BedPosts Forum – What to Expect?
There’s always something new…..
After some 28 years in this business, and having membership of BedPosts forum for the last six of those years, it might be reasonable to assume that one has seen, read and heard it all. For instance, one that always stuck in my mind concerned a couple who cleared their B&B room of all moveable contents into a black bag and then calmly left in the car, telling the owner that they were “just going to the launderette”. However, one BedPosts member has just shared a problem with the forum in the hope of some helpful suggestions – and this one is a new one on us. The story follows:
The gentleman and his vintage motor car – what to do?
An elderly single gentleman arrived for a short stay, parking his large vintage (and heavy) car in the small car park. That night he is rushed into hospital, where he is expected to stay for some weeks. He has no family. Our member has arranged for a tree surgeon to do some work the following week and the car park space is needed for the lorry etc. The car keys were not to be found in the guest’s room; he says “they must be lost”. So, what to do, could or would the police or a motoring organisation help? I know that both are adept at entering a car with minimal damage, having seen the AA take under 5 minutes to open the window of a guest’s locked car. Online, the general view was that neither body would do such a thing without the owner’s consent and, probably, involvement. Some thought that the owner would miraculously find the “lost” keys if he thought that his precious car might be damaged by it being manually moved, perhaps by being hoisted. In the end, our member charitably decided not to trouble his guest unduly in case it affected his recovery. As to any extended car parking charge, unfortunately his parking is free, and the tree surgery has had to be postponed. What would you have done?
Insurance matters – beware of seeking advice?
Recently, the BBC’s Watchdog program highlighted how merely seeking advice on making a claim can result in an increase to your premium, as the company has to go the trouble and expense (!) of dealing with you. The very idea, as if we could all perhaps charge someone, maybe £5, for showing them a room which they then decide not to take! One might have thought that dealing with a paying customer came with the territory, insurance companies obviously think otherwise. We are well aware of this as it is something discussed recently on the forum. It seems that even insurance companies that are well-regarded by members, such as NFU, are guilty of the practice.
Insurance matters – beware of making a claim only to see your premium rise?
Insurance is one topic on the forum where we can usefully share experiences and opinions. A member recently had a situation where a drunk threw a brick through the glass panel in her outside front door. The real damage was done to floor tiling of the inside lobby; a number of the tiles were irreparably damaged and needed replacing. Unfortunately, however, that pattern of tile is no longer available. Thus a seemingly reasonable claim was made to cover the cost of replacing all the tiles. Not a chance – the insurance company would only cover the cost of replacing the damaged tiles, which after taking into account the excess, came to around a £180. Our member has decided that the claim is not worth it. The real question is what effect that has on her renewal premium? Unfortunately it appears that we know the answer to that!
A look back ….
Writing this in December, at a time when it’s traditional to look back and also forward, I will play safe at the moment and just look back! As mentioned above, being in the business 28 years means seeing a lot of change – mind you, one venerable BedPosts member is in her late 70’s and still going strong with no desire to stop. Priorities were so different, only a couple of decades ago. In the 1990’s we were keen to do what were seen as important to guests; making rooms en suite; installing phones and colour TVs in bedrooms. Our floorboards came up not once, but twice over two years, to facilitate all the extra wiring and cabling. At that time, many guests wanted an evening meal after which they would retire to the guest lounge with their coffee, some of them for a smoke as well! Ten years later, all the phones came out of the rooms followed by all the changes associated with the advent of mobiles, Wifi, the Internet and the new non-smoking regulations. It all seems like an eternity ago, another age. Bedroom walls that had been just painted were papered over the years and then “feature walls” came along; bathroom carpets and pedestal mats were deemed unhygienic and were replaced by non-slip, vinyl or tiled flooring. However, these were much simpler times for sure, just ensuring you had an advertising sign on the road and posting vacancies with the local TIC brought in significant business. We spent a lot of time at a typewriter, answering availability and brochure requests and confirming deposit cheques.
So, what were the issues that used to bug our profession in days gone by? One of the most obvious would have been “runners” who knocked at the door and then scarpered after a night. Also, “cowboy” B&Bs where local council regulation was ineffective. When I turn to the archived material on the BedPosts forum, this can only go back nine years but it is none-the less illuminating.
Membership of VisitBritain or whatever incarnation people used to belong to has been a major issue – do we stay, do we go? Along with question marks over membership of local or regional tourist organisations and perhaps the AA as well. At one time, some might well have subscribed to possibly three of those organisations at significant cost.
Back in 2008 some forum comments were…
“While we are not happy at paying the Visit Britain (VB) subscription, it is a requirement of the local TIC that all B&Bs listed by them are accredited. As approx 25% of visits to our website are from the TIC site and 10-15% of our guests find us from the local Where to Stay booklet issued by the TIC I suppose it is good value for the money!”
“I’m constantly reviewing my membership of VB, as are many members, but know that, if I do, I wouldn’t be recommended by the local TIC, nor would I be able to advertise in the 2 local Guides.”
“The only reason we stay with the Quality system is so we can advertise in the Local Tourist Guide (printed version – the web version does very little for us). Once the printed version stops (which I assume it will in the next few years – due to cost) we will drop out of the Quality system.”
How times change along with our guest expectations, our concerns and choices; nowadays, we have OTAs and channel management to deal with. Perhaps the old days were simpler in some ways, but not entirely. I will return to the archives again, and next month also look at what issues forum members think will matter in the year ahead. In the meantime, we at BedPosts are planning for, and looking forward, to our 5th annual Breakaway, this time in Harrogate, from 25th to 27th January. It’s a great social occasion, a chance for many to put faces to names only seen online before, have some valuable conference time, and often a reason to visit somewhere that one has never been before and might have never visited otherwise. Perhaps we’ll meet on www.bedposts.org.uk if we don’t meet there.
On behalf of BedPosts Business Club and Forum