Dividing Personal and Professional With Guests

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Bless the guests.  They pay the bills and we respect that.  However, we do not owe them explanations about ourselves outside the scope of their housing and the services they pay for.

How to manage the boundary between private matters that have nothing to do with their lodging?  They deserve our best efforts at making their stay a pleasant one, but have no right to intrude into our lives.  How to keep the nosey in their own backyard without hurting a guest's feelings? 

Thank you for your thoughts. 

 

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The words "excuse me" said in a certain way seem to work with most people. But the reality is that you opened the door into your life and you have to live with that. That is why the burn out rate is so incredibly high... all these people who didn't realize the work and the lack of privacy. I've been doing it for over 20 year already. I'm basically blasé about having a private life.... I know it involves a door.

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We usually do not mind any personal questions as usually guests stay at a b&b to have a personal experience but sometimes they go way personal, when this happens we usually do like everyone else on here as well and turn the questions back on them. What we sometimes like less is guests leaving the front door open, switch on all of the lights everywhere and we even had people walk in underwear!

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Thank you for your thoughts.  There is a line that is crossed when people get too personal.  A little bit of friendly chat is okay, but even hoteliers and innkeepers have the right to not be interrogated or have people run in their underwear in the lobby. 

Foreigners who stayed in Chinese hotels have boasted of getting sick and vomiting in lobby ashtrays or ashtray stands because of having had too much to drink at the bar.  They think it is hilarious.  It is beyond the bounds of good taste and common decency.  As a few posters mentioned, you opened your doors, but even these B&B owners would not be too happy about such behavior and might not be excited to have these same guests return.  Some things are not defensible, like the driver who refuses to roll down his window for a patrolman.  If the patrolman breaks the window, the driver was still in the wrong.  The patrolman is dealing with the riff-raff in the public, but still has a right to common courtesy and even the right to not like rudeness.

Of course there is much work in hospitality, else no one would pay for it to the extent they do.  One still has to deal with angry customers who are upset because their cleaned toilet 'smelled like ammonia' shortly after it was cleaned.  That will not change.  All we wish to do is avoid getting up close and too personal.  Thank you for all for your feedback.

 

JimBoone's picture
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I see several different thoughts expressed in this comment.

Getting personal, lots of lodging in town, but only one "me", talking, being a friend, selling myself, is the one thing I have to offer that can't be found at a large hotel, it is my stock in trade. If I didn't enjoy the people it would be the wrong business for me. Guests usually choose a small place because they want to be more personal, they are the customer.

Underwear in the lobby, well I don't have a lobby and baths are ensuite, but when I visit family you might catch me running accross the hall in my drawers, if a bath isn't ensuite I could see such happening with a guest.

Rowdy guests, the cost of the room usually defines the type of folks you get, usually too cheap will attract rowdy folks that make more work on the innkeeper, too high and I may get folks who expect more than I can provide, your rate can be a tool.

Smelly baths, if a cleaned bath still has an odor, there may be an issue more than just cleaning.

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JimBoone wrote:

I see several different thoughts expressed in this comment.

Getting personal, lots of lodging in town, but only one "me", talking, being a friend, selling myself, is the one thing I have to offer that can't be found at a large hotel, it is my stock in trade. If I didn't enjoy the people it would be the wrong business for me. Guests usually choose a small place because they want to be more personal, they are the customer.

Underwear in the lobby, well I don't have a lobby and baths are ensuite, but when I visit family you might catch me running accross the hall in my drawers, if a bath isn't ensuite I could see such happening with a guest.

Rowdy guests, the cost of the room usually defines the type of folks you get, usually too cheap will attract rowdy folks that make more work on the innkeeper, too high and I may get folks who expect more than I can provide, your rate can be a tool.

Smelly baths, if a cleaned bath still has an odor, there may be an issue more than just cleaning.

We've never had the underwear at breakfast, but we've had a lot of pj's that would be considered underwear in public! Most guests go back and change when they realize they are not the only guests. Apparently showing US everything doesn't count. I do tell the guests in the room with the detached bath that we provide robes so they don't scare the other guests by dashing across the hall in their skivvies. I hope they use the robes. No one has ever mentioned otherwise.

We do the same thing in re price. We have heard the horror stories of what guests expect at the upper ranges in price and we don't go there. In the grand scheme of things, we're more like you than not. We know who we're comfortable with and who won't fit in here and we price accordingly.

I think Mama meant the guests didn't like the smell of the cleaning products (ammonia), not that the bathroom smelled like urine.

Mama - if you are sharing the bathroom with the guests be sure to remove ALL of your personal items. (Seashanty has a couple of stories of guests barging into her private bathroom ad stealing her stuff!) Have a tote available for yourself and for the guests to bring their things back and forth to the bath.

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Thank you for understanding what I thought was perfectly clear.  Mama did mean the smell of cleaning products (ammonia), definitely not the smell of urea.  

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mama beria wrote:

Thank you for understanding what I thought was perfectly clear.  Mama did mean the smell of cleaning products (ammonia), definitely not the smell of urea.  

Didn't mean for it to sound as if I didn't think it was cleaned, but as a "handyman" there are often issues with drains, traps, and seals that can add odors to the bathroom.

I probably wouldn't notice ammonia, as part of an interest in clocks I used to have an ultrasonic machine filled with mostly ammonia for cleaning the works sitting on the kitchen counter. 

Morticia's picture
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Yes, we've sometimes been told things guests have done elsewhere that make us wonder about them. That's the point where you need your exit line.

Gomez always says, 'look at the time! I've got to leap into action!' And he walks away.

I say I hear the phone ringing, excuse me.

EmptyNest's picture
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Sorry but if these are your experiences , then we are so far apart from even knowing what you deal with in your location. We would kick them out and they would never be allowed on our home again.

we have never experienced anything close to what you say.

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10/04/2015

our solution to the light problem in the communal areas is key operated light switches - only person who operates them is me. - in room lights is a whole nother issue.

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10/10/2016

That would be a great idea! I was thinking of timers but the ones we saw in the shops were not very good looking haha, I'll try to search for the key operated ones, thanks! I don't mind the lights in the bedroom although sometimes I do have the habit of entering the rooms a few minutes after our guests leave the house just in case they left the a/c or the lights on. 

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You can get light switches that sense movement, light comes on when you walk into room, off a few minutes after you depart, of course if you sit quietly at you desk too long the light may switch off and require you to wave your hand.

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Its about preparing a deflecting answer

ie "arn't you young to be doing this?" well I have 20 years experience

and so on - we get "are you busy?" "you must be busy all the time?" don't you have a good location for the conference center? (its why we bought here) and so on - take the time in advance to think of a good answer.

And yes put a lock on any room or cupboard you don't want people in.

gillumhouse's picture
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Here, I have the edge. I can pull out one of the things I am involved in or about what I do in town and totally deflect from us personally. I also try to turn it around to what they are interested in so I can tell them about places to go and thing to do that interest them. Himself and I have been involved in so many things and been so many places, it is easy to talk about where they are from or where they grew up.

JimBoone's picture
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We're a little different as a tiny motel, yet countless guests have walked through our home or shared time with us sitting on the common porch, to me the interaction with our guests is my reason for being in this life.  When guests return it is like old friends stopping to visit, but I'm not a very private person, sharing with the guests is the fun part of the business.

I suppose if I didn't want to answer a question I would exclaim "Oh that's a secret, I can't tell you that" and let it go, that or make up some outlandish story to watch their reaction.

Morticia's picture
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Turn the questions back to them. Most people would rather talk about themselves anyway!

Think about all the things guests might ask, then come up with short answers you don't mind telling them. Then turn the question to what do they want to do today, where are they going, etc.

We've had guests ask us everything except how much money we make. Although, they do try to get at that in round about ways - do you have another job? Things like that.

They want to know how much our house cost (which is public info if they want to look it up). We tell them general housing prices in town - how the range goes from several million on the coast to around $150k across the highway - let them figure out where we are in that range! Then ask the guest how housing prices are where they live.

They always want to know about family - where does everyone live, do they come to visit, that sort of thing. It's simple to say we have 3 kids and mention the cities they live near. Then ask the guest about their family.

They want to know if you've always wanted to be an innkeeper. Was this a dream? (Yeah, like cleaning up after people is what you've always wanted to do!) We pretty much tell the truth on this one - our jobs moved overseas and we weren't invited to go along. So we figured how hard could it be to make breakfast and a few beds, so we decided to give this a try. Then ask them about their dream job.

It's all about short answers and redirection.

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Morticia wrote:

We've had guests ask us everything except how much money we make.

That's an easy one for me to answer or volunteer the information truthfully, but not in dollars and cents. I tell folks we make a life, we earn a place to live and sometimes the business lets me hold money for a while and think I'm wealthy, but in time we need mattresses, TV's, a roof or other items and the business asks for the money to be returned, that's really a pretty truthful answer.

Morticia's picture
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I like that answer! The business wants the money back...

Lee2014's picture
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12/11/2014

  The House sees it as its money, down to every little cent and it views the innkeepers as its slaves to jump when it snaps its wood, brick, pipe, etc.

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EmptyNest's picture
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05/22/2008

When you open your house to guests especially with just one room you open your life as well...sorry but you do. You have to converse if they ask and you certainly have to be polite but you don't have to answer anything that is personal. Many people who stay at B & B's do so because they want a personal touch. IF you aren't prepared to do that maybe opening your home really isn't for you.  On the other hand, you can separate your lives from guests with private living quarters, which we had. This allows for assistance when needed, but out of site if it is not.

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