How is a bed and breakfast different from a hotel? Can I turn my house into a bed and breakfast? Check out this comprehensive guide on how to start a bed and breakfast business.
The Bed and Breakfast industry attracts people because of its unique concept and style of catering to travellers. Despite the various attractions, setting up a B&B venture and running it successfully can be quite a task.
To help you understand what all is involved, the following sections will cover everything from how to start a bed and breakfast business to how to run it profitably.
What is Bed & Breakfast (B&B)
Bed and Breakfast is like a lodge which offers travelers a room and breakfast. It falls under the broad category of travel accommodation and offers services similar to an inn, a hotel or a lodge.
What makes bed and breakfast different from other travel accommodation is the personal touch it offers to its guests.
Here are some features of a bed and breakfast business that make it different from hotels and inns:
- Rooms in a B&B are generally a part of the bed and breakfast owner’s
- In most cases, the owner himself prepares the breakfast for guests and serves them.
- Only breakfast is provided. There is no provision for lunch or dinner. Some light snack or drinks can be provided in the evening, but it is not compulsory.
- The number of rooms is generally very less, ranging from just 4 to a maximum of 10.
- The number of employees are also very less. In some cases, the whole B&B is run by just 2 people who are also the owners of the property.
- The owners interact with the guests socially (chat and at times even play games), thereby adding a personal touch to the whole arrangement.
Running a bed and breakfast business provides you the opportunity to not only run a business independently but to also meet new people at the same time. It is an ideal business for a person who loves to interact with people from around the world and does not mind the hard work it takes to serve them.
Bed and Breakfast business requires good social skills, patience and lots of hard work.
How to Start a Bed and Breakfast Business
Setting up a B&B requires planning and research. Like any other traveller accommodation, the location of a B&B is very important for its success.
Hence, you will need to research the area and find out if the location you are planning to run the B&B is lucrative to travelers.
Some important points to consider for the location of a B&B are:
- Whether the city/town you are planning to launch your B&B a popular travel destination? Is there a tourist spot, a university or college nearby? A couple of big corporations also attract many business travellers all the year round.
- Is the location of the house you are planning to turn into a B&B convenient to guests? Some of the best places to open a bed and breakfast are located near the market, some tourist spot or the airport or railway station?
- Is the location safe?
- Are there already many B&B’s in that particular area? It will not help your business if you enter into an already saturated market. In such a case, instead of starting a new B&B, you can find out if there are any bed and breakfast businesses for sale in that area.
Sometimes it is a better idea buying an existing B&B rather than launching your own bed and breakfast business from scratch.
- Are the rules and regulations of the particular city B&B friendly? Can you open a bed and breakfast in a residential area? Some cities have very strict rules regarding this. Find out what your particular location’s zoning rules
Once you find the right location and property to start your B&B, you will need to draw a business plan.
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Bed and Breakfast Business Plan
The business plan of your B&B will include everything from the rate of the room to the menu of your breakfast. Planning ahead will help you to function well and will even make you aware of any bottlenecks in your B&B venture.
Before starting your B&B, knowing your target customers will help you plan your rate, menu and other services accordingly. Preferences change when target customer (college student and parents, business personnel, tourists) changes.
Here is a list of all the things that your B&B business plan should include:
- What are the legal requirements for bed and breakfast business? This will include zoning laws, permits and business licenses, health and fire inspection certificates, alcohol and food licenses, insurances and so on.
- The list of renovations or repairs required to turn the existing property into a B&B business. This will include kitchen renovations because you will be preparing food for many guests and not just for yourself. Certain amount of plumbing and construction work will also be required to make separate bathrooms in each guest room.
- What will be the estimated cost of starting a bed and breakfast business? This will not only include renovation costs but also the bed and breakfast operating expenses. The cost of food supplies, toiletries, emergency repairs, salary of employees if any, advertisement costs and so on.
- What will be your bed and breakfast marketing plan? Do plan to put up a website for your B&B? Or will it be through the traditional route of pamphlets and word of mouth.
- What bread and breakfast rate are you planning to charge for your rooms? According to the Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII), average daily rate charged per room is $150. You will have to come up with a rate that covers your operating expenses as well as some of your renovation costs too.
- The rate will also depend upon the ongoing rate in the location, occupancy rate and seasonal or non-seasonal nature of your B&B.
Once you have your B&B business plan ready, you can start working towards putting your plan into action step wise.
How to Run a Bed and Breakfast Successfully
Being passionate about serving people is one thing, and turning your passion into a booming bed and breakfast business is entirely another. You will need to realize that holidays for others are actually working days for you.
The daily grind of running a bed and breakfast business might start to look boring and tedious after a while.
It is important to remain fresh and energetic if you want to grow your bed and breakfast business to substantial heights. Here are some tips that will help you turn your dream into a successful bed and breakfast venture.
- First and foremost, be realistic in your expectations. Do not expect your B&B to be fully occupied the whole year. According to PAII performance indices, on an average a B&B has just around 43% occupancy in a year and the average bed and breakfast income is just $58 per room.
- Many times, the revenue earned from a bed and breakfast business is not enough to support a person’s existing lifestyle. This is especially true in the beginning. If you think that this is possible in your case then have a secondary financial support system available while you are running a B&B.
- Before opening a bed and breakfast business, know your customers and plan accordingly. This will help to avoid wastage of resources like food and other utilities.
- Do not rely on a single marketing tool. Advertise through various mediums. Use social media as it is free of cost and quite popular among millennial’s. List your B&B on websites like BedandBreakfast.com.
- Employ help. It is true that most B&B owners do not employ help and do most of the work themselves. But this only makes them overly tired and might hinder in their social interactions with the guests.
If possible, employ cleaning help weekly or fortnightly. This will give you time for other important B&B work like marketing.
- Take breaks. Whenever possible (like in off-season) employ a substitute caretaker and take a holiday. This will help you avoid burnout.
B&B business does not guarantee quick money. In fact, you might have to wait quite a while to see some sort of income trickle in. For most, B&B is just a secondary source of income.
Pros & Cons of Owning a Bed & Breakfast Business
Before investing in a bed and breakfast startup, you will need to closely look at the pros and cons of it to decide if it is the thing for you.
Pros of a B&B Business
- You get to meet new people. There is never a dull day in your life. You get to hear stories from all around the world.
- If you love cooking and cleaning, then starting a bed and breakfast in your home helps you to make money out of something that you love doing.
- A bed and breakfast business is the ideal work from home venture. It makes you financially independent without you having to leave your home/city/country.
Cons of a B&B Business
- Unruly guests can spoil your day and routine.
- You cannot fully depend upon a B&B’s income.
- Without employing help, running a B&B can become very tiresome and tedious.
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Wrap up – Opening a Bed and Breakfast Business
Staying at a bed and breakfast gives guests the twin advantages of a home cooked food and personalized attention. By providing guests these services to their utmost satisfaction gives B&B owners immense happiness and a sense of fulfillment.
If you choose to become a bed and breakfast business owner, you will have to enter the venture with realistic expectations to derive maximum gains, both monetarily and emotionally.