I'll be heading to Ireland next month w/ 3 others. We will need 2 rooms. Are the B&B vouchers a good deal. What are the pro's and cons? We will be in the west, flying into Shannon driving around that area.
I had a long conversation with a B&B host about the vouchers. B&B owners tend not to like them because it takes a very long time for them to be reimbursed by the voucher people, but they have to lay out money for your breakfast, etc., when you are there. B&Bs feel they have to take them, though, because in the winter it is a major source of their income. Less people travel then, and the travel companies offer deals involving vouchers more often. If they don't take vouchers, they don't have business. The owners don't take it out on YOU, though -- we had nothing but wonderful, friendly welcomes when we used them. One thing you need to know, though, is that you will be asked to pay extra (in cash) above the voucher value for an en suite room. The vouchers don't mention this.
On the pro side, the deals can be great values for you. Our first trip included airfare from Chicago, a rental car, and vouchers for six nights for less than $800 per person (in 2001).
If you get vouchers in a "package" deal they can be a hassle. There are alot of B&B's that do not accept them. The B&B's are still so cheap compaired to costs of a night in a hotel w/breakfast here in the states. I have known people who have gotten the "package" deal & not even bothered to use the vouchers, because of the 'problems' attached to same.
If you do get vouchers for like six days, please make sure they provide you w/six separate vouchers. I ran into a couple one time who had a voucher for 6 days on one voucher, which was a problem since they flew in on Sat and stayed that night in the B&B and when they went to turn in voucher next day they only had the one for 6 days. Also, the car in their "package" was the smallest car known to man & the hatch in the back displayed all of their luggage.
Ursula, your friends should have paid for an upgrade on their car. On our first trip, we used the package vouchers. Because of the number of us traveling, we were entitled to three rental cars, but instead upgraded and "combined" two of the cars for a larger one (for the larger group). My sister has also upgraded for an additional charge a couple of times. As for the vouchers, the company we dealt with was great. They sent us a directory of B&Bs showing which took vouchers (at the time, in the book, it was most of them), and we had a lot of choice.
I have heard that you get a better price paying by cash than paying with vouchers, but I don't really think it's true. The B&B directory shows a set price, and we were charged that price even when we were paying cash. The vouchers we had were WAY cheaper than what we would have paid by paying cash. Of course, the cost of the package won't mean much today, since our first trip was in 2001, but we paid $759 per person, which included six B&B vouchers, rental car (for every two people), and round trip airfare from Chicago.
As one of the other posters responded, vouchers are difficult for B&B owners. Also the other thing, I noticed on my travels to Ireland, many towns have many B&Bs but only a few of them take vouchers, so if the voucher places are filled up you either have to travel on or pay out for a non-voucher place. I don't see how vouchers prevent problems when traveling with a group as each couple would be paying for their own room at time of departure.
Just my opinion.
The vouchers seem to be a better deal for the people who sell them, than for the B&B owners or the tourists who use them.
Kim, the B&B owners would never act displeased about vouchers. As I said in the first place, they depend on them during the slower parts of the year. I was told their feelings about them because I flat out asked, and she was, at first, hesitant to tell me. They can be a wonderful travel deal as part of a package, but they can also cause a financial hardship, to some degree, if a B&B owner has to wait a long time to be reimbursed. Because of that, and because every B&B owner I have dealt with in Ireland has been so very friendly and gracious, I choose now not to use them.
I dont believe that the B&B owners like them and I cant imagine with the great places in Steves Ireland book why anyone would want to use them.
Some of those listed in the book might take vouchers, too, you know. The B&B directory issued by the Tourist Board tells which method of payment each B&B accepts.