For anyone who thinks running a bed and breakfast is easy or fun, let me set the record straight. It is not easy and it is only sometimes fun.
Being too small to accept credit cards on site, we have to resort to PayPal. Unfortunately, this service bears fees on both ends. We incur a fee receiving the payments, but we also pay fees when the money transfers to our bank account. Banks love fees, regardless of the source. Hence, we encourage guests to pay cash once here after paying the 10% deposit our booking program requires. Yes, we do pay taxes on the cash payments received. Ron reports monthly to the district office.
On our website, I have a table showing our rates in cash, by credit card or PayPal and then the 4% tourism tax. No one likes surprises; therefore, we want to be a clear as possible showing our rates. Still, some guests were pre-paying their entire stay, but missing either the added PayPal charge or the tourism tax. This caused us the stress of having to give a gentle reminder.
Some learning curves take longer than others do to kick-start. One of those was the importance of invoicing guests at the time of a reservation. After creating a template for each room, large room one guest, large room two guests, large room three guests, large room four guests, and the same for the small room for one to three guests, all that is needed now are the dates and totals plugged in. Thankfully, we only have the two rooms or it would be a real nightmare.
When a guest makes a reservation, I immediately send out an invoice showing their deposit deducted from the total due with cash or with PayPal. This insurance is not foolproof. Sometimes it passes by the notice of the receiver. It has happened with a couple of the more recent guests; circumstances inhibited me from making an issue out of it. A single man checked into our small room. He had a €6 balance due after making his deposit and then a second payment, presumably the balance.
Just as I was about to request the extra balance, he held out his hands filled with goodies as he said, “I found these items on your wish list, so I brought you some gifts.” This stopped me in my tracks and we swallowed the balance due to goodwill.
The next time was even more recent. We had a married couple here from Washington, DC. After the reservation arrived, the invoice went out as usual. Then the woman made another chunky payment, but there was still goodly sum remaining. To be clear, a second invoice went out with the additional payment and the new balance marked in red.
Before they checked in, a printed copy of the second invoice was on the dresser. After settling in, the husband approached me to say his wife said she paid the bill in full. I explained we only had two PayPal transactions, which did not total the amount due. When the wife joined us, she said she received an email stating there was a zero balance. This put me into a panic.
Our booking system does send me e-mails purportedly reminding me that guests need to make ‘an additional’ payment, but never one stating the balance is paid in full. No matter how I have tried changing this, the parameters of the program do not allow it to cease and desist harassing anyone after the initial deposit is received. Now it seemed, our booking program has turned into a version of Westworld “where nothing can go wrong, go wrong, go wrong”.
Panicking, I again checked the program to see if I could defeat it, but it is above my pay-grade and knowledge base. Our guest looked for the e-mail, but could not find it. In the meantime, I sent out notices to the future guests who booked to ignore any cancellation of their debts.
Once again, these guests had brought us a supply of wish list goodies that made our hearts go pitter-patter, so the issue of a balance due became a non-issue once again.
These guests, Kimberly and Frank stayed for a week. Their daughter is a student at McDaniel College, which has a campus here in Budapest. They were visiting with her, Bryn and having a holiday at the same time.
Though spending most of each day out exploring the city in greater depth than most guests do, we had quality time with them in the morning and again in the late evenings to get to know each other and share stories. They are among the top of our most enjoyable guests. We truly had a wonderful time. What really exemplified this was something Ron mentioned to me. First, you need to know, Ron is judicious with his comments about guests regardless of where he feels they may fall on the negative-positive scale. When he said to me, “I am really going to miss Kim and Frank when they leave” it blew me away. Although, I had felt the same thing, having Ron express it was a phenomena in itself. I can honestly say we had more laughs with them than I have had in ages.
Frank made a point of stating he is usually up at the crack of dawn, but we explained the coffee pot would be set and ready to go, but breakfast times are 8-10 am. Never did Frank make it out of the room until mid-breakfast serving time. One of the days, I had a hard-boiled egg and attempted to write Dawn on it. I put it on Frank’s plate, so he could have the crack of dawn at least once. Ron said, “The yolk is on him.” Kim shared that he will “crack up” over the joke.
After sharing a wonderful week, we came close to having teary goodbyes with lots of hugs, as they were to return to the US. The remaining balance of their bill was a distant memory. I took off to teach a private lesson, but when I returned, Ron showed me the Hungarian dog postcard with the note on the back “Thanks so for helping to make this the best trip ever! We had such a great time & couldn’t have asked for better hosts. Cheers! Frank & Kim P.S. This should cover the balance of our bill.
I just love the way Hungarian dogs poop out US dollars. What talent!
Running a bed and breakfast is not always easy, but there are wonderful people who come into our lives that we would never have had a chance of meeting otherwise.