Our Members Speak Out
Edwin K B&B,
We asked: How do you handle
“problem guests”—those who are loud, rowdy or don’t follow the
Question for February:
What is the nicest/funniest/weirdest thank-you gift you've ever
received from a guest?
Email your responses to
Sandy.Soule@BedandBreakfast.com. If we publish your comments, we’ll
thank you with a $25 credit in our Featured Properties Auction program!
have had problem guests from time to time, and our response depends somewhat
on their attitude. Are they apologetic? Would we want them to return? Are
they ‘regulars’ or is it their first and probably visit? What are the
financial, physical, emotional consequences in terms of loss of business,
cost to replace or repair damage, effect on other guests, and so on?
“Our policies are explained when the reservation is made, restated in our
confirmation, and written and posted in each room. Guests must sign that
they have read and accept these policies as part of the check-in process. We
suggest setting up your online reservation/reservation request with a
mandatory checkbox, confirming that guests accept your policies.
“After the fact, it is difficult to charge guests for an ‘accident,’ no
matter what it costs; they feel that they aren’t responsible if it wasn’t
intentional. We do have a policy for damages and a damage deposit applied to
groups. If you have a wedding, family reunion or other group, you should
have a contract, which includes your policies and consequences, and consider
a damage deposit. We have found that weddings and families with children are
the highest potential risk for damages.
“We have a quiet-hour policy which we call a ‘neighborhood ordinance.’ Our
policy is clearly stated in our brochure, website and – for groups only – in
the confirmation/contract. We definitely maintain a presence and let guests
know when they are too rowdy. We have good results when we let neighbors
know in advance about a wedding; we ask them to call us directly (not the
police) if there are any problems.
“Occasionally, we get a guest who complains, even though nothing is wrong,
and they already understood what our inn was like from the material
provided. We offer options, but sometimes they refuse them. I have learned
that some people will complain just to avoid paying for the room, or because
they will really be happy only at a hotel. If it’s a weekday (when we’re not
full anyway), we may let it go. They may be nice people and refer friends
who would like our style.
“If a guest damages something in your inn, take a picture of it. We were at
a historic inn and saw the maids taking photos of a cigarette burn. I
thought this was a great idea. You should definitely charge people for
deliberate damage or for intentionally refusing to follow a safety policy.
“While innkeepers know how much work, money and emotion go into our inns,
some people just don’t get it and never will. Don’t feel bad for charging
someone who hurts your business or you. On the other hand, it is our
responsibility to take precautions to avoid damage and accidents, and to
make our policies clear. If you don’t mind it being broken, fine. If it is a
family heirloom that will make you cry if it breaks, don’t put in the room.”
– Patty and Mo
Rave, Terrace Inn, Petoskey, MI
“Since we opened in May 2005, we have been blessed to have the most
wonderful guests. Many guests became friends who correspond weekly; some
guests sent letters or cards on their return home; others left gifts for us;
and some call occasionally.
“We have housed couples looking for a quiet place to unwind after a day
with grandchildren down at the beach house, those celebrating their
honeymoon, others escaping from work and phones, and a few anniversaries.
“One young couple stayed with us two nights for their first anniversary.
They had been traveling by car, visiting friends and relatives around their
scheduled stay with us. On their departure day, they wanted one last trip to
the beach. At checkout, I offered the use of our beach chairs, towels and
some bottled water, but explained that when they returned the items on their
way out of town, the room would not be available as the next guests would be
checking in around 5 p.m.
“They stored their luggage in our living room and left for the beach. I
went to shop for my incoming guests and run a few errands. On my return, I
found that I had not locked the guestroom after cleaning and preparing for
the next guests, and the couple had returned, taken showers, used the
Jacuzzi tub, gotten sand from the beach everywhere, and left wet beach
towels on the newly made white bedspread.
“I had one hour before my new guests were to arrive, so I called their cell
to get their estimated time of arrival; they were only 40 minutes from our
inn. I told them of my dilemma, and they offered to stop for dinner on the
way. They said they were hungry, and it would give me plenty of time to take
care of the room.
“As flustered as I was, the incoming guests’ thoughtfulness and flexibility
put a smile back on my face. I now lock rooms immediately after guests check
Teresa Bonifant, Country
Villa Bed & Breakfast, Virginia Beach, VA
“My husband and I purchased our B&B 18 months ago. It feels like our
problem guests are getting more frequent: spilling wine on bedding and/or
carpet but not informing us; burning candles and spilling wax with dye;
using massage oils in bed, which stains some sheets – and not telling us so
we handle washing differently. Others bring smoke-smell into rooms so strong
that we have to wash everything in room to get rid of the smell; some use
something other than bath oil provided for Jacuzzi tubs that plug up the tub
or cause ugly stuff to come out of jets; and so it goes.
”Other guests drink too much and cause commotion late at night after other
guests have gone to bed. We’ve only had this happen twice in the almost two
years we’ve been here, but both times were quite stressful. The first guests
we asked to leave, and with the second couple we waited until they went to
bed, since our other guests didn’t seem to know what was going on.
Unfortunately, the guy continued to smoke and drink on the balcony outside,
causing a spotlight to come one and off
– which kept our
guests in our apartment awake. Just as we were about to go ask them to
leave, which was now around 1 a.m. – he finally went to bed. But the room
smelled so bad the next day from alcohol and smoke, it took us a long time
to clean the room.
I think we have learned to ask problem guests to leave earlier, before an
unpleasant situation gets out of hand. We also added a sentence to our
welcome letter, stating that guests who get unruly will be asked to leave
without receiving a refund, and that if there is damage, they will be
Laurie and Marv
VandeStreek, Edwin K Bed and Breakfast, Florence, OR
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