Every innkeeper will tell you of guests that push the envelope by pushing their buttons. Rules, it seems, don’t apply to them. But, as an innkeeper, how do you deal with guests who…
- • Spill wine on your new bedspread and ruin it?
- • Agree not to smoke – but leave cigarette butts in the garbage can?
- • Stand in your driveway, scrubbing their dry skin with fuel poured from a can of gasoline?
- • Burn candles on the side of a fiberglass hot tub, leaving marks in the surface?
- • Burn candles and incense in the bedroom, creating a potential fire hazard?
- • Sprinkle rose petals on your sheets, staining the new $100 linens you just purchased?
- • See how loud they can play music on their boombox?
- • Decide your front porch is the perfect place to smoke pot?
Think this doesn’t happen? Think again. I’ve even had an innkeeper tell me of the guest who, in a swirl of alcohol and prescription drugs, hit her husband and who, at 2 a.m., was arrested for spousal abuse.
Yes, all this and more comes in a day in the life of an innkeeper who, the job dictates, requires you to be a cook, housekeeper, and peace officer all in one.
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But how do you deal with it? The best place to start is stating the rules in your confirmation letter, then again when the guests arrive, and a third time by placing a list of policies in each guest room. Emphasize the most important rules, ie: no smoking, no drinking on premises, and politely suggesting that they respect the atmosphere of the inn by observing quiet time after 10 p.m.
And if they don’t?
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all policy for every occurrence and you’ll have to gauge the weight of the transgression based upon how comfortable you are with enforcing rules and, of course, the attitude of the guest. If someone spills wine on a bedspread and checks out without sharing that with you, their secrecy may lead you to assess a charge for it. On the other hand, if they immediately come to you and tell you what they’ve done, you may choose to forgive them.
However, spilling wine is a borderline infraction compared to the clearly off-limits rule against smoking in a room. At most inns that carries a penalty of $100 or more -- and don’t be afraid to impose it. Not only does smoke contaminate linens with the stench of cigarettes, the potential fire hazard of a smoldering butt needs to be extinguished right away.
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Loud music or a party that continues long after other guests have retired? The rule of three applies here: A friendly request at first, a stronger suggestion second and, if it requires a third visit, perhaps a recommendation that they should find another place to sleep.
And pot? Don’t even ask.
If a guest is so bold to put your license at risk, you should be so bold as to call the authorities.