To Notify or not to notify

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01/07/2018

My wife and I have taken the plunge into purchasing a bed and breakfast and have already learned alot from the posts on this site and appreciate those of you who take the time to share your knowledge and experience. The bed and breakfast that we are purchasing is currently in operation and has reservations on the books already for after we take over. We will be closing on the purchase and taking over as innkeepers in the next couple of weeks and a question that we have is two part. 1.) For those that have already made reservations for after we take over - Should we notify them of the change in ownership via email or some other form of notification or do we just let it go and be a surprise when they arrive ?   2.) For those that are consistent repeat guests - Do we notify them of the change and if so would email be good or would a hand written note sent via snail mail be better.  We will be changing the innkeeper page on the website immediately so people who look there will be able to see the change it if they look.  We are leaning towards some kind of notification and not surprising people but have also heard arguments the other way so I wanted to get some input from those of you that may have had experience with this situation.  All feedback is appreciated.

Lee2014's picture
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12/11/2014

  My aunt and I took over the management of the one inn after my other uncle closed it.  He had notified all the repeat guests that we were closing so they were happy to find out from us that we reopened it.  

  The other place sold and no one was informed about the change including the staff...they were mad!  Three people quit within 24 hours.  The former owners stayed on for a month and they put a post on Facebook before they left.  There seemed to be no problems guest wise including the many repeat guests.

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01/07/2018

Thanks for all the great suggestions. The present owners have been awesome so I am sure they would be willing to send out an email welcoming us.  

Morticia's picture
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05/22/2008

We were in your shoes 15 years ago. This is what we experienced with the PO's telling no one, not even their family(!) that they had sold the business:

  • Irate repeat guests. Angry with the PO's for not telling them. ('They were our best friends!') Then secondary anger with us for not being the former owners and for daring to change anything! ('But they always made the blueberry muffins with pink berries!')
  • Cancellations when guests found out the former owners were gone.
  • Loss of repeat business when guests didn't like that we'd changed things.
  • Multiple phone calls, emails, snail mail from their friends, family, and doctors because they did not tell anyone they moved!
  • Some repeat guests who were delighted with the regime change as the former owners were 'burned out.' Or so the guests said.
  • A lot of repeat guests gave us a year to get our feet under us then they came back.

So, my suggestion is the present owners send out an email the day of the sale to introduce you to the guests (maybe they have a mailing list for a newsletter?) expressing their delight to introduce you and wish you well.

Then, after the sale, (maybe a couple of weeks?) you send out an email introducing yourselves in your own words, thanking the former owners for the lovely intro, saying you are excited to meet everyone, and giving some little hint about what great ideas you have. (Not too much all at once, repeat guests are skittish!)

Someone in town had an 'incident' on their closing day - guests had one set of innkeepers for their first breakfast and another set for the following morning. The guests were not happy. They felt it was a bait and switch - they booked one owner and got another. If your sellers are going to help you out for a few days, it might be helpful if they introduce you in person to anyone already in the house!

(The people we bought from were caustic in talking about us to the repeat guests our first morning. We happily saw the back of them the following day. Hope nothing like that happens to you! Good luck!)

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Arks's picture
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05/22/2010

Morticia wrote:

  • ...made the blueberry muffins with pink berries!'

Pink berries? I have missed so much in life Sad

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gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

One of my blueberry bushes is suppoded to have pink berries. I got it because it was "different" - no berries as yet though.

PhineasSwann's picture
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09/25/2012

We did both.

We asked the sellers to send out a nice letter letting people know about us, about the sale, and how guests were going to love us. (Full disclosure: We asked to dictate the letter, and sending it was a condition of sale).

Then, on the day we took over we sent out an email newsletter telling about ourselves and how we were so looking forward to meeting all the guests who had come to our inn in the past and finding out why they loved it as much as we did.

If your repeat guest list is small enough to hand write a note, that's always well received. Unfortunately (fortunately) our list was too long and email had to do. 

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gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

I have not been in that situation eithr as I created my B & B. However, we HAVE had a change in innkeepers as Himself is no longer here since his tired body decided it was time to go. I have been telling repeat guests as they book - as for instance a motorcyclist who stayed a few years ago who called this week asking if I was the innkeeper who was here on xx/xx/xx because he said he would be back if the situation came up again. He needed to know in case Himself's conversation was the reason he was returning and not my great breakfast and wonderful hospitality.

I also agree that if possible perhaps the letter/card would be better from the previous, but if they are not willing, then I would advise a handwritted snail mail notecard if time permits  before returning arrive (TO returning). New reservations really do not know the previous so what is the diff?

OnTheShore's picture
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08/28/2011

We notified everyone on the mailing list when we took over, in the form of our annual newsletter. There were not any existing future reservations at the time, because our business is seasonal and had not yet started taking reservations for the next year (we took over after the previous season had ended). Most of the regular returning guests were on the mailing list, so they learned of the change in management through the newsletter, if they didn't already know, since the change in management was pending through the whole previous season -- the guests already knew that B&R were leaving and that we would be taking over for the following year.

I think when B&R took over from their predecessors there was no notification, and the guests showed up finding B&R instead of V&G, who they had expected.

In our case, none of these were changes in ownership, just changes in management.

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seashanty's picture
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06/02/2008

Congratulations and welcome!

For repeat guests I would ask the present owners for a few kind words of goodbye and introduction. If there's time, I'd do both a snail mail and email note to those coming soonest.

And yes I would tell everyone under new management and Hello in your emails and on the website.

Guests who've stayed before will be sure to tell you they loved/couldn't stand the old innkeepers and that they ALWAYS did things differently, better or for less money. Some might insist they had long standing arrangements for lower rates and that is tricky to handle. Also gift certificates might materialize that you weren't told about. Sorry ... I'm getting off topic here.

Good luck!

 

 

Innkeep's picture
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06/04/2008

Welcome to the world of innkeeping.  I'm sure those who have been in your situation will chime in.  I have not, but from the guest perspective, I would appreciate some sort of notification, actually from the previous owner, who could give you a superlative recommendation.

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