Policies tell potential guests how you run your business, who can stay at your bed and breakfast, and what will happen if they have to cancel their stay. When creating policies, bed and breakfast owners must balance the requirements of local regulations, the layout and type of dwelling being used for the B&B, the insurance coverage on the property, and the personal preferences and living situation of the B and B owners.
After you have answered a potential guest’s #1 question about your location, (found in an earlier blog post) they tend to ask what your policies are. I have put this list in order to how they generally come up in a conversation – which they do – even when you have them posted conspicuously around your web site.
- Room rates – how much do you charge for your various rooms and what the price includes – i.e. per person, or based on double occupancy; the size of the bed, access to the bathroom and type of breakfast you typically serve. Parking may also be included, or come as a separate charge, if there is a fee.
2. Minimum night stays – many B&Bs require guests to stay a minimum number of nights – especially in high season, during special events and/or on weekends.
3. Children allowed – some B&Bs do accept children staying – if so, there may be a minimum age required. Remember, B&Bs are located in a house, and it is very hard to keep a baby/small child from crying and disturbing other guests. Bed and breakfast owners may also be constrained by fire or other local regulations that prevent more than two people in a room.
4. Pets allowed – Some B&Bs allow pets. Animals can create noise, require somewhere to relieve themselves, shed and increase the potential for damage. In addition, bed and breakfast owners may have pets of their own, and the addition of another animal may cause problems.
5. Smoking – depending on location and size, a bed and breakfast may be considered a private residence, or a public building. As a private residence it is up to the owner to determine whether to allow smoking within the house or on the property; in most places throughout North America, smoking in public places is banned.
6. Number of people/room – can be governed by regulations, licensing, insurance, fire and space availability. Once again, B&Bs are generally located in private residences, and often the rooms are normally not big enough to contain more than one large bed.
7. Confirmation of reservations – as bed and breakfasts are generally small businesses, they require some sort of deposit to hold the reservation for a guest. Additional details about refunds, etc. are covered under your cancellation policy.
8. Check in & out times – are required since owners need to be able to plan their day and get all their tasks done within the time they have allotted. Therefore, check-in and out times help both parties clarify the timing.
9. Cancellation policy – In addition to a deposit, many bed and breakfasts have a cancellation policy that includes some sort of financial penalty if the cancellation is within a short time period of the stay.
You should always send you policies to your guest as part of the confirmation e-mail, just to ensure that everyone is clear, and you have grounds to collect the cancellation fee even if they dispute it.