Running a b and b is a balancing act

There is no right or wrong way to run a bed and breakfast.  You have to do what is right for you, other guests, and your business. 

One of the hardest things I find difficult to explain to guests is my need to be firm about my cancellation policies, as this is how I make my living.

Here’s an example of a situation I ran into a couple of years ago:

A couple from another country made a reservation for a week’s stay in peak season.  It is highly unusual for people to stay that long – there is enough to keep people busy and interested for three days in the area, but most only plan on a one or two night stay.  I inquired as to the purpose of their visit (WoW – I always find it useful to know guests’ motivations as it helps me to make sure they have the appropriate information during their stay – and provides me with an opportunity to up-sell at the same time) and was advised that they were coming to go kayaking.  As our area is well-known for kayaking and I have had many guests come for that reason, I didn’t think much more about it.

Upon arrival at the bed and breakfast, the gentleman was quite rude and demanding.  However, after running a b and b for several years, I had experienced this before – some people are uncomfortable in new situations, it was possible he was tired or not feeling well – so I wasn’t too worried.

Once my guests have had a chance to get organized and are ready to go out, I have a book of local attractions as well as a binder with menus from local eateries that I show them, and provide information based on their interests and preferences.  I managed to catch this couple heading out and offered the information, but it was declined.  I showed them where the information was kept, and let them know that at any time they could look at the materials at their convenience.

On the third morning at breakfast while other guests talked about their experiences and activities, this gentleman started to complain – he had had no idea that the area was so limited in activities, the one restaurant they had been able to find wasn’t very good…etc.  Guests enthusiastically provided their recommendations based on their experiences and knowledge of the area, and everyone headed off for the day.

Later that day, the gentleman came to me and advised that they would be checking out a day early as there was nothing else they wanted to do.  We have a policy of 48 hours notice for cancellations, or we charge the full price of the room, and that applies even if you’ve checked in.  There are two times I make exceptions – if we are able to re-sell the room, or if I haven’t had to turn potential guests away.  However, I had turned down numerous requests for a room for the next day, so I was quite comfortable with my decision.  He was very irate and pointed out that you can check out of a hotel at any time…but I stuck to my guns and offered to try to re-sell the room if anyone called. (just Google hotel cancellation policies to see some examples)

If you were running a b and b, what would you do?  I made a guest who wasn’t happy even less pleased;   I offered him a solution he wasn’t happy with, and I stuck to my policy.  (PS  I wasn’t able to re-sell the room and he stayed as he wasn’t willing to lose the money.)

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