How can I prepare my guest room(s)?
All rooms, no matter what standard (Basic, Classic and Premium) must meet the following minimum standards:
- Clean, fresh towels and linen
- Room and bathroom to be spotlessly clean
- No hairs of any kind on the bed
- Very tidy and dust free
- Provision of Look After Me toiletries (minimum a soap) and guest gift
- Water and glass
- Rubbish bin
- Bedside lamp
- Smoke detector (usually in hallway)
- Provision for personal belongings
Rooms may optionally have:
- TV, SKY, DVD player
- Wireless Internet
- Magazines, reading material
- Board games
- Fire extinguisher
How do I take guest bookings?
When you sign up to Look After Me, we ask your preference on how you are going to take bookings. Reservations usually come via telephone, email, or as a booking enquiry via our Website. The guest will usually want a prompt response, so if you have an answer phone, please ensure you provide your mobile phone number, or check your messages regularly, or provide a call diversion onto your cell phone or to somebody who can deal with the enquiry.
When a reservation comes through, please offer a professional approach and be prepared to have a system (e.g initially a diary by the phone to handle bookings over the phone – then transfer the bookings to the Look After Me booking calendar so you appear as unavailable). If you are not sure how to do that, just call us 0800 526 123 and we'll do it for you, or teach you how.
Bookings that come through the website, automatically book out the calendar, but this can be changed if the booking is not accepted.
What do I do when I get a reservation?
Firstly, consider if you are available to take the booking and that your accommodation fits the needs of your guests and the number in their party.
If the booking suits you then over the phone or email make the following enquiries of your guest (not necessarily in this order):
1. Confirm date of arrival and date of departure
2. Number of guests in the party
3. Any with special needs or dietary requirements – children, wheelchair access, vegetarian, gluten free
4. Confirm the price you would like to charge and how you would like to be paid (usually into your bank account prior or cash on arrival).
5. Explain how meals work at your place (eg. breakfast included, other meals by arrangement, or self-catering) and negotiate suggested charges for that.
6. Discuss the time of arrival and negotiate any pick ups and the price
7. Either at the time of arrangements or a few days prior be prepared to explain very carefully, or have a pre-prepared email that you use for directions to your property, using street names and landmarks. Ask someone to check your directions for clarity.
Please contact us if you'd like an email or phone script template, of what we recommend.
How do I take payment?
1. Once the booking is confirmed please explain your preferred payment option to your guest. This can either be cash on arrival or payment into your bank account prior. We also offer an option where guests can pay by credit card through our on-line shop. We ask that you get your guest to include either your name or the name of your property so we can trace payment and ensure we pass it on (less our 3.5% credit card processing fee).
2. Some optional services may incur additional fees, such as meals, pick ups, or sight-seeing. These are arranged directly between the guest and host and paid using an agreed means between you.
3. Look After Me does not take any commission.
Do we have to use the Look After Me products?
Part of our ‘point of difference’ for our ‘Virtual Hotel’ is that we offer a unified brand – meaning that although all of our Look After Me rooms are as individual as our guests, we provide quality toiletries and a small gift, like a guest chocolate, or lip balm, pen etc.
There are various options available. All hosts receive our hosting starter kit, with 50 ml bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash and body lotion. These may be refilled with your own favourite brand of toiletries (as long as you take the Jaymar label off). We aim to give you the option of purchasing self-adhesing labels for your own brand of shampoo or conditioner (for 50c), or offering a guest soap ($1.70) or truffle ($1.80).
We recommend our Premium rooms offer our full complement of toiletries (Shampoo, Conditioner, Body Wash, Body Lotion, soap and guest chocolate(s). We also have the 200 ml pump refill bottles which some of our hosts use to refill empty bottles. Classic homes should at least have a 50 ml shampoo and conditioner and soap as a minimum. Our ‘Basic’ rooms, should at least offer a soap.
Coming September 2018 we provide a full range of stationery (such as Compendium, Visitors Book, Pens and Notepads). In the meantime be sure to visit our shop and if you're signed up as a host, order your free stuff.
We advise you to ensure you are covering the cost of the expected use of the toiletries in your tariff, which is standard practice for any Hotel or B&B.
Do I always have to be available?
One of the advantages of being a Look After Me host, is that each property has its own booking calendar. This means you can block out your property when it is not convenient for you to take guests. For example if you have your own family or friends coming to stay.
What if I can’t meet my guest personally?
As a host, ideally you will arrange to meet your guest at the property, or arrange to pick up your guest (for a charge). We don’t recommend sending your guests a key, however if you are unable for whatever reason to be available to greet your guest, and if you are comfortable to do so, particularly if it is a regular guest, you may arrange to leave a key at an agreed place on the property. Alternatively arrange for a friend or a family member to greet your guest and settle them in giving clear expectations of what time you will be at the property and your contact phone number should they need to contact you. The important thing is that your guest feels welcome and expected, so a hand written welcome note, some homebaking, or our Look After Me Business cards and/or sweets or chocolates in an obvious place are a nice gesture of welcome.
Should I have cancellation strategy?
Yes you should, and unless otherwise specified in your website profile, all Look After Me rooms operate using these following recommendations:
For a full refund, cancellation must be made five full days prior to listing's local check in time (or 3:00 PM if not specified) on the day of check in. For example, if check-in is on Friday, cancel by the previous Sunday before check in time.
If the guest cancels less than 5 days in advance, the first night is non-refundable but the remaining nights will be 50% refunded.
If the guest arrives and decides to leave early, the nights not spent are not refunded.
Should I be Credit card capable?
Credit cards are being increasingly used but in NZ, many guests are well used to the concept of paying cash on arrival or into the bank account prior to arrival, or during the stay.
If your homestay operates other businesses from home (such as massage, naturopathy, colour consultant etc), you may wish to consider a credit card facility. The problem is of course is that a credit card company will want to take a commission in return for guaranteeing payment to you - that commission can be as much as 5%. There are companies that will process credit card payments for you - also for a commission.
If you do become credit card capable, investigate also having the facility to take credit card numbers for security of reservations. This will mean that you can charge cancellation fees (if such details are known to the client at the time of booking) for "no shows". (You can also validate the card number against the name).
Most tourists know that by giving their credit card details, they are guaranteeing their arrival - so you need to guarantee their room. Be aware that credit card companies have a confidential "floor limit" of a set monetary amount. If that amount is exceeded on a single transaction, authorisation must be made by the credit card company through an 0800 number.
Look After Me is a certifiied merchant bank with secure credit card facilities. We are more than happy to process guest payments and pass the payment on to you. This incurs bank charges of about about 3.5%, which we pass on to you.
Our hosts love looking after people and they’re jolly good at it. We would even go so far as to say that our unique brand of kiwi hospitality is amongst the best in the world. While Look After Me has a core basis of expectations, we leave looking after our guests to the experts.
Recently we invited our hosts to share some of their ‘hosting tips’; some of the little things they do for their guests to make them feel special.
We’ll keep adding to this list, so if you have any ideas you’d like to share with the Founder, contact Julia@lookafterme.co.nz.
“I keep make-up wipes in the guest bathroom – it saves soiling the flannels.” Joanne
“I’m up and out the door for work in the morning, so I put everything a guest might need for Breakfast on the table early that morning. My guest knows what to expect and I think they quite like getting up and just helping themselves. I keep it simple but offer choice. It seems to work. I also put the Visitor’s Book on the table which generally encourages guests to write something. When I get time, I transfer the guest comments to my ‘electronic’ Visitor’s Book on my property profile.” Annette
“We plugged in a night-light in our hallway, so if guests need to get up in the night for the bathroom, they can see well enough. They’re only about $7 from the Warehouse and an estimated 1 c a day to run. The bulbs have a 2-3 year lifespan – great value. I think it's about making them feel safe and at home.” Sarah.
“I like my guests to feel like that they are the only one who has slept in the bed – so I make sure all the covers are perfectly straight and everything looks fresh. If needed, I iron the pillowslips. I also make sure as it’s getting dark, I pull the drapes, turn back the bed, leave the bedside light on and put a chocolate on the pillow. I love creating that ‘hotel-at-home’ feeling.” Michelle.
“I’ve been offering my guests the Look After Me tea. Everyone who tries that DeStress Me tea, loves it! I’d quite like individual serves though, rather than a whole packet which gets about 5 – 6 cups.” Jenny. [Founder’s Note: Thanks for this, at first sip, it has an unusual flavour with the fennel, but I’m so pleased to hear our guests like it. Personally I’m completely hooked – with every sip, I can feel myself slipping into relax mode. We are currently developing a new range of fruit and breakfast teas together with our supplier – the Magic Urn. We'll also be investiagating single serves. Julia Charity]
"I was nervous about my guests using the internet, so I have typed up a note and stuck it on a piece of cardboard with the following instructions. ‘You are welcome to access our Wireless Network (Hill’s Home Network) using the Security Key AA-BBCDEF for no charge. Please refrain from downloading any video content, doing so will incur charges.’ Jessica.