Guest opts to arrive in the morning after several delays - Do I charge for the first night?

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Pollyanna

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Please advise me what is the right thing to do here. Out of state 4 night guest is coming for a college symposium. Keeps me up on her progress toward check-in through her blackberry. First, her flight is delayed about an hour or so. Then when she arrives in our state, they've lost her luggage, delaying her further. Then she starts off for the 2 hour drive up here from the big city and we are having a late snow storm that's pretty light but she says the road is "impassable" and turns back around to the big city. It's possible there were torrents of rain or serious fog in the lower elevations, and it's dark by then too. It seems like weather was the last straw for her. Says she will check into college and then over here in the morning. She's calm, matter of fact and hasn't asked for anything.
So, meanwhile, I've been on duty half the day waiting for her, our lights are all on so she can find us easier in the dark (we're in the country) her room is lit up and warmed and I've kept a fire going in the living room with the last wood of the season that is now all gone so none for tomorrow when guests really get here, so it has cost me something in time and preparation. I feel like I should charge for 3 days rather than 4 though since she did not stay here tonight. Golden rule or stick to the policy? Do you make allowances for mishaps and weather at your B & B? It would be a no-brainer for me if income were not crucial right now. Never a good thing when money rather than consideration is the primary deciding factor! I think I solved my own dilemma here and should bill for just 3 nights. What would you do?
 

The Farmers Daughter

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I say yes. I am facing a similar situation right now as well. Guests were to be here at 3, then at 9, changed to 11 and it is now 12:35, and still no guests.
I will be charging them. This is my time too, my heat, my electricity and I have prepped food for breakfast at 9 am.....which something tells me they won't be eating.
 

muirford

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I would only bill for the three nights, and I think the situation is somewhat different than FD's scenario. I would be mindful of the impact of my decision on her position with her colleagues at the symposium - don't know if they are frequent guests or not - but a little good press that way would be good for you. We have had some severe weather issues here this winter, and we have not charged cancellation charges in some cases. It made for a lousy first quarter in terms of revenue, but we didn't make that our deciding factor.
 

EmptyNest

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I agree with Muiford. This was beyond extenuating circumstances. I wouldn't fault the guest for this.
 

Baygirl

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If you had to turn away business, then I would consider charging her, but if you didn't turn anyone away and still had the open rooms I would not charge for the one night. Yes, it does cost us to keep the place warm, wood on the fire but in the end it will leave a much better feeling for all parties. Who knows she may say go ahead and charge me for the night I didn't show up. It happens sometimes if they are traveling for business.
 

Samster

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I think you should let the guest off the hook for the first night because of the travel delays and weather beyond her control. And as Muirford said, this guest can talk you up in a positive way to all the folks at her event which could garner you more business in the long run.
 

gillumhouse

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Pollyanna, I have been in a similar situation. Very early on I dropped a casserole dish on a guest's are - fresh from the oven and filled with an egg/spinach concoction. They were wonderful guests. I told them the truth - I know I should comp your entire stay and I would but quite honestly I cannot afford to so I am hoping you understand and here is a card that is 20% off your next stay. 7 years later, they returned with friends and both rooms were given a 20% off (and they appreciated that I extended the discount to their friends. Early on - every dollar spent without revenue is a killer.
Only you know what you can truly AFFORD to do.
 

EmptyNest

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Pollyanna, I have been in a similar situation. Very early on I dropped a casserole dish on a guest's are - fresh from the oven and filled with an egg/spinach concoction. They were wonderful guests. I told them the truth - I know I should comp your entire stay and I would but quite honestly I cannot afford to so I am hoping you understand and here is a card that is 20% off your next stay. 7 years later, they returned with friends and both rooms were given a 20% off (and they appreciated that I extended the discount to their friends. Early on - every dollar spent without revenue is a killer.
Only you know what you can truly AFFORD to do..
7 years later!!! Good thing they kept your discount card. Did they tell you in advance they had it? I could never remember that long.
 

gillumhouse

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Pollyanna, I have been in a similar situation. Very early on I dropped a casserole dish on a guest's are - fresh from the oven and filled with an egg/spinach concoction. They were wonderful guests. I told them the truth - I know I should comp your entire stay and I would but quite honestly I cannot afford to so I am hoping you understand and here is a card that is 20% off your next stay. 7 years later, they returned with friends and both rooms were given a 20% off (and they appreciated that I extended the discount to their friends. Early on - every dollar spent without revenue is a killer.
Only you know what you can truly AFFORD to do..
7 years later!!! Good thing they kept your discount card. Did they tell you in advance they had it? I could never remember that long.
.
They did not present the card - even if they had it they would not. One does not forget the person one dropped a casserole on - but they kept in touch with me via e-mail all those years and still do. Wonderful people one would not ever want to forget.
 

muirford

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Please, if you do decide to charge her - and of course that's your decision, you asked what WE would do and that's what's been shared - say that you are doing it per your own cancellation policy. Other reasons will lead to a defense for a possible chargeback.
 

Joey Camb

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You don't have to charge the full amount you could charge 20% or something? there are other options.
 

Breakfast Diva

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If you do decide to charge her, I would add an additional something special to her room...complimentary fruit plate, flowers, gift, etc.
 

Innkeeper To Go

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I'm a little late to this so Pollyanna you may have already made your decision.
But I would not charge her. When a guest makes a responsible decision to stay put when traveling conditions are outright dangerous, I wouldn't want to be the one to penalize her for that.
I also wouldn't want her blabbing it up at her conference unless she had some really good blabber to add.
 

Pollyanna

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Thanks to all for your help. Here's the update. The weather really was not too bad last night at all, all the snow has melted off completely now and we're back up to the 50s. This is the SW. I got up real early to prep for her as she said she would check in early and I was not sure how early that meant. Then she emails again at 9 AM today saying to let the room go to someone else, since she wants to drive two hours back tonight to the airport to see if her bag was found. I could have sold this room 10 times over this weekend and even negotiated with some regulars to move to another date because she was begging to stay here! I did call some people on a wait list but they had already made other plans and I put the word out to my B & B friends that we now have a room. I told her I'd let her know if I could find someone to take any of the four nights and to let me know if she'd like to check in after all. So, waiting to see... I'm pretty sure I charge her for something now, not sure if its just the first night or the whole stay. My own policy says "No shows will be charged for their entire scheduled stay." Was busy putting on a small tea today and checking others in so not too worried about it, but will have to decided sometime soon. Any new advice? I am listening!
 

Morticia

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Thanks to all for your help. Here's the update. The weather really was not too bad last night at all, all the snow has melted off completely now and we're back up to the 50s. This is the SW. I got up real early to prep for her as she said she would check in early and I was not sure how early that meant. Then she emails again at 9 AM today saying to let the room go to someone else, since she wants to drive two hours back tonight to the airport to see if her bag was found. I could have sold this room 10 times over this weekend and even negotiated with some regulars to move to another date because she was begging to stay here! I did call some people on a wait list but they had already made other plans and I put the word out to my B & B friends that we now have a room. I told her I'd let her know if I could find someone to take any of the four nights and to let me know if she'd like to check in after all. So, waiting to see... I'm pretty sure I charge her for something now, not sure if its just the first night or the whole stay. My own policy says "No shows will be charged for their entire scheduled stay." Was busy putting on a small tea today and checking others in so not too worried about it, but will have to decided sometime soon. Any new advice? I am listening!.
OK, I didn't weigh in before but now I think you should charge her according to your own cancellation policies. And, not knowing she was going to check in in the morning rather than normal check in time had she come, I would now say even if she had come today she should have paid for last night as you could not have booked anyone else in and expected them to vacate at 9 AM.
 

Innkeeper To Go

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Thanks to all for your help. Here's the update. The weather really was not too bad last night at all, all the snow has melted off completely now and we're back up to the 50s. This is the SW. I got up real early to prep for her as she said she would check in early and I was not sure how early that meant. Then she emails again at 9 AM today saying to let the room go to someone else, since she wants to drive two hours back tonight to the airport to see if her bag was found. I could have sold this room 10 times over this weekend and even negotiated with some regulars to move to another date because she was begging to stay here! I did call some people on a wait list but they had already made other plans and I put the word out to my B & B friends that we now have a room. I told her I'd let her know if I could find someone to take any of the four nights and to let me know if she'd like to check in after all. So, waiting to see... I'm pretty sure I charge her for something now, not sure if its just the first night or the whole stay. My own policy says "No shows will be charged for their entire scheduled stay." Was busy putting on a small tea today and checking others in so not too worried about it, but will have to decided sometime soon. Any new advice? I am listening!.
That's an entirely different situation, Pollyanna.
Charge her according to your cancellation policy and feel no guilt at all about it. She bought the room. If she decided after the fact (and we're talking WAY after the fact in this case), that she didn't want to use it, that's her choice.
It's not her choice, though, to not pay for something she already bought and took out of circulation.
I would charge her. I would not give her a credit for a future stay unless that is your standard policy.
There's really no reason to contact her about this. Just charge her and be done with it.
 

Copperhead

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Ditto to what Morticia & Innkeeper have said & don't think about it again.
 

muirford

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Thanks to all for your help. Here's the update. The weather really was not too bad last night at all, all the snow has melted off completely now and we're back up to the 50s. This is the SW. I got up real early to prep for her as she said she would check in early and I was not sure how early that meant. Then she emails again at 9 AM today saying to let the room go to someone else, since she wants to drive two hours back tonight to the airport to see if her bag was found. I could have sold this room 10 times over this weekend and even negotiated with some regulars to move to another date because she was begging to stay here! I did call some people on a wait list but they had already made other plans and I put the word out to my B & B friends that we now have a room. I told her I'd let her know if I could find someone to take any of the four nights and to let me know if she'd like to check in after all. So, waiting to see... I'm pretty sure I charge her for something now, not sure if its just the first night or the whole stay. My own policy says "No shows will be charged for their entire scheduled stay." Was busy putting on a small tea today and checking others in so not too worried about it, but will have to decided sometime soon. Any new advice? I am listening!.
Yeah, now she's just messing with you. Big difference between not charging for one night when she actually stays for the other three, and the situation you're in now. Follow your policies.
 

EmptyNest

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Thanks to all for your help. Here's the update. The weather really was not too bad last night at all, all the snow has melted off completely now and we're back up to the 50s. This is the SW. I got up real early to prep for her as she said she would check in early and I was not sure how early that meant. Then she emails again at 9 AM today saying to let the room go to someone else, since she wants to drive two hours back tonight to the airport to see if her bag was found. I could have sold this room 10 times over this weekend and even negotiated with some regulars to move to another date because she was begging to stay here! I did call some people on a wait list but they had already made other plans and I put the word out to my B & B friends that we now have a room. I told her I'd let her know if I could find someone to take any of the four nights and to let me know if she'd like to check in after all. So, waiting to see... I'm pretty sure I charge her for something now, not sure if its just the first night or the whole stay. My own policy says "No shows will be charged for their entire scheduled stay." Was busy putting on a small tea today and checking others in so not too worried about it, but will have to decided sometime soon. Any new advice? I am listening!.
Ok so now this gets messier:-( Charge her.
 
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