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My homestay rooms are outfitted with a few extras for guest’s use while they are here, including a pair of umbrellas and a set of stemless wine glasses with a cute beach saying on them. As well, because guests started telling me they kind of expected them, I’ve made available beach mats, beach towels and a beach umbrella.
The problem is, these items are starting to walk away with guests at an alarming rate. This summer, Ive replaced 3 rain umbrellas, 1 beach umbrella and 4 beach towels. I’ve gone through my private stash, which is what I was letting guests use, and if I want to keep providing these items I’ll have to start buying new ones.
If you were me, would you add to your house rules that items not returned will be charged for, or just stop offering these amenities, and explain to guests who ask that we lose too many to be able to offer them anymore?
I’d keep the items in a place where the guest couldn’t just help themselves but for guests who asked, I’d explain the problem then say ‘but I’m sure that doesn’t apply to you so I’ll be around in ten minutes with those items for you to borrow’. (Or ‘my co-host will be around…’ if you’re not on the spot.) That way, guests will feel obliged to you that they’re one of the ‘elite’ who is worthy of your trust
Although if I were you, I’d ask myself why these things disappear. I find that if a host has a repeated problem, there’s sometimes something that the host can do to prevent that problem. For years I’ve provided similar things (beach chairs, striped beach towels, sun umbrella and cooler) in two apartments and never lost anything so it’s weird that you have. No idea what the answer is though!
The problem with this approach is you’re making your problem your next guest’s problem. And just like when a host responds publicly to a negative review, you’re needlessly drawing (negative) attention to something that a lot of guests wouldn’t even think about.
Is there something you could do to permanently label your items to discourage guests from taking them? I’m wondering if some of this happens If you have groups staying – I can’t imagine a scenario where someone picks up an item thinking it belongs to someone else in their group. Labeling items might prevent them from walking off in that situation.
Same happened to me so I started replacing the items at my expense. It got so expensive that I was just breaking even. I now do not offer those beach amenities. I think that since they didn’t pay for it, it was easier for them to simply leave the items on the beach instead of packing up. I now tell them that they can purchase beach items at Walmart, if needed, and that the store is only five minutes away.
Turn the loan into a business transaction. If you are an on-site host, let it be known that you offer the use of those items with a deposit that will be returned after check-out if the items are returned and in the same condition.
And I wouldn’t provide the items until you’ve sent, and they’ve accepted, the additional charge.
was everything you provided, only used ‘on-site’, or did they pick up the sun chairs et al, and drive off to the beach? I suspect if it was only used in your garden, it’s harder to absentmindedly take things home, and I suspect Chloes bits were taken off site, especially beach towels and rain brollies.
Bloody cheek of it. My guests go to the beach but no, I don’t supply any of these. I like the Walmart idea, then perhaps some of your guests can’t be bothered to take them home. We stay in Portuguese beach apartments regularly, and I have never either expected or found such items for guests. Stuff on a terrace, but not to take to the beach.
All the stuff we provide is for guests to take to the beach, usually in their cars. I suppose it’s surprising that we haven’t lost anything! In fact, we’ve had the opposite - for example one couple found that the beach chairs we provide are too low for them (they are the ones with those short legs) so they bought others and left them for future guests. We acquired one of the coolers the same way
I would provide and charge if they walked away. This is standard practice, if you take something you pay for it. I don’t know why anyone would hesitate to do this. You could call it rental or sales or whatever. There is no need to make it into a negative thing. You’re providing a service, they are paying for it. Easy peasy.
When I read some of the posts here I have to agree! I’ve never had to throw away a single towel either. Okay, one or two have been consigned to cleaning cloth purposes but on the whole, guests are marvellous - and I want lurkers to read that. Sometimes, reading this forum, people would get the idea that guests are monsters who are locked in an enduring battle of wills with hosts. Not true
How rude! I agree with the detectives – are they taking them home or leaving them at the beach? If the former, write on them with a big black permanent marker, “Property of such-and-such B&B, please return.” If the former continues. or if it’s the latter, I concur, either charge rent or send them to the store to buy their own. Beach towels maybe provide but go cheap and expect them to be replaced, build into your price. (As guests, we’ve only ever ADDED to the host’s equipment stash – who wants to lug beach chairs home?)
Like @jaquo on the “other” coast of Florida, we offer beach chairs, a beach umbrella, styro cooler and beach blankets. Have never had anything go missing. Did have one couple who bough us a new umbrella because a gust caught ours and in flying across the beach it broke a rib.
We also never have had towels or sheets or wash cloths ruined by makeup, hair dye or body fluids…
I think the reason I’ve been losing things this year is because people are careless rather than light fingered. They put these items in their rental car trunk, forget they are there, and drive off to the airport, or they stash a towel in their bag, forget it’s there and just grab everything in a mad rush to check out.
Regardless, I think it’s true people will attach more value to something they’ve left a deposit on, and I’ll figure out how to implement that next season.
This hosting business can be weird and unpredictable. Like @KenH, in two seasons of hosting I’d never had any issues with sheets and only a couple stained beyond repair washcloths. This season I finally had guests ruin a set of (as it would be, nearly brand new) sheets with benzoyl peroxide. I asked them to replace the sheets through the resolution center and they did without incident, and apologized.
@Chloe. Like you and others on this thread, I’ve had beach towels & chairs disappear or my beach chairs are not rinsed so they rust. My listing now says “bed linens & bath towels & cloths provided. Please bring your own beach towels”.
When guests ask me about beach chairs, I explain at the beginning of each season, I place beach chairs in the storage room. Since I can’t guarantee the chairs will be there, I don’t advertise them. However if chairs are there, they are welcome to use them.