Need feedback on late check-ins

Bed & Breakfast / Short Term Rental Host Forum

Help Support Bed & Breakfast / Short Term Rental Host Forum:

Kay Nein

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 13, 2012
Messages
832
Reaction score
3
Our policy is that check-in is at 3pm, but we'll accomodate late check-ins with notice.
How do you handle a guest who says they're not sure when they'll make it into town? Do you make late arrivers agree to a specific time for their check-in appointment or do you just wait around for a phone call? We don't live on property and although I spoke to this gentleman at 12pm to tell him I'd be unavailable until about 2pm, he didn't show up until 1030pm - just when I figured he was a no-show and was getting into bed. This has happened a few times. I don't like to call the guests to ask them when they'll be arriving, but it is helpful information.
I'd appreciate your insight into what has worked or not worked for you. Suggestions on how to word our policy or what I should say/do to minimize this issue.
THANKS!
Dena
 

Joey Camb

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 2, 2010
Messages
4,793
Reaction score
0
We have more of a check in window - 2pm-9.30 however we state very forcefully if you are going to be later than that you have to ring ahead as otherwise you may be locked out. We live there and its rubbish but they don't know that. One of my other friends puts something like there are only 2 of us and sometimes we have to pop out for shopping etc. If you don't let us know an approximate arrival time we may not be there to greet you.
 

JBloggs

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Oct 7, 2008
Messages
17,744
Reaction score
9
First of all check in AT 3pm is ridiculous. I don't think I personally could ever make it, from anywhere to there by 3pm. I will say that right off the bat. Many people don't even leave work til 5pm. It is their prerogative to arrive when they arrive, as long as it is not past midnight!
You MUST set up a better method, ie self check in. Esp if you don't live there, I live RIGHT HERE and it drives me batty every week.
Our policy states the check in "WINDOW" we allow, ie 3pm-6pm, and we used to say "after regular check in times by appt" and people never called, people just got here when they got here. So now we have them select their best estimation of a check in time, and then tell them after or later checkins there will be a note on the front door with instructions.
Now for some, they sigh relief and think good, no stress to get there. Others this may prompt to get here at a decent hour. We have guests every week, year in and year out who arrive past 8 or 9pm. It is what it is, they drive a long way to get here, there is traffic from major cities, interstate backups, they follow GPS and go the wrong way etc.
So the best method is to get it all in place and not be waiting on them. You will burn out quicker than ever imagined doing that Dena. You will resent your guests and not be a happy innkeeper. Don't make it added stress on you and on the guest. Remember for most of them, they are on vacation, to you it is a job, but they are on island time...
 

Arks

Well-known member
Joined
May 22, 2010
Messages
6,228
Reaction score
265
As JB says, you need a method to allow self-checkin after a certain time of your chosing. I'm using keyless entry (keypad door lock). Guest is e-mailed the 4-digit code they'll enter to unlock the door when they arrive. You go by the next day to take their payment.
 

Madeleine

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 29, 2011
Messages
7,990
Reaction score
0
In our confirmation, we advise guests who would like to take their time arriving that they will find a note on the door with their information in it after 7 PM. We run their card for the full balance at 7 PM and go about our evening.
I have been scolded by guests who did not arrive at all that I should have called them to remind them they had a rez. No. Adults need to act as such.
 

Arks

Well-known member
Joined
May 22, 2010
Messages
6,228
Reaction score
265
In our confirmation, we advise guests who would like to take their time arriving that they will find a note on the door with their information in it after 7 PM. We run their card for the full balance at 7 PM and go about our evening.
I have been scolded by guests who did not arrive at all that I should have called them to remind them they had a rez. No. Adults need to act as such..
Madeleine said:
I have been scolded by guests who did not arrive at all that I should have called them to remind them they had a rez. No. Adults need to act as such.
Holiday Inn doesn't call me. Neither does Ritz Carlton. If you start calling them, you only train them to forget about their rez because the ball's now in the innkeeper's court to always call and remind them. If you don't start it, you won't later regret it.
 

gillumhouse

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Supporting Member
Joined
May 22, 2008
Messages
15,762
Reaction score
413
In our confirmation, we advise guests who would like to take their time arriving that they will find a note on the door with their information in it after 7 PM. We run their card for the full balance at 7 PM and go about our evening.
I have been scolded by guests who did not arrive at all that I should have called them to remind them they had a rez. No. Adults need to act as such..
Madeleine said:
I have been scolded by guests who did not arrive at all that I should have called them to remind them they had a rez. No. Adults need to act as such.
Holiday Inn doesn't call me. Neither does Ritz Carlton. If you start calling them, you only train them to forget about their rez because the ball's now in the innkeeper's court to always call and remind them. If you don't start it, you won't later regret it.
.
I let RezKey do the reminding - Your reservation is in 3 days, We look forward to greeting you.
 

JBloggs

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Oct 7, 2008
Messages
17,744
Reaction score
9
Another thing, as mentioned about reminders, some guests make a booking a year in advance. 6 months in advance. Doesn't hurt to have a reminder email letting them know we are excited about their upcoming visit! That is a feature of Reservationkey. You can set it for any numbers of days you wish, some times I think 3 days in advance may not be adequate if they are booking 6 mo's in advance, you can set two of them if you want! On this email I have basic check in instructions reminding them of the check in times and note if they are here after reg check in hours. Also directions and parking info. ie Come around to the front door and ring bell...
 

egoodell

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 1, 2008
Messages
3,023
Reaction score
0
Dena,
Our check in window is 4-7 pm. If people don't know when they are going to arrive, or say they will be arriving late, we ask them to call us about an hour out so that we are not running out for a bite to eat, or running errands and will be there to greet them.
So far this has worked for us - they call us and we know when they will arrive. Guests cannot always know what the traffic situation is going to be coming down from DC and this makes it easier for them to know that they don't have to rush and we know if we can run out for a bite or not.
Riki
 

JBloggs

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Oct 7, 2008
Messages
17,744
Reaction score
9
8 rooms is different to 2 rooms though, 8 rooms, imo the innkeeper needs to be on the premises for check ins until said time, which to me, again imvho s/b 7 to 8 pm. 3 or 4 rooms and living on site are totally different to 8 rooms and not living onsite.
See we are all different, so what works for me might not work foryou and so on. But get it sorted out for the less stress oneveryone
 

Madeleine

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 29, 2011
Messages
7,990
Reaction score
0
Dena said:
Our policy is that check-in is at 3pm, but we'll accomodate late check-ins with notice.
THANKS!
Dena
Is that the policy verbatim? How then do guests know what 'late' is? Is late 4 PM?
Just last week I called at the last minute to make a rez. I was asked what time did I think I would be arriving? I was not given a deadline, did not know there was NO ONE on site after a certain time (which varied because they use VOLUNTEERS! to watch the desk) and had no idea where, exactly, the place was.
I knew from previous experience in the area it would take us about 7 hours to get there. But I didn't know what time we'd be getting started.
I guessed we'd get there around 5. We actually arrived at 4. The whole next DAY there was no one at the desk at all, all day and night. Luckily, we're pretty self-sufficient.
 

YellowSocks

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Joined
May 22, 2008
Messages
2,179
Reaction score
13
I don't know how many rooms you have. I have four, and I live onsite.
When they make the reservation I ask them what time they plan to arrive. The farther in advance the reservation is made, the less likely the time they pick is accurate.
Most of the time, though, people are pretty close, within an hour or so.
I've learned to call people who are late... just a "hi, it's Kathy from College House. I need to run out to the grocery store. What time does it look like you'll be arriving?" When I haven't called, I've regretted it. People never seem to mind.
People are very willing to work with me on their check in times. I have several regular evening commitments (Community Band, for example), and I go to church on Saturday nights instead of Sunday mornings. On the few occasions that their arrival time conflicts, I tell them what I have planned and that I'll skip it to meet them... they usually say not to miss but they'll arrive sooner or later. Which, really, doesn't happen often.
In the case where someone is coming very late (after bedtime), or at a time I have a conflict, I give them the code and directions how to get in. This is especially the case with repeat guests. This weekend a guest called and said they would like to get in about an hour and a half earlier than planned. I wasn't home, but gave them the codes and did a quickie phone check in... I didn't have to rush home and they were able to get in and settled with no fuss. Hooray for keypad locks!!!
=)
Kk.
 

JBloggs

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Oct 7, 2008
Messages
17,744
Reaction score
9
I don't know how many rooms you have. I have four, and I live onsite.
When they make the reservation I ask them what time they plan to arrive. The farther in advance the reservation is made, the less likely the time they pick is accurate.
Most of the time, though, people are pretty close, within an hour or so.
I've learned to call people who are late... just a "hi, it's Kathy from College House. I need to run out to the grocery store. What time does it look like you'll be arriving?" When I haven't called, I've regretted it. People never seem to mind.
People are very willing to work with me on their check in times. I have several regular evening commitments (Community Band, for example), and I go to church on Saturday nights instead of Sunday mornings. On the few occasions that their arrival time conflicts, I tell them what I have planned and that I'll skip it to meet them... they usually say not to miss but they'll arrive sooner or later. Which, really, doesn't happen often.
In the case where someone is coming very late (after bedtime), or at a time I have a conflict, I give them the code and directions how to get in. This is especially the case with repeat guests. This weekend a guest called and said they would like to get in about an hour and a half earlier than planned. I wasn't home, but gave them the codes and did a quickie phone check in... I didn't have to rush home and they were able to get in and settled with no fuss. Hooray for keypad locks!!!
=)
Kk..
8 rooms.
 

YellowSocks

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Joined
May 22, 2008
Messages
2,179
Reaction score
13
I don't know how many rooms you have. I have four, and I live onsite.
When they make the reservation I ask them what time they plan to arrive. The farther in advance the reservation is made, the less likely the time they pick is accurate.
Most of the time, though, people are pretty close, within an hour or so.
I've learned to call people who are late... just a "hi, it's Kathy from College House. I need to run out to the grocery store. What time does it look like you'll be arriving?" When I haven't called, I've regretted it. People never seem to mind.
People are very willing to work with me on their check in times. I have several regular evening commitments (Community Band, for example), and I go to church on Saturday nights instead of Sunday mornings. On the few occasions that their arrival time conflicts, I tell them what I have planned and that I'll skip it to meet them... they usually say not to miss but they'll arrive sooner or later. Which, really, doesn't happen often.
In the case where someone is coming very late (after bedtime), or at a time I have a conflict, I give them the code and directions how to get in. This is especially the case with repeat guests. This weekend a guest called and said they would like to get in about an hour and a half earlier than planned. I wasn't home, but gave them the codes and did a quickie phone check in... I didn't have to rush home and they were able to get in and settled with no fuss. Hooray for keypad locks!!!
=)
Kk..
8 rooms.
.
Joey Bloggs said:
Oh.
That's a totally different animal.
Good luck!
=)
Kk.
 

JBloggs

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Oct 7, 2008
Messages
17,744
Reaction score
9
Dena, where does it say check in time on your website? Start there. Put the check in time on the website under your policies and info page.
 

Samster

Well-known member
Joined
May 30, 2008
Messages
6,478
Reaction score
15
Location
South Carolina
Dena, are you talking about folks that phone you for a rez? Is your check-in 3pm, period? Or do you actually have a time range for check-ins? Do you have online booking which offers the guest a selection of check-in times? Do you send reminders? See, I would need more info to really answer your question.

We had most of our reservations through our on-line booking system which required guests to select a check-in time during our range & agree to policies. Their confirmation email reminded them of their time and clearly stated what to do if arriving late, & restated the policies. I sent reminder emails for folks booking way out and had their selected check-in in bold.
I would ask callers about what time they thought they'd be arriving and told them the check-in window & explained what we did if they arrived outside of that. If they balked at the check-in window, I'd explore that with them because we had lots of folks flying in to a major metro airport 90 minutes away and I'd try to guide them to something within our window, if possible. That being said, stuff happens...especially when people are relying on flights, rental cars, or shuttles, etc. Late arrivals were asked to call us!! I'd rather know than be sitting around waiting. I had quite a few people who arrived after midnight due to flight delays or accidents on the Interstate.
ETA: Dur...I just realized that your website is here & that you're not anonymous. You're about the same distance away from ATL that we were, so I can see where folks flying in might experience delays. And, I've driven up to your area to stay at B&Bs and know how the traffic can be!! I also don't see anything on your website about check-in times or early/late check-ins, so putting that info on the site would definitely help.
I would say to do the best that you can to define what's going to work for both you and your guest. If you can arrange a late check-in system where the guest can pick up a key & instructions, that's the best. Otherwise, JB has hit the nail on the head...you'll get tired of waiting around.
 

Hillbilly

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 22, 2011
Messages
939
Reaction score
17
Haha, Charge them a late check in fee. If they arrive after a certain time. That will get them there on time. Just an idea!!! :)
 

Generic

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 24, 2011
Messages
7,580
Reaction score
93
We have a checkin time of 3PM to 6PM and our confirmation as well as the reminder tell them that outside of those times they must communicate to us ahead of time. After 6PM we tell them that they will receive self-check-in instructions and those include a numeric key to let themselves in the door in the unlikely hood that we go out. Those before 3PM are told that the room won't be ready until 3PM and they can leave their luggage as long as they have made prearrangements with me. But I only guarantee that I'm around for the hours they have arranged, give or take 30 minutes.
I appreciate my keypad greatly. It has freed me from much.
 

Kay Nein

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 13, 2012
Messages
832
Reaction score
3
Great ideas and insights - thanks a million!
When I started this string, I went to our website to see exactly how check-in was detailed there. SURPRISE - it's NOT there... Ok, strike one! (in fairness, we inherited the website from the previous owners and have been tweaking it since taking over in February. One more thing on my list to fix.)
In saying "Check-in is at 3pm" my feeling was that 3pm is the earliest you can check-in, but after that is fine. It was not my intent to convey that everyone must be here at exactly 3pm or else. I see that the wording of that needs to be changed.
I REALLY like the check-in window - 3pm-6pm. That's ideal and gives us a cut off to go home and be real people. I'm not entirely sure we'll ever allow self check-ins. I think that personal service is important and, though you're right about burning out, I'm not sure that aspect of customer service is something I'm ready to let slide.
And a call to the guest the day before would be another great step to add to the process. We have called in the past, but it was always late in the afternoon of their arrival when we were already wondering where they were. I fear being perceived as an impatient person tapping my toe and rushing them. So, to avoid that I'll just call the day before.
I also like an additional "Late Check-in Fee" if it's after 10pm (for instance).
I just started adding "Check-in is at 3pm" in our confirmation emails. I'm going to reword it to "Check-in starts at 3pm. If arriving later than 6pm, prior arrangements need to be made" or something to that effect. That will probably help out tremendously.
 

Madeleine

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 29, 2011
Messages
7,990
Reaction score
0
Great ideas and insights - thanks a million!
When I started this string, I went to our website to see exactly how check-in was detailed there. SURPRISE - it's NOT there... Ok, strike one! (in fairness, we inherited the website from the previous owners and have been tweaking it since taking over in February. One more thing on my list to fix.)
In saying "Check-in is at 3pm" my feeling was that 3pm is the earliest you can check-in, but after that is fine. It was not my intent to convey that everyone must be here at exactly 3pm or else. I see that the wording of that needs to be changed.
I REALLY like the check-in window - 3pm-6pm. That's ideal and gives us a cut off to go home and be real people. I'm not entirely sure we'll ever allow self check-ins. I think that personal service is important and, though you're right about burning out, I'm not sure that aspect of customer service is something I'm ready to let slide.
And a call to the guest the day before would be another great step to add to the process. We have called in the past, but it was always late in the afternoon of their arrival when we were already wondering where they were. I fear being perceived as an impatient person tapping my toe and rushing them. So, to avoid that I'll just call the day before.
I also like an additional "Late Check-in Fee" if it's after 10pm (for instance).
I just started adding "Check-in is at 3pm" in our confirmation emails. I'm going to reword it to "Check-in starts at 3pm. If arriving later than 6pm, prior arrangements need to be made" or something to that effect. That will probably help out tremendously..
Be prepared for push back on the late check in fee. We're always hearing this and sometimes it's true- try to not to make it harder to stay at a B&B than a hotel.
We went back and forth on the 'do we, don't we' allow self-check-ins? At first we did. It was awkward because we were newbies but we do get a fair amount of guests coming in from NYC and they leave after work. They arrive here around midnight, if they're lucky! So, consider, they've worked all day (as have we), they have fought traffic to get out of the city and driven 5-6 hours to crash at their B&B. Do they want me in my bunny slippers whispering to them and tiptoeing thru the house with them to show them their room or would they rather let themselves in and find their own room?
It is not really intuitive, but they DO like letting themselves in rather than seeing me in my bunny slippers. Who knew!
We decided a few years into this that it wasn't hospitable or safe to let guests check themselves in. Also, they made a lot of noise. 15 trips to the car, slamming all 16 doors on the car each time. Banging suitcases up the stairs and yelling to each other. No, it would be better to see a show of force from the innkeeper, even at 2 AM. (And I live here! You have to either stay or come back to let the guests in!)
If you read other innkeeping forums you will find a LOT of innkeepers who revile you if you let the guests check themselves in. They think it's not right that I am not on call 24x7. Well, guess what, a lot of those innkeepers don't have as many rooms as I have OR have fulltime help during the day so they can go out and have meals, visit family & friends, go to yoga classes and have 'a life'.
Where are we now? Self check-in is back. At my advanced age I need my beauty sleep. We don't charge extra for it because no one is put out by the late arrivals. The bunny slippers have been retired. I get my beauty sleep. Guests don't feel rushed to arrive at a certain time. (I do charge the balance at 7 PM when I put the info out for the guests. We've had late arrivals who were early departers with bad cc info. Live and learn. And, if the cc is bad, the note says, 'Please ring doorbell to alert the innkeeper you have arrived,' otherwise it has the door code and directions to the room.)
I don't think I would call guests the day before. How about a quick text msg or email that says how 'you're looking forward to their arrival between 3-6 PM tomorrow. Safe travels!' A gentle reminder of the time span and perhaps that will force a phone call from them saying they'll be later.
I think what most of us here push is the 'happy innkeeper' approach to innkeeping. If we're waiting up until 2 AM or uncomfortably dozing in an anxious semi-sleep-state waiting to answer the door, we are not at our best at 7 AM when guests (not the same 2 AM guests) are looking for coffee and the paper.
It's all about balance. You have to decide what works best in your situation.
 

Latest posts

Top