  over through the years. 

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