So, you’re considering starting up a bed and breakfast? And why shouldn’t you? Thousands, perhaps millions, are doing just that all over the globe. The hospitality industry is booming and bed and breakfast inns are playing a significant role in that boom.
For the naïve, running a bed and breakfast may seem like little more than going on a permanent holiday and getting paid to do so. Luckily, most people realize there’s more to it than making pancake batter in the mornings and changing the sheets after guests leave. However, even those who recognize that becoming an innkeeper is no leisurely stroll in the park are still consistently shocked by the amount of labor (both the manual and mental varieties) which is required to pull off such a feat successfully and smoothly day after day.
Without a doubt, running a bed and breakfast can be a rich, rewarding, and rejuvenating enterprise.
This article is, in no way, intended to dissuade you from starting up your own bed and breakfast. Without a doubt, running a bed and breakfast can be a rich, rewarding, and rejuvenating enterprise. There are perks. There are advantages. With that said, though, it’s certainly not for everyone.
So, before you jump the gun and haphazardly decide that running an inn is for you, ask yourself the following questions:
Do you like interacting with others?
You’ll be associating with people from all walks of life: business travelers, families on summer vacation, couples seeking a romantic getaway, or possibly a combination of all of the above simultaneously. Are you polite and courteous? Do you aim to please? Will you promptly and willingly respond to customer complaints? Can you be helpful without being intrusive? Can you assert yourself while remaining diplomatic? Superior social skills are imperative.
Are you patient?
Patience is a virtue—especially in the hospitality industry. Guests will be staying at your inn…and shelling out good money for it. So, it’s a reasonable supposition that they expect to be pampered—a responsibility that rests with you, as the innkeeper. People can be demanding, particularly when they’re on vacation. A smile and a quick, confirmatory response to customers’ objections will go far…even if it means you have to grit your teeth to please a particularly insufferable guest.
Are you adaptable?
Innkeepers don’t work the typical 9-5, Monday-Friday work weeks. Instead, they spend their weekends looking after guests’ needs. Holidays are dedicated to the influx of patrons fleeing their homes for a leisurely extended weekend getaway. Circumstances may require a late-night check in for one couple while another guest might be checking out the next morning at 5 AM to catch a flight.
Do you have a bed and breakfast worthy accommodation?
As a general rule of thumb, people don’t flock to inns that lack aesthetic appeal. That’s not to say your property must be worthy of housing the Crown Jewels, but it must have the ability to allure consumers in for some reason or another. There should be a warm, inviting atmosphere with pleasant ambience. It absolutely must be spotless. Little will deter a guest from a property more quickly than a less-than-spic-and-span room.
Almost as important as the property itself is its location. Your bed and breakfast must draw in guests somehow. Ideally, a bed and breakfast will be found near a popular sight of interest or between two major metropolises. If there is nothing else of interest to offer within the vicinity, then the bed and breakfast must become an attraction in and of itself. It should become a free-standing destination worthy of visiting even if there is little else remotely appealing in the surrounding area.
Are you business savvy? If not, are you willing to learn?
An innkeeper isn’t expected to be a cutthroat Donald Trump candidate. Nonetheless, having a business strategy is fundamental. You can’t earn a living by running a bed and breakfast without having a basic understanding of what goes on in the business world. How are you going to gain clientele? Like any other product or service, you’ve got to sell your inn. Market it. Advertise it. Spread the word. Be the best. Utilize resources. Be creative. Allow your paradigms to shift. As the business world continues to rapidly evolve, rejecting innovation is a sure-fire way to get left in the dust.
Should you answer in the affirmative to these posed questions and running a bed and breakfast does still seem to be your cup of tea, then by all means, go for it! Take the plunge! With plenty of effort and an extra dose of ingenuity mixed in with a heaping spoonful of patience, you have the potential to be counted among the exclusive ranks of prestigious innkeepers.