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How Do You Feel About Being Second Choice?

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SweetiePie

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I guess I've been spoiled all these years, but I haven't had to deal with people who would rather be somewhere else until now. Are people just flying by the seat of their pants these days or what? I just got a call saying, "We've just been kicked out of so and so B&B and wondered if you could take us?" I don't know the details but apparently they are return guests who really love that place and she could only give them a few days when they wanted a week. At least that's the story he gave me. Their cell had a MA number so this wasn't just a spur of the moment get away. Don't people plan anymore?
The same thing happened on Father's Day. A call at 4 PM wanting to check in on the spot. She said, "I thought everyone would be going back to work." Those people were from FL.
 

Morticia

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It stinks. But, I will tell you that we have, over the years, gotten a lot of guests from a big place in town that is generally full. And those guests have not gone back once they've had the chance to stay at a small property with homey touches and personalized service. I don't have a paid doorman or a paid bellhop, but when I open the door and greet a guest or carry their bags it means more to them because they know it's from the heart and not because I 'have to'.
So, do your best to wow them. You just never know.
 

Country Girl

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We've had many guests who booked at a much cheaper hotel nearby and then called us pleading to take them once they saw the rooms there. I never mind taking them and they often become repeat customers.
 

gillumhouse

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Heck yes, I will be second choice as long as the money is green!! In fact my weekend 2 rooms (for 2-nights) had already checked in to Red Roof and after seeing my place (they called as they were driving around and asked if I had availability and could they see the rooms - they got my brochure at I-68 as they came in from MD), called Red Roof from here to see if they could get their money back. And then the next night when they came back - after my waterfall in the dining room disaster - their only question was is the shower working now. They were raving about us at their second breakfast - about how nice the table was set and how good the good was and could we get the recipe.....
I will be second choice any day.
 

SweetiePie

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Those are all coming from hotels to a B&B so I could see the point of trying to win them over. However these are people who are already attached to a competing B&B. I just can't see the point of trying to win them over or the ethics about even trying. It seems like they would just be disappointed no matter what.
 

Tim_Toad_HLB

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"Are people just flying by the seat of their pants these days or what?"
Yes, they are. All these TV financial gurus are telling people that they shouldn't make advance reservations anywhere and demand big discounts on last minute reservations. In March alone, we had seven bookings with less than 24 hours notice. April and May were similar. For a B&B that normally only gets a handful of these a year, I'd call it a trend.
We just turned one away last night from a group of four who called at 7:30pm and even after my offering a break, the caller insulted me with what she was willing to pay for four adults for a one night stay with no advance notice. It was less than they'd pay at a lousy Red Roof Inn. We need the dough, but we do have some self-respect.
We've learned to not take the "second choice" thing personally. Its a geographical certainty for us that I've described in other threads.
We can already see it coming for August and the biggest single event week in our area all year. If we were greedy, uncaring types, we'd ramp up our rates for the inevitable and gouge the crap out of people. All the downtown places are filling up fast for Indian Market when between 75,000 and 90,000 descend on Santa fe and we don't have a single booking for it yet.
Even last year when the economy was already showing signs of weakness, we were nearly full for that weekend in late August by February.
Folks coming here would rather stay in an inferior, more expensive property and pay higher lodging taxes that is downtown than take a chance on one of the outlying properties no matter how good it looks or how good its reviews on TA and B&B.com are.
They then get what they deserve and go on TA the day they get home and ram the inferior place. I say, serves them right. I see it everyday here. A place will have as many negative reviews as positives and be ranked from the middle down or worse and some folks think because they booked there, its suddenly gonna lose its warts.
 

gillumhouse

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Those are all coming from hotels to a B&B so I could see the point of trying to win them over. However these are people who are already attached to a competing B&B. I just can't see the point of trying to win them over or the ethics about even trying. It seems like they would just be disappointed no matter what..
Not so. They had stayed at B & Bs before they told me - one that they stayed there but did not feel as if they had "stayed". Had not felt a connection I think.
Years ago, I had a lady book here because the B & B where she usually stayed was going to be out of town. They trusted that I was not going to try to "steal" her - and I did not try to. What I did do, was convince her that she would only stay at B & Bs from then on. She was a lawyer for the State of Oklahoma and traveled in her job. All we did was knowing that she had come back to the house early, was to tap on the door and ask if she wanted to join us and our visiting grandsons for our simple dinner - I cannot remember what it was now but I know it was probably just something like soup and rolls or homemade crackers.... She said she did not realize that all B & Bs were that friendly, she just thought the other B & B was that way.
We exchanged Christmas cards for years even though she never stayed here again. And after the relatives she visited died, I think she stopped coming here.
 

seashanty

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well ... hmmm ... the place i ran was second choice for a lot of my guests the first year. all i heard was 'we usually stay with ....' or 'we couldn't get our usual room with ...' 'so we are staying with you'. it hurt a little because i was trying really hard. sometimes my place became their place of choice after that. sometimes they missed being with whoever it was they'd stayed with year after year.
as kathleen says, it's good to get the dollars.
and as tim says, i'm sorry but i think more and more folks are going to be looking for that last minute deal.
try not to take it personally (although we can't help but get very personally involved with our b&bs)
 

SweetiePie

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The other thing that is strange is that they called at 8 PM. Check out time would have been between 11 and 12 in the morning at most places. Also, they would had to have known how many days they were staying at that place when they checked in. Too many unknowns. I just referred them elsewhere.
If this is a trend and what I have to look forward to in the future , then maybe it's time to move on. I'm just not an impromptu person. I like to serve fresh food and taylor the visit to the guest and that takes advance planning. Running around like a chicken with its head cut off at the last minute is simply not something I enjoy.
 

wendydk

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Even second choice is a chance to make a first impression. One of the other, larger Inns in town regularly refers overflow to us, including repeat guests. I am always honored when they do it, I think it says volumes that they would send them to us rather than the "award winning gingerbread victorian" that is right across the street from them who is twice our size and sitting there with open rooms.
We have made many friends of these referred guests. I could care less whether or not we were their first choice or anyone else's.
 

Proud Texan

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The other thing that is strange is that they called at 8 PM. Check out time would have been between 11 and 12 in the morning at most places. Also, they would had to have known how many days they were staying at that place when they checked in. Too many unknowns. I just referred them elsewhere.
If this is a trend and what I have to look forward to in the future , then maybe it's time to move on. I'm just not an impromptu person. I like to serve fresh food and taylor the visit to the guest and that takes advance planning. Running around like a chicken with its head cut off at the last minute is simply not something I enjoy..
SweetiePie said:
The other thing that is strange is that they called at 8 PM. Check out time would have been between 11 and 12 in the morning at most places. Also, they would had to have known how many days they were staying at that place when they checked in. Too many unknowns. I just referred them elsewhere.
If this is a trend and what I have to look forward to in the future , then maybe it's time to move on. I'm just not an impromptu person. I like to serve fresh food and taylor the visit to the guest and that takes advance planning. Running around like a chicken with its head cut off at the last minute is simply not something I enjoy.
Ditto, what she said. Money is money.
For last minutes, we don't discount PERIOD. If someone calls last minute, the rooms are ready AND they'll pay what we charge, then they're welcome. If, however, they start whining about their budget or the economy and that they need a discount or for us to meet conditions that are out of our norm, then I refer them to the Super 8 motel. I have no problem in turning them down. There probably PITAs anyway.
 

Tim_Toad_HLB

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Even second choice is a chance to make a first impression. One of the other, larger Inns in town regularly refers overflow to us, including repeat guests. I am always honored when they do it, I think it says volumes that they would send them to us rather than the "award winning gingerbread victorian" that is right across the street from them who is twice our size and sitting there with open rooms.
We have made many friends of these referred guests. I could care less whether or not we were their first choice or anyone else's..
"Even second choice is a chance to make a first impression."
I agree with the basic premise, but I'm not totally sure when the guest is so fixated on the "deal" or beating us down and feeling victorious in doing so, that we make much of an impression under those circumstances.
I'm only referring to this current trend of last minute inquirers, not the folks who accept us as a second choice and were referred by a colleague or still are booking some time further in advance than an hour from their arrival.
I think there is a type of person who the conquest of getting a bargain supercedes all other considerations and once they've "won" we can do cartwheels for them and the only impression they are left with is "I beat them, what little self-respect they must have"
 

wendydk

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Even second choice is a chance to make a first impression. One of the other, larger Inns in town regularly refers overflow to us, including repeat guests. I am always honored when they do it, I think it says volumes that they would send them to us rather than the "award winning gingerbread victorian" that is right across the street from them who is twice our size and sitting there with open rooms.
We have made many friends of these referred guests. I could care less whether or not we were their first choice or anyone else's..
"Even second choice is a chance to make a first impression."
I agree with the basic premise, but I'm not totally sure when the guest is so fixated on the "deal" or beating us down and feeling victorious in doing so, that we make much of an impression under those circumstances.
I'm only referring to this current trend of last minute inquirers, not the folks who accept us as a second choice and were referred by a colleague or still are booking some time further in advance than an hour from their arrival.
I think there is a type of person who the conquest of getting a bargain supercedes all other considerations and once they've "won" we can do cartwheels for them and the only impression they are left with is "I beat them, what little self-respect they must have"
.
Wow, that's one experience I've never had and will gladly live without.
 

YellowSocks

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Well, I'm still pretty new, but it does seem like a lot more last minute bookings going on, especially right now.
And I had an unexpected walk in (sort of) who was looking for five nights at a time for four weeks starting next week... He was too kind to gasp at the daily rate, but I think he wanted to. I gave him lots of referals and suggestions and then I booked the last room for mid-July to someone who called while he was standing there.
=)
Kk.
 

Country Girl

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We are finding, for the first time, guests booking later and later. While our numbers are exactly where they were last year it is taking a lot longer to get those numbers. Is it the same for everyone right now?
 

swirt

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We are finding, for the first time, guests booking later and later. While our numbers are exactly where they were last year it is taking a lot longer to get those numbers. Is it the same for everyone right now?.
We're seeing the same thing.... later and later...not quite last minute...but maybe down to the last week or two. Though in general when I look at the numbers for most of the B&B's in this area, I'd say there are more openings than last year.
 

SweetiePie

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We are finding, for the first time, guests booking later and later. While our numbers are exactly where they were last year it is taking a lot longer to get those numbers. Is it the same for everyone right now?.
We're seeing the same thing.... later and later...not quite last minute...but maybe down to the last week or two. Though in general when I look at the numbers for most of the B&B's in this area, I'd say there are more openings than last year.
.
Sad to say, but it seems that travel is becoming more of an afterthought than a priority, as it used to be, for more and more people. It's like they're saying, "Yeah, we'll do it if there's any money left over after we pay our bills." They also don't have he luxury of living beyond their means anymore, with credit cards tightening the noose as well.
Contrary to what GH was saying earlier about gas prices not being an issue, I think they are this year with more unemployment and other economic factors to consider. People are just staying home more. I know in my neighborhood, I never saw so many backyard BBQs for Father's Day, when in years past they would be taking the boat out to the lake instead.
 

wendydk

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In our part of the world, high gas prices are a benefit. Folks from the larger metropolitan areas of the state tend to come North for long weekends instead of driving farther away or flying. Occupancies rise with the higher gas prices...although people do tend to spend a little less money while they're here...and stick around the house a little more.
 

YellowSocks

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I agree with Swirt... feels like about the same occupancy as last year, but it only gets that way a week or two out.
=)
Kk.
 

egoodell

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We are getting bookings closer to the dates too except for our high season in the fall. Those are starting to come in.
We have also received the calls, "What kind of discount will you give me for tomorrow night" and I tell them we do not discount. But we only have two rooms and are running the tours full force even during the week, so our case is different. It's more difficult for us to take last minute guests when we have to get me out of the office early to check them in so it's not worth it to us yet.
Riki
 
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