I'm starting to hate phone reservations.

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Proud Texan's picture
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Individuals that make reservations over the phone, I find,  have never seen our website,  never read our policies,  don't know where we are located, etc. etc.

I had a jerk call and make a reservation today and most of the above listed information applied.  I explained our cancellation policy over the phone and he agreed to that and explained that our other policies are listed online and that I would be sending him a copy as well with his confirmation.

Fast forward 2 hours.  He calls and wants to check in two hours earlier than our normal check in time.  I explained to him, that we don't allow early check ins.  "Why?"  I should have just said "Because that's our stated policy", but like an idiot tried to explain it to him.  "Well, couldn't you do this?" or "Couldn't you do that?"  "No.  That's why we don't allow early check-ins"  

"Well you're not very accommodating to your guests!  I want to cancel my reservation!!!"   "O.K.,  but there will be a $25 cancellation fee."  He wasn't happy about that.

What I wish I would have said is "Strictly speaking, you would not be my guest until the 3 p.m. check in time."   PITA!

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Please amend the original topic heading to "I'm beginning to hate people who make reservations"

Couple arrives today for a two-night stay having made their reservation online.  ResKey requires that they check a box stating that they have read our policies.  It was checked.

A confirmation is sent.  Attached to this confirmation is a copy of explicit directions and OUR POLICIES.  

The arrive one hour before check-in time WITH A FRIGGIN DOG.   We say at least three places on our website NO PETS and it is specified in bold face type on the copy  that's sent with the confirmation.

We state that if you arrive with a pet, you will be turned away and forfeit your full reservation.  We also state that you are not allowed to keep your pet in the car overnight. 

I hate having to be the bad cop and enforce the policies, but at least they acknowledged that they had not read the policies and we were able to arrange for them to board their dog with a local vet.   I'm just hoping this does not turn into a very tense two days.

I did call the vet and verified that the dog was indeed boarded in case they thought about sneaking it in.

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I also have no pets on the web site. Had an inquiry via email for people coming with a horse - oh and by the way we have 2 small dogs (7 lbs and 15 lbs) can they stay in the room with us.

I replied that the room and stable were no problem for her date, however, we do not accept 4-legged animals, on ly 2-legged animals (commonly known as kids) are accepted. (I told them the dogs could stay in the trailer or at the stable.)

She replied that she will have to make other arrangements although she may be contacting me if they cannot find other accommodations. Works for me.

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Very interesting post! Many of the b&bs and Inns I work with are against online bookings as they want to "talk to the person" and make a decision themselves. 

ProudTexan, you are actually giving a great example of what could happen when the guest isn't educated about your property. I will make sure I remember to show this thread to the Inn owners who don't want to use online booking!

Cheers

Fabie

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Personally id be dead in the water if i didn't have online booking - sounds harsh and you may want to talk to a customer - they don't want to talk to you - its that simple. The only ones who do want a discount, exception, PITA or dog its that simple.

It also means you are cutting yourself off from the international market which is potentially more lucrative as they stay longer because they don't wan't to ring you at 2am so as to work out the time difference.

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camberleyhotelharrogate@yahoo.co.uk wrote:

Personally id be dead in the water if i didn't have online booking - sounds harsh and you may want to talk to a customer - they don't want to talk to you - its that simple. The only ones who do want a discount, exception, PITA or dog its that simple.

It also means you are cutting yourself off from the international market which is potentially more lucrative as they stay longer because they don't wan't to ring you at 2am so as to work out the time difference.

This is such GOOD advice! And the Gen X and Gen Y people want to do things for themselves!! Like it or not, these are our up and coming market.

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Love it Eric!!! True, keep your competitive advantage!! 

ps: thanks for the comment Smiling

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I love B&Bs that insist on telephone calls or use booking requests...

By the time they answer the call or send back the email, my customer has already filled in the form themselves and has a confirmation in their email.

I live in a VERY competitive LARGE city and only three of the top 15 B&Bs have online booking.

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I really like the idea of an "early check-in" fee. We are in a resort area, and it's remarkable how many weddings occur at 4 p.m., our check-in time. So we have been getting more and more requests for early check-in.

If we can accommodate them, we will. But it can bollux our shopping--as well as our cleaning--schedule. 

Thanks for the idea.

Tom

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Almost all weddings here are at 4 and we get the same thing. 'Have to be there at 1 to get dressed!!!' And then don't show up until after the wedding.

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If there is going to be a situation or damages from a guest, nine out of ten times it is from a phone reservation. They are the worse! A worse scenario is a phone reservation and demands to pay in cash, usually I refuse these people entrance. No CC on file no bed for you!

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Meant for egoodell

 

Under "Our Policies", a typo:

 

"ten daysor more"

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Anon Inn wrote:

Meant for egoodell

 

Under "Our Policies", a typo:

 

"ten daysor more"

Thank you! 

Riki

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I just flat out lie to them! I've been doing this for a few months now and it's working great. I tell them I'm not in my office and won't be for several hours. Most of the time they are already on my website, so I tell them to just put through the online reservation and it will take that room out of inventory immediately so no one else can book that room. "I would sure hate for someone to snatch that room up from you!"

I've also started using auth.net, so when they make the online reservation their card is immediately charged and I no longer have to do a separate deposit and follow up on them if their card is bad.

It's been working well this way.

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That's funny! I do the same thing! I then have to go to Church on Sundays and ask for forgiveness for lies I told during the week! Unless its the day of, I never take reservations over the phone anymore. I tell them for the protection of their identity, we only take online reservations. This way no one can view your credit card. People seem to like that when I say that. 

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Love it!  smiley

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LOL  Know what that tells me?   He has credit cards;  he just didn't want the wife to see the charge!

 

 

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SM101 wrote:

LOL  Know what that tells me?   He has credit cards;  he just didn't want the wife to see the charge!

Could be. He was a wingnut.

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I think it's our old friend Riki who ONLY takes reservations via the website, and she loves it that way. It may be that eliminating the crowd who can't/won't do it online will eliminate a lot of folks who require extra attention, and that's fine with me!

My vacation rental apartments (hopefully opening in a couple of months*) will only take online reservations. Time will tell how that will work out!

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"I think it's our old friend Riki who ONLY takes reservations via the website, and she loves it that way. It may be that eliminating the crowd who can't/won't do it online will eliminate a lot of folks who require extra attention, and that's fine with me!"

Yes I do require that they make the booking online. But I'm in Virginia Wine Country and can pretty much force them to do it. But my demographic is online and I've only had two bookings where I had to fill out the form and email it to the guest and the last time was because she could not get her iPad to work and was on the road.

Plus Availabilityonline now has a note at the bottom of every reservation indicating not only that the guest has checked off that they understand the cancellation policy but the exact date and time they did so. Love that feature.

We try and stay off the phone as it's always last minute calls (today, Friday, for rooms this weekend and wine tours for tomorrow..)

Riki

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Arkansawyer wrote:

I think it's our old friend Riki who ONLY takes reservations via the website, and she loves it that way. It may be that eliminating the crowd who can't/won't do it online will eliminate a lot of folks who require extra attention, and that's fine with me!

My vacation rental apartments (hopefully opening in a couple of months*) will only take online reservations. Time will tell how that will work out!

____________________

*The construction contract had a completion date of Oct. 15 but they didn't make it. Working with 110 year old buildings is unpredictable!

Can't wait to see the finished product. Perhaps a road trip is in order! I am watching the progress on ye ol' blog. yes

So, that is the thing. Do you all remember the guy who was BEGGING to stay here without a credit card? I am not sure if I shared it, he was a maniac. He called and emailed 15 times, and I told DH (as I was out of town) that good he dodged a bullet this time.

Then he finally went a bought a credit card from stuffmart and loaded money into it (which is easily done) and ended up here that weekend.  He was a very small man, with a tall lanky woman, and he would hold her hand and kiss it at the table, like a love struck school boy. It was odd, he was odd, but in the end he was no more trouble. ONCE HE GOT THE DANG BOOKING ONLINE DONE!

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Joey Bloggs wrote:

Can't wait to see the finished product. Perhaps a road trip is in order!

Talk about pressure! Hold off till I figure out WHO is going to flip the apartments and handle minor maintenance when I can't get there in time. That's the one detail I've kind of put out of mind all these months, thinking I'll handle that when the time comes. Well, the time has come!

I talked to my friends who own the local Days Inn about using their staff and paying the hotel enough to cover the staff plus a profit for the hotel. They liked the idea but never got back to me, which I take as a hint that they'd rather not do it.

What I need is a good 65-ish retired couple who can handle things on short notice and on no regular schedule. There's also the local "temp" employment agency that might come through for me. Ah, the pressure!

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Since I switched to Rezovation GT, my phone reservations have been drastically reduced! I LOVE THAT!! yes

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Aussie Innkeeper wrote:

Since I switched to Rezovation GT, my phone reservations have been drastically reduced! I LOVE THAT!! yes

We use Reservation Key and a large percentage of our reservations are online without problem or incident.   There are a few technophobes out there though that refuse to do a transaction online.  I'm guessing that they're afraid that their credit card transaction will not be secure.

I may just have to artificially jack up my prices so that there is a "discount" for booking online.

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Proud Texan wrote:

I may just have to artificially jack up my prices so that there is a "discount" for booking online.

Do it. We give 10% off for booking online. So a $10 discount is $11.11. A room at $149.99 is $166.66. So the next slice is $11.11 more or $11.11 less. They can't wait to get off the telephone to book for that extra $10 plus taxes off.

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Still at 50% online vs on the phone. No rhyme or reason. Not everyone who calls wants something, I get plenty of online bookings asking for a discount.

I get a lot of repeat guests who just call and leave a msg telling me what dates they want. Or last minute calls. Or they tell me their dates for next year on their way out the door. One person who reserves several rooms for multiple nights wants me to handle the reservations rather than entering everything over and over. (Yes, that is something that needs to be fixed! Reserve multiple rooms without putting all the info in again.)

A lot of whole house calls wanting to know if we can do that or not. How does it work? What's included? Things like that. I'm glad they call rather than just booking every room and I haven't had a chance to explain things to them.

I was surprised when I just looked that up. I thought we had definitely gone over to more online bookings.

I have to say that I think MOST of the phone callers are looking at the website and the calendar when they call but too many of them have been burned by places that only do 'room requests'. And they find out a day later there weren't any rooms available even tho they showed open online. So, once bitten twice shy and they call me instead of waiting another day to find out no rooms.

There is a lot of that in this area- request only types of systems.

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Madeleine wrote:

 

I have to say that I think MOST of the phone callers are looking at the website and the calendar when they call but too many of them have been burned by places that only do 'room requests'. And they find out a day later there weren't any rooms available even tho they showed open online. So, once bitten twice shy and they call me instead of waiting another day to find out no rooms.

There is a lot of that in this area- request only types of systems.

We have that happen.  Guests are leery. They call to make sure that they truly have a room.  And then, of course, there's the slightly older crowd who doesn't know what to make of this newfangled "interweb"   Eye-wink

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If it were a request only system I would call too. I don't get that, who the heck wants to wait around... planning a trip is like an orchestra sometimes, with flights, times off work, lodging, events, etc. You need to have those ducks in a row, and if you can't book it right now, then you have to call it right now.

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exactly Joey.   

And since I now am using reservationkey -  I am in heavennnnnnn

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Proud Texan wrote:

Aussie Innkeeper wrote:

Since I switched to Rezovation GT, my phone reservations have been drastically reduced! I LOVE THAT!! yes

We use Reservation Key and a large percentage of our reservations are online without problem or incident.   There are a few technophobes out there though that refuse to do a transaction online.  I'm guessing that they're afraid that their credit card transaction will not be secure.

I may just have to artificially jack up my prices so that there is a "discount" for booking online.

DUDE! GO FER IT! That is what I did, $10 off to book online, as well as these other innmates here, it works EVERY TIME. Not per night, but to book online.  I did per night the first couple years, and it made no different and I save $ by a one time book online save $10.  

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Joey Bloggs wrote:

Proud Texan wrote:

Aussie Innkeeper wrote:

Since I switched to Rezovation GT, my phone reservations have been drastically reduced! I LOVE THAT!! yes

We use Reservation Key and a large percentage of our reservations are online without problem or incident.   There are a few technophobes out there though that refuse to do a transaction online.  I'm guessing that they're afraid that their credit card transaction will not be secure.

I may just have to artificially jack up my prices so that there is a "discount" for booking online.

DUDE! GO FER IT! That is what I did, $10 off to book online, as well as these other innmates here, it works EVERY TIME. Not per night, but to book online.  I did per night the first couple years, and it made no different and I save $ by a one time book online save $10.  

I see how you did that with the "BookOnline"  discount code,  but how did you figure out how much to raise your rates in order for that to work?

At present,  our rates are very competitive and in line with our local market.  I'm a little squeamish about artificially raising our  rates so I can subtract $10 from the total.   For multi-night stays,  I would be charging higher than the market rate for my rooms.

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Proud Texan wrote:

 I see how you did that with the "BookOnline"  discount code,  but how did you figure out how much to raise your rates in order for that to work?

At present,  our rates are very competitive and in line with our local market.  I'm a little squeamish about artificially raising our  rates so I can subtract $10 from the total.   For multi-night stays,  I would be charging higher than the market rate for my rooms.

Try it for a month or two to see how it goes. Do you have seasonal rates or the same rate year round? If you have seasonal rates just don't lower your rates by that much.

I test drove the $10 online booking deal in the spring. But I did $10 off per night for booking online.

OTOH, if you truly hate answering the phone, $10 may be the price you have to pay. Keep your rates the same but don't have to answer the phone.

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Madeleine wrote:

Proud Texan wrote:

 I see how you did that with the "BookOnline"  discount code,  but how did you figure out how much to raise your rates in order for that to work?

At present,  our rates are very competitive and in line with our local market.  I'm a little squeamish about artificially raising our  rates so I can subtract $10 from the total.   For multi-night stays,  I would be charging higher than the market rate for my rooms.

Try it for a month or two to see how it goes. Do you have seasonal rates or the same rate year round? If you have seasonal rates just don't lower your rates by that much.

I test drove the $10 online booking deal in the spring. But I did $10 off per night for booking online.

OTOH, if you truly hate answering the phone, $10 may be the price you have to pay. Keep your rates the same but don't have to answer the phone.

I don't hate answering the phone.  It's potential guests NOT reading ANYTHING on the website, especially the policies.  Then they b itch and moan because they we tell them no for whatever ridiculous request they happen to make.

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Now that you mention it, it was someone who booked by telephone who was a real PITA! She was disappointed that I had a job outside the home and would not be able to give her breakfast earlier than 8AM, Surely guests didn't come first!!! She wanted a lot of little things I couldn't provide and was just plain p i s s y throughout. Pick, pick, pick, once she realized she couldn't have an early breakfast when the website clearly stated breakfast times. This was the one who canceled the day of the snowstorm and rebooked 3 months later. Someone had given her a gift certificate so she didn't even pay for the room herself. (directly)

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Why is it that they wait to let us know they need something we can't provide? I got a phone call today from someone wanting a room for tonight. She needed 2 beds. We have that. She needed first floor. We have that. I am halfway thru the reservation and she says, 'You are pet friendly, right?'

Bless her pointed little head. She was SO clear about needing 2 beds and first floor but totally forgot to ask if Fluffy could stay in that room.

Glad she did ask before she showed up. She was upset that even if we were still taking dogs we only had one room. 'ONE ROOM? That's it?'

 

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Proud Texan wrote:

 I don't hate answering the phone.  It's potential guests NOT reading ANYTHING on the website, especially the policies.  Then they b itch and moan because they we tell them no for whatever ridiculous request they happen to make.

I mentioned the 50% of guests who book online here. It does not stop them from calling when they get their confirmation and then requesting a bazillion different things we didn't sign up for. Because now we have their money and now they want special food and different check-in times and who knows what.

Or, not ask for it in advance and just show up and think it is no big deal...case in point...one room showed up today, bags in hand at 11:30 wanting to check-in. The guests in the room the night before had barely gone out the door. Now she needs a place to put the bags down. And a place to sit herself down to call all her friends who are meeting her here. All what friends? Well, they all showed up. 4 cars. One room. Did she ask if there was room for 4 cars? No. Did she care that there isn't room for 4 cars from one room? No. She just expected us to suck it up. 'Where do you expect them to park? We're meeting HERE. We're having drinks HERE. You want them to park downtown and WALK here? <sigh><eye roll>'

Obviously she's the only guest here so what's the big deal with taking half of the parking spaces.

Another room showed up at noon yesterday, same case of bags in hand. No car. Taxi dropped them off. Taxi wasn't coming back to get them until 6 PM today. No problem storing our bags right here is there? Of course not. No problem answering the door throughout the day as they came back to drop off stuff and change their clothes, right? Of course not.

It's not the callers who create the havoc, it's the ones who just show up and fling it in your face.

Countdown to vacation...3 more wakeups.

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Guests of guests have become a REAL problem for us this year.  I'm amazed that people think it's acceptable to invite friends/family to meet HERE and then let them in to use their bathroom, eat our cookies, take up all the common area seating.  This is getting added to our policies this year, and frankly I do feel it is a liability issue.  Registered guests ONLY on our grounds and in the house.  

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Don Draper wrote:

Guests of guests have become a REAL problem for us this year.  I'm amazed that people think it's acceptable to invite friends/family to meet HERE and then let them in to use their bathroom, eat our cookies, take up all the common area seating.  This is getting added to our policies this year, and frankly I do feel it is a liability issue.  Registered guests ONLY on our grounds and in the house.  

OK...I've got to chime in here. And maybe be a bit of the devil's advocate... (a disclaimer, though, that I really have no idea how much of an issue this might be for anyone but me, but this is how I look at it)

Guests of guests? Where are they staying? Could they be potential guests, too? Is a few cookies and some 'looky-loos' too much to pay for the opportunity to impress others who might book their next stay in the area with you? Even if these guests are locals, isn't it reasonable to assume that they might just be more likely to recommend your place to their out-of-town friends or business associates if they've seen/experienced it?

Liability issue?? Technically, you owe them less of a duty since they are secondary invitees, not paying customers, but you're covered regardless (I was an insurance adjuster in my previous life). I don't think they would fall into the 'trespasser' category, though. wink

Just a couple of issues to consider. I know we are NOT a hotel, but we're always trying to remind the public that we offer so much more! Guests of guests are welcome at hotels. Can't have it both ways.

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I do not consider them "potential guests" either. I have been here 17 years now. Locals have had more than a few chances to "see" what we look like. I have done tours several times with the $1 donation at the door going to the Lord's Pantry. There is more parking around me than Carter has pills although it does not belong to me, BUT I do not have any "common area" other than my dining room and my front porch. My porch was so clogged with bodies you had to climb over someone's legs to get into the house - that was OK because they were all guests. One time it was the family of our minister that were here for the wedding of one of his daughters - that was OK because they had 2 of my rooms and because it was his family. But if it was one room clogging everything up, I would not be happy. There are restaurants in town for that kind of thing (and even a couple bars). They are staying with me already or they are not and will not be in the future.

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What we get here are friends of guests staying at other (read:  CHEAPER) properties in town, not potential guests for us.  Either that or guests from out of state whose families live close to our location and they all decide to meet up here.  Why should I take a hit on my insurance policy when one of these folks drinks too much and falls down the steps?  No way.

Plus, anyone rude enough to come into someone's house and help themselves to all the amenities uninvited are just not someone I'd want staying here in the first place.  

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The problem here is when the guests and their guests take over the little bit of room we have for everyone to share. We had a group here one weekend who were out on the porch drinking, helping themselves to coffee & tea & snacks. I hadn't checked them in so I didn't know which rooms they had. I greeted them and asked how things were going and they said they were waiting for their friends and they were all headed out for dinner.

OK so far as I HAD checked in their friends. Off I went into town. And there were the friends. In town shopping. And none of the people on the porch were actually staying with us! DH hadn't checked them in either. They were told by their friends to just come over and 'help themselves'.

We ended up with bottles all over the porch, butts in the shrubs and all of our snacks gone (ALL, meaning none left for the people who hadn't even arrived yet). Our porch looked like a frat house.

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When it happens this is what we get too.  Just RUDE and unbelievable to me.

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Its definitely a liability and more important its your home. Best thing I ever did was install the Schlage door locks that are a keypad. I change the code often and the best part within five seconds of a guest punching in the code the door re-locks. These locks have been great! We don't find strangers walking around our home anymore and  the comfort from making it more secure is pure heaven.

If we know a guest is here visiting family we try to always invite the relatives to our home for breakfast. This gets the local population into the home and seems to help promote the business on a local level. I do limit it to two guest however. Most guest usually appreciate it and want to offset you for the cost of breakfast.

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Steven James wrote:

Its definitely a liability and more important its your home. Best thing I ever did was install the Schlage door locks that are a keypad. I change the code often and the best part within five seconds of a guest punching in the code the door re-locks. These locks have been great! We don't find strangers walking around our home anymore and  the comfort from making it more secure is pure heaven.

We have this as well. It doesn't, however, stop someone on the inside from opening the door to their friends and family or telling them the code so they can let themselves in (we've had that happen). SO, my solution is to have a different code for every guest which gets deleted at 11 AM day of check out. This doesn't stop guests from telling everyone the code but it does make the problem go away when that guest goes away.

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Don Draper wrote:

Guests of guests have become a REAL problem for us this year.  I'm amazed that people think it's acceptable to invite friends/family to meet HERE and then let them in to use their bathroom, eat our cookies, take up all the common area seating.  This is getting added to our policies this year, and frankly I do feel it is a liability issue.  Registered guests ONLY on our grounds and in the house.  

Boy I hear ya!  Some think they can have a social gathering here & last Dec. we had 1 room have a Christmas get together here (they knew we were going to be gone during the day for our son's MBA grad.).  What they did not know was that our daughter was going to come by to check on the place.  Low and behold she walked in on the party.  I don't know who was more surprised.  Other than the garbage can being overfilled with loose party stuff I would not have known except for daughter.  They said not a word.  Most of the time a guest asks if they can have someone stop over.  ASKING goes a long way with me, I don't mind a couple joining guests for a drink or so before going to dinner or after.  Parties are another story, I rent space for that!  

Don Draper's picture
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Just...WOW!  That someone would think this is ok, it just blow me away.  So sneaky too, doing it at a time when they knew you would be away.  This is also why I detest when guests ask "So how many people are staying here tonight?" "So, do you live here too?"  Why, what are you planning to do that you know you SHOULDN'T???

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Had a situation like this with my neighbour he went ballistic and was right to - woman comes to check into a single room with 2 children - tells him the children are staying with a friend ie not with them and only the woman will be staying - come breakfast time she comes down with the two children! He said and what if there was a fire and you were renedred unconscious we wouldn't know to get your children out and they could die of smoke inhilation!

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Don Draper wrote:

Just...WOW!  That someone would think this is ok, it just blow me away.  So sneaky too, doing it at a time when they knew you would be away.  This is also why I detest when guests ask "So how many people are staying here tonight?" "So, do you live here too?"  Why, what are you planning to do that you know you SHOULDN'T???

Just last week we had that. Guests had wanted to book the whole house but then couldn't get enough friends to come along. They ended up being the only people here and I locked every other room. Didn't stop them from going in the kitchen. Even with signage.

But whenever a group asks if we're full I wonder if they're going to wander  so I lock everything.

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Groups....I hated groups.  They just feel entitled and take over.  Thank goodness it didn't happen that often.

__________________

People don't notice whether it's winter or summer when they're happy.
~ Anton Chekhov

 

Joey Camb's picture
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04/02/2010

I am with you its all about asking - have a group of ladies - just booked yesterday for next april and as part of the deal as they have booked the whole house is (and the asked very politely) if there was any chance of using the lounge area for a wine tasting? they would bring all their own stuff (we aren't licensed so its no money off us) agreed as they have booked the whole place - but its the polite asking that matters to me!

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Don Draper wrote:

Guests of guests have become a REAL problem for us this year.  I'm amazed that people think it's acceptable to invite friends/family to meet HERE and then let them in to use their bathroom, eat our cookies, take up all the common area seating.  This is getting added to our policies this year, and frankly I do feel it is a liability issue.  Registered guests ONLY on our grounds and in the house.  

We've been handling this case by case. Had they decided to hang around before check-in I would have shooed them out the door. When they all returned later they went right to her room.

But, yes, it's a lot more wear and tear than we signed up for. Both on the property and on me! I should check with our insurance agent to find out about problems with 'guests of guests'.

One of the local hotels used to allow locals to swim in the pool. They stopped that. I don't know if it was a liability issue or they just got tired of the kids showing up after school unescorted.

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