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Much of Innkeeping seems to be anticipating the needs of your guests. We already provide the basics of a comfy bed, clean bedding, hot showers,sanitized bathrooms, hearty breakfasts and more. Most of the time we remember the little things, like Suzy takes her coffee black while Phil likes a little coffee with his milk. Or we make sure the table with the children has the coloring books and crayons all ready for when they come down to breakfast. Even putting dog treats on the dresser for Mommy and Daddy to give to Fido instead of leaving them in his bowl is one of those little details that most guests appreciate.
But somehow, somewhere I missed the obligatory Innkeeper training class “Mind-reading 101”. It has to have been part of the curriculum that one day I missed school back in tenth grade. I keep looking for the class at the Innkeeper’s Conferences, but I never see it. I’m beginning to think I have to be a mind reader to get the class list…
For those who missed that same Mind-reading 101 class, let me explain a little further. Innkeepers are not psychics. We can anticipate most common requests, and be prepared for other irregular requests, such as a ratchet wrench to tighten your bicycle chain. But we cannot read your mind. Unless you tell me, I won’t know that you are on a special diet that only consists of mangoes and fermented yak butter. Nor will I be aware thatyou had a childhood trauma involving a clown and a venetian blind so you need to have a room with no window shades. And there is no possible way I will know that the beautiful Green Mountains will trigger your migraines because you are allergic to the color green. You need to tell me these things, preferable before you arrive.
Nor can I predict the weather.
Up here at our Inn we sell the Vermont Weather Rock. It is a beautiful, environmentally friendly, user friendly, solar powered technological wonder, naturally made in Vermont over thousands of years, carefully hand picked and placed in a lovely wooden box, complete with easy installation directions and an interpretation guide. You take the rock out of the box and put it on an outdoor window sill where you can see it from the inside of your house. Then you go back into the house and look at the rock through the window and refer to the interpretation guide. If the rock is wet, it is raining. If the rock is white, it is snowing. If the rock is invisible, it is a moonless night and you should be asleep. Get the picture? The Vermont Weather Rock is guaranteed to be 100% accurate for the exact moment that you look at it.
Now, many times guests will call and ask me what the weather will be in 3 weeks. Or they ask if it will be good skiing weather in May. Who knows – this is Vermont, after all. I’ve even had people ask if I could guarantee rain, since they just wanted to sleep all weekend. Usually, I reply by going and checking my weather rock and telling them that day’s weather, and that they if they want they can call back closer to their stay. The most unique question I ever got was “What will be the best day to see Fall Foliage in your area?” My reply was “When the leaves are still on the trees and have changed color”. For some reason, this was not considered a very helpful answer and I was able to add several new words to my vocabulary. The guest called back the next day (Yay! Caller ID!!!) to ask the same question, and I gave the same answer. I had to look up some of the words that time.
So what’s the point of all this? If you have a special request, a dietary concern, an allergy, or want to visit someplace in particular, you need to let us Innkeepers know so we can help. Especially dietary concerns and allergies. Most small inns do not regularly stock soy milk or gluten free foods. And some food allergies, such as shellfish and peanut, can be deadly. We need to know so we can be prepared and provide you, our guest, with the best possible experience. Let us know if you are allergic to animals. If we are an Inn at a farm or an Inn that takes pets we might recommend you stay someplace else. If the smell of salt water makes you ill don’t go to the seashore. Likewise if you are afraid of heights and elevators maybe a room on the 37th floor is not a good idea for you. We won’t know unless you tell us.
Remember,your Innkeeper is probably not psychic, but it’s a very short trip to psychotic!