What am I going to do...?

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sgirouard

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As DH & I have shared our plans with friends and family to own/operate a BnB, of course, everyone says they're going to come. Well, I hope they do, but I don't have high expectations. From reading here, I understand that many folks say this, sincerely, but it's more a statement of support and they often don't follow through. That's fine. I also recognize that some of the friends/relatives who have made noise about coming to stay live in distant regions of the country, and have no reasons (other than our future BnB) to come to our state. And really, if they haven't visited us for other reasons, it's a long trip to make just for breakfast

But, a conversation the other day gave me pause. A friend of mine, who is local and for whom the trip would not be a big deal, re-stated her intent to come stay. She has, in the past, said things like, "I want to be your first guest," and, "I can't wait to come stay in your BnB." This time, she started asking me about the town we're planning to move to. She got this scandalized tone of voice as she heard the details, saying, "WHAT am I going to do when I come visit?!" Soooooo...first I made a little joke about visiting me, but mostly started on my list of "things to do in the area." That calmed her down some, but the fact of the matter is that the town we're moving to isn't her cup of tea. So this made me wonder - am I going to have friends/family show up to stay in the Inn and expect to be entertained?
In my mind, a visit to me is one thing. A stay in a BnB is lodging and a meal. Certainly there can be some overlap if friends/family choose to come and pay for a room...but as an innkeeper, I wasn't planning on playing tour guide/occupational therapist/let me set your itinerary. As I have considered this conversation with my friend, I have reflected on BnB websites where I have seen innkeepers offer to help plan activities, and one even used the words I did earlier: "plan your itinerary."
So I guess my question is two part:
  1. First, for the friends/family that do make good on their comments to come and stay (paying) in the BnB, do they expect more catering than you might provide for regular guests? I realize you all can't look into a crystal ball and tell me what will happen with my particular set of friends/family, but I appreciate your input and experiences.
  2. Second, am I incorrect in my expectation that as an innkeeper, I would be providing information about area/regional events and attractions, but not setting itineraries or making outside activity arrangements (such as buying tickets) for guests as part of standard, expected service? If I don't say in our policies or on our website we do that, are guests still likely to expect it?
Thanks.
 

EmptyNest

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First, for the friends/family that do make good on their comments to come and stay (paying) in the BnB, do they expect more catering than you might provide for regular guests? I realize you all can't look into a crystal ball and tell me what will happen with my particular set of friends/family, but I appreciate your input and experiences.
I have had hundreds of friends and family promise they would come for a visit...guess what???? We closed 2 years ago and only 3 good friends and one cousin ever showed up in the 6 years we were in business.
My mom, brothers and sisters come to visit and when they come, yes, we basically closed the inn and entertained them. We took them to all the local sites etc etc. But that is not to say you have to. Just make it clear to them what you can and can't do. I would never have my close family here at the same time as guests. Wouldn't be fair to anyone.
Second, am I incorrect in my expectation that as an innkeeper, I would be providing information about area/regional events and attractions, but not setting itineraries or making outside activity arrangements (such as buying tickets) for guests as part of standard, expected service? If I don't say in our policies or on our website we do that, are guests still likely to expect it?
Yes you as innkeeper as part of your "hospitality" provide information about area attractions,events and things to do etc. etc. However, we had lots of "packages" which included these kinds of things, as well as providing maps and directions to places, making dinner reservations etc. But we CHARGED for doing the packages.
NO charge for making dinner reservations....just part of the service. We stated on our web site specifically that we would willingly make reservations for dinner if they let us know in advance.
The other things like just wanting to go canoeing and horseback riding, we gave them the info and they made their own reservations if they weren't buying it in a "package" from us.
So it it up to you however you want to do it. Just be sure you make it clear on your web site.
Good luck.
 

gillumhouse

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First of all, you need to make it clear to friends & family who should expect to be paying when they come stay (and who does not - tell privately and quietly). Make sure they understand the rules BEFORE the rez is made.
I have a co-worker who was my shake-down cruise (the fee for that visit was an honest critique which I did receive). Next visit I indicated tht since she only came because we were here there would be no charge - she told me that it is a business, I pay but discounts are appreciated. She actually started me with my routings. I mapped/wrote directions to covered bridges and following them, she and her companion wrote down miles, turn direction, etc. She understands I have other obligations but does expect one day of me going with. She comes here now because as she put it - because she can. She relaxes here. And when friends/family come you WANT to spend more time with them. If possible either close at least 2 nights of their stay (otherwise you will have a breakfast/checkout to deal with or else a checkin if only 1 night closed) or limit the reservations of others to a light load.
I do plan itineraries for my packages - turn by turn unless changing the route for something of interest to the guest. Required? no but it is one of the things that brings people to me - I tell them how to get to things and what there is to see. I entered the data into my computer and print it off whenever. I invested in a Gazetteer for each room that I keep in my Library and give to them to use for the day after telling them how to use it. By looking at the back of the Gazetteer and finding the city they will see what page to turn to for a very detailed map of every road in that area. But I will also print off a routing for any guest.
The only outside arrangements I make are reserving space at the stable for horses, making an appointment at the Spa or for an in-room massage, or making a dinner reservation. I do not buy tickets unless it is for a package that I would use the tickets if the package did not sell.
You will find that you will do what feels comfortable to you. And unless you are willing to be a tour guide - for a fee - which i do not recommend as it takes you away from everything else you need to do (as Riki can tell you with the wine tours) unless that is an integral part of your business as it is with hers - do not start it!
For friends and family you need to set the rules in advance - s in now before you even have a B & B or risk losing them when/if they do come. You may settle in an area they WANT to visit and then you have all these freebies (expectations, perceived or real) to deal with and hard feelings on all sides if expecting payment.
 

seashanty

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First of all, you need to make it clear to friends & family who should expect to be paying when they come stay (and who does not - tell privately and quietly). Make sure they understand the rules BEFORE the rez is made.
I have a co-worker who was my shake-down cruise (the fee for that visit was an honest critique which I did receive). Next visit I indicated tht since she only came because we were here there would be no charge - she told me that it is a business, I pay but discounts are appreciated. She actually started me with my routings. I mapped/wrote directions to covered bridges and following them, she and her companion wrote down miles, turn direction, etc. She understands I have other obligations but does expect one day of me going with. She comes here now because as she put it - because she can. She relaxes here. And when friends/family come you WANT to spend more time with them. If possible either close at least 2 nights of their stay (otherwise you will have a breakfast/checkout to deal with or else a checkin if only 1 night closed) or limit the reservations of others to a light load.
I do plan itineraries for my packages - turn by turn unless changing the route for something of interest to the guest. Required? no but it is one of the things that brings people to me - I tell them how to get to things and what there is to see. I entered the data into my computer and print it off whenever. I invested in a Gazetteer for each room that I keep in my Library and give to them to use for the day after telling them how to use it. By looking at the back of the Gazetteer and finding the city they will see what page to turn to for a very detailed map of every road in that area. But I will also print off a routing for any guest.
The only outside arrangements I make are reserving space at the stable for horses, making an appointment at the Spa or for an in-room massage, or making a dinner reservation. I do not buy tickets unless it is for a package that I would use the tickets if the package did not sell.
You will find that you will do what feels comfortable to you. And unless you are willing to be a tour guide - for a fee - which i do not recommend as it takes you away from everything else you need to do (as Riki can tell you with the wine tours) unless that is an integral part of your business as it is with hers - do not start it!
For friends and family you need to set the rules in advance - s in now before you even have a B & B or risk losing them when/if they do come. You may settle in an area they WANT to visit and then you have all these freebies (expectations, perceived or real) to deal with and hard feelings on all sides if expecting payment..
i have a little sad tale to add ...
a relative i see at weddings and funerals contacted me when i was at the b&b, that she and her husband wanted to come and stay. not to visit me. but to give me their business since they wanted to see the area. great. i offered a generous (30%) family discount but told her i was sorry i could not offer the stay for free. she said she understood and they were even willing to pay the full rate which i declined.
they came and stayed for two nights, i gave them free passes to a lovely lighthouse cruise with dinner that i had been unable to use so far, but wanted to so badly! i also made a really nice dinner for the three of us the other nite of their stay. and i thought all was well. they told me how nice a stay they had ... blahblahblah.
then i heard she had ranted to family about how CHEAP i was to have charged them to stay, being family and all. ??? i have NEVER stayed at her home nor been invited to. big diff when your home is a business that takes guests.
broke my heart.

word to the wise: let everyone know ahead of time what the family rate is. if YOU choose to wave it once someone comes, that is your choice. ( maybe that is what she thought i would do.) i did not post this while i was running the b&b, worried she might find me on forum and add to my misery. extended family with expectations of a freebie who don't get one can be very hurtful.
 

Copperhead

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First, IF friends or family decide to visit, you need to either close during the time YOU choose to entertain them OR you need to set some ground rules with them BEFORE they visit, times you plan to be free and times you will be totally tied up with your other guests or handling business. As far as paying or not, that is soly up to you BUT be sure to make it clear if you expect them to pay before they get there! If this seems to be a touchy subject, just remind them that they are removing one of your rooms from inventory and you are in BUSINESS. Plain and simple!
We have been in business so long that my family/close friends know to call and plan around our slow periods as they do want to visit ME as well as do some tourist stuff.
There are many B&B travelers that book b&b's because of the special treatment they get...this does not mean that you must purchase tickets or plan their day etc. just that they may want suggestions of things to do or see in the area, restaurants to savor the local foods, nature trails etc. The extent of what you provide is up to you but this, at least is expected by most. Once you have this info gathered, it will become second nature to provide the requested info. We provide a info book in each guest room. This includes our policies and reminders of breakfast times etc. We created a map of the area with only the major roads and numbered the locations of restaurants we recommend, a legend on the side provides restaurant names which we placed in the book along with menu samples. We also created a short 'tourist' summary of things to do in the area. This has helped us by having things already in place for our guests... Some do need more hands on though.
 

Copperhead

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First of all, you need to make it clear to friends & family who should expect to be paying when they come stay (and who does not - tell privately and quietly). Make sure they understand the rules BEFORE the rez is made.
I have a co-worker who was my shake-down cruise (the fee for that visit was an honest critique which I did receive). Next visit I indicated tht since she only came because we were here there would be no charge - she told me that it is a business, I pay but discounts are appreciated. She actually started me with my routings. I mapped/wrote directions to covered bridges and following them, she and her companion wrote down miles, turn direction, etc. She understands I have other obligations but does expect one day of me going with. She comes here now because as she put it - because she can. She relaxes here. And when friends/family come you WANT to spend more time with them. If possible either close at least 2 nights of their stay (otherwise you will have a breakfast/checkout to deal with or else a checkin if only 1 night closed) or limit the reservations of others to a light load.
I do plan itineraries for my packages - turn by turn unless changing the route for something of interest to the guest. Required? no but it is one of the things that brings people to me - I tell them how to get to things and what there is to see. I entered the data into my computer and print it off whenever. I invested in a Gazetteer for each room that I keep in my Library and give to them to use for the day after telling them how to use it. By looking at the back of the Gazetteer and finding the city they will see what page to turn to for a very detailed map of every road in that area. But I will also print off a routing for any guest.
The only outside arrangements I make are reserving space at the stable for horses, making an appointment at the Spa or for an in-room massage, or making a dinner reservation. I do not buy tickets unless it is for a package that I would use the tickets if the package did not sell.
You will find that you will do what feels comfortable to you. And unless you are willing to be a tour guide - for a fee - which i do not recommend as it takes you away from everything else you need to do (as Riki can tell you with the wine tours) unless that is an integral part of your business as it is with hers - do not start it!
For friends and family you need to set the rules in advance - s in now before you even have a B & B or risk losing them when/if they do come. You may settle in an area they WANT to visit and then you have all these freebies (expectations, perceived or real) to deal with and hard feelings on all sides if expecting payment..
i have a little sad tale to add ...
a relative i see at weddings and funerals contacted me when i was at the b&b, that she and her husband wanted to come and stay. not to visit me. but to give me their business since they wanted to see the area. great. i offered a generous (30%) family discount but told her i was sorry i could not offer the stay for free. she said she understood and they were even willing to pay the full rate which i declined.
they came and stayed for two nights, i gave them free passes to a lovely lighthouse cruise with dinner that i had been unable to use so far, but wanted to so badly! i also made a really nice dinner for the three of us the other nite of their stay. and i thought all was well. they told me how nice a stay they had ... blahblahblah.
then i heard she had ranted to family about how CHEAP i was to have charged them to stay, being family and all. ??? i have NEVER stayed at her home nor been invited to. big diff when your home is a business that takes guests.
broke my heart.

word to the wise: let everyone know ahead of time what the family rate is. if YOU choose to wave it once someone comes, that is your choice. ( maybe that is what she thought i would do.) i did not post this while i was running the b&b, worried she might find me on forum and add to my misery. extended family with expectations of a freebie who don't get one can be very hurtful.
.
SS, truely a sad story but one that I am sure happens with family no matter what business you are in. I have heard many tales such as this from my friends that have small businesses. It is mind boggling just how many people think that we are doing this just for fun.... (Well I do love what I do, but I do not clean toliets for FREE, for anyone but me).

 

Breakfast Diva

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As everyone else has said, you must think about your friend/family policy before anyone makes a reservation.
Here's what we did. We changed our careers when we bought our B&B. This was now our sole support. In the beginning, we needed all the income we could get to pay our bills. We made an announcement to all family/friends/co-workers. WHEN YOU STAY, YOU PAY. THIS IS A BUSINESS. We have a small room in our innkeepers area....it's not great...it's certainly not a B&B room, it's not really private...but if family or friends wanted to stay in that room, then they could stay for free. If they stayed in our B&B rooms, they pay. It may seem heartless, but you are protecting yourself. If you want to give them a family/friends discount, that's totally up to you. But the key here is to be very clear what your expectations are. I didn't want any family or friends feelings hurt because I gave cousin "John" a free night but aunt "Jane" paid. You may want to do a mass e-mail to your family and friends spelling out your policy. That way, they know that you are treating everyone alike. If your B&B is seasonal and they want to come off season, then it's up to you if you want to charge them or not. But you are the one that needs to be in control.
When friends and family stay with you, they expect to spend time with you. They really have no clue all the work that you will need to do and that your time is not flexible. So, what happens? Friends and family stay with you, you do all your regular tasks, then you are finding time for friends and family and you are even more exhausted when they leave.
When we have friends and family stay, we always take them out to a really nice dinner and we pay. Believe me, those dinners are more than a family discount would be, but at least it's deductable. Many, many people tell you they will come and stay with you and they certainly mean it when they say it, but in reality very few do. They tend to come the first couple years.
 

Penelope

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I think there is some wording somewhere on this site about "if you don't charge a fee for the room, you can't claim it as income for the next year". Use the legality of it...takes the emotion out of it that way.
 

egoodell

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Tax wise, if the man ever finds out you let family stay for free you lose the deductions of that room for a year. I have heard of audits where the fellow casually mentions to the innkeeper, "Nice place! I bet your family comes and visits all the time". Right answer? "Oh they stay in the local hotel when they come to visit, to stay out of my hair".
Second: If you are in a location where there is lots to do, you don't have to spend as much time helping guests. We are lucky. We have maps, rack cards, and I have made out turn-by-turn itineraries for visiting wineries, historical sites, etc. which we give our guests.
But, if you are in a location where there is not much to do, you will find guests needing assistance. Many expect to have everything laid out for them. They are not all the type who like to go on an adventure and just see what's out there.
We just go out and try everything around and figure out a day's itinerary - what to see, where to eat lunch, etc. and print it out. Saves us lots of time.
RIki
 

Morticia

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Friends & Family (F&F) will expect you to do whatever it is you do now when they visit. They are coming to see you. They expect you will go places with them. Show them the sights. Go out for dinner. Sit down and eat brekkie with them. You must disabuse them of these things now! Or, tell them they are welcome to come in the off season if they want your time and attention.
For us it is too stressful to even consider having F&F visit in season. We have no time to spend with them. If they insist on coming to visit, I ask them to stay somewhere else so we have time to get our tasks done while they are having brekkie at someone else's B&B.
I don't buy tix for guests unless I specifically say I will. I don't plan individual itineraries, but I have a general list of 'things guests like to do' that I will suggest to those who came unprepared to do anything.
 

YellowSocks

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As my contractor would say, "We're in this business to make money."
=)
Kk.
 

egoodell

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The Farmers Daughter said:
I will be having my sister come next week for a week long stay. I will have guests at the same time. I used to go and visit her all the time at her place in Maine, but with the Inn .... well, there is just no time. Now I juggle guests and family which is a big challenge. I can't go out and play with them during the day due to guest obligations. Its difficult. I will not charge her for her room even though it will be a luxury suite with a 2 person jacuzzi and she will eat everything in the house.
It's recommended not to mention not charging family online due to the tax man.
RIki
 

The Farmers Daughter

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I will be having my sister come next week for a week long stay. I will have guests at the same time. I used to go and visit her all the time at her place in Maine, but with the Inn .... well, there is just no time. Now I juggle guests and family which is a big challenge. I can't go out and play with them during the day due to guest obligations. Its difficult. I may not charge her for her room even though it will be a luxury suite with a 2 person jacuzzi and she will eat everything in the house.
 

Don Draper

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I will be having my sister come next week for a week long stay. I will have guests at the same time. I used to go and visit her all the time at her place in Maine, but with the Inn .... well, there is just no time. Now I juggle guests and family which is a big challenge. I can't go out and play with them during the day due to guest obligations. Its difficult. I may not charge her for her room even though it will be a luxury suite with a 2 person jacuzzi and she will eat everything in the house..
My sister is coming next week too! Will be so happy to see her. We are fortuntate to have a second bedroom/bathroom in our quarters so that's where she'll stay...it's tiny but sufficient. Luckily she lives out of state so will have many people to go see and visit while here with us so I won't have to worry about entertaining her during the day. The nice part is after all the check-ins are here we get the evenings together for dinner and just relaxing. It's not an ideal situation but it's much better than not seeing her. If I could afford to give her a guest room I would but this is crunch time and I gotta store up for the winter. She's also bringing her dog so staying with us is the only option.
I hope you have a wonderful visit and the PITA's leave you alone ALL WEEK!
 

seashanty

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didn't someone post a 'workaround' for the family staying taxman issue? that you could charge something, even $1.00, so it wasn't 'free'?
my sister and her husband stayed with me and never got in my way. they came to breakfast ... drifted away and did their own thing during the day ... we ate supper together. it was nice. they were soooo easy.
 

birdwatcher

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Family usually comes and visits but we have three bedrooms for family and friends during the season. Usually they understand that when we have guests it will be in the eveing that we willm be together...could not really do it if we rented all the rooms in the Inn...then they would dfinantely be in the off-season
 
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