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Setting the tone w/friends at the beginning

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Gingerbread Latte

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I haven't even closed the deal yet and acquaintances are already hinting about free nights in exchange for 'publicity' and all sorts of things. (My real friends and family know how hard I work & that I'm not rich, they know I don't even rent my houses to friend/family.)
How did you handle that in the beginning? No one has come out and asked, just hinted. I've ignored them so far. Just wondering how you set your boundaries when you began.
 

Breakfast Diva

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You're going to hear a lot of different opinion on this one (who'd a thunk!). We were pretty hard core about it. We made a general announcement to family and friends that if they stayed in our little innkeepers house, no charge. Stay in the b&b and we charge. Especially in the beginning, we couldn't afford freebies...most people will want to come on weekends, holidays and vacations! Now, years later we're much more flexible. When we do the inviting, we can choose a down town and not pay, but when relative/friends invite themselves and we're busy, sorry...we need to have our rooms available for paying guests.
My suggestion to you is think hard about what policy you're comfortable with (family/friend discount, etc) and then stick with it. You don't want "Aunt Gabby" telling "Cousin Bitsy" that she said free when others paid.
 

JBloggs

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You may never see them otherwise.
Set the boundaries and remember who is important in your life. I have said this before, but my Nana was planning on a visit out here and died. I only wish she made it and I was able to give her that hug...
Family are family, and will either understand you need to make a living, or be told off and say oh. Aquaintances are another story. I will say I have not had ANYONE who is a friend not offer to pay to stay. So if they do, take their money. :)
Now some relatives can be "NON B&B people" so for that do you want disputes and issues happening when you have paying guests? Or embarrassment? Those are considerations as well.
 

gillumhouse

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I will never forget what an innkeeper said at one of my early asoc conferences. When friends or family stay - they pay. My Mother stays free, my brother pays.
I have not been that tight about it. My "shake-down" cruise was 2 former co-workers and a friend of theirs. I senmt a mock-up of my planned bochure and they were to tell me did it (the B & B) meet expectatins or not, make suggestions and that was their tarriff. The next time she came - I said she was visiting me, not the B & B but SHE said, you are running a business, i won't mind a discount, but I pay.
I know the only way I can see my family (including my raft of cousins) is if they come here. So they are charged $1 per night on my books - we are not permitted the luxury granted to hotel GMs of comping rooms. I cannot comp, but they cannot tell me how much I have to charge. When they come I can put them in whatever room. Friends have never taken advantage of me - real friends won't. They will come when invited or when it is convenient for you and they will not expect you to give up your livelihood. It is up to you to set the friends/family policy. You can explain the IRS will not allow friends or family to stay free, those rooms then become part of your house, not your business.
 

Gingerbread Latte

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I will never forget what an innkeeper said at one of my early asoc conferences. When friends or family stay - they pay. My Mother stays free, my brother pays.
I have not been that tight about it. My "shake-down" cruise was 2 former co-workers and a friend of theirs. I senmt a mock-up of my planned bochure and they were to tell me did it (the B & B) meet expectatins or not, make suggestions and that was their tarriff. The next time she came - I said she was visiting me, not the B & B but SHE said, you are running a business, i won't mind a discount, but I pay.
I know the only way I can see my family (including my raft of cousins) is if they come here. So they are charged $1 per night on my books - we are not permitted the luxury granted to hotel GMs of comping rooms. I cannot comp, but they cannot tell me how much I have to charge. When they come I can put them in whatever room. Friends have never taken advantage of me - real friends won't. They will come when invited or when it is convenient for you and they will not expect you to give up your livelihood. It is up to you to set the friends/family policy. You can explain the IRS will not allow friends or family to stay free, those rooms then become part of your house, not your business..
You're right, my real friends would never assume they could stay for free. I think that's what got to me ~ the assumptions that acquaintances would make. I'll use the IRS as my out.

 

seashanty

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you have answered your own question
your acquaintances 'are already hinting about free nights in exchange for 'publicity' and all sorts of things.'
acquaintances must be told ... no hinting ... that you'd love to have them stay with you, but that you have to earn as much in real dollars as you can to pay your mortgage etc and are sorry but you won't be able to exchange nights for their services. an exchange is only worth it if it was for something you were going to pay for right at that time (and, even then, be careful ... as the tax man is trying to get their share of tax on value) an exchange won't pay the utilities, the taxes, the mortgage, the grocery bill or your salary.
your 'real friends and family know how hard (you) work' and you can be honest with them.
be honest with your acquaintances, too. otherwise you will stress over this and it's not fair.
every successful business person i know separates business from friendship. when i walk into their stores and offices, i don't expect freebies. if they offer me a discount, great! but, often, they don't. i am not offended. i might wish for a discount or a freebie, but i understand this is how they make their living for goodness sake.
if you choose to let someone stay for $1. as kathleen says, that is your choice, your GIFT. this is your business and you have to be firm.
good luck.
 

Breakfast Diva

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Oh, and by the way, all those friends who tell you they will definitely come and stay with you (the paying kind) won't show. A lot of new innkeepers think they'll have a steady stream of income from old collegues, etc., but it just doesn't happen.
 

Joey Camb

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We have two weeks planned this year to be shut for renovations ie we are having most of the windows ripped out so have told a close friend they are welcome to stay then for free as cannot have real guest then with all that banging and builders hanging out of every where. If people want to come at peak times then they have to pay full wack and if they are flexible and will come off peak (ie not blocking money bookings) then they pay costs.
People have this idea that it doesn't cost you anything if they come and stay so I find explaining that it costs x amount to turn around a room on top of what you are not getting in from paying guests leads to a serious chunk of change and that usually shuts them up.
 

birdwatcher

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To us it was we only had family come, and because we had one 5 bedroom home next to another one that we mainly lived in this was not a problem except we never took in family or friends in our most busy time-that was just not happening with it being so busy we would not be able to visit and do what we would like with them. So we scheduled it on our down time and that worked fine with us.
Its your call but money is everything, family is one thing but aquaintaces is another unless they stay with you at your own home.
 

JBloggs

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I will never forget what an innkeeper said at one of my early asoc conferences. When friends or family stay - they pay. My Mother stays free, my brother pays.
I have not been that tight about it. My "shake-down" cruise was 2 former co-workers and a friend of theirs. I senmt a mock-up of my planned bochure and they were to tell me did it (the B & B) meet expectatins or not, make suggestions and that was their tarriff. The next time she came - I said she was visiting me, not the B & B but SHE said, you are running a business, i won't mind a discount, but I pay.
I know the only way I can see my family (including my raft of cousins) is if they come here. So they are charged $1 per night on my books - we are not permitted the luxury granted to hotel GMs of comping rooms. I cannot comp, but they cannot tell me how much I have to charge. When they come I can put them in whatever room. Friends have never taken advantage of me - real friends won't. They will come when invited or when it is convenient for you and they will not expect you to give up your livelihood. It is up to you to set the friends/family policy. You can explain the IRS will not allow friends or family to stay free, those rooms then become part of your house, not your business..
You're right, my real friends would never assume they could stay for free. I think that's what got to me ~ the assumptions that acquaintances would make. I'll use the IRS as my out.

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Gingerbread Latte said:
You're right, my real friends would never assume they could stay for free. I think that's what got to me ~ the assumptions that acquaintances would make. I'll use the IRS as my out.
And please...allow them to be excited and relish what you are undertaking. Chances are they will never be there, people are all talk, but at least they are happy and excited! More than most of us get, they think we are nuts endangering our lives opening our doors to psychopaths.

 

Aussie Innkeeper

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We have a few general guidelines for friends and family. We're still (even after 3+ years of owning) renovating. So, if any one of our very talented & gifted friends/family wants to come and help out, of course they stay in exchange for help. Family never pays, but they know that they may end up on the 3rd floor, which is still quite comfortable, but no guest rooms on that floor. Friends who come - if they're coming to do the tourist thing, they pay (we offer a 'Mate Rate' -the Aussie thing). We have very good friends who insist on paying when they come, but they've done SO much for us in the past (before the inn), that I do not feel comfortable charging them, so we worked out a compromise. They take us out to dinner! This works wonderfully.
 

Alibi Ike

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What kind of publicity are we talking about? Word of mouth or do these friends own media outlets? If it's word of mouth you might say, 'I will be hosting a 'quiet opening' weekend on such and such a date and would love to have you stay here that weekend.' (Gives you a chance to practice on live ones.) And that is it. No other weekends, no summer weekends, no holiday weekends.
Friends understand this is your business and will not try to get things for free. Unless of course, you have been getting things for free from them all along. There are certain people I wouldn't charge if they showed up at the door because they've done me such good turns in the past.
Sorry, just read it again-acquaintances. If they wouldn't give you a day's pay when you asked for no good reason, no deal.
 

Alibi Ike

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I will never forget what an innkeeper said at one of my early asoc conferences. When friends or family stay - they pay. My Mother stays free, my brother pays.
I have not been that tight about it. My "shake-down" cruise was 2 former co-workers and a friend of theirs. I senmt a mock-up of my planned bochure and they were to tell me did it (the B & B) meet expectatins or not, make suggestions and that was their tarriff. The next time she came - I said she was visiting me, not the B & B but SHE said, you are running a business, i won't mind a discount, but I pay.
I know the only way I can see my family (including my raft of cousins) is if they come here. So they are charged $1 per night on my books - we are not permitted the luxury granted to hotel GMs of comping rooms. I cannot comp, but they cannot tell me how much I have to charge. When they come I can put them in whatever room. Friends have never taken advantage of me - real friends won't. They will come when invited or when it is convenient for you and they will not expect you to give up your livelihood. It is up to you to set the friends/family policy. You can explain the IRS will not allow friends or family to stay free, those rooms then become part of your house, not your business..
You're right, my real friends would never assume they could stay for free. I think that's what got to me ~ the assumptions that acquaintances would make. I'll use the IRS as my out.

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Gingerbread Latte said:
You're right, my real friends would never assume they could stay for free. I think that's what got to me ~ the assumptions that acquaintances would make. I'll use the IRS as my out.
And please...allow them to be excited and relish what you are undertaking. Chances are they will never be there, people are all talk, but at least they are happy and excited! More than most of us get, they think we are nuts endangering our lives opening our doors to psychopaths.

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You have a point about people talking. We've been here 7 or so years now and even on invitation family has not showed up. They were all coming at the outset. Gonna help us get the word out. All of that.
 

gillumhouse

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you have answered your own question
your acquaintances 'are already hinting about free nights in exchange for 'publicity' and all sorts of things.'
acquaintances must be told ... no hinting ... that you'd love to have them stay with you, but that you have to earn as much in real dollars as you can to pay your mortgage etc and are sorry but you won't be able to exchange nights for their services. an exchange is only worth it if it was for something you were going to pay for right at that time (and, even then, be careful ... as the tax man is trying to get their share of tax on value) an exchange won't pay the utilities, the taxes, the mortgage, the grocery bill or your salary.
your 'real friends and family know how hard (you) work' and you can be honest with them.
be honest with your acquaintances, too. otherwise you will stress over this and it's not fair.
every successful business person i know separates business from friendship. when i walk into their stores and offices, i don't expect freebies. if they offer me a discount, great! but, often, they don't. i am not offended. i might wish for a discount or a freebie, but i understand this is how they make their living for goodness sake.
if you choose to let someone stay for $1. as kathleen says, that is your choice, your GIFT. this is your business and you have to be firm.
good luck..
if you choose to let someone stay for $1. as kathleen says, that is your choice, your GIFT. this is your business and you have to be firm.
I just put the $1 in the records for the tax man - they never know. I am fortunate that in our 15 years. 10 cousins and several friends have come to visit (some multiple times). I was blessed to have my cousin in Germany and his brother use us as a "motel stop" with their Mom, my favorite aunt, when they moved her from Arkansas to New Hampshire. My familiy has always operated on the "mooch system" - I mooch from you and you mooch from me and if you do not mooch from me it is your problem. We can travel across the Country without having to spend a dime on lodging - BIG family (poor DH could put his whole extended family at a large table in a restaurant - unless our kids were there. THEN we would need a small room.)
I had a couple very heated discussions with a man I used to work with. He expected his friends to do deep discounts or free because they were friends and I maintain that a friend would not expect someone to give up their livelihood - I would patronize my friends to HELP them by giving them my business over the competitor rather than taking something away from them. The idjit never could understand that.
 

agoodman

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If you had a clothing store could your friends and family just come over and get free clothing???
With that said, all my "extra" rooms are "guest" rooms so if I have friends or family coming to visit me, I have to decide if I am willing to give up the room revenue or not. In my case most people are coming to see ME, from long distance, I am not a "vacation" ..... so I really don't like to charge them
It really depends on lots of other factors, if your friends are coming at the last minute and you have an extra room which you know will more than likely not be sold, you may not want to charge them, or you may just ask for a contribution to the costs of cleaning and food.
There is no "right" or 'wrong" answer here, but it is your BUSINESS and on the other hand they are your FAMILY. or FRIENDS. Weigh it up depending. You never know because "Aunt Bessie" may be so thrilled with her stay she may leave you her millions when she passes ... I on the other hand don't have anyone that will leave me anything LOL
 

Gingerbread Latte

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I think it just hit me wrong. I was sharing my excitement about the possibility of this business and one girl said, "Give me a free night and I'll tell all my friends to stay there." I wanted to say, "Have all your friends mention your name and then I'll give you a free night." Another wanted to bring her 2 horrid kids on a peak weekend b/c she didn't want to stay with family while in town.
As you said, it's probably all talk, I just wanted to be prepared if and when someone point blank asks me.
 

gillumhouse

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I think it just hit me wrong. I was sharing my excitement about the possibility of this business and one girl said, "Give me a free night and I'll tell all my friends to stay there." I wanted to say, "Have all your friends mention your name and then I'll give you a free night." Another wanted to bring her 2 horrid kids on a peak weekend b/c she didn't want to stay with family while in town.
As you said, it's probably all talk, I just wanted to be prepared if and when someone point blank asks me..
"Give me a free night and I'll tell all my friends to stay there."
Darn! You lost a great marketing chance and you had it in your mind but did not use it! You DID have the right answer just did not finish it. "Of course I will give you a free night. I will have a card with your name on it and every time one of your friends tell me you sent them, I will make a punch in that card. 10 punches and you get a free night!"
 

EmptyNest

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Just remember, if you are taking deductions for your business. If IRS finds out you are giving rooms free to friends and relatives, you will lose that deduction.
 

Gingerbread Latte

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If you did that (I can't believe it would a be huge part of business) wouldn't it be considered advertising? Wouldn't it be the same as offering a discount to returning guests?
I'm meeting with my CPA this Friday, he'll bring me up to speed on what I can and can't do ~ obviously, I don't know too much.
 

JBloggs

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If you did that (I can't believe it would a be huge part of business) wouldn't it be considered advertising? Wouldn't it be the same as offering a discount to returning guests?
I'm meeting with my CPA this Friday, he'll bring me up to speed on what I can and can't do ~ obviously, I don't know too much.
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Gingerbread Latte said:
If you did that (I can't believe it would a be huge part of business) wouldn't it be considered advertising? Wouldn't it be the same as offering a discount to returning guests?
I'm meeting with my CPA this Friday, he'll bring me up to speed on what I can and can't do ~ obviously, I don't know too much.
CPA for B&B's? If not I can guarantee he will not know. You will know more than he knows from asking questions here. Good luck.
A discount is not advertising.
Stick with the internet. Don't waste your money elsewhere. Of if you do, come back and cry on our shoulders...we have all been there and regret wasting hard earned $ on any other advertising.

 
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