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The Farmers Daughter

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What do you do when you go on vacation? Do you close down completely or do you hire an Innsitter?
If you close, does that mean your phone goes unanswered for the duration of your vacation?
If you hire an Innsitter, what do you expect of them?
If you hire an innsitter and there is a major problem while your gone, what happens?
What is more cost effective way to proceed?
 

Breakfast Diva

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What do you do when you go on vacation? Do you close down completely or do you hire an Innsitter?
When we were not as busy as we are now, we used to close down. The more the business developed, the more it made sense to hire someone to take of things when we were gone.
If you close, does that mean your phone goes unanswered for the duration of your vacation?
When we closed, if we were taking a vacation in the country I would just forward the phone to our cell phone. Take the reservation book & laptop and the people making their reservation never knew we were gone. I wouldn't answer the phone all the time, but had a message to be sure to check our website and they could make reservations there. You can also hire a company like "Calling-Inn" that will answer your phone.
If you hire an Innsitter, what do you expect of them?
I expect them to do everything we do. We have 4 rooms, so they will greet guests, cook, clean, answer phone, correspondence, etc. With each innsitter you will need to discuss exactly what is expected of them.
If you hire an innsitter and there is a major problem while your gone, what happens?
Hire an experienced innsitter. They will know how to handle things. Give them all the info on how to locate you. When you interview them, ask questions about "what if?". I hired an innsitter in May that was wonderful. I told her before we left that whatever decision she felt she needed to make during our absence, I would back her 100% when I returned. It may not have been the way I would have settled a problem, but they need to know they have your support.
What is more cost effective way to proceed?
You'll have to run the numbers. If you are leaving during a slow period, will you make any money after you pay the innsitter? The best thing to do is get away during a busy time, then paying for an innsitter will be worth it and you'll actually make money while you're away.
Get references, ask fellow innkeepers who they used, are they happy? Ask some of us here if there are innsitters they recommend. Most insitters will travel.
Send me a private e-mail and I can give you the info on someone I really like.
 

JBloggs

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What do you do when you go on vacation? Do you close down completely or do you hire an Innsitter?
shut er down completely. I put a note on the door "Gone Fishin' " and we go.
If you close, does that mean your phone goes unanswered for the duration of your vacation?
The answering machine gets the phone calls and directs them to book online or check availability. Yes, it is unattended and says "Our office will be closed until..."
If I am stateside I make a point of managing the reservations remotely once or twice a week, if we go overseas or out of touch I do it when I can. I have webervations set up to be 'live' and send out the confirmation immediately.
If you hire an Innsitter, what do you expect of them?
I would only hire an inn sitter if I had a super high occupancy, and then, I would not go on vacation. So I would not hire an innsitter. Unless it was someone I knew and trusted and had been here before and I was only away on a weekend for a funeral or wedding or something. Not a vacation. Not worth it. I could not pay the person enough. Our rates are not high here.
If you hire an innsitter and there is a major problem while your gone, what happens?
I asked someone to check on my cats and they closed to cat room/litter box door and we came home to a house ful of crap, not a happy day for me. I like things done correctly, our name is at stake, therefore no innsitter.
What is more cost effective way to proceed?
Our family time and mental wellness require us to block off time to leave this B&B and have a break. No occupancy in the world is worth not taking time away from here. "PRICELESS"
 

egoodell

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What do you do when you go on vacation? Do you close down completely or do you hire an Innsitter?
When we were not as busy as we are now, we used to close down. The more the business developed, the more it made sense to hire someone to take of things when we were gone.
If you close, does that mean your phone goes unanswered for the duration of your vacation?
When we closed, if we were taking a vacation in the country I would just forward the phone to our cell phone. Take the reservation book & laptop and the people making their reservation never knew we were gone. I wouldn't answer the phone all the time, but had a message to be sure to check our website and they could make reservations there. You can also hire a company like "Calling-Inn" that will answer your phone.
If you hire an Innsitter, what do you expect of them?
I expect them to do everything we do. We have 4 rooms, so they will greet guests, cook, clean, answer phone, correspondence, etc. With each innsitter you will need to discuss exactly what is expected of them.
If you hire an innsitter and there is a major problem while your gone, what happens?
Hire an experienced innsitter. They will know how to handle things. Give them all the info on how to locate you. When you interview them, ask questions about "what if?". I hired an innsitter in May that was wonderful. I told her before we left that whatever decision she felt she needed to make during our absence, I would back her 100% when I returned. It may not have been the way I would have settled a problem, but they need to know they have your support.
What is more cost effective way to proceed?
You'll have to run the numbers. If you are leaving during a slow period, will you make any money after you pay the innsitter? The best thing to do is get away during a busy time, then paying for an innsitter will be worth it and you'll actually make money while you're away.
Get references, ask fellow innkeepers who they used, are they happy? Ask some of us here if there are innsitters they recommend. Most insitters will travel.
Send me a private e-mail and I can give you the info on someone I really like..
We are in the process of training an innsitter. Right now we only have two rooms, but we don't like putting our dog in the kennel and we don't like leaving the property unattended.
Our B&B does not require a brain surgeon to run it. We just want to make sure they know how to turn off the hot water, where the fuse box is,and have the dog used to them before we go.
We have a booking during the week for one room and will have them come and stay in the other room that night so they can see where everything is in the kitchen while I make breakfast and how we like the room turned.
Again, we are set up very simply so it will not be difficult for this couple. I foget what he did/does but she used to work in a hotel with attached spa and has done everything there.
They will answer the phone and we will handle the reservations from our laptop. I believe we will be paying somewhere around $150/night (if rooms are booked, less if just house sitting) so will still make a little money while hiring them.
Best,
Riki
 

EmptyNest

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We were a small B & B. We just closed. No need for anyone to innsit for us....it was no big deal. Heck I closed more than I was open the last year:)
 

Morticia

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We close and forward the phone and bring a laptop. Most of the time the bookings we take while we're gone pay for the vacation. You could also hire an answering service for the duration. We only travel when it's very slow around here. But the best guarantee for a phone call to book 3 rooms is to finally decide what dates we'll be closed. Bingo! First call is to book during that time.
We learned very quickly to not worry about that. We did, once, change our plans and the guests cancelled. Never again.
 

Samster

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We close the B&B. We have a friend check the property every day and they have "In the Event of Emergency" instructions. But we also go when it is very quiet here. I would have too much angst over someone else stepping in. I'm still learning the ropes myself! The phone is forwarded to my cell phone. We do have an answering machine which we can access remotely if there's a snafu with the whole forwarding thing. We use SuperInn so the laptop goes with me. Most of our reservations are booked online as it is. Easy peasy as long as there is some kind of Internet access. I don't check the rez system & email as often as I do at home though...usually only 2x/day which is plenty because it's quiet when we get out of Dodge.
 

gillumhouse

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When I go away, I am booked - so sorry. And I am - I am booked elsewhere so am not fibbing. With only 3 rooms, it would cost more for an innsitter than i lose to be "booked". In 2001 we were "booked" for 3 weeks while we went ot Utah as part of the State delegation and then since we were out there, visited freidns and family on the way home. Then in 2007 we were "booked? for 3 weeks to go to our daughter's wedding. Now we only go away for a night or two at a time and mostly for business reasons because it is too hard to travel with my DH.
When we go, the answering machine is on and I check messages often - usually every couple hours. On the Iowa trip, the answering machine somehow got turned off. So I called our City Manager who has keys to our place and asked her to stop in and turn it on when she went to work (City Hall is less than a block away) but she came down that night - and I got a reservation that night!
This is the most cost effective for me.
 

Tim_Toad_HLB

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We close and rarely take a vacation during what we would consider the high season. We'll take a little overnighter several times during the high season just to remain sane and at those times we NEVER stay at a B&B.
There are about three very predictably slow months a year for us and so longer vacations happen then. Once we're at this longer and much more established, we'll be able to manage our affairs to a degree that we can take longer trips during the high season even, but for now, its the way it is.
We're not doing this to get rich, so a few years of sacrifice now, will afford us much more flexibility sooner than later.
We did take a year long, 34,000 mile "vacation" at the ripe ol' age of 42 before starting this venture 5 years ago, so that was a luxury that will stick with us for a while.
We take the laptop and a cellphone and do like others, take messages and we do check things several times a day, so we're never really out of touch. The "wired" world is everywhere, so unless you're rafting down the Colorado River or something, there really isn't any excuse for things being just like when we're here, except all the hard work of course.
Neighbors keep an eye on the property and so far so good.
 

Samster

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We close and rarely take a vacation during what we would consider the high season. We'll take a little overnighter several times during the high season just to remain sane and at those times we NEVER stay at a B&B.
There are about three very predictably slow months a year for us and so longer vacations happen then. Once we're at this longer and much more established, we'll be able to manage our affairs to a degree that we can take longer trips during the high season even, but for now, its the way it is.
We're not doing this to get rich, so a few years of sacrifice now, will afford us much more flexibility sooner than later.
We did take a year long, 34,000 mile "vacation" at the ripe ol' age of 42 before starting this venture 5 years ago, so that was a luxury that will stick with us for a while.
We take the laptop and a cellphone and do like others, take messages and we do check things several times a day, so we're never really out of touch. The "wired" world is everywhere, so unless you're rafting down the Colorado River or something, there really isn't any excuse for things being just like when we're here, except all the hard work of course.
Neighbors keep an eye on the property and so far so good..
>>The "wired" world is everywhere, so unless you're rafting down the Colorado River or something, there really isn't any excuse for things being just like when we're here, except all the hard work of course.<<
A friend of mine is camping in the Northwest and just posted to FaceBook. If you have cell service and a data package....
 

Country Girl

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We've done both, but from now on when we close, we close. I have a family member stay here but they don't take reservations. We do bring our cell phones and lap top to check messages and online reservations, but I would prefer to totally disconnect when I am away, otherwise I feel like I'm half in-half out of vacation mode.
 

The Farmers Daughter

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We've done both, but from now on when we close, we close. I have a family member stay here but they don't take reservations. We do bring our cell phones and lap top to check messages and online reservations, but I would prefer to totally disconnect when I am away, otherwise I feel like I'm half in-half out of vacation mode..
I agree. A working vacation is not a vacation in my book.
 

Tim_Toad_HLB

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We've done both, but from now on when we close, we close. I have a family member stay here but they don't take reservations. We do bring our cell phones and lap top to check messages and online reservations, but I would prefer to totally disconnect when I am away, otherwise I feel like I'm half in-half out of vacation mode..
I agree. A working vacation is not a vacation in my book.
.
Its not like we bring the monthly books to reconcile. A few times a day, usually early in the morning, midday and then in the evening before bed we check phone messages and emails and do a quick reply to anything that comes in.
 

hawley

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I have 3 rooms so I book all the rooms online availability so there is nothing open.
I take the laptop with me and check email.
My inn phone number is my cell phone, so it is with me.
I have adult children who stop by daily to check both houses.
We are usually gone 1 week in the summer and 1 week in winter. So not that much. Very little 1 or 2 nights.
 

egoodell

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We've done both, but from now on when we close, we close. I have a family member stay here but they don't take reservations. We do bring our cell phones and lap top to check messages and online reservations, but I would prefer to totally disconnect when I am away, otherwise I feel like I'm half in-half out of vacation mode..
I agree. A working vacation is not a vacation in my book.
.
Its not like we bring the monthly books to reconcile. A few times a day, usually early in the morning, midday and then in the evening before bed we check phone messages and emails and do a quick reply to anything that comes in.
.
Tim_Toad_HLB said:
Its not like we bring the monthly books to reconcile. A few times a day, usually early in the morning, midday and then in the evening before bed we check phone messages and emails and do a quick reply to anything that comes in.
Me too. And I can enjoy time off knowing that the rooms are booking while I'm away and that I will come back to ca-ching and not worry about anything.
Riki
 

wendydk

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With only three rooms, I block off and close down. The email is set up with an auto-reply stating that the Inn is closed until XXX for rest and relaxation, and urges visitors to check availability or reserve online with a website link. Ditto the alternate greeting goes on the phone, and does the same. Our neighbor the police sargeant keeps an eye on things, and has his buddies do the same.
Our first few years, vacation was agony for me if I could not check email at least every day (had to go to the library, no laptop). Now, I check the email and messages every other day while we're gone and don't get too uptight about it. Time away is so precious, I can't afford to ruin it with worrying! Plus, we go during our slowest month, and not much happens when we're gone anyway.
 

bbinnsitters

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As an Inn-sitter I felt a need to speak up on this subject - maybe a little late for some of you, but better late than never!
First - A B&B is a very personal business and if I, as a potential guest, call and get an answering machine (and possibly no reply for a day or so) I will go on to the next B&B where someone will talk to me and take my reservation!
2nd - A vacation is not really a vacation if you are attached to your phone and computer.
3rd - If you close down/shut your doors, etc. you are losing all business that may come in while you are gone and if you don't return messages you are losing any future business.
An Inn-sitter will be there to answer the phone, take care of any last minute guests while also taking care of guests who booked in advance. I have noticed last minute bookings are way up this year. I just got back from a NY job where there was very little on the books when I arrived - I thought I would at least have Tues, Wed. and Thursday off. Well, the phone never stopped ringing and I never had any day that I didn't need to make breakfast and clean! The owners were thrilled, I was thrilled. Since I charge depending on room occupancy, I made over $1,600 and the owner made over $2,500 - more than enough to pay for their vacation!
I guess it depends on if you are trying to run a business or if owning a B&B is just a hobby for you. If you want to keep your business running contact me! Sue www.twoheartsinnsitting.vpweb.com
 

JBloggs

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As an Inn-sitter I felt a need to speak up on this subject - maybe a little late for some of you, but better late than never!
First - A B&B is a very personal business and if I, as a potential guest, call and get an answering machine (and possibly no reply for a day or so) I will go on to the next B&B where someone will talk to me and take my reservation!
2nd - A vacation is not really a vacation if you are attached to your phone and computer.
3rd - If you close down/shut your doors, etc. you are losing all business that may come in while you are gone and if you don't return messages you are losing any future business.
An Inn-sitter will be there to answer the phone, take care of any last minute guests while also taking care of guests who booked in advance. I have noticed last minute bookings are way up this year. I just got back from a NY job where there was very little on the books when I arrived - I thought I would at least have Tues, Wed. and Thursday off. Well, the phone never stopped ringing and I never had any day that I didn't need to make breakfast and clean! The owners were thrilled, I was thrilled. Since I charge depending on room occupancy, I made over $1,600 and the owner made over $2,500 - more than enough to pay for their vacation!
I guess it depends on if you are trying to run a business or if owning a B&B is just a hobby for you. If you want to keep your business running contact me! Sue www.twoheartsinnsitting.vpweb.com.
Welcome Sueellen,
Might I suggest a nice happy professional image of yourselves on your website? I clicked over and without that I did not read any further. We have to see you to trust you. Prices? Travel costs?
All the best.
 

bbinnsitters

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Yeah, I have heard several times that we need a picture!! Not in the budget right now, and there is not much I can do with a Vistaprint website I am told. I am going to try this one for a while and see if it works for me. I was just trying to replace the printing of my brochures and having to send them via snail mail. I didn't have my picture in the brochure as I was usually hand delivering them to owners when I was in their area or a guest of theirs. I believe in the personal contact even more than a picture myself.
Prices - can I discuss this on this forum? I have a very reasonable rate schedule that is different than any other Inn-sitter that I know. Lets just say I charge according to rooms rented - you will never lose $ when I am there - it is a win/win for both of us. I will be happy to tell you my rates in a personal e-mail - I don't want to cause another ruckus on this forum.
Travel costs - I haven't ever charged for travel - I usually am within driving distance - living in MI pretty much puts me smack dab in the middle of all the jobs I have had so far - IL, MI, PA, NY, NJ, NC! I have family on the east coast so I just plan my vacations according to my work schedule - it has worked out very well! Also - $69 from DTW to BWI is a great deal on Southwest! Some owners have been very kind lately and gave me a bonus for travel expenses.
I just love the adventures I have - I get to see a new area and I meet fun people all the time - I consider it a work/vacation and feel I am compensated for doing what I love!
 

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