Baby sitting our guests

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Gingerbread Latte

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While I'm awaiting banking decisions, I'm reading reviews on TA. Most of them comment on the service and relationship they develop with the Innkeeper. I am all for that and look forward to it, but so many said they enjoyed sitting in the afternoon drinking coffee on the porch, or exchanging family stories in the evenings, etc. That's what "made" their experience.
In all my B&B travels, I have enjoyed the knowledge of the area and recommendations of the Innkeepers, but have never expected them to be my personal concierge.
What has been your experience with this? I have no problem being there for them and making their experience a memorable one, but I do not want to be their best friend for the weekend. I'm hoping that was just the spin in the reviews and they were trying to say nice things about the Innkeeper.
On a side note, I noticed that you could have 10 reviews on how nice the house was and 1 saying it was filthy and rat ridden... odd. One person even said there was hair in the ice trays and the fridge was messy. I'm thinking.... why is this guest in the fridge? Just an observation.
 

Paradise

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Good afternoon,
We certainly interact with our guests "a lot" & by that I mean that we are avail. 8:30-6:30 daily & after/before for emergencies or for early/late checkin/out (in accordance with air/ferry schedules to/from the island as we drop off/pick up on arrival/departure) which happens several times/week, too.
That all said, we chat with them tons, give advice, explain the map, make calls to arrange trips/dinner reservations, etc. However, we always maintain a "professional" relationship & never forget that they are NOT our "friends," but our "guests."
I think that sometimes, the guests may view our time spent talking with them as us just "hanging out," but ultimately it is WORK & we are spending time & talking to them as part of the job (sometimes it's more enjoyable than others, but we'd almost always surely have other things like relaxing that we could be doing-instead).
 

Alibi Ike

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In re babysitting guests- if it feels like babysitting, it's not what those reviews were about. Those reviews were about feeling like the innkeepers had time for the guests. It's the feeling the guest comes away with.
A lot of B&B's have an afternoon tea or social hour specifically set up so the guests can get this kind of attention but the innkeeper can draw a line about how much of this happens without the guest feeling like they are unwelcome. The PO's had a strict 6 PM rule. After 6 the guests had no interaction with the innkeepers unless it was an emergency.
If it's been particularly busy, hectic or otherwise stressful for me, I will not go into the inn after 8 PM if I know guests are milling around. We do have to 'close up' at some point, but we try to do that when everyone is either out or in their rooms. If things are running smoothly, we've both been known to stay up chatting until 11 or so. Guests invite us to join them for wine and conversation and we try to not turn them down. Sometimes we just can't chat or have drinks, but we explain we 'have plans' even if it's just to read a book!
 

agoodman

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Every guest is different and you have to learn to read what they need, some want to check in and never see you again except at breakfast, some like more interaction. I would NEVER refer to it as "babysitting" - if the guest wants to talk and you have things to do, or don't want to continue talking, tell them you are really enjoying their company, can you get them some coffee or tea as you will need to start your errands / chores.
I have had guests sitting around until midnight at the table, I let them do their thing, clean up as much as I can and go to bed, unless I want to sit up with them.
 

birdwatcher

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I agree with Paradise that its part of the job and the job of Innkeeping is a gnuine "love" of people. I don't think its babysitting, and TA is kind of quirky, yes the one bad review would tarnish the Inn, but some guests would say really ugly things about that business on purpose when those things never happened, so in understanding that the Inn may have 5-6 really good reviews and then one bad one does not make the B & B bad.
My husband and I do have a relationship with the guest-and we do chit chat and get personal-but only at the discresion of that particular guest. Not every guest is chatty and personal, we've had guests that havent been and those are the guests that usually don't leave a TA review. We have also invited guests to have dinner with us-because we WANTED to and enjoyed their company not because we were babysitting. We live here in this house and this town and its not as if we take them to their room and say -Well see you tomorrow! That is the difference between a hotel experience and a Bed and Breakfast experience.
I'm sorry to say this but if you consider the personal interaction with guests is "babysitting" them ,then perhaps you need to hire an Innkeeper and you just be the owner because however lovley your Inn may be or however many great things you have unless you have cabins, vacation homes or cotteges that stand alone; the Innkeeper is what makes your bed and breakfast succeed or fail. If I where you I would seriously consider the decision to own a Bed and breakfast if you are not Innkeeper material-and wont take the job to be an extention of who you are-you would end up tarnashing the b & b experience for guests not to mention the business of innkeeping.
 

Gingerbread Latte

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Thanks, I'm sure the reviews were about the planned time, that makes sense. I will have afternoon coffee and look forward to visiting with any guests who want to.
 

seashanty

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it's a delicate balance. after a while, you pick up on how much interaction the guests want. (sometimes you make a mistake, though). those who want a lot of your time are the big challenge because you don't have a lot of time to spare.
i ran an eight room b&b mostly solo, but had a series of chambermaids that came and went. one was great, really reliable. even with my right hand chambermaid, that still left a lot to do! but i made it a point to speak to each of my guests with only them in mind. what is really effective is to approach each person or couple at some point, in an unhurried manner, force yourself to stand still and look at them, or even (gasp) sit down ... making them feel like the most important person(s). around the time i put out the late pm snack (without towels or broom in hand haha) if i saw some, i'd ask if there was anything they needed, any questions, there are snacks in the guest library. it was really just 3 to 5 minutes, sometimes less, depending ... but i tried to make them feel special and they often seemed to think we'd spent a lot of time together. they wrote things in my guest comment book about how much time i took to be with them.
at night, i was plain worn out, and if i saw any guests, i'd again stop and do the same ... and tell them i had to be up at 5 so i hoped they'd enjoy their night, and that i was closing my innkeeper door now, etc. i often accepted a glass of their wine (as though no guest ever did that) and took it away with me.
in the morning, when making and serving breakfast, (i am very chatty) they would often be speaking to me because they could see me the whole time. and, when i was through, guests would often ask me to please sit with them a while. so, when all the serving was done and before i started in on dishes, i would take a cup of coffee and sit and take a break. sometimes stopping to answer the phone ( i had the cordless right with me ) ... and i made it clear that i was sorry to have to end our chat. in self defense, if i was being monopolized by anyone when i really had to be doing other things, i'd make the phone ring and excuse myself.
that interaction was part of my job and, really for me, it was one of the things i enjoyed the most.
everyone has to work this out for themselves.
as i said, i'm chatty by nature so found it easy to do. some guests i really liked and wanted to spend time with. some were sour and it was an effort. sometimes, i felt like i was being pulled in 50 directions at once and the LAST thing i wanted to do was play gracious hostess. for me, this is when it was most critical as i easily could have ignored them ... being so 'busy' with the physical work to be done.
when guests ask what you do all day after serving breakfast, then you know you've achieved that atmosphere of 'charming b&b with friendly innkeeper', where they aren't seeing all the work that goes into what you do.
as for those review comments that seem totally different from most, i do wonder.
i had a guest fridge on each floor, with ice trays in tiny freezers, so maybe .....?
 

Gingerbread Latte

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I agree with Paradise that its part of the job and the job of Innkeeping is a gnuine "love" of people. I don't think its babysitting, and TA is kind of quirky, yes the one bad review would tarnish the Inn, but some guests would say really ugly things about that business on purpose when those things never happened, so in understanding that the Inn may have 5-6 really good reviews and then one bad one does not make the B & B bad.
My husband and I do have a relationship with the guest-and we do chit chat and get personal-but only at the discresion of that particular guest. Not every guest is chatty and personal, we've had guests that havent been and those are the guests that usually don't leave a TA review. We have also invited guests to have dinner with us-because we WANTED to and enjoyed their company not because we were babysitting. We live here in this house and this town and its not as if we take them to their room and say -Well see you tomorrow! That is the difference between a hotel experience and a Bed and Breakfast experience.
I'm sorry to say this but if you consider the personal interaction with guests is "babysitting" them ,then perhaps you need to hire an Innkeeper and you just be the owner because however lovley your Inn may be or however many great things you have unless you have cabins, vacation homes or cotteges that stand alone; the Innkeeper is what makes your bed and breakfast succeed or fail. If I where you I would seriously consider the decision to own a Bed and breakfast if you are not Innkeeper material-and wont take the job to be an extention of who you are-you would end up tarnashing the b & b experience for guests not to mention the business of innkeeping..
Thanks for your insight Bird, I think I just got overwhelmed by reading a lot of reviews. In my mind I saw guests following me around all day. I didn't mean to imply I'm not a people-person. I definitely am, I've been in service related careers all my life and truly enjoy meeting people. I would never consider this if I didn't want to create the experience for guests. I look forward to it and maybe the term "babysitting" was too strong.
 

JBloggs

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Every guest feels they are the one and only guest and we want them to feel this way! It is part of the B&B experience, vs simply lodging like a hotel. There are those on this forum who are beds and breakfast and that's that. They do not wish for there to be any more than that. I will say I am in the middle. I don't ever babysit them.
Last year on the forum someone said we attract guests that are like us, and I remember saying that I find that not to be true, not for us here, for those who are like us I do not find interesting. So I do not so much as "hit it off" with the guests but I innjoy them, for those I really connect with. Connecting not necessarily meaning same worldviews.
So all that to say, depends on the guests, those who are not demanding seem to receive more from me personally vs those who feel they have booked ME, and I say often, I am not for hire, not by the hour nor the night.

BUT, yes always a but, I am way way way too tired to sit on the porch at the end of the evening, as I am still swapping sheets and towels and folding way into the night. If it is busy and I even take one evening off and let the laundry sit, I will be behind. There is always damp stuff waiting to go in, and will stink if it is left to sit.
IF I had staff, I would sit on the porch. I would pull out the old mandolin and pick a few notes. (No I don't play, but sometimes our guests do, and some of our family does play some traditional stranged instruments) :)
I am too tired.
Really.
My time for the guest is merely at breakfast now, in and around breakfast, that is the song and dance and the whole she-bang. Think about breakfast - we do a SET TIME, and even so the whole breakfast from getting up and going takes hours to then end...then checkouts, stripping rooms, cleaning, etc and the whole ball never stops rolling.
 

gillumhouse

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We do spend time talking with our guests - IF we get the vibes they want us to. I have created a OFF button on DH! But it is because we are so small that we can do that. I have also told guests I have a meeting and left - because I DO have a lot of meetings. Sometimes in Summer, I will come home from a City Council meeting and they will be relaxing on the glider on the porch and we chat for a few minutes before I go in. I like to make the dinner reservations for them so I can tell the restaurant we are sending them (you never know when brownie points will help). I promise you, if I had more than 3 rooms, the level of sevice here would be WAY different. From day one though, I made up for our defincenies with service. I cannot change my location (did change the number of bathrooms but was 3 w/shared for 10 years), but I can try to make this the best experience I can - and believe it or not, there have been many times we just showed to the room and then disappeared because of the vibes.
 

muirford

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Thanks, I'm sure the reviews were about the planned time, that makes sense. I will have afternoon coffee and look forward to visiting with any guests who want to..
Gingerbread Latte said:
Thanks, I'm sure the reviews were about the planned time, that makes sense. I will have afternoon coffee and look forward to visiting with any guests who want to.
I hope you also saw reviews that mentioned innkeepers who were welcoming and attentive, but not "in your face" as at some B&Bs. That's what our guests say. You will find a balance that works for you and for your guests. It's a valid concern and one that every innkeeper has to face. We made sure that we had owner's quarters that are pretty private so we could take a break when we need to; we have found that being available all morning to get people started works well for us and our inn. We go in and out once or twice in the evening, but don't generally join people for conversations then - our town has great restaurants and most guests are out in the evenings. If you have a destination inn or plan a social hour in the evening, things might be different for you. When you're in the thick of it, it's unlikely you'll feel like you're 'babysitting' - you'll just be doing your job.
 

Don Draper

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This is a great thing for you to be thinking about. The truth is that it is each individual innkeeper who sets the tone and the amount of guest interaction they will have. In the beginning we were available 24/7 for guests, and truly wanted to engage with as many people as possible. We burned out on this in less than 6 months. We are simply too busy to give every guest a ton of personal interaction. So we had to adjust for ourselves. We've also catered our marketing to attract a very independent type of guest, one who is not looking for "babysitting", as you put it.
I think it's a huge misconception that all or even most b&b goers are looking for a ton of social interaction. Some are, to be sure, but we've found in our setting and as times progress and we're entertaining a younger and younger clientele that they most definitely prefer to keep to themselves. So we are available if needed and invisible if not (except for our check-in time and breakfast, which still gives 8 hours a day devoted strictly to guest interaction).
 

Alibi Ike

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I agree with Paradise that its part of the job and the job of Innkeeping is a gnuine "love" of people. I don't think its babysitting, and TA is kind of quirky, yes the one bad review would tarnish the Inn, but some guests would say really ugly things about that business on purpose when those things never happened, so in understanding that the Inn may have 5-6 really good reviews and then one bad one does not make the B & B bad.
My husband and I do have a relationship with the guest-and we do chit chat and get personal-but only at the discresion of that particular guest. Not every guest is chatty and personal, we've had guests that havent been and those are the guests that usually don't leave a TA review. We have also invited guests to have dinner with us-because we WANTED to and enjoyed their company not because we were babysitting. We live here in this house and this town and its not as if we take them to their room and say -Well see you tomorrow! That is the difference between a hotel experience and a Bed and Breakfast experience.
I'm sorry to say this but if you consider the personal interaction with guests is "babysitting" them ,then perhaps you need to hire an Innkeeper and you just be the owner because however lovley your Inn may be or however many great things you have unless you have cabins, vacation homes or cotteges that stand alone; the Innkeeper is what makes your bed and breakfast succeed or fail. If I where you I would seriously consider the decision to own a Bed and breakfast if you are not Innkeeper material-and wont take the job to be an extention of who you are-you would end up tarnashing the b & b experience for guests not to mention the business of innkeeping..
Thanks for your insight Bird, I think I just got overwhelmed by reading a lot of reviews. In my mind I saw guests following me around all day. I didn't mean to imply I'm not a people-person. I definitely am, I've been in service related careers all my life and truly enjoy meeting people. I would never consider this if I didn't want to create the experience for guests. I look forward to it and maybe the term "babysitting" was too strong.
.
Gingerbread Latte said:
In my mind I saw guests following me around all day.
Some of them do. They sit in the dining room from 7 AM to 11 AM and, when there are no other guests present, expect you to drop everything to talk to them. Those are the ones who are being babysat. I have had them hovering right over me while I am washing the floors on hands & knees. They don't get that there is work to be done everyday. They think we're on vacation, too!
When kids do this, I don't mind. They are curious as to what this place is (it looks like my house but they don't know me so why are they staying here???) so they walk into the kitchen and poke around while we're cooking. (I put them to work if they get underfoot.) They see us going into all the rooms and think one of those rooms must be our bedroom, so can they see it?
Don't like it when adults do the same thing because they should know the boundaries by the time they're old enough to rent a room!
There are some who wait for us. Actually sit in the living room and wait to pounce. They are the tough ones. I don't have an hour/day in the middle of the day to stop and chat. Especially hard are the ones who are here with a spouse who has plans for the day and they are just idling.
 

JBloggs

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And the interesting thing is as I read the comments/replies I can see each innkeeper in their inn and totally get their viewpoint. That is the difficult thing at times on the forum, where one person may be near a huge historical draw another is out in the woods on a bluff and the guests are always there. Some have 50/50, but the balance changes constantly.
IF a guest is coming to an inn purely to be entertained by the innkeepers and hand-held, then they are not a guest most innkeepers would like. In our industry we call them "needy" and have far too much to do. But then those who relish any time given by the innkeeper are usually those who comment on it in a review.
Some inns are family homes, some are not. Some are decorated with personal "stuff" others are not. The beauty of B&B's is they are all different and operated differently. A warm welcome, comfortable surroundings, and information when needed is a definite.
Lastly remember, if you have had 8-16 guests day in and day out for months you are maybe not as keen to spend time socializing as a two or three room inn, with a lot lower occupancy. So it is all apples and oranges. None of it is babysitting though. Only once or twice has someone followed me around, I am too sneaky to allow that to happen...I have a habitrail a maze of sorts behind the scenes here to lose them if they try to tail me...
 

Morticia

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Most guests are highly self-sufficient and anything you can do to promote that is one less ring-y ding-y when you're trying to relax. If you give them the basics, any other interaction you have will feel like you are conversing with friends and that's how it should be. This is why so many of us go to great lengths to have in-room books with lots of info. A guest area where they can get their own drinks, ice, snacks also helps. An 'I forgot it' basket with travel-size amenities. All of these things cut down on the need to interact when you're tired or done for the day.
One of the former owners here was chatty and the other was not. There was a signal...the one keeper would call the inn and when the other innkeeper answered the only comment was, 'Now. Come home now.' (The one who did the calling told me that. In case I had a 'chatty one', too.) One of them was not happy with the amount of time the guests could take while the other innkeeper loved that part of the biz. It wasn't done to give the chatty innkeeper an out, it was jerking the leash.
There are many guests who I love talking with and will chat for hours. Girlfriend getaway groups are very inclusive and invite me to join them. Couples traveling together also do the same. Guest who are already 'grouped' seem more open to chatting with the innkeeper. I often find a knot of guys in the kitchen talking with Gomez in the morning. The older guys catch him in the evening and like to talk about life, their jobs, their kids, all that stuff.
 

gillumhouse

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Thanks, I'm sure the reviews were about the planned time, that makes sense. I will have afternoon coffee and look forward to visiting with any guests who want to..
You may also find that your "planned" afternoon coffee/social is not attended as you thought. I do not plan such because:
  • Guests are not here yet
  • Guests are still "roaming" the area
  • I have meetings or commitments
There are things you can only discover AFTER you open. I thought my main market would be the rail-trail that is 50 feet from the house. Once the overnight stabling took off, it equalled the rail-trail, but the covered bridges and winery was my biggest draw. And these things evolved because some were not even thought of when I opened. I use EVERYTHING in my area as a draw and my routings are designed to keep them roaming until at least 6 PM - and then it is time for dinner.....
 

Alibi Ike

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Thanks, I'm sure the reviews were about the planned time, that makes sense. I will have afternoon coffee and look forward to visiting with any guests who want to..
You may also find that your "planned" afternoon coffee/social is not attended as you thought. I do not plan such because:
  • Guests are not here yet
  • Guests are still "roaming" the area
  • I have meetings or commitments
There are things you can only discover AFTER you open. I thought my main market would be the rail-trail that is 50 feet from the house. Once the overnight stabling took off, it equalled the rail-trail, but the covered bridges and winery was my biggest draw. And these things evolved because some were not even thought of when I opened. I use EVERYTHING in my area as a draw and my routings are designed to keep them roaming until at least 6 PM - and then it is time for dinner.....
.
We've never done an afternoon social or anything like that. No one is ever here! They flit in and out all day. It's another reason we don't do a turn down service- we never know who is in and who is out. The big reason we don't do that is there is no time for one more thing.
 

JBloggs

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I guess it COULD BE WORSE... I am posting this inn the news in here...nice catchy title I might add. DOH!
Collierville cracks whip on sex-bondage house
Memphis Commercial Appeal
By Cindy Wolff An ad for an "adult" bed and breakfast in Collierville is being used as evidence against James Williams in a charge that he didn't comply ...
 

Don Draper

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I guess it COULD BE WORSE... I am posting this inn the news in here...nice catchy title I might add. DOH!
Collierville cracks whip on sex-bondage house
Memphis Commercial Appeal
By Cindy Wolff An ad for an "adult" bed and breakfast in Collierville is being used as evidence against James Williams in a charge that he didn't comply ....
Joey Bloggs said:
I guess it COULD BE WORSE... I am posting this inn the news in here...nice catchy title I might add. DOH!
Collierville cracks whip on sex-bondage house
Memphis Commercial Appeal
By Cindy Wolff An ad for an "adult" bed and breakfast in Collierville is being used as evidence against James Williams in a charge that he didn't comply ...
Oh MY! Now there's a whole different market niche....
 

Joey Camb

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some people are very needy but not most. Plus it always says to me if there are 7 good reviews and one awful one that the person with the bad one is probably making it up ie the innkeeper charged them for cancelling so they are being spiteful.
 
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