Sunday, July 25, 2010

Innkeepers’ Lament (3): Why I Hate Waiting For Guests

I took this photo ten days ago, when fiddlers came to stay, a pleasant memory. They were great guests and let me know their arrival time. Waiting for guests all day is a super waste of time ...

There I sat again, yesterday afternoon, waiting for guests, not exactly twiddling my thumbs because I stayed busy, but unable to shop downtown. At least the folks who finally came called with updated arrival times!

I request an approximate arrival time because I have a life and need to be able to do other things with my day. Guests who tell me they will arrive at 2 and then decide to go to the beach instead, well, those guests cannot expect the same treatment as guests who predict a 2 o’clock arrival and arrive at 2. Oh, I know. Not always possible to estimate arrival time due to traffic in summer. Not a problem in today’s modern world. With a cell phone, it’s possible to give a buzz and say, “Hi. We are inching along in Eastham and hope to be with you soon.” That gives me an idea of when to be home. If they say, “We are running late and have just crossed the Sagamore Bridge,” I know I have time for a trip to the dump or an excursion downtown to buy fruit for breakfast. If they say, “We stopped for a bite to eat in Hyannis,” I can calculate two hours of errands, if need be.

I also do not take well to guests arriving at 1 when they have said 2. This happens a lot in summer. From the confirmation sheet every guest receives: “Arrival is between 2 PM and 9 PM. A week prior to your visit, please let us know by email your approximate arrival time. Often two or even three rooms turn over the same day, so this information helps us figure out which ones to prepare in priority.” Clear, no?

If you had a doctor’s appointment at 2, would you show up at 4? I don’t think so.

Guests who decide to go to the beach without giving me a call, well, any request for future reservations will not be considered. We had guests like that a few weeks ago. Nice folks from New York. They bopped in around dinnertime, tanned and relaxed after an afternoon at the beach. I would have liked to have gone to the beach, too, but I was here, waiting for them to arrive at 2, as they had estimated by email.

So, to summarize, if an innkeeper asks you for an approximate arrival time, try to keep the appointment you make for check-in or at least provide updates by cell phone ...