The bed and breakfast industry is worth about $3.4 billion, according to data from the Professional Association of Innkeepers International. While this type of business has been a viable one for years, recent innovations in the travel industry, like the launch of Airbnb and similar apps, offer even more opportunities for these types of businesses.
Steps to Open a Bed and Breakfast
If you’re interested in starting your own B&B, here are some essential steps you can use to get up and running.
Evaluate the Market
Before you actually set up your bed and breakfast, it’s a good idea to look at your area or the area where you plan to set up shop and determine whether it can support such a business. Is it a popular area with tourists? What other lodging options are available? Will you be offering something that travelers can’t find with those other options?
Marcus Smith, owner of Chez Vous, Chez Nous writes, “Starting a B&B in a location with minimal hotels and accommodations would be the best idea as competition would be less compared to an area flooded with the same. Therefore, you need to do some home work and especially remember that the mere fact there are many hotels in an area does not necessarily mean they offer B&B.”
Secure a Location
Once you’ve chosen a general location that you think will work for your business, it’s time to secure an actual property. Aside from the basics like price and the ability to accommodate your ideal number of guests, you’ll also need to check with your local zoning board to make sure that any location you consider is zoned for commercial use.
Get Licenses and Permits
You are also likely to need a business license and permits from your local government. The exact requirements vary from city to city. But check with your local governments about general business licenses, food service permits and any other pertinent forms you may need to submit.
Customize the Space
People who are looking for a generic hotel room to crash in don’t often stay in B&Bs. So your target customers probably expect more of a unique experience, which should extend to the design and decor of your space as well. Many B&Bs offer some kind of theme, like country cottage for rural properties or a nautical theme for houses in beach communities. But even if you don’t choose an outright theme, it is important to have a layout that’s conducive to receiving guests and setting up breakfast each morning, along with an aesthetically pleasing vibe.
Create a Daily Tasks List
Once the actual property is up and running, you need to be prepared to actually run the day-to-day operations. This can be a fair amount of work, so it helps to be organized beforehand.
Susan Poole of The B&B Coach says in a post for BedandBreakfast.com “In order to stay on top of everything, I have a daily to-do list that includes 15 daily tasks that take 15 minutes or more to complete.”
The most time consuming tasks on her list include preparing breakfast, cleaning rooms and making sure rooms are booked.
Take a look at your books to determine the investment required to get up and running and then what your operational costs are likely to be. This can help you determine what you need to charge per night in order to keep your business going strong.
List Your Rooms
From there, you should be about ready to accept guests. But first, you need to allow people to actually find your business online. You can list rooms on your own website. But especially when you’re just getting started, it’s important that you also list on popular travel sites that people are more likely to be familiar with, including Airbnb and Kayak.
Encourage Customer Reviews
Customer reviews are becoming increasingly important for all businesses. But they’re especially relevant in the travel industry, since consumers want to ensure their safety and happiness while in another location. Sites like TripAdvisor can make a major impression on potential visitors, especially when you have a business that’s relatively unknown.
John Prebble, owner of German Village Guest House in Ohio, says in a post on the Hotelogix blog, “Our brand is likely unfamiliar to our potential guests, especially as we compete against large international flags and million dollar marketing budgets, so for more than 9 in 10 of them, an online review is almost as valid as a personal recommendation.”
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