But how did it work even before when phones were not as common, and certainly more expensive? If you can believe it, hotel reservations were completed via US postal correspondence for many years.
In 1959, for example, if you wished to stay at The Baldpate Inn, you could mail an inquiry letter (stamps were 3 cents), and enclose a self-addressed envelope, so they could mail you back information and rates.
Taking a look at this typewritten letter, it surprised us that there was no form letter or standard copy; each time, the rates and information would be typed out individually. We are quite impressed with the lack of correction fluid (invented in 1956), or typos! Perhaps Mr. Mace had enough practice to type them in his sleep?
By the time we bought the Inn in 1986, at least word processors and computers were on the scene. My first correspondence was proudly produced on our new state of the art, Apple IIc! No instant email mind you, but faster and more error proof than a typewriter for sure.
In those days as well, our local Chamber of Commerce provided a list of interested travelers, and we dutifully mailed our brochure to each of them in hopes they would call or write to make a reservation. Bulk mail was a saver but I was adamant about some personalization, so I hand addressed every one, sometimes 500 or 600 a week! (Jen here: some kids have chores like taking out the trash or helping with dinner, I remember being assigned the weekly task of helping address brochures, taping them shut and then sorting by zipcode!)
Today inquiries and reservations most often come via internet, both for B&B Lodging but many Dining Reservations (after May 1st) as well. Our reservation book is no longer a big ledger with a line and page for each day and room, but a software miracle that can accept input from anywhere in the world (most often correctly!)
Recalling those early days, we couldn’t resist sharing this phone instruction we discovered from The Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company, instructing early phone users on phone operation and manners. We will all do well to remember that “Courtesy is the oil that lubricates the wheels of business; it smooths out difficulties and promotes the promptest possible connections.” Sage and timeless advice!
Written by Lois Smith, Liz Rodgers & Jen Macakanja