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Tours - Take a Peek or Take a Hike?

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I am curious to know what other small B&Bs like ours do when folks just stop by unannounced and request a tour...???
Before becoming a Caretaker here, I thought it was unthinkable to turn someone away if they were interested in learning more about the place - it's more business, and more business is good... right? After having spent some time dealing with it on a day-to-day basis, I understand a little more how this can turn into an issue. Our inn is quite noticable, and we are located directly off of a main highway, though in a small mountain community, so when people drive by, they automatically see our building and want to stop in and see the place just for kicks (not necessarily interested in booking... more like snooping since these visits rarely turn into a booking). We have had folks actually show up at 9:00 PM and ring the doorbell wanting us to show them around, see some rooms. What a lot of people don't get, I think, is that we live on-site, that we have a staff that you can count on one hand, and we are human and need our rest. Luckily, we have kind of a cool security setup. When a person rings the doorbell, it rings all the phones in the house so that we can answer the door without actually answering the door and be able to sort of "screen" those who walk into our home. We also have a few security cameras throughout the common areas and outside the building. (This may sound like overkill for a B&B, but it may have actually saved our lives... long story...) Usually our response is something to the tune of, "I'm so sorry, we do require appointments for tours, but I would be happy to schedule you in for another day! Please take one of our business cards by the door..." Yes, this policy is stated very boldly on our front door, so people know this before they ring the bell, but are hoping for a different answer. Some people accept this answer with a smile, and others seem extremely put out that they cannot even see our "lobby" (living room). Every so often, we will have time, and can (and do) accept walk-ins, but we are usually immersed in a project or cleaning, or dealing with other Guests.
So, I guess my question is... Is this practice rude or unheard of? Does anyone else do this? Is there a better way to handle random visitors without throwing off our schedule, dropping everything and catering to strangers who haven't yet (and probably won't) paid? What are your policies, and how do you enforce them? I appreciate any feedback. Thanks!
 

JBloggs

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We have a sign on the door that it is by appt only. It is not rude, they just assume you are open to the public, and you aren't.
Only locals want to take a peek here, and it rarely turns into a booking.
PS If you are a wedding venue, then you need to be open to tours, but by appt only. Some might just want to check out the views.
 

seashanty

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MorrisonEscape said:
"I'm so sorry, we do require appointments for tours, but I would be happy to schedule you in for another day! Please take one of our business cards by the door..."
hey, welcome!

i think you've got it right. it's good to have a set 'script'.
i had people stop by all the time. i had a cupola up on the fifth floor that looked out over a fishing harbor and folks often asked if they could 'just go up and look out at the view. no trouble' the problem was compounded by the fact that, before i took over and renovated, the building was neglected and UNlocked ... so folks in town and random visitors would tell others that they had just walked in and gone up. people would show up, try to get in and get mad when they were denied access. they'd get really mad if they did it in years gone by.
i used to come in here and vent about it ... a lot.
yes, i tried to be receptive and kind and wanted to court other business. i also had to think about liability, the safety of my guests, the security of my building, and my own sanity! i admit, some days i was more receptive than others. i actually scheduled 'open house' times a few times a year ... eventually i had helpers escort people up to the cupola, into ONE room that was unoccupied and set aside for the purpose, into the breakfast area, the guest library, and then out the door with a rack card and over to the art gallery next door ... good for the art gallery, very helpful for me!
a few years ago a business owner in florida suggested i just show up at a couple b&b's and ask for a tour ... she was sure they'd love to show me around. i didn't even try to explain why this is NOT something i would do. this was an intelligent woman but totally unfamiliar with how a b&b/inn operates and why this is not appropriate.
 

Joey Camb

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I had one this week but they had booked next door (those who know me well will know its a complete nightmare there) so wanted to have a look at mine for next year (they were attending an annual flower show) I didn't mind that as they wanted to be sure they didn't make the same mistake booking somewhere horrible for next year. In their defence they used boo k .com and she makes her own bookings and leaves good reviews so people are fooled on a regular basis. we have had one or two on the basis they were booking for a group or later in the year etc but very rarely does it lead to a booking. One couple came when we were shut for renovations in August laundry everywhere and everything a tip and my mum let them in - never booked mind but can you blame them lol?
 

EmptyNest

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NO TOURS without an appointment. Must Call ahead. Definitely not given to anyone just knocking on the door. You have things to do and if rooms are occupied, no one EVER gets to see them. You are not a public hotel...but I guess some people don't get that. Oh...make sure your door is ALWAYS locked.
 

birdwatcher

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We have walk ins of people that want to take a tour-husband usually does this when its possible. If it becomes a problem or if we were in the middle of something we would just say sorry we are busy this afternoon/evening/morning but Im sure we can schedule one at a better time-most go away. The new inn we are going to the boss seems to think its a 24/7 walk in thing-well as far as im concerned if you ring my doorbell at 7AM and want to check in its gonna be NO you can make a reservation but no check in until check in time and I will not be answering the door after the check in time for walk ins. Dont know how we will handle this, but im sure it can be handled...
I would definantely make sure that its "by appointment only"...PERIOD.
good luck
 

EmptyNest

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We have walk ins of people that want to take a tour-husband usually does this when its possible. If it becomes a problem or if we were in the middle of something we would just say sorry we are busy this afternoon/evening/morning but Im sure we can schedule one at a better time-most go away. The new inn we are going to the boss seems to think its a 24/7 walk in thing-well as far as im concerned if you ring my doorbell at 7AM and want to check in its gonna be NO you can make a reservation but no check in until check in time and I will not be answering the door after the check in time for walk ins. Dont know how we will handle this, but im sure it can be handled...
I would definantely make sure that its "by appointment only"...PERIOD.
good luck.
24 /7??? You better clue them in on that one. You cannot be available all of the time. Besides keeping up with cleaning, marketing..of both kinds..you need your own personal down time. Make sure they understand that. I am not sure you said..but what is the size of the new place??
 

Copperhead

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We have walk ins of people that want to take a tour-husband usually does this when its possible. If it becomes a problem or if we were in the middle of something we would just say sorry we are busy this afternoon/evening/morning but Im sure we can schedule one at a better time-most go away. The new inn we are going to the boss seems to think its a 24/7 walk in thing-well as far as im concerned if you ring my doorbell at 7AM and want to check in its gonna be NO you can make a reservation but no check in until check in time and I will not be answering the door after the check in time for walk ins. Dont know how we will handle this, but im sure it can be handled...
I would definantely make sure that its "by appointment only"...PERIOD.
good luck.
The new inn we are going to the boss seems to think its a 24/7 walk in thing-

 

Samster

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I took me months to convince our local convention and visitors bureau that we did not do tours or routinely take walk-ins. I was the "staff" and had lots to do! I don't know why they didn't get this concept for a small 5 room B&B, but eventually they did. I had a cute sign right by the door that gave our check-in times and there were rack cards on the porch for the super curious.
I did get calls from brides wanting tours to see if the rooms were appropriate for their guests. We were #1 on TA for the B&Bs here. I would schedule tours for brides and that really never panned out because we just didn't have enough rooms.
One way that I avoided the walk in tour thing was that I never put up a sign. Yep, that's right. Signs were in the plans for both our buildings but I decided against them. All the B&Bs in our city had ZERO bookings from locals. Plus, we lived in our B&B and the other B&B owners did not. Our location was very easy to find and our property address is clearly marked. If any of our guests asked why we didn't have a sign, I was honest with them and told them that it only drew lookie loos and I didn't want those folks to disturb our guests.
 

agoodman

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It really depends who and when. Do I get the feeling they are just curious or a potential guest? Are they casing out the joint? Sometimes I say I am full (and sometimes I actually am) and hand them a card or brochure or refer them to the website
Is it a reasonable time of day? Am I in the middle of something?
I don't think there is a "right" or "wrong", you just need to use GOOD OLD COMMON SENSE
I think turning people away 100% of the time "just because they never made an appt" is not an appropriate action.
 
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It really depends who and when. Do I get the feeling they are just curious or a potential guest? Are they casing out the joint? Sometimes I say I am full (and sometimes I actually am) and hand them a card or brochure or refer them to the website
Is it a reasonable time of day? Am I in the middle of something?
I don't think there is a "right" or "wrong", you just need to use GOOD OLD COMMON SENSE
I think turning people away 100% of the time "just because they never made an appt" is not an appropriate action..
Right, not 100% of the time, I agree. But it is frustrating when you get the folks that still ring your doorbell and say, "I know your sign says you need an appointment, but I was wondering if we could just look around anyway." As if our time isn't valuable at all... I know that no matter where I go, unless it is like a restaurant or something, I call ahead - not only out of courtesy for the folks I'll be seeing, but for myself as well. I'd hate to drive all the way into the country just to be turned away. You know what they say about common sense....
 

Skamokawa

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I took me months to convince our local convention and visitors bureau that we did not do tours or routinely take walk-ins. I was the "staff" and had lots to do! I don't know why they didn't get this concept for a small 5 room B&B, but eventually they did. I had a cute sign right by the door that gave our check-in times and there were rack cards on the porch for the super curious.
I did get calls from brides wanting tours to see if the rooms were appropriate for their guests. We were #1 on TA for the B&Bs here. I would schedule tours for brides and that really never panned out because we just didn't have enough rooms.
One way that I avoided the walk in tour thing was that I never put up a sign. Yep, that's right. Signs were in the plans for both our buildings but I decided against them. All the B&Bs in our city had ZERO bookings from locals. Plus, we lived in our B&B and the other B&B owners did not. Our location was very easy to find and our property address is clearly marked. If any of our guests asked why we didn't have a sign, I was honest with them and told them that it only drew lookie loos and I didn't want those folks to disturb our guests..
I agree that most have no idea why folks shouldn't just drop on by to have a look. We are not in a busy place, so we do let people come on in. This amounts to 5 or so such requests per year. Sometimes we get local people who have known the property in the past and would like to see the interior changes. We're happy to do it. And because we are in such a rural area those interuptions are too few to even try to challenge the idea of 'we're always open'. If we're not here, the door is locked and the bell will go unanswered. If we're here, we smile and do the quick tour. Different locale, different response.
 

JBloggs

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PS forgot to add, being the owner and living on the premises is also a factor. If I had hired innkeeper they better do the tours. Just clarifying. As the only person here who works here, me, and spouse is only here if it is after his work hours, that impacts who is allowed in unannounced as I barely have time to do what I need to do every day.
 

agoodman

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PS forgot to add, being the owner and living on the premises is also a factor. If I had hired innkeeper they better do the tours. Just clarifying. As the only person here who works here, me, and spouse is only here if it is after his work hours, that impacts who is allowed in unannounced as I barely have time to do what I need to do every day..
Joey Bloggs said:
PS forgot to add, being the owner and living on the premises is also a factor. If I had hired innkeeper they better do the tours. Just clarifying. As the only person here who works here, me, and spouse is only here if it is after his work hours, that impacts who is allowed in unannounced as I barely have time to do what I need to do every day.
Just curious, if you had a hired Innkeeper why would you expect them to do this when you would not do it? Don't they deserve the same respect and courtesy, and should follow the same policies ?
 

Arks

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PS forgot to add, being the owner and living on the premises is also a factor. If I had hired innkeeper they better do the tours. Just clarifying. As the only person here who works here, me, and spouse is only here if it is after his work hours, that impacts who is allowed in unannounced as I barely have time to do what I need to do every day..
Joey Bloggs said:
PS forgot to add, being the owner and living on the premises is also a factor. If I had hired innkeeper they better do the tours. Just clarifying. As the only person here who works here, me, and spouse is only here if it is after his work hours, that impacts who is allowed in unannounced as I barely have time to do what I need to do every day.
Just curious, if you had a hired Innkeeper why would you expect them to do this when you would not do it? Don't they deserve the same respect and courtesy, and should follow the same policies ?
.
agoodman said:
Don't they deserve the same respect and courtesy, and should follow the same policies ?
That's why you give them money. If it's in the job description, and they accept the job, they're expected to do their job, and they expect to do their job.
People who work for me do a lot of stuff I don't want to do. They do it because I pay them to do it.
Now, if you want to take that theory to the next step, that the one paying the money gets to call the shots in a guest/innkeeper situation, that's a whole other subject!
 

Alibi Ike

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Generally, around here, anyone ringing the bell is actually looking for a room. Sometimes it is for tonight. Other times they are collecting info for another time. 'We were just walking by, we're staying at such and such, do you have a brochure?'
If I'm not run ragged at that point, and a room is avail, I will show the room.
Otherwise, I hand out a brochure and explain we're full and tell them to look online for more info. If they have real dates in mind, I'll look at the calendar for them and if it's a peak time tell them to not wait to reserve.
Have I given more 'tours' to walk-ins than made reservations from it? Yes. Most of the time that is based on price. I ask what price point they were expecting and it's usually below $100. I have had some good reservations from doing the mini-tour, tho, so I try not to hustle them out the door if I can help it.
We recently went to putting up a sign when we're cleaning, to avoid the early check-ins and lookie lous at 11:30. So far it's working. Anyone wanting a rez is calling from the porch and I can handle it from there.
Just a tour, tho, because it's an interesting house? That would have to be prearranged, for a price.
 

Breakfast Diva

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PS forgot to add, being the owner and living on the premises is also a factor. If I had hired innkeeper they better do the tours. Just clarifying. As the only person here who works here, me, and spouse is only here if it is after his work hours, that impacts who is allowed in unannounced as I barely have time to do what I need to do every day..
Joey Bloggs said:
PS forgot to add, being the owner and living on the premises is also a factor. If I had hired innkeeper they better do the tours. Just clarifying. As the only person here who works here, me, and spouse is only here if it is after his work hours, that impacts who is allowed in unannounced as I barely have time to do what I need to do every day.
Just curious, if you had a hired Innkeeper why would you expect them to do this when you would not do it? Don't they deserve the same respect and courtesy, and should follow the same policies ?
.
agoodman said:
Don't they deserve the same respect and courtesy, and should follow the same policies ?
That's why you give them money. If it's in the job description, and they accept the job, they're expected to do their job, and they expect to do their job.
People who work for me do a lot of stuff I don't want to do. They do it because I pay them to do it.
Now, if you want to take that theory to the next step, that the one paying the money gets to call the shots in a guest/innkeeper situation, that's a whole other subject!
.
Arkansawyer said:
agoodman said:
Don't they deserve the same respect and courtesy, and should follow the same policies ?
That's why you give them money. If it's in the job description, and they accept the job, they're expected to do their job, and they expect to do their job.
People who work for me do a lot of stuff I don't want to do. They do it because I pay them to do it.
Now, if you want to take that theory to the next step, that the one paying the money gets to call the shots in a guest/innkeeper situation, that's a whole other subject!

 

Alibi Ike

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It really depends who and when. Do I get the feeling they are just curious or a potential guest? Are they casing out the joint? Sometimes I say I am full (and sometimes I actually am) and hand them a card or brochure or refer them to the website
Is it a reasonable time of day? Am I in the middle of something?
I don't think there is a "right" or "wrong", you just need to use GOOD OLD COMMON SENSE
I think turning people away 100% of the time "just because they never made an appt" is not an appropriate action..
Right, not 100% of the time, I agree. But it is frustrating when you get the folks that still ring your doorbell and say, "I know your sign says you need an appointment, but I was wondering if we could just look around anyway." As if our time isn't valuable at all... I know that no matter where I go, unless it is like a restaurant or something, I call ahead - not only out of courtesy for the folks I'll be seeing, but for myself as well. I'd hate to drive all the way into the country just to be turned away. You know what they say about common sense....
.
I noticed something interesting the other day when I came in the door...unless someone's nose is pressed against the glass, they can't see inside. So, knowing that, I have been watching guests approach the door. (Wanting to see if signage is clear- it's never clear to everyone, wanting to see what they are looking at, where they are looking, what they're saying, etc)
So, here's the deal- 100% of the guests I have observed have tried to let themselves into the building without ringing the bell (there is a sign for that). The postman did it the other day. The UPS guy knows the door is locked, he rings.
My wonder is now, what if they walked in? What would they do next?
So, if your door is not locked, how do you have the entryway set up so you know someone is there?
 

Joey Camb

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It really depends who and when. Do I get the feeling they are just curious or a potential guest? Are they casing out the joint? Sometimes I say I am full (and sometimes I actually am) and hand them a card or brochure or refer them to the website
Is it a reasonable time of day? Am I in the middle of something?
I don't think there is a "right" or "wrong", you just need to use GOOD OLD COMMON SENSE
I think turning people away 100% of the time "just because they never made an appt" is not an appropriate action..
Right, not 100% of the time, I agree. But it is frustrating when you get the folks that still ring your doorbell and say, "I know your sign says you need an appointment, but I was wondering if we could just look around anyway." As if our time isn't valuable at all... I know that no matter where I go, unless it is like a restaurant or something, I call ahead - not only out of courtesy for the folks I'll be seeing, but for myself as well. I'd hate to drive all the way into the country just to be turned away. You know what they say about common sense....
.
I noticed something interesting the other day when I came in the door...unless someone's nose is pressed against the glass, they can't see inside. So, knowing that, I have been watching guests approach the door. (Wanting to see if signage is clear- it's never clear to everyone, wanting to see what they are looking at, where they are looking, what they're saying, etc)
So, here's the deal- 100% of the guests I have observed have tried to let themselves into the building without ringing the bell (there is a sign for that). The postman did it the other day. The UPS guy knows the door is locked, he rings.
My wonder is now, what if they walked in? What would they do next?
So, if your door is not locked, how do you have the entryway set up so you know someone is there?
.
our doors are always locked (unless some twit leaves them open) big sign on front and back please shut and lock this door (the front door locks automatically if they shut it the back you have to lock) however we do now have a camera which faces the front door so I can decide if it is late if I am answering it.
 

JBloggs

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I don't reply to
stirrers. Just an fyi for the forum.
 
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