Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bed and Breakfast Gift Certificate Buyer Beware

Every Christmas season people research gift certificates for bed and breakfasts for that someone special and every year people buy something that they didn't realize.  There are different ways to purchase bed and breakfast gift certificates:

  • The easiest way is to buy a certificate for a bed and breakfast that is valid at only that bed and breakfast.
  • Bed and Breakfast directories will market to the public that they have thousands of bed and breakfasts offered on their website.  They also tell you that they sell gift certificates.  They don't clearly explain that their certificates are NOT valid at all properties on their website.  The directories take a commission from the B&B owners that accept them so not all properties participate in the gift certificate program.
  • Some Bed and Breakfast directories have books for sale in major book stores that offer to get a night free.  The offer is usually to purchase 1 night and get the 2nd night free.  Many purchasers don't look at the actual offers.  For example, a Colorado ski resort area is not going to honor the certificate in ski season.  Nor is an Amish Country bed and breakfast going to honor the certificate during their busy summer/fall season.
  • Marketing companies will offer books in discount warehouses.  Like the previous example most of the properties make their offers for specific days (ie Sunday, Monday, Tuesday) or specific seasons (ie not valid during the busiest, most popular time of year)
The bed and breakfasts are not limiting the offers to try disappoint the person receiving the gift certificate, but they have expenses to participate in these programs.  Some directories charge as much as 30% commission to the B&B or they have to pay advertising costs to participate in a program.

The moral of the story:  You are not always getting a better gift certificate from the company that tells you have you many choices vs. one specific bed and breakfast due to the restrictions on each offer.  Do your homework and find out what the restrictions are.

This blog is not intended to distract the reader from purchasing a bed and breakfast gift certificate, but to encourage you to read the fine print before purchasing the offer to make sure you are getting what you thought you were purchasing.

Written by Carol Steffey, Garden Gate Get-A-Way Bed & Breakfast, Millersburg, Ohio (330) 674-7608 www.garden-gate.com

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