Monday, July 16, 2007

A First

It isn't a good first, either. Last week, for the first time in our eight years of innkeeping, we had to ask a guest to leave.

This was a last minute reservation that took a 3-day slot, two days of which had been a cancellation so we were glad to get the booking. They arrived early (see my previous post on this subject) but I needed to get out of the house for an appointment so I agreed to check them in. Fortunately my husband arrived home when I was about halfway through the process and took over; they seemed to want to chat and I didn't have the time as I was rushing to get rooms cleaned. We both agreed the couple was a little "odd", but other guests have struck us that way and have turned out to be perfectly nice people. Not so this time.

At breakfast the first morning I asked the couple where they had gone for dinner the night before - a standard conversation opener around here. The answer I got back started out as a rant. He was unhappy that the restaurant/club they had been to for lunch had closed their kitchen at 9 p.m. and before the music started. They had wanted to have a late dinner and hear the band. He expressed surprise that nobody had told them about this policy at lunch (why would they?). I mentioned that most of the restaurants around here stop serving around nine and named the exceptions, all of which stop serving at ten. Also the fact that as far as I knew, the places that offer live music in this town all close the kitchen prior to the band starting. I don't know why that is, it's just local custom and I've never thought to question it.

The guest would not drop the issue and became angrier and angrier. He accused me of being "argumentative". It was starting to get ugly when another guest came to my rescue and changed the subject. I stepped into my office for a few minutes to cool off and thought seriously about asking the couple to leave right then and there, but when I returned to the dining room a lively conversation on another topic was going on and everyone seemed happy, so I let it go. When my husband returned in the afternoon to spell me for a bit I mentioned the incident to him just so he'd have a heads-up. He told me I should have called him and he would have asked them to leave, but at that point I thought it was overkill and that everything would be fine.

I left the inn for a couple of hours and when I returned I discovered that this same guest had gotten in my husband's face less than an hour before and for a different reason. He'd then called me "rude" and his girlfriend had agreed. That was pretty much the last straw for my husband, who immediately issued them a refund for the remaining two nights of their stay and sent them packing. The result was some lost room revenue but peace of mind and peace in the house. A worthwhile trade-off, but one I hope I don't have to face again. By far the majority of our guests are lovely people who make us want to stay in this business. I don't know if I'd feel that way if this sort of thing happend more often.

As a side note, the guest's choice of club and music that had set off his morning rant was an unusual one. During the day it's a restaurant/bar popular with families. At night it's a popular and well-known local music spot, but mostly for the 20's and early 30's crowd, as the music rarely starts much before 11 p.m. I've been there a couple of times and felt old (I'm in my 40's). This couple is at least twenty years older than I am. So strange.

1 comment:

Moose said...

I must remember next time I see you to loan you a book (of short stories) that includes one that takes place in a B&B, and is about how the owners deal with a very difficult guest.

(The beginning of the story is told from the POV of the jerk, who comments that he prefers B&Bs a) because there are no kids (fair enough) and b) because if he raises a fuss about petty things they often give him his stay for free (ok, here someone has obviously not understood how real life works).