The following entry is a repost of an article by Bob Briggs of Swiss Cottage B&B (Exclusively Non-Smokers). You can view the original as a PDF, along with more info about accommodation for non-smokers here.
What is ‘Exclusively Non-Smokers’? and how can we get across that accommodation including, hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs, etc. are for non-smokers only?
The Laws on smoking in Public Places changed the perceived idea of whether smokers had a right to stay in accommodation, serviced [guest houses, hotels, bed & breakfast] or self-catering [cottages, chalets and caravans] or whether the decision is the accommodation provider’s.
Some providers have rooms allocated for smokers, there is no smoking allowed in inside public areas, only in specified areas outside in the grounds.
Alternatively the whole building and grounds are for non-smokers. Many places show they are non-smoking but allow smoking guests to stay and smoke outside.
Others are for those non-smokers who would prefer not to be around smokers. Accommodation providers often have the ability to highlight ‘pet friendly’ or ‘adults only, no children’.
In the UK alone there are over 40 million non-smokers currently and they often want non smoking places to stay [and eat and drink].
Now there are places that exist solely for the non-smoker.
- No more stepping through the rubbish left by the smoker just outside the front or back doors [when the ashtrays are full they overflow].
- No groups of smokers to walk through just to access the building.
- No having to breathe in the exhalation of the smoker who has just finished the cigarette and walked into the building.
The majority of smokers are polite and respect the premise of ‘no smoking’ inside but they cannot help but have the ‘aura’ of a smoker.
Better not to mix the two and create a place that is ‘Exclusively non-smokers’.
We are Bob and Barbara Briggs and this was our first venture into guest house ownership.
Barbara is experienced in the hotel trade and Bob has many years of management and administration behind him. We began the purchase of Swiss Cottage in November 2003 and after a few false starts finally moved in on 12th March 2004.
We had a few guests booked that were smokers so honoured these bookings.
From around April 2004, though, we shrived to advertise the accommodation [at the time known as Swiss Cottage Hotel] as non-smokers only as both of us are ex-smokers and enjoy a smokefree life as much as possible.
We believed, and more so now, there are many like us. Offering a relatively unique concept where others can enjoy time away without having to avoid smokers is something we feel should be done. We enjoyed the uniqueness along with just one or two others in Great Yarmouth.
We gained a Gold Clean Air Award via the website by creating a policy of non-smoking throughout the building and grounds.
In addition we stipulated the accommodation is just for non-smokers. The idea did well the business improved considerably in both 2005 and 2006 as a result.
The Smoking law of July 2007 led to an assumption by the prospective guests that although no smoking was allowed in public areas, anyone could stay by right and go outside to smoke.
We spent a lot of time altering our advertising and booking processes to show that we are for non-smokers only [a change to the grading rules meant we became Swiss Cottage Bed and Breakfast].
While changing the advertising, we included a phrase ‘Just for non-smokers’ to try to get the message across. Despite the name change and details spread across the website it was still assumed accommodation providers must allow guests who smoke to stay.
The online booking system of the Visit East of England and tourist authority, Guestlink, allows terms and conditions to be displayed during the booking process to emphasise the non-smokers only concept.
Our website has details under the terms and conditions as well numerous No Smoking signs and icons. We finally altered the naming to be ‘Exclusively Non-Smokers’ as this, at last, seems to get the message across.
What else can be done to differentiate non smoking accommodation from accommodation for non-smokers?
Some accommodation providers try to appeal to the good side of human nature and ask those booking in to sign they are non-smokers and warn if they will be asked to leave if they are untruthful. It is the providers right to do this despite the misperception of the smoker that they have a right to stay.
A possible solution given by one is that the potential guests have to go through a series questions and the answers given determine whether the guest could be a smoker. The same process is used for online bookings and reservations where the guest again has to tick a box to show all are non-smokers. Additionally the same guest may receive an email asking for final confirmation members of the group being booked in are non-smokers.
Many websites are now beginning to incorporate a category into their search facilities where a visitor to the site can select ‘Non-smokers Only’. The search then reveals just those places that will accept non-smokers only.
The Public Places Law of 2007 exempts all self-catering premises but states it is left to the owner to decide if smoking is allowed in the accommodation.
Much self-catering accommodation in the UK is for non-smokers only [also no pets and no children as other restrictions]. The 2007 law didn’t include these places and left the decision to those promoting the accommodation.
Rented accommodation is not specifically mentioned in the No Smoking Laws. The accommodation is not considered a public place in the same way hotels and guesthouses.
A Google search on rented accommodation shows the majority now stipulate the tenants must be non-smokers in fact it is a hard job to find decent places that do allow smokers.
Despite an introduction of a law banning smoking in public places, smokers still believe it is their right to be able to stay in any accommodation as long as they smoke outside.
Hotel, Guesthouse, B&B etc providers can allow smokers to stay but they must smoke outside or rooms can be allocated specifically for smokers with some rules.
Accommodation that is ‘exclusively for non-smokers’ in many sectors as hotels, guest houses, cottages and rented accommodation is now increasingly being advertised.
Many agencies that offer tourist accommodation as well as those promoting rented accommodation stipulate Non-smokers only and offer a category choice for potential customers. Some write about this in online blogs or in newsletters to subscribers.