How to Start and Run a Bed and Breakfast

How to Start and Run a Bed and Breakfast

Owning and running a Bed & Breakfast may seem like a fun hobby to get into on the surface. While running your own inn or guest house can certainly be rewarding, it is no hobby. Managing a B&B; can be, and usually is, a full-time career commitment. While owners often have side businesses, such as a consulting or writing career, the Bed and Breakfast operations dominate their time.

Part of the myth of the B&B; is that simply opening up shop will produce guests. Marketing and advertising used to sell hotel space are needed for B&Bs; guest houses, inns, and other boutique places of stay. In fact, since these establishments are so small they often require more advertising than a high-rise, big-name hotels. A comprehensive website is a necessity in today’s internet culture, as is a linking system whereby your site can be retrieved via a search engine. No matter how cute and comfy your B&B; is, people need to know it exists before they book a room. Marketing is an expensive part of running a B&B.;

B&Bs; do not work in every environment. There are rural and urban B&Bs;, and each, in their own right, can be successful. Choosing a winning site for a B&B;, whether urban or rural, is key. The property you purchase, if it is not already an existing, successful, B&B;, must pass the smell test. The cost of purchase and renovation, taxes, plus mortgage payments should be considered against what you think you will make.

Remember to include salaries for housekeeping (unless you intend on doing it all), marketing costs, and a side fund for miscellaneous purposes. Companies that do a market analysis of the region may, for a fee, provide you will information about demographics and the likelihood that your business will be a success. Before settling on a house you should ask the locals their opinion on how a B&B; would fare in the area.

Also, check and see if there is an abundance of hotels, motels, etcetera, and what their prices and availability are like. Be sure to factor in seasonal trends; is your site only a summer vacation spot? Can you make money in Nantucket in the wintertime? Draw up a simple cash flow chart with the costs and revenues and see if your inn or B&B; can theoretically make a profit. If you can’t see a profit on the paper, chances are you will not see it in your B&B; bank books.

Once you have your site you must decide what amenities your B&B; will have and why your site will draw customers. Parking is a bonus for B&Bs; since many customers are travelers with their own transportation. Urban B&Bs; sometimes do not have this option, and instead offer a means of transportation to the guest to and from the airport or respective station in which they arrive or need to go to. Supplying a breakfast, even if only a basket of fresh pastries and fruit is a must, and many actually do a full-course meal.

A newspaper in the morning, chocolates on the bed, magazine and books in the rooms, and classic furniture are all characteristic of a B&B.; Laundry facilities can be an added bonus to the traveler, as is cable television, internet connections, and access to a fax machine. All these modern amenities offered by hotels have been incorporated into the B&B; culture because of the basic demands of the typical traveler.

You will also need reliable help at your B&B.; If you think you can do it on your own, you are in for a rude awakening. Between housekeeping, bookkeeping, cooking, house maintenance, and reservations you need time to smile at your guests and create small-talk. The reason why the guest came to your B&B; is for the personal touch of having an innkeeper, as opposed to dealing with a generic hotel manager.

It is important that you are not stressed out and that you make your guest feel at home. Part of being able to do this is hiring good, friendly, honest help. From your housekeepers to your inn manager, your help must be helpful and courteous, and always keep in mind that their role is to make the guest as comfortable as possible.

If running a B&B; is still appealing to you, and for many, it is a great, rewarding adventure, then you may want to check out some books on the subject from the library. There are plenty of non-fiction books on how to run an inn or a B&B.; You will find these very helpful; they may save you from making a poor decision, or they may lead you into a profitable choice.

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