For pretty relaxed folks you’re very rigid about your booking procedures. How come?

Here is the short version about booking and check in: (stories further down if you want them.)

We do not have a front desk–nor any employees. 

It’s just Rick and Dale and the other friendly people who live and stay here.

Official check in time?  3PM 

Check out time? 11AM

That said, we are actually very relaxed abut these times. 

If we can make a schedule work better for you, either coming or going, we are happy to do so.  Just let us know.

(Unannounced late check outs are very stressful for us and we do charge if people surprise us by not asking first–and that is a practicality.  If we work our day around getting ready for a three PM arrival and find the previous guest’s belongings still in the unit at one, that makes us really nervous–and inclined to call the other partner off whatever job they are on, to help in a hurry!)

We are very relaxed about your arrival because we are are in fact pretty rigid about communicating booking and check in information.  Mistakes happen–but they are rare.  We consider it an emergency if we think you do not know where to park, what door to use, where your keys are, what the Internet codes are–without us being there.

As policy we do not hold reservations for more than twenty-four hours without billing information, and you MUST get check in instructions well before arrival.  Communication is key.  We probably will not be visible when you arrive because by that time our job–getting ready for you–has been completed.  We are here if you need us.  Let’s not make check in an emergency.

That’s the message of this post, and the rest is a story or two, which you can read if you like.

***********************************************************

To illustrate this I’ll give you a story–maybe two–and a half with the final update. 🙂

I had a moment to write this waiting on a guest scheduled to arrive with an incomplete reservation–about the middle of April.

It is noon and I should be at the barn–I have another job, I train horses and teach riding almost every day.  But not today: the last moment guest guests who booked recently wrote and said they would be arriving at noon, would that be convenient for me?  Visiting from Canada, they did not want to use their phones–just email.  I had emailed back that noon was fine BUT I needed billing information before I could send them check in instructions.  I have not heard back.  And so I am waiting, lessons cancelled.

These particular guests have been slightly problematic.  They arrived through Trip Advisor which can be fine, but in this case meant they did not have a lot of the information one can get from fishing around in our website and blog.  Trip Advisor has some very basic information, but not what you can get in the details of the website and blog.  And the link on TA  can be subtle.

Several emails began the process.  They were going to stay three days.  I quoted them the discount for that, and asked them to get back to me with billing information.

That is the order of things.

Why so rigid?

Mainly because one part of the process leads to the other, the end goal that when guests arrive they will be sure of the following things:

What apartment they have booked, the correct night,  and at what price.

The correct address.

Where to park.

Door codes and or key locations.

Internet codes.

When we make a reservation, including an email address, a note gets sent automatically containing some links to our blog posts on places to eat, neighborhood information and contact information.  It also outlines cancellation policies, check in times, etc. Guests need to know these things.  They have a window to ask questions and can cancel without penalty if something looks amiss.

Q. Why can’t guests just give billing information when they arrive?

A. Because we don’t have a front desk and we can’t send out check in information without knowing how to bill.

In fact, we will 100% not give check in instructions without billing instructions.

And this brings me to the second part of my story which explains how this came to be.

One Sunday, a number of years ago in a desperately slow March just after the financial downturn of 2009, I got a call from a man saying he was a minister of a local church and needed help.  They had an inspirational speaker coming into town who had had his wallet stolen in the airport after security.  The man was traveling without cash or ID and of course all of his credit cards had been cancelled.  The pastor said he himself was on a retreat in Kellogg but would be home Wednesday and would come and write us a check for the good man’s lodging.

Would we please take him in?

A thrill of do-goodedness filled me as I told the man the price and said it would be fine to pay us on Wednesday.

I told Rick, Isn’t it great to have a business where you can make decisions like this?  NO chain could do this!

Rick looked patient, if not entirely convinced.

The local minister left us a cell number, but warned us that his was out of range where the retreat was happening. He told me the speaker’s name and when he would arrive.

The appointed hour arrived and down the street from the bus stop came limping a disheveled middle-aged man, dress shoes lightly scuffed, shirt partly untucked, leading a rolling bag down the side-walk.  He looked totally stressed.  I led him around the unit–our nicest one at the time, offered him a glass of water and showed him a few supplies I had stocked his refrigerator with.  He was totally grateful, recounted what a stressful day he had experienced.

I gave him the keys and left, feeling like I was doing the right–and nobly trusting–thing.

Wednesday rolled around, and towards five when I had not heard from the original booker of the unit, who now of course was supposed to be home from his retreat, I made a call.  No answer.  I left a message.

Thursday came and went.

I left another message.

On Friday I decided I’d need to go into the unit.  Rick and I did this together.  It was empty–probably since Wednesday.  Reeking of cigarette smoke, piles of half eaten frozen dinners and partially opened cans littered every surface.  The couch had soup spilled over it, the bed side table had been burned by the lit matches cast onto it.

The toilet was unflushed, the sink literally overflowing with dishes and sodden food scraps.

The place reeked. 😦

To the side of the bed was a pamphlet from the local church.  After several desperate preliminary trips with garbage to the dumpster, I called the pastor of that church.  I told him the story and he asked me to describe the man.  I did and he said that was very odd, as a man matching that description, claiming to be a pilot moving to Spokane had complained of a broken down car, needing money for repairs.  The pastor had given hims $200 and some food from their food bank.

 

Same guy–the food from the food bank strewn around, every package open, mashed, but not really eaten.  Hundreds of dollars of food, partially consumed pizzas, mixed with cigarette ashes.  A loaf of bread floating with the dishes in the sink.

 

And as Rick and I figured by tracing phone numbers, the original call had not been from the local minster on retreat, but from the man himself, setting up the situation as though asking for help for a known friend.

 

I called the police, reported the incident.  It took us two weeks to put the place to right.  $600 worth of sheets and duvet covers were discarded for burn holes.

I’m just glad the house survived.

And that, fellow travelers, is why we insist on names, phone numbers, email addresses and credit card numbers before we give out check in information.

My Canadian travelers?  It is closing in on 2:00 and they have not arrived.

I cannot send them check in information–we have no billing information.

If I leave they will not know which door to come to, where to park, or how to get in.

 

And if they did arrive, without these clues–they have a reservation!–they would probably knock on all doors reachable, disturbing innocent guests, or stand forlornly on the porch with their useless phones, wondering at the lack of service we provide.

 

I will stay until 2:00

 

You’ll notice there are no pictures in this post.

Oh here is one for you,

Miss Marley practicing a down stay in the unit the minister trashed in 2009.IMG_0348

 

And one of me on a walk with my cat.IMG_0196

Which is what I think I am going to go do now.  He does not get too far. . .I can still see the porch.

Update 4:13PM my guests call from a pay phone!

We’ll be there in twenty minutes! But we are at a pay phone, we can’t call when we arrive.

I answer, Okay, I’ll wait and watch for you. . .

Update 5:24  PM after waiting more than an hour  in a brisk spring wind on the porch I gave up and wrote a note to be taped to the door recommending the other B&B who I see has vacancies and is only three blocks away–$45 a night more expensive than us, but they have employees–and that is what it costs per guest if you do.

IMG_0350

As I walk upstairs, discouraged after almost six hours of waiting, a stunningly beautiful blonde woman walks up to the door.

I go to meet her, retrieve the note, check them in, saying, I am so happy you have arrived, I have waited for hours! 

She corrects me, taking off her shoes at the door: “I only said we would be in town at noon, not that we wanted to check in then. . . ”

The moral of the story?

Please, please PLEASE understand that we are trying to make life predictable and easy for everyone by following a certain order of business.  And if you travel without a phone it is fine–really, we were in business before cell phones were even common–but if that is the case you must help us to make your arrival seamless by obtaining information before it is an emergency–and you yourself are left standing in a brisk wind on the porch with no clue what to do next.

In short, if you have communication problems please attempt to be sure that they only have to do with the electronics. . . .

Update 10AM following morning.

Guests departed having done own dishes–much appreciated–but tell me what is wrong with this picture?

IMG_0351

The huge fan will give it away I am sure, but please note in old houses with claw foot tubs it is advisable to bring the shower curtain to the inside of the tub when taking a shower.  It is only left to the outside for a cleaner look, and because nothing is better than a 5 foot claw foot tub for a bath–except a six foot one. . .

Anyway, we arrived in the morning to clean up and found they had flooded the bathroom floor–squishy wet!  Thus the fan and abject apologies to the next guest who we upgraded to another unit.

There is a code that you might not know about in the business; that is the stealthy addition of the simple letters “DNRB” behind a guest’s name in the electronic file.  It is rare to earn this title from a hotel, and what it means is that the damage inflicted by the practices of a particular guest make it a liability to accept reservations from them.

Do Not Re Book.

Just forgetting to put the shower curtain in will not earn you  this badge–as you can see it takes a concerted, in fact dedicated, effort! 🙂

As always, if you have questions, ask!!!

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