What does it take to run a bed and breakfast successfully?
Bed and breakfasts, in one form or another, have been around for thousands of years. Inns hundreds of years ago provided rest to weary travelers crossing great distances. Guests needed a place to rest, eat and sleep and often stayed days or weeks visiting the area.
Villages included guest houses for hosting the wealthy and common traveler. Mansions and estates accommodated visitors and magistrates. While things have evolved over time, running a bed and breakfast requires understanding the time proven fundamentals of marketing, operations and entrepreneurship.
Just owning and operating a bed and breakfast doesn't automatically mean that you will become a successful entrepreneur through trial and error. The bed and breakfast industry is very unique in that it is a melting pot of business owners with highly varying backgrounds. A good number of innkeepers still struggle to stay afloat even after decades of being open. About twenty percent of the industry thrives during good and bad economic times, regardless of travel and economic trends.
Bed and breakfast owners that seriously make the effort to understand and implement solid marketing and business strategies become proactive instead of reactionary. They have occupancies in the eighties or nineties and become a permanent fixture in their area for decades. They are empowered and find great meaning and purpose in their bed and breakfast; selling if and when they want to. On the opposite side of the spectrum, struggling bed and breakfast owners are often trying to find a way out.
Types of Innkeepers
There are four essential types of innkeepers: the new, the veteran, the successful and the hobbist.
For aspiring or new innkeepers, starting a bed and breakfast is exciting and intimidating. It's either a lifelong dream or something has steered them to considering running a bed and breakfast. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to save up to buy or build a bed and breakfast. Others take over for their family or stumble upon the opportunity. There is a lot to learn and discover and balancing anxiety and fears versus figuring out step by step how to launch a new business brings great challenge and even greater fulfillment. Often, opening a bed and breakfast takes more money than will ever be made back.
The veteran innkeeper, through trial and error, has successfully taken over or opened their bed and breakfast. They have a solid understanding of how to operate their inn. From checking in guests, turning over the rooms and balancing the books. The bed and breakfast runs year after year through good times and bad. They are familiar with associations, trade shows and conferences.
Successful bed and breakfast owners have learned how to attract high volumes of guests, fine tune their rates and make a meaningful profit. They enjoy high occupancy and have an enviable guest return rate. To top it off, they are incredible hosts that guests rave about and return to visit year after year.
Lastly, the hobbist innkeeper are those that operate their bed and breakfast as a side business or hobby. Most often they are just trying to break even or pay the mortgage. They enjoy the business or have become trapped. When recessions come, they close their doors or brave through bad times.
What to Expect From This Book
In this book we will use the experience and success stories from hundreds of bed and breakfasts as examples of best practices. Whether your are new or have been an innkeeper for decades, you will find this book covers dozens of topics that will help you run your bed and breakfast for efficiently.
This book is published as a website so that topics can be added and updated.