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winewitch's picture
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Oh joy!

Economic downturn and bedandbreakfast.com so kindly decides to raise their commissions 5%. Opinions?

We've decided not to participate in their program anymore, we think their commissions on these cards are too high to begin with.

The sales pitch of "you'll make it all back when you sell their cards" is not working, haven't sold any this year.

The idea is good, the reality is different.

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To aspiringinIdaho - welcome! I find this interesting that you found this thread to be the first to post in. You may feel the posts regarding B&B.com were bold and disrespectful but  most here have been responding to Eric's posts for years and for the most part Eric turns a deaf ear (or in this case, a blind eye).  Each are passionate about their cause. As an aspiring, you are very unaware of the ins and outs of this business and how our small businesses (in general) are battling to keep up with the big boys to get our Name out there.  Years ago, B&B.com was the site most small B&B's could count on for cost effective marketing but over the years, B&B.com has increased their rates and added the extras to make it less cost effective for the small B&B's while bringing on board larger inns and small hotel.  This is not just about GC, even though this is the subject of this thread.In general it is an individual business decision to be made.  We just are hoping to get it through to Eric what the small B&B's feel about where he has taken his site.  We are not looking for a hand out or freebie, but many feel that Eric could provide the small B&B a little more (i.e. Link) for his basic level of membership. I was a member of B&B.com many years ago until I found his rates rise but my referrals decrease.  I have recently rejoined - taking a deep hit in the pocket - to give them a year to see if I get the bang for the buck that Eric claims.  I will not sign up for the GC program if I can not opt out, nor will I sign up with his online booking when there is a 30% commission.  Once you have read more here and other sources, it will begin to sink in but after you open and start trying to make it, you will begin to understand where we are coming from!!!!

 

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Public forum yes

Free country yes

This does not absolve a forum or its posters from common courtesy, such as a thank you for the time he took to reply.

Morticia's picture
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agoodman1963 wrote:

Public forum yes

Free country yes

This does not absolve a forum or its posters from common courtesy, such as a thank you for the time he took to reply.

The time that Eric took to reply he spent on a soapbox. Those who agreed with him applauded, those who did not agree did not applaud. If Eric had ONCE acknowledged the plight of the small innkeeper instead of basically insisting that we here were in the minority and uninformed, he would have been thanked for his time. He spent a good deal of time beating into our senseless, emotional little peabrains that his product was the best there was, bar none, and we did not have to buy it if it didn't meet our requirements. Being an emotional business person, I was insulted by his tone. However, his product brings me business and I am not stupid, emotional tho I may be. Until I can replace him, I'll pay the fee. Once he sells to the highest bidder, then we'll see what happens. If Expedia buys him out, we may all be booted, or we may ALL have to sign up to be on Expedia, who knows.

He came, he preached, he left. The choir and the assembled congregation were (mostly) unimpressed. I KNOW he converted some on the PAII forum to his way of looking at things. Good. He is doing his best to build his business in the way it seems best for him to do that. As are we all. We don't have to thank him for giving his opinion.

Funny thing is, we are all business owners, not just Eric. I don't recall his thanking us for our opinions, relevant tho they were to HIS business. And the members of this forum have contributed greatly to Eric's business and not just with money. We have critiqued his company's products in Beta testing and have GIVEN him free, valuable advice on how to make those products better than they were for ALL innkeepers who choose to use them.

JOHN thanked us for those helpful comments. Eric hasn't said boo.

 

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Never judge a person's story by the chapter you walked in on.

 

swirt's picture
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agoodman1963 wrote:
This does not absolve a forum or its posters from common courtesy, such as a thank you for the time he took to reply.

Then by all means, thank him for the time he took to reply.  Do what will not leave you aghast and embarrassed.  As for the sermons, I don't think those will get you very far here.

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This thread was done awhile back and I think most of us had moved on.

No one asked him to reply and no one owes him a thank you for doing so as far as I am concerned.  If you want to thank him then do so.

Anyone can post here and they do so on their own.

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Agoodman1963 wrote: Has anyone tried contacting TA and asking that B&B's are classified as B&B's/Inns rather than as "value?".

What muirford was referring to is the part of the REVIEW on TA that asks the reviewer about the VALUE of their stay (cost v. experience).  NOT that TA refers to B&B's being value (or economy) type places.  If you really check out TA like you said you have done you would have understood her post. 

I did notice that TA has now deleted this section from new reviews and only asks reviewers to rate their overall experience (1-5). They use to ask a ranking of 1-5 on the following: rooms, service, value, cleanliness, and pool.

Edited to add:  AG1963, as others have said - don't take anything personally here we like to see all opinions here.  It makes us see different views of the issues and sometimes it makes us alter how we think. 

GeorgiaGirl's picture
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Me thinks aspiringInIdaho is not a random poster......I'm pretty good with my gut reaction, not wrong a lot of the times...

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GeorgiaGirl25 wrote:

Me thinks aspiringInIdaho is not a random poster......I'm pretty good with my gut reaction, not wrong a lot of the times...

Edited to sound more grammatically correct:  Me thinks you might be right.

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I have no affiliation with B&B.com other than a user of their site and the options they provide, however I for one am appalled at how some of you have responded to Eric, who took the time to respond to your posts.

YES he may not have said what we wanted to har "ok guys I am giving you all a free year  / $50 featured property dollars / discounting the comm" - but he did take the time to reply, and their was very little courtesy considering the time he took to reply to each issue.

This is a GHASTLY representation of Innkeepers, we are all suffering, we all have increased costs and we can only make decisions about those things in our control.

Why - after your replies to the time he has taken, do you think he would make one little bit of effort.??

This is HORRIBLE and I for one am embarrased. Feel free to  reove my sign in priviledges from this site if I perhaps do not fit in with the wrath and anger I see here.

YellowSocks's picture
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agoodman1963 wrote:
I have no affiliation with B&B.com other than a user of their site and the options they provide, however I for one am appalled at how some of you have responded to Eric, who took the time to respond to your posts.

I took a LOT of time to take a long, hard look at his claims... a logical, unemotional look. 

Eric did not respond.

I mentioned in another post that it would be nice to have a response to my comments (which I'd like to think were logical and unemotional).

No response.

ag wrote:
Why - after your replies to the time he has taken, do you think he would make one little bit of effort.??

I don't.  That is, I don't think he'll make an effort or change his business model.  Why should he?  He's welcome to run his business any way he sees fit, as we've discussed in the past.

This is only one of several threads about b&b.com's GC program, online res program, and membership levels.  I have a great deal of respect for B&B.com for coming on this forum and taking the beating we've given them, and have said so several times before.   I don't feel I have anything to apologize to them for.

When either John or Eric come here and make claims, it is generally my task as logical, relatively unemotional, self-appointed spokesperson for the itty bitty B&B's of the world, to take apart their arguments piece by piece, hold them up, turn them around and inside out, and see what's left.  When they're right, I acknowledge that.  When I disagree, I say so and explain, with examples, why I think differently.  When they make outrageous claims I call them on them.  It's just what I do.

I have said, and will continue to say, that if b&b.com really wanted to serve the B&B industry instead of having 7000 member inns they'd have 14,000, or even more.  They'd find a way to be such an integral part of the business that the natural course for any new B&B would be to sign up with Google local and then with b&b.com.  But that is not the case.  I've been in business a year now and still haven't signed up with them.  (Cost is a big factor, but not the only one...)

There are a LOT of threads here (and going back a while on the old About forum) on this topic... a lot of history involved.  This thread did not happen in a vacuum, either... there was another thread happening concurrently with this one and there were arguments and comments that bridged back and forth.

I don't think Eric has a bruised ego from emotional innkeepers hurting his feelings with their vented anger... he's told us many times that it's all business, all about ROI.

And this site is, above all, an innkeeper site, a place to vent and share advice and ideas.  Some have thought no vendors should be allowed here at all.  I say, let 'em come!  (If they're brave enough.)  They're coming into "our" territory... we're not owned by any directory or organization and are free to express the opinions that each of us holds.  As you've seen, some are pretty free about expressing those opinions! 

What I find to be a shame is that the ones who express their opinions the strongest seem to be the least tolerant of other's strongly expressed opinons.  But that's a natural tendency we all have... to find fault in others which we most possess in ourselves.

=)
Kk.

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agoodman1963 wrote:
Feel free to  reove my sign in priviledges from this site if I perhaps do not fit in with the wrath and anger I see here.

As others have said, the only ones who get their privileges revoked are those who abuse them.  Abuse means drugs, porn, spam.  Self promotion is OK as long as it is done in an "informative" manner (i.e., a guest of mine provides line drawings) instead of a "sales pitch" manner (i.e., cheapest! fastest! bestest! buy it now!!!).

I LOVE to see a variety of opinions and am glad that you (and every other new poster) is here.  Tell us how you see it, let others do the same.  As long as we can all be respectful we'll all benefit from the variety of perspectives.

I often disagree with things I see here.  Sometimes I comment, often I don't.  I glean the useful information I can, disregard what doesn't apply, and enjoy seeing how different things can be from inn to inn (especially between the smaller and larger inns).

Post away!

=)
Kk.

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As others have said...this is an OPEN forum and EVERYONE is entitled to speak their own opinions.

NO one is banned for what they have to say. We all don't have to agree. That is just the way it is.Eye-wink

A number of us here have been together chatting at one place or another for many many years! So we know one another very well and how to roll with the punches.

It may take you 'newbies" some time to get used to all of us...but we are a great bunch...everyone with something valuable to share....whether we all agree or not. That is the whole point of this forum...share and share alike.

If we don't like what you say...we just ignore you

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Last I checked, this is America. You are entitled to your opinions. No one judges you for that...don't leave mad...

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Adele- No one gets their privileges revoked for speaking their mind. You are not in agreement with some of what you've read here, neither am I (but probably on different issues). So what. That's what a 'forum' is for...the discussion of ideas. I think revocation comes with certain objectionable traits attached to it... and objectionable traits are defined as 'we know them when we see them'.

You won't be booted for an opinion either way. If you had called everyone here names at the same time, that's something different.

We weren't expecting Eric to give us anything for free. But to at least climb down off the summit he's perched himself on and realize that we're real people with real issues and real problems paying the bills.

 

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Stick my neck out here, ref your comment to Rikki - I AM an Innkeeper, and I agree that WE HAVE A choice, if we want to accept their gift cards, that is our choice and we have to accept THEIR conditions, if we don't want to accept them, no one is sticking a knife at our throat to do so.

I see so many posts about "our Inn's policies" - well in the same way the guest has the choice to accept or not accept a policy, B&B.com has their policies, and we can take it or leave it.

(which is not to say I don't agree 100% that their comm is too high!!)

egoodell's picture
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I know you are an innkeeper. I was talking to aspiringInIdaho

We have had a number of aspirings tell us that we're wrong about this or that.

When these aspirings are actually walking the walk then I'll listen to them.

RIki 

__________________

Riki Goodell
Arcady Vineyard Bed & Breakfast
Arcady Vineyard Wine Tours
www.arcadyvineyard.com
Come! Let us show you the beautiful Monticello Appellation!

 

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Well gang this is it in a nutshell. Totally out of touch with innkeepers, totally.

Eric wrote:

We realize that innkeeper's have costs. That doesn't mean are willing to subsidize them by losing money on a program to drive them business. Your guests have costs as well. Do you take that into account in YOUR pricing? We are in business to drive business to Inns and we need to make a positive return on our investement.

 

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JunieBJones (JBJ) wrote:
Well gang this is it in a nutshell. Totally out of touch with innkeepers, totally.

Eric wrote: We realize that innkeeper's have costs. That doesn't mean are willing to subsidize them by losing money on a program to drive them business. Your guests have costs as well. Do you take that into account in YOUR pricing? We are in business to drive business to Inns and we need to make a positive return on our investement. 

We haven't raised our rates since Sept 2007 and won't until April 2009.  Our business revenue is up about 10% so far this year from last year.  Of course, we take guests' issues into account, as well as our own cost structure.  NOT raising your prices is a valid business decision as well.

__________________

Jeanne

There are no rules, just follow your heart. ~ Robin Williams

 

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I'm a first-time visitor to this forum and I'm an aspiring innkeeper without the slightest knowledge of nor relationship to any poster of this thread. 

But after reading these extremely emotional posts, I feel compelled to comment: 

From an outsider's perspective, I think bandb.com's postings have shown restraint and immense good will, patiently explaining and then re-explaining and re-explaining some very BASIC (albeit hard to swallow) economic truths.  Hopefully it was instructive to some emotional innkeepers who sound as if they are ENTITLED to something.

If bandb.com is not a good deal for a particular inn, then that inn should opt out.  Without whining about the big inns having an advantage, without begrudging bandb.com's profits, without publicly implying they are guilty of some wrongdoing.  It's just basic business.  Imagine if individual innkeepers were repeatedly challenged on tripadvisor.com to justify their room rates. 

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aspiringInIdaho wrote:

I'm a first-time visitor to this forum and I'm an aspiring innkeeper without the slightest knowledge of nor relationship to any poster of this thread. 

But after reading these extremely emotional posts, I feel compelled to comment: 

From an outsider's perspective, I think bandb.com's postings have shown restraint and immense good will, patiently explaining and then re-explaining and re-explaining some very BASIC (albeit hard to swallow) economic truths.  Hopefully it was instructive to some emotional innkeepers who sound as if they are ENTITLED to something.

If bandb.com is not a good deal for a particular inn, then that inn should opt out.  Without whining about the big inns having an advantage, without begrudging bandb.com's profits, without publicly implying they are guilty of some wrongdoing.  It's just basic business.  Imagine if individual innkeepers were repeatedly challenged on tripadvisor.com to justify their room rates. 

Welcome !!!

Yes, b&b.com have explained and re-explained.  And I have agreed many times that they absolutely, no-question-about-it, have every right to run their business in any way they see fit.  They are welcome to charge as much as they want.  They are welcome to justify those charges by explaining in great detail all the costs involved with the choices they've made.

What they are not welcome to do is expect us to be happy about rate increases.  Or to laud them for their magnanimity.  Or to buy weak arguments. 

We have businesses to run, too, and are not happy when commissions go up without notice, violating their own contractually agreed to notice period.  We weren't happy with the commissions to begin with... and we have every right not to be.  We then can either not sign up for the program, or to leave the program.  Fine.

When we try to explain our perspective, we don't seem to get through.  Fine, whatever.  But no, not really... if I, regardless of my size or history, can help someone, regardless of their size and history, I have to at least attempt it.  If, after patiently explaining, and re-explaining, they still do not see my arguments, well, at least I tried.  But it saddens me that any organization, especially a large and respected one, should have to learn the hard way that their "unemotional business decisions" had unexpected consequences.

They absolutely have every right to charge as much as they want.  But it is a shame that they, the giant of the industry who claim to be advocating for B&B's and advertising and marketing to bring more business to the industry, should overlook a huge segment, the dinky B&B's of the world.  None of their arguments about their price structure have been strong.  Because their price structure is what it is for a simple, and reasonable, reason:  it's what they can charge.

I don't begrudge them a profit... it's what I'm trying to make, too!  But I don't ask them to feel sorry about my increased overhead, and I don't expect them to ask me to feel sorry about their increased costs either.  BTDT.

Anyway, welcome to the forum.  Read some other posts... it's not all emotional whining...

=)
Kk.

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I am not sure that you will bother to read this, but I am going to have my say in reply to yours. Yes, I am taking MY valuable time to respond.

When times get tough, gas prices high, bandb.com is sending out e-mails to us - what discounts/savings/value added are you going to offer the traveler. Innkeepers are expected to come up with an enticement. OK, now bandb.com starts out saying times are tough so we are not lowering your rates to us, we are RAISING them! I do not care how calm you read his response - I guess you missed the refernce he made to the phase of the moon which I promise you was NOT taken as respectful or nonemotional!

Does bandb.com come up high as a referrer for me? Yes. Am I going to renew? NO! I am scratching to make it. After 12 full years, #13 is the best ever. It took a lot of hard work and marketing to do it. But I am NOT going to give up any profit I may make to Eric. He talks about ROI - well the ROI for 3 rooms is a heck of a lot less than it is for 15 or 20 - but we pay the same fee. Yes, it IS my business decision to make and I am making it. I will take that money (actually less) and just plumb a new market for my business. I will sign up for a market specific web directory. I will still have bbonline and iLoveinns for the national market - they have held the line on fees thank you very much.

Before you drop into the middle of a bunch of cats (as we are becategorized, perhaps correctly) be aware that cats have claws and we do not hesitate to unleash them when we are accused of an untruth. To my knowledge, no one has been banned from this site - yet. Warned they were nudging the line maybe, but not banned. Each of us has taken our lumps from the others when we did not agree. We are still here and friends because we do respectthe rights of opinions. On another Forum we used to visit, only one person ever "packed up their marbles and went home". Their perogative. I prefer to listen, learn, and pontificate as the thread opportunes.

Others who are new here need to read previous threads regarding issues and responses and also learn that a response to YOUR post will be directly under YOUR post (unless it has evolved to a VERY skinny posting). A new post atthe top of a thread is usually in response to the original posting.

So if you have an answer to me and this post, click the reply button and respond in the comment box that comes up. Or at least copy and paste the comment you are responding to before you answer someone.

Morticia's picture
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Amazing that the only thread you found for your first ever post was this one. Hopefully some of the other information here will be more palatable to you. Eric has done wonders for his business, but he, like every other business owner, needs to know why his clients are dropping his programs. Maybe he can make adjustments. He says not, and, as you have seen, many here voted with their dollars and dropped his programs. That's just business. And he knows it's just business because he's told us it's just business, he's told us he is passionate about his business (which, btw, so are all of us, passionate about our businesses). He doesn't take it personally, no one else should either. Certainly not an aspiring innkeeper who's never met any of the players here.

Other online directories HAVE made adjustments citing poor economic times as the reason they want to sign up MORE businesses rather than raise rates for the clients they already have.

When you're up and running you'll make these decisions, too, on where to spend your dollars. Many inns do not have the issues some others do. Many inns are making a tidy profit and a 30% increase in dues is not worth mentioning. If that is your business model, then you need not worry about rate increases. If business slows and everything around is increasing except your rates and occupancy, you may find a bit of frustration creeping in. Maybe not. It's all part of the passion.

Hopefully, you can use some of the other info here to make balanced decisions based on the experience of many. Then again, I think you made the only point you came here to make and now you'll be moving on. Que sera, sera.

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I totally agree that we as innkeepers have to make the basic business choices about which directories to belong to and which gift cards to take - I certainly have. If we choose to opt out of a service, we certainly have a right, maybe even an obligation to discuss why we make that choice.  If that sounds like whining to you, tough.  This forum is for sharing information about why we make the decisions we make, not just what those decisions are. 

As to B&Bs having to justify their room rates on TA - have you actually looked at TA?  B&Bs are rated on that particular category in every TA review - the one  called Value.  There are hundreds of reviews that say this place wasn't worth the money I paid for it.  Here's just one

Feel free to follow the bandb.com business model yourself.  Send an email to the 144 rooms you have booked for the month of October telling them that you've decided to raise your rates 5%.  See what kind of response you get. 

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Sorry if you thought I was whining - the 2 (me raising my rates and them raising their comm - are 2 totally different things.

If I raise my rates that is MY decision, as it is my decision as to whether to partipcate in their program. Hence me decision to pull my inn from bbonline.

We cannot tell them (B&B.com) how to run their business, we can CHOOSE not to participate in their programs, and by pulling out we may or may not influence their decision to change their structure.

and yes I have looked at TA, I have reviews posted there.  And if there are some idiot guests that book at room at X dollars. despite TA saying "value" - well then that guest's "values" are screwed up. Value is a perception.

$49 may be good value to someone on a budget, $250 may be good value to someone that normally pays $400.

Has anyone tried contacting TA and asking that B&B's are classified as B&B's/Inns rather than as "value?".

muirford's picture
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My reply was to aspiringinIdaho , not to you, AG1963.  I don't think I said anyone was whining - I said that if our responses sounded like whining to Idaho, tough for him/her. 

On TA, B&Bs are not marked as Value options - I haven't even seen such a characterization on TA's site other than in the paid advertising.  My reference is to a rating for every review which says value - 1 dot to 5 dots.  Every review includes the opportunity for the guest to saywhether the value of the accommodation was good or poor.  I'm not really sure what your point is about 'guests values' - I am pointing out that B&Bs (and any lodging listed on TA) are always rated on their rates in relation to value.  That is in direct response to Idaho suggesting that B&Bs don't have to justify their rates in the same way that bandb.com was asked to justify theirs.  That's just not true.

It's ridiculous to suggest that a vendor doesn't have to justify their cost to you.  Why do you think bandb.com takes the time to come onto various forums to state their case?  They state their case when they send you an invoice, or when they send you the monthly referral statistics.  Ads in magazines, workshops at conferences, webinars - all of those things are to convince you that they give a good value for the money.  We have plenty of other vendors who have been questioned on here as to the value they provide for their services and expense.

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Contacting TA...give me a break!!

Haven't you read the past discussions here from the Jay at PAII.

He's the brave one  and THE ONLY ONE, who has been able to meet and talk directly with TA.  I am sure this was part of his discussions as well.

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agoodman1963 wrote:

Sorry if you thought I was whining - the 2 (me raising my rates and them raising their comm - are 2 totally different things.

If I raise my rates that is MY decision, as it is my decision as to whether to partipcate in their program. Hence me decision to pull my inn from bbonline.

We cannot tell them (B&B.com) how to run their business, we can CHOOSE not to participate in their programs, and by pulling out we may or may not influence their decision to change their structure.

and yes I have looked at TA, I have reviews posted there.  And if there are some idiot guests that book at room at X dollars. despite TA saying "value" - well then that guest's "values" are screwed up. Value is a perception.

$49 may be good value to someone on a budget, $250 may be good value to someone that normally pays $400.

Has anyone tried contacting TA and asking that B&B's are classified as B&B's/Inns rather than as "value?".

I will say once you are in, you are for life on the BandB.com Gift Card prgm, you are printed in their booklets as accepting them, you are also on their PDF listing on the website as accepting them.  So just to clarify, it is not as easy as JUST OPTING OUT.

I will also add that BBONLINE is the #1 bang for my buck.  For me they are the top referrer AFTER google searches, so that is pretty dang good.  (But that is here, not there).  We all have to do what we need to do to bring in guests.  Quality guests mean alot more to some than others.  Hotel-mentality guests can ruin your whole weekend, like I had this past weekend with a BandB.com gift card guest.   But we accepted it and then called BandB.com to redeem it and hand over our % to them.  Sometimes we have to do these things for the guests, as they are important to us!

Sometimes we say screw it!

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As you said, you are not an innkeeper and have no experience. Trust me, when you are your opinions will change fast when you are in the trenches. 

Riki

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I am pretty sure that if we had a 7 night stay and when the guest arrived we said "We are raising the rate for your stay on the 6th and seventh day by 30%" we would certainly get some bad reviews on TripAdvisor.

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JunieBJones (JBJ) wrote:

Well gang this is it in a nutshell. Totally out of touch with innkeepers, totally.

Eric wrote:

We realize that innkeeper's have costs. That doesn't mean are willing to subsidize them by losing money on a program to drive them business. Your guests have costs as well. Do you take that into account in YOUR pricing? We are in business to drive business to Inns and we need to make a positive return on our investement.

 

After reading his comments, I am going to change my pricing model...walk-ins will now pay by what type of car they drive. If they can afford to drive a Mercedes M Class, then the price is $225. If they have a Honda Civic, the price is $125. Then I'll scale for other car models. I'm not sure how that will work for online bookings, but I'll think about it.

It really is a matter of what ROI I get from him and not the college-boy attitude. Right now it is positive ROI. Once I pay the new price it will remain to be seen if he uses the money to drive that much MORE business my way ($800 using the 10 to 1 ratio). If the ROI is not the same or better next year, adios. I will take him up on his oft-repeated, 'If there's no value, don't list with us.' Eventually he will reach that point for many smaller properties and that will be that much more work to attract new properties.

Remember, it's easier & cheaper to keep a repeat guest  customer than to recruit a new one.

 

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Yellowsocks wrote:

Eric Goldreyer wrote:Why do you say the 8-9% is "baloney"?  If our average gift card sell is $150 (the part the innkeeper pays the commission on) and the average stay at a B&B is over $300, what would the effective commission rate be?  Should be somewhere south of 10%...?  I realize this is an "average" number though  and will be different for every innkeeper...

Which answers your own question about why I say 8-9% is baloney.  If you prefer, I'll say that 8-9% is wishful thinking that you've convinced yourself.  The average stay at my B&B is no where near $300.

*************************************************************************

I was not referring to your specific property or anyone else's.  As I stated I was using hard data - our average sell ($150) and the industry's ADR ($172 or so).  So it is not baloney. 

We realize that innkeeper's have costs.  That doesn't mean are willing to subsidize them by losing money on a program to drive them business.  Your guests have costs as well.  Do you take that into account in YOUR pricing?  We are in business to drive business to Inns and we need to make a positive return on our investement.  Wal-Mart - I assume you shop at the same one or two walmarts all the time and that you don't drive all around checking out different ones.  We are in about 400 out of nearly 2,000.  So it is not suprising to me that you have not seen us in a WalMart.  Full-page ads - Check out the Oct-Dec issue of SkyMall magazine, page 9.  Sits in planes flown by more than 150,000,000 people over three months during the busiest gift time of the year. The "deals with travel industry leaders to give innkeepers an opporunity to get exposure in the leading travel sites' refers to the exact type of thing I am doing right now.  I am in Las vegas at the EyeForTravel conference meeting with companies to get our member properties more visibility on other top travel sites.  I don't see any other B&B directories doing anything like that.  We actually have 2 full time folks that work on business development to get more exposure for our members. Eric

 

__________________

Eric Goldreyer
Founder
BedandBreakfast.com

 

gillumhouse's picture
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Tsk. Tsk, Eric. Making assumptions. I have never seen a bandb GC in a Wal-Mart because I do not shop there. Avoid them like the plague! I can't afford to fly (I have been paying your membership fee) so I did not see your full-page ad. My guests rarely fly to get here - no major airports here. The eastern Panhandle being so close to DC does have that possibility though.

Back to the Wally-World, I look at them as a second rate place and would be appalled to find my inn for sale there - and the GC is selling any inn taking it.

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Eric Goldreyer wrote:
I was not referring to your specific property or anyone else's. As I stated I was using hard data - our average sell ($150) and the industry's ADR ($172 or so). So it is not baloney.

Hard averages.

So, if someone is above the ADR, is a large property, they do fine. If they are small, in a small town (with correspondingly lower costs), they don't. This is what we've said all along... the program is not good for a small B&B. Us small B&B's struggle to make ends meet. You're out there trying to compete with Marriott, and have the capital to do it. I don't, and cannot provide you capital to do it.

Eric wrote:
We realize that innkeeper's have costs. That doesn't mean are willing to subsidize them by losing money on a program to drive them business. Your guests have costs as well. Do you take that into account in YOUR pricing? We are in business to drive business to Inns and we need to make a positive return on our investement.

When my costs go up I do not automatically raise my rates... because as my rates go up, so does the price of gas and food and guests decide not to travel at all, or to stay at the Super8 instead of me. Since I can't raise rates I look for other ways to cut my expenses. For example, I've decided to make homemade candies for my room treats, switched to a 5-gallon dispenser of water instead of individual bottles, and used more apples than strawberries.

At some point I have to decide between glam and practicality. Fresh raspberries are elegant and high class, but don't really add to my bottom line. With everything being so tight, I would expect you to consider similar cost cutting measures. Do you really need a print brochure? Could you use a really nice card instead with a web address to a list of participating inns. Do you really need the fancy frou frou you put the card in, heavy cardstock, and all the other frills you've explained to us cost so much? It's just a GC. When I get a GC I shuck all the peripherals, and tuck the card in my wallet until I can use it.

Yes, you have expenses, but you also have the benefit of the income from the purcased GC's that have not yet been redeemed, the 15-20% commission you charge us, and the use of the difference between 15 and 20% which you hold until the end of the year.

You're in Las Vegas meeting and greeting. I'm here folding laundry and scrubbing toilets. And you want more of my money??

Right...

=)
Kk.

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>>Your guests have costs as well.  Do you take that into account in YOUR pricing? 

Yes, as a matter of fact, we do and we are doing everything in our power NOT to raise our rates to cover the rising costs of EVERYTHING, so we don't lose more customers!

We have to cover heat and food costs which are sky-high right now and we know that our guests have to cover the costs of gas for travel (if they can find a filling station with gas...) be it planes or cars, it's just not a good time to raise rates, for us or for you! Your pool of resources is a lot bigger than ours, if we drop you, who cares, you are obviously so successful, losing our business wouldn't really matter to you. 

We cannot afford to lose business by raising our rates to pay for your services. It's easier and cheaper to drop you.

I've never seen the GC's at Walmart here or in the Skymall catalog when I've flown.

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Dear Innkeepers,

I am sorry to hear that some of you are angry about the announcement today.  I agree we should have given you guys more notice.  And we obviouly will make innkeepers whole on reservatiosn made before the announcement so the innkeepers only pay the 15%.  Just let us know.  We are not trying to trick anyone.  We are trying to make sure that the gift card program that we launched years ago and that has become very succesful in driving reservations to innkeepers and getting the B&B industry exposure out there with other well known national brands in tens of thousands of locations continues to work for all parties involved.

We'd love to be able to continue to offer the program for members at 15%.  Heck, we'd love to be able to offer the program for no cost at all to member properties.  Unfortunately, that is just not realistic.  I realize that this optional program will not work for all innkeepers.  But it has to work for all parties involved to continue to be a succesful and sustainable program - innkeepers, consumers, retailers and us.

I  will try and answer the various questions I have seen posted above in the thread as well as correct and/or clarify where information is incorrect.

- Winewitch - The fact that innkeepers can sell our gift cards at their property is not a "sales pitch".  It's just another member benefit/way our members can make money without investing anything since we send the kit entirely at our expense.  We have close to 1,000 properties signed up already. Innkeepers seem to like the simplicity, the fact that it costs nothing to get a kit, it is great for folks wanting to give gifts to friends and family far away, and we hadle all of the escheat issues.

- Samster -  You are correct in why the increase is being implemented.  If we want to sell these cards online, we have to be competitive.  So regardless what some other innkeepers have said on this thread, that means we cannot send old-school sloppy gift certificates.  We have to send first-rate high-quality gift "cards".  No they are not cheap.  The machines alone are $5,000 apeice (and you can't just have one in case it breaks) then you have the variable card and ribbon/ink costs.  If Amazon, Zappos, and many other large internet sites are offering free shipping, it stands to reason that we will be more succesful getting more folks to give the gift of a B&B gift card if we also offer free shipping.  You have seen the email posted in the thread by now and have seen many of the cost issues spelled out in a bullted list.  What we did not clearly explain is that we spend the money to create the hundreds of thousands of gift cards that are required to be on the shelf next to American Airlines, Starbucks, and Hyatt.  The stores do NOT buy these from us.  They ONLY pay us if/when they sell a card.  And guess what, they do not give us the shelf space for free.  They want their 10-15%.  So it seems unreasonable by anyone's terms that we should be expected to run a succesful and profitable program like this at 15% when the retailers alone take basically all of that...

- Yellowsocks - If the only discounted gift cards availlable are on Costco.com and even there they are restricted to a max of two certs, the system basically cannot be "gamed" and there will be very little reason for folks to purchase the discounted cards to save money.  Also, many innkeepers like offering our cards since many of their guests want to offer a gift of a B&B stay to someone that is across the state or country and their own B&B gift card is therefore useless.  Why do you say the 8-9% is "baloney"?  If our average gift card sell is $150 (the part the innkeeper pays the commission on) and the average stay at a B&B is over $300, what would the effective commission rate be?  Should be somewhere south of 10%...?  I realize this is an "average" number though  and will be different for every innkeeper...

- Jeanne - I am sorry but I do not follow your math.  Can you please elaborate.  You said 90% of the time the gift cards are used at your property you would have been sold out anyway.  Are they from new guests that then return at other times that you were not sold out or refer friends and family to come when rooms would have otherwise gone vacant?  Do you know what the lifetime value of a nw guest is for your property?  And yes, the program is all about getting heads in beds.  If you run through the math I think you will have a less emotioanl and more realistic understanding of our cost structure.  Retail stores want to get paid.  They do not buy the hundreds of thousands of cards we send them to put on their shelves.  WE pay to design, print, attach and distribute them.  Then when they do sell, the retailer wants their percentage (which I am sure you can guess is not in the single digits).  When we sell them on our site for $150 average, we now have - a gift card (about $1), a full color cover directory llisting all properties in the program (about a $1), free shipping ($4-$12 - depending on the size of the order).  So just looking at those three costs alone is between $6-$14 on an average order of $150 - so you can see where the extra 5% we are having to now charge is going.  It's gone...

- Inncogneeto - We are confident there are enough innkeepers out there that will make a sound business decision and will understand that with what we are doing with the program, we have to be able to do it and make a fair return or it is simply not sustainable.  Yes, we will unfortunately certainly lose some innkeepers.  But the remaining properties on the program will be the ones that end up getting this new business from folks that received the tens of thousands of cards sold annually.

- Bree - Fair point.  I can see where that is annoying and it is a little different than the online reservation program because you decide what inventory to put in that system.  With the gift cards you have to take them anytime so it is not a fair comparison. I will make sure we remove that from further gift card correspondence.

- JBJ - The fact that consumers get the cards mailed for free and can upload photos and the rest of it has everything to do with you.  If the product offering is not appealing to the consumer then we will sell none and you will not get any new guests from the program....?  We are not selling our wares in a vacuum here folks.  We are competing with everyone else out there marketing gift card products.  Offering a second rate product is an option, but does not present the industry well and will not sell as well and therefore will not drive as much new business.  We realize innkeepers are our bread and butter.  That is why we invest the time and money we do into creating national programs of high-quality like this to drive you business.  That's why we buy a full-page ads in national magazines promoting the program.  It's why we were the first to pay innkeepers in a matter of days rather than weeks or months, all online and with no invoicing or cutting of checks.  It's why we travel across the country to personally meet with you guys unlike every other directory out there that you hardly ever actauuly see...  But let's be clear, if I cannot drive you any business because I do not meet consumers (your potential guests') needs, you would not be my customer.  So my job is ot meet consumers needs so I can meet yours - all while trying to also meet mine.  Neither can be succesful on it's own.  Finally, the numbers are not speculative, they are simply averages (as that is all we have because we cleary do not know individual innkeeper's ADR/Occupancy/Avg # room nights per res, etc.).  So yes, each innkeeper needs to do their own math.

- Irongate - To maintain the attractiveness of the program and make it competitive with other gift card products to ensure we sell the most possible, you cannot restrict it (other than what we are about to test on Costco.com). 

- GillumHouse - Funny!  We do our best to respond ot the market and innkeeper's needs with products and services that leverage technology, marketing and the internet.  Not doing bathrooms yet...

- Winewitch - We care.  if we didn't we would have changed the way we interacted with innkeepers long ago and not responded to posts like this and I wouldn't personally respond to every email I get, we wouldn't go to shows, etc..  I am sorry it is not more evident.  I apologize the support folks did not spend more time with you.  Hopefully you can see that notifying 4,000 innkeepers of material changes to the gift card program causes a bit of a spike in the support department.  But they did speak to MANY innkeepers today and explained what's up in more detail and many innkeepers understood and stayed on the program.  I am happy to have someone contact you or even call you myself Monday when I am back in town.  Just let me know.  The cards cost about $.60/each and we send each innkeeper 25 of them with a rack.  The cost and inconvenience to innkeepers and the staff to get the cards returned and re-entered into the database to be assigned to another property, and repackaged with shrink-wrap - is simply more expensive than tossing them.  Doesn't mean they are not valuable.  Just a business decision that is is better just to have the innkeeper get rid of them than to return them...  No tricks.

- HappyJacks - Thanks for the ideas.  The directories were a result of the fact that we allow purchasers to post live feedback comments after they purchase a GC on BedandBreakfast.com and a printed directory was one of the main things folks wanted - and ultimately is not too expensive.  It also serves to drive traffic to the site so folks can review the detailed listings with the domain name on the bottom of every single page.  The basic shipping free with basic packaging is sort of what we do currently.  But it can't be too basic or folks will not feel like it is a high-quality gift and sales will suffer and folks will not feel good about giving or getting the gift..  Go read our reviews on the site when you get a minute.  People LOVE the program.

- JBJ - So you feel we should not do all we can to help innkeepers get reviews on a site where consumers are looking for inns (and reviews)?  I'd LOVE to cut that program and not have to deal with reviews at all.  Believe me that hey are no more fun for us than they are for you.  They take a LOT of time and money. But the alternative is for us not to meet the needs of your potential guests so the consumers do not find enough reviews on BBCOM and go to TripAdvisor where they can easily find and book a "hotel" instead.  We also explained how easy it is for innkeepers to add a link to their specific review page on our site from their own website.  This is WAY less expensive and helps the innkeeper get WAY more reviews.  But the fact is that we still get loads of reviews via the Business Reply Cards so many many innkeepers seem to love them.  I am having a bit of trouble following the logic that by doing all we can to help our members get ratings so they will get more business - we are bad...

- Swirt - Absolutely correct.  That's always been the problem with print.  That's also a reason we mention in the email for any innkeeper that would like out of the program to notify us by a date 10 days or so from now so we can be sure to remove them from the book.  Again, guys - I'd love to not have to print a book.  But consumers are still asking for them with a gift card purchase.  Also makes the gift a "little" nicer than just a "card"...?  WE also mentioned clearly in th edirectory to go online for the latest and most up-to-date list.

- GillumHouse - WE have ALWAYS advocated looking at your ROI.  If you are not getting a fair returrn from your investment with us, we do not deserve your money.  Period!  I will be the first to say it.  Just be sure to actually look at your data and make a logical decision, not an emotional one.  I have to ask though, who do you gus expect to do these national publicity leads/PR campaigns, national gift card programs / national full page ads / deals with travel industry leaders to give innkeepers an opportunity to get exposure in the leading travel sites, etc...?  Sorry, we are way more than just a directory.  If a directory is all you are lookinng for, they are a dime a dozen.  Be sure to check their traffic levels on Quantcast.com to compare the value they can deliver. Finally, I'd love to hear what we are "hammering" you on if you have a minute.  I am not aware of us ever strong-arming any innkeepers to buy anything from us...Our products and services sell because we deliver great products at great value.  You mentioned we have to take a look at who is being served and who is the driver... Do you really feel that by investing in the gift card program as we did, that we are not trying to drive more business to members?  Do you feel the fact that we need to make a fair return on that investement is wrong?  Have we done a poor job of explaing the real costs involved in a program like this?  Is it not beneficial for the industry and our particapting members to have a first-class program out there?  

I look forward to the dialog but I am out town until Monday so may be slow in responding...

Thanks for listening (uh... "reading")...

Sincerely,

Eric

YellowSocks's picture
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Eric Goldreyer wrote:
Why do you say the 8-9% is "baloney"?  If our average gift card sell is $150 (the part the innkeeper pays the commission on) and the average stay at a B&B is over $300, what would the effective commission rate be?  Should be somewhere south of 10%...?  I realize this is an "average" number though  and will be different for every innkeeper...

Which answers your own question about why I say 8-9% is baloney.  If you prefer, I'll say that 8-9% is wishful thinking that you've convinced yourself.  The average stay at my B&B is no where near $300.

Eric wrote:
I have to ask though, who do you gus expect to do these national publicity leads/PR campaigns, national gift card programs / national full page ads / deals with travel industry leaders to give innkeepers an opportunity to get exposure in the leading travel sites, etc...? 

Well, there's PAII, for one...

Eric wrote:
Have we done a poor job of explaing the real costs involved in a program like this?  Is it not beneficial for the industry and our particapting members to have a first-class program out there?  

Oh, you've explained your costs... but you seem to forget we have ours, too.

You know, I shop at Wal-Mart all the time, and I've never once seen a GC on the rack... and I look for them.  I've never once seen a full-page ad.  I've never read an article about a small, cozy B&B... they're always about larger inns with fancy schmancy amenities.

I am interested in knowing more about the "deals with travel industry leaders to give innkeepers an opporunity to get exposure in the leading travel sites."  What's that about?

=)
Kk.

gillumhouse's picture
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Exactly! The fancy, schmancy in big tourist areas get the attention and write-ups. The off-the-beaten path gem is just as nice and perhaps even friendlier to the guests because they are small but rarely ever get a mention in the big-time articles. BUT we can be expected to pay the same big-time rates as we are told - go away kid, you bother me.

We bust our buns to make things as nice in our small inns as the big ones are. And it seems that only one of the Directories is constantly coming up with more things for us to buy from them and telling us we should be grateful to them for taking our money. The others do not seem to be as grabby but iloveinns does seem to do a lot of press releases to promote the industry without telling us how grateful we should be - ka-ching!

Since Eric obviously is reading this thread, he should be aware that I resent being told how grateful I should be to his organization and how I should not question their policies. Keep talking down to me. I am no longer a start-up. And as has been pointed out, economics may hit us in 2009 and belt-tightening may happen. Do not think for one moment this means I will be doing less marketing - I will probably do more and for what I pay you, Eric, I can do  ads in a more targeted market that may do me better (maybe not, but at least they respect me - I know this because we have talked and they have been very helpful and not condescending).

I am one of the people who is giving content to your web site. We were in a circle of dependence on each other - we list to give content, you provide a location for people to find us, and the people book. This works as long as everyone respects each other and their need for each other. Methinks the coin in one pocket has taken the circle out of round.

gillumhouse's picture
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I truthfully signed up again because they did listen and remove the ads from our pages. PLUS they have the Publicity Leads on Sopport - HOWEVER I am seriously considering a non-renewal due to the hammering I get to do this and do that which will enhance the coffers of bandb (the expense they are wanting us to cover as they develop more things to sell us) as they raise our rates because we offer this and that (who cares, I want a Directory). To get back to the Publicity Leads - that is where I got the lead for the Rachal Rae debachle and I have been noticing more and more requests for upscale and localized which do me no good. So I am back to paying the same amount of dollars to promote my 3 rooms as a 15+ resort Spa Inn....... and the stats do not hold water - at least not enough water - to make me think it will be that big a deal to drop it.

I think Podunk is going to take a year sabatical to test the waters and see what -if any - difference it makes with the reservations. There has to be a decision as to who is being served and who is the driver. Take away enough inns and what is there to be found by the consumer? And BTW Google is my biggest referer.

Morticia's picture
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I notice a lot of media requests that I see in various locations are for the things you mention...upscale, spas, dinner packages, romance packages that include on site massages. I just got asked to write guest itineraries for my local chamber website. Why would I do that? Maybe if I got the byline and a link to my website (direct to my website, not to my listing on their site) I might consider it. But I'm also considering dropping them because they're not doing a stitch of marketing or advertising. So I definitely don't want to give them the benefit of my research.

gillumhouse's picture
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One of the "Leads" specified it was for Affluent Travelers. I have had a lot of affluent guests - if their cars tell me anything as in new Boxters, Jags, etc - but I doubt they would have liked themselves to be labeled Affluent Travelers. They got the same service as my first timers in a 10 year old car or the college kids who came here.

I think I am becoming disenchanted with the "travel writers" and the Directories who are going to help us.... My response is starting to be "Grab yer wallet, Mabel, its the Govmint coming to help us!"

muirford's picture
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The short notice period is diabolically evil, in my opinion, and smacks of a desparate money grab.  No doubt they are all aware that fall foliage season is a huge season for many, many B&Bs. 

BTW, we STILL haven't received our notification about the commission increase.  I wonder how many days notice we would actually have had if I wasn't on the forum.

seashanty's picture
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wow.  my average stay is $140. 

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What gets me is bedandbreakfast.com whine explain that their costs to execute the program are so high and that's why they have to pass so much off to the B&B's. Well hello? They are the ones who designed and implemented the program (with apparently little to no consideration for the B&B's they are supposedly partnering with) so they had and still have control over the nature of the expenses.

John and Eric have been on the forums and heard the concerns of innkeepers that the commission is too high and that the stats they quote about effective commission do NOT apply to many many many innkeepers. BanB.com could have chosen to address those concerns and try to bring their expenses down in order to make the program more equitable. In fact that would have been an intelligent business move. But instead they plug their ears, tell us how great they are for the industry and jack up their commission. Nice.

And to give an example of an expense that could be reduced: the print books. It costs a lot of money to print 64-page colour books, and it costs to ship them. Why, I would like to know, does an online directory feel it is necessary to distribute printed books? John's told that the membership fee for the directory is so high because of all he does to drive traffic there. Well why not direct the GC users to the online directory instead of giving them a paper option?

And in terms of the high cost of packaging and shipping the GCs: why not manage those expenses better? Perhaps give the purchaser the option of Free Standard packaging and shipping (nice envelope, postcard directing recipient to website, standard ground mail) and offer an upgraded package whereby the purchaser can pay a little extra to have more bells and whistles around the card and maybe overnight delivery. Just some ideas off the top of my head how bedandbreakfast.com could look at cutting down their expenses instead of sticking it to the small B&B owner.

All of course is my high-falutin' and not very humble opinion.

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The fraud /theft rate on mailed gift cards is enormous. As for printed books, (like the ones from iloveinns), I know many people who (1) like to give a "physical" gift and / or (2) keep them in the car for research.

Again I AM NOT justifying the comm increase!!

swirt's picture
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Happyjacks wrote:
Why, I would like to know, does an online directory feel it is necessary to distribute printed books?

This is an excellent point.  And with now many people dropping the program and their names still out there in the printed book, it creates a latency problem.  Nearly as soon as it is printed, it is out of date.  The website can be the most up-to-date.

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happyjacks wrote:

All of course is my high-falutin' and not very humble opinion.

Kathleen?  I love the fact that we can all be high falutin' on this forum. 

So far I concur, once again that BandB.com makes money off of INNKEEPERS and the INNKEEPERS are the one getting the shaft.

BTW I will now speak my part on the giant pack of review cards that I had to throw away because noone wants to fill them out.  No cost involved in that, aye? But everybody loves to read reviews. (Here was one I got from that review card promo - "NICE PLACE.")

ONCE AGAIN, I reitertate you comments - ONLINE DIRECTORY.  Not paper, not printed, ONLINE!!!

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"this is all she wrote"

Dear JBJ,

Per your request, the Historic House Bed and Breakfast has been removed from the BedandBreakfast.com gift card program.

Regards,

Veronica R. Gonzales, Membership Consultant
BedandBreakfast.com & Inns.com
700 Brazos Street, Suite B-700, Austin, TX 78701
Office: 512.322.2722
Toll free:1.800.GO.B.AND.B (1.800.462.2632), extension 2722
Fax: 512.320.0883
veronica@bedandbreakfast.com

 

winewitch's picture
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Yep, that's pretty much about all we got too when we opted out today. Not, "oh how can we make it work, or why are you leaving and what can we do to keep your business", it was pretty much, don't let the door hit you..."

And they told us we could go ahead and throw away or destroy the cards we have left, nice to know they are so concerned about those expensive cards going to waste.

gillumhouse's picture
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Glad I never signed up for it.

Have any of you received the call followed by an e-mail about designing and hosting your web site for you? DH was told mine looked tired and out-dated. First they were a Directory, then a reservations service, then a gift card flogger, nw they want to create and host our web sites also. When they start offering to clean my bathrooms, I might be interested.......

IronGate's picture
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Aspiring here, and not really up on the ins-and-outs of the GC programs.  If you participate, can you set limits on their use within your inn?  For example, they are not valid on weekends or during your high season.

__________________

Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

 

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