Sunday, July 24, 2011

B&B Etiquette: Be Respectful over the Phone

Everyone wants to come and enjoy Wellfleet's fabulous ocean beaches, beautiful even at twilight. From now on we have guests non-stop through Labor Day. Yesterday we received a lovely couple who had never before stayed at a B&B. They didn't know what to expect and were pleasantly surprised. We also had a return visit from Betty and Al, who did not do as much kayaking as usual due to the hot weather, but enjoyed their Cape visit all the same. When Sven expressed embarrassment at the hour they had spent together over breakfast, Al said, "It's not usual that I have a conversation like this, so it wasn't a waste, on the contrary. This is the way a good breakfast conversation should be."

Guests like Al and Betty are the absolute high of innkeeping. They are fortunately the majority at Chez Sven, guests who have studied our Web site, know what to expect, and have booked months in advance. Still, we get the occasional phone call that drives me crazy and demonstrates why innkeepers burn out so fast.

It's 8 PM, Saturday night. The phone rings.

ME: Hello, Chez Sven.

HE: Do you have any rooms for August 5-7?

ME: I'm sorry but we are almost fully booked for the whole month of August. Have you consulted our Web site? There's an availability calendar. I suggest you contact the Wellfleet Chamber of ...

By the time I have made this suggestion, the fellow has already hung up on me. No one wants to be treated like a door mat. I have a hard time understanding how anyone who thinks he might stay at my B&B could behave in such a manner. I was actually glad I was able to tell this person we were fully booked. I did not want him here.

Maybe it's a matter of culture? B&Bs are very common in Europe. Staying at a B&B means you are invited into a private home. B&BS ARE NOT HOTELS OR MOTELS. B&Bs are a step above. Innkeepers make a personal connection with their guests. At Chez Sven, people return year after year. And when they leave, it feels like saying goodbye to old friends ...