Hospitality in an Air-B-n-Nothing WorldPosted by Darren Drevik on Oct 14, 2019 in Letters from Vermont | 3 comments
Our busy Indigenous Peoples Day/Columbus Day holiday weekend has come and gone. We were lucky enough to host 17 amazing couples over the long weekend. Montgomery was busy, and we had plenty of hot coffee, strawberry waffles, blackberry french toast, bacon and sausage on the tables.
But in the midst of it all, there was a little sadness and self-reflection on our part.
Those of you who’ve stayed at our historic bed and breakfast know Lynne and I take hospitality very seriously. If you’re a guest in our home, there’s very little we’ll not do for you. If you show up on our doorstep, traditionally, we’ll go out of our way to make you feel welcome.
But this weekend, we had several situations where we had to put the needs and experiences of our guests ahead of the needs of non-guests, and it caused us to reflect a good deal.
It started Saturday morning as we were busy feeding Strawberry Waffles and local sausage to our 24 overnight guests. A nice mother and daughter showed up at our door, wanting to know if they could join us for breakfast. We were so busy, and we’d planned for just two dozen guests, that we had to say no. Apparently, they were staying at an AirBn-Nothing down the street, and as is usually the case, it was false advertising. There was the first B (bed), but no second B (breakfast).
On Sunday, we had a gentleman show up at our door, asking if he could use our electric car charger. He had just rented an electric car, and was a little nervous when he found he only had 55 miles left on it. We had to send him on to Jay Peak for the same reason — we had someone with a Tesla using our one car charger. We ended up directing him to Jay Peak Resort nearby, which had a charging station as well.
Our first loyalty is to our paying guests, those who have invested in their stay with us and deserve all the amenities and extras they’ve paid for. But we always hate saying no.
Both incidents made us debate our role as hospitality providers. Our first loyalty is to our paying guests, those who have invested in their stay with us and deserve all the amenities and extras they’ve paid for.
But we always hate saying no.
I asked several innkeepers how they handle the issue of people staying at other locations wanting to use their facilities and amenities. To a person, they all say I’m being too nice and worrying about it too much.
And I guess we see their point. Our breakfasts, our outdoor hot tub, our car-charging station, are amenities for our guests. We choose to include these things for the guests staying here because we provide a complete experience. We understand if you choose to save ten bucks a night by opting for a room in a stranger’s house. But there’s a reason we’re $10 more a night. Because we offer an amazing breakfast. Because we give our guests free snacks, free sodas, an amazing fireplace to cozy up to. An outdoor hot tub. High-powered wifi and free long-distance landlines.
To be truthful, I wanted to ask both of these visitors why their “host,” as the people who run these AirBn-nothings call themselves, couldn’t have told them where to find a good breakfast, or where to find the closest charging station.
We don’t mind AirBn-nothings. But what bothers us is they take terms that we take seriously — like Bed and Breakfast, full-service, and hosts — and make them meaningless.
Being a host is a great calling. And to a person, everyone who leaves after staying at the Phineas Swann feels they got a great value for the price of their stay. We just wish more people would give us a try, rather than deciding to save $20 and then go knocking on doors trying to find a breakfast or car charger.
Are we out of line here? Or are we not sticking up for ourselves? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.