Bed-and-breakfast bends policy for medical emergency - INN the news 09.26.08

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JunieBJones (JBJ)'s picture
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Bed-and-breakfast bends policy for medical emergency
Press of Atlantic City - Atlantic City,NJ,USA
In January 2008, I paid about $200 for a one-night stay at a bed-and-breakfast to celebrate our 20th anniversary. I became ill and was hospitalized a week ...
 

So this guest was thankful they could stay another time! Here we are pulling our hair out to REFUND or NOT CHARGE a guest.  I think people are happy to be able to stay another time.  I need to hear this as affirmation, as I usually bend.

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Proud Texan's picture
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Isn't this why they invented Travel Insurance?   A bed and breakfast is a business.   If anyone wants to run it like a non-profit, then I guess that's their business.  

 

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You talkin' to me?

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Proud Texan's picture
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Tim_Toad_HLB wrote:

You talkin' to me?

  To anybody that's listening.   With all this talk about refunds and vouchers, it sounds like a lot of B&Bs are running a non-profit by not sticking to their stated policies.   Just saying, it's not our responsibility to manage our guests budget.

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For one thing, we only get a handful of cancellations total in a year. Even fewer of them are in the under 7 day, emergency category. It is our chosen policy. This isn't about us not sticking to our policy. If the original place featured in the news story bent their polciy thats their problem. We are totally comfortable with offering it for legititimate last minute cancellations under 7 days.

If you read any of my explanation of the offsets to offering it, you'll see that not only does it vastly increase our reputation as good people which increases our business, it is rarely redeemed and the room is usually rebooked if cancelled in the high season. So where is the big loser in all of that?

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Ok now I know this is an old thread and I have only read the first entry.  

My thought on credits is this,  if the guest cancels and I am not able to fill the vacancy AND on top of all that I let the guest make another reservation, possibly at a busy time here, then I loose out on revenue twice.  I never refund and never give credit. I'd much rather not have the people here. 

Tell me if I am wrong

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IrisoftheWayfarer wrote:

Ok now I know this is an old thread and I have only read the first entry.  

My thought on credits is this,  if the guest cancels and I am not able to fill the vacancy AND on top of all that I let the guest make another reservation, possibly at a busy time here, then I loose out on revenue twice.  I never refund and never give credit. I'd much rather not have the people here. 

Tell me if I am wrong

We've always offered a voucher for the deposit for cancellations under 7 days and try to delicately balance and state the need for it to be a legitimate reason for the cancellation and not project suspicion that the guest is just trying to jake us. Most last minute cancellations aren't, stuff happens to everybody. Our experience has been the calculated timing of folks cancelling is more obvious and planned to "get away" with something than the last minute emergency situations.

Our stated philosophy on it when speaking to the cancelling party is always "Well, our ultimate goal is to share our home with you, so we offer this voucher in hopes that when conditions are better for you, we'll be happy to offer our hospitality again."

The law of averages lessens the financial impact of the practice in a couple of ways.

First, most vouchers are never redeemed and even if the room isn't rebooked, being paid for half a stay and having no food costs, cleaning, etc. is easy money. We don't sweat what hasn't happened yet, we sweat what is going on right now because we have no control over the future.

Then, if you do rebook the room which in the busy season happens more often than not, you've boosted income which lessens the blow of the voucheree rebooking next year at the busiest time.

We've had more than our share of guests who had to cancel last minute, use the voucher later and express such gratitude and good word of mouth to others about our compassion and humanity in their time of need, that we can't pay for that kind of good will and karma.

That one is hard to put a dollar figure on.

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I like that philosophy for when someone cancels for a legit reason.  Good way to put it!  We've only had a handful of cancellations since we opened and many re-booked.  I haven't charged anyone yet as they all canceled within our policy but we only have a 72 hr cancellation policy. 

Thanks, Tim, I'll remember that about sharing our hospitality in the future...

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Morticia's picture
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OK, good that the person got what they wanted but did they approach the B&B first or immediately contact a consumer action group to do the work for them?

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That was my thought, too, Bree.  Same with reading the other threads about people who prefer to just go online and complain about an experience without never having brought it to the attention of the business owners. Customer service goes both ways. 

What is unfortunate is that I am sure that there are people who would make up something like this just to get their money back or something.  I think the offer being valid for another time is a nice compromise.

inncogneeto's picture
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The problem is the ones who cancel and are so concerned about getting their money back, they are usually so nasty about it, I don't want them to come here after we "discuss" it anyway! Their real self nearly always comes out. Never mind all the work you have to do to try to resell the room and all the merchant service fees and all the phone calls and emails dealing with their PITA selves!

Morticia's picture
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I know I've said this before but there are a lot of new folks here...I have been screamed at, cursed at, called names because guests call the morning of their rez and say they can't come and I'd better not charge them. One guy said it was unbelievable to him that I would not hold the room until morning so he could 'see' of they could come. I told him it was like buying a plane ticket. It's good for the flight you bought it for. He said, 'You're no damned airline, you're a piss-ant B&B.' I told him he'd have to speak with the owner. Got hubs on the phone and the guy was nice as pie. They ended up coming and he treated his wife the way he treated me on the phone.

You are absolutely right. You see the real side of the guest when they are not getting their way.

seashanty's picture
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bree, that's awful!

gillumhouse's picture
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And now it is posted for the world to see that all they have to do is have a med emergency to get out of the rez .

seashanty's picture
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there can be real emergencies and genuine last minute issues that cause someone to miss out on a reservation. it's nice when people are given a refund or a chance to stay another time. but this does not mean the b&b hasn't lost income. it really does place quite a burden on small businesses to be 'kind hearted'.  a few cancellations and lost revenue can really hurt!  all small places know this.  i have had about a dozen cancellations due to medical emergencies this summer ... all asking for or even  demanding refunds of deposit or to have it applied to a future stay. 

i've said before ... i had made a reservation for a low cost flight from florida to massachusetts, scheduled to fly in april.  learned my dad was dying, so changed my reservation to mid march.  was able to see him before he passed away. that was good.  but would the airline give me a break? no. could i make the new reservation at the same bargain rate? no. could i get a refund for the flight i would not be able to take? no.  could i transfer my ticket to someone else? no. could i get a break on a future flight because of this family emergency that caused me so much extra expense (not to mention heartache and distress)? no.  was the airline able to sell my (cancelled) seat to someone else for a higher price than i paid? yes. did they keep my money as well? yes.  did my cancellation three weeks ahead of time hurt them in any way?  i don't think so.

JunieBJones (JBJ)'s picture
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amkaylor wrote:

That was my thought, too, Bree.  Same with reading the other threads about people who prefer to just go online and complain about an experience without never having brought it to the attention of the business owners. Customer service goes both ways. 

What is unfortunate is that I am sure that there are people who would make up something like this just to get their money back or something.  I think the offer being valid for another time is a nice compromise.

I AGREE 100%

It is completely not fair to go online and write bad stuff instead of addressing the owner/innkeeper.  We had a gal on the other forum we contacted after someone came onto the old forum to gripe about their stay.  BTW here are some of the complaints at this victorian B&B - They didn't have personalized stationary and pen sets in the rooms.  I KID YOU NOT.  I think when we all read that we about went ballistic!

I contacted the owner and she had a baby crying in the background and it sounded chaotic.  I was concerned, what was this B&B about?

Well she came on and let us all know that she was pregnant when her contractor husband died.  She now has her kids and a baby and a B&B and rentals and much unfinished reno's on all of those.  Had he to been able to talk to the owner she might have clarified a few things for him, instead of searched out the words B and B on line and found us and told us all the dirty details of why he was miserable at this B&B.

I think it was a lesson to everyone here.

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JunieBJones (JBJ) wrote:

 So this guest was thankful they could stay another time! Here we are pulling our hair out to REFUND or NOT CHARGE a guest.  I think people are happy to be able to stay another time.  I need to hear this as affirmation, as I usually bend.

 

That is essentially what I'm doing when I tell them they can apply the cancel charge to a future stay. Most of the time, it's a reasonable compromise for everyone.

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