The following guest post is by Susan Poole, B&B coach and innkeeper of an Ontario B&B.
This summer I was contacted by Martha Stewart Living Radio Morning Show to discuss what people needed to do in order to turn their home into a bed and breakfast. Here are the questions I recommended that people ask themselves before they even start their journey.
1. Why do you want to own a bed and breakfast?
If you are just seeking personal fulfillment, your approach is going to be very different than someone who is hoping to create a revenue stream using their home.
2. What the requirements are for legally using your property as a bed and breakfast?
There is no one-stop shop for finding out what the requirements are where you live, and there may be federal, state and local regulations that will apply – all the way from tax implications to health and safety (e.g. food handling) to zoning, sign permits, and parking issues.
3. What is going to attract people to your bed and breakfast?
The bad news is that people don’t decide to go to stay at a B&B (unless it is a destination in and of itself) and then look for things to do; they find something they want to do, decide they want stay over and require accommodation, and then look for somewhere to stay.
4. Who is your competition?
If you want to be financially rewarded for your efforts, you need to find out if there is a need for another bed and breakfast in your area. In addition, you need to look at the other accommodations; studies show that 80% of hotel guests say they never even considered the idea of staying in a B&B as an option.
5. Who do you want as your guest?
In May 2012, BedandBreakfast.com did a survey on travel trends impacting on B&Bs, and found that three quarters of guests are couples between the ages of 35 and 65. Are these the people you pictured yourself serving in your bed and breakfast?
6. Will you be able to offer the amenities that potential guests want?
From a summer 2012 traveler survey by BedandBreakfast.com*, B&B guests said the following amenities were either very important to them or they wouldn't book without them:
• 91% want private bathrooms and 71% free, on-site parking. Do you have the space to be able to put in extra bathrooms and parking spaces?
• 60% expect free breakfast – are you prepared to deal with special diets? Do you have consistent access to high quality foods and beverages? Where and how are you going to seat your guests for breakfast?
• 38% demand free cable or satellite TV and WiFi a must-have these days. The good news is that technology is constantly progressing, making it easier to provide these types of services at a lower cost.
• 57% want flexible check-ins. You need to qualify what a “late check-in" is, how much disruption it might cause to your personal life and schedule, as well as how it might disturb other guests.
7. What are the financial implications of owning a bed and breakfast?
One of the key benefits of owning a bed and breakfast is the potential for tax write-offs and the ability to improve your property. However, you need to weigh that against the additional costs you will incur through investing in upgrades, increased utility and food bills, and property tax increases.
Making the decision to use your home as a bed and breakfast requires thought and research. Here are my recommendations for getting started:
• Visit your local municipal government to discuss what might be required
• Be realistic about your current property and its ability to provide the services and amenities bed and breakfast guests are looking for
• Talk to an experienced bed and breakfast owner who can give you insights on additional things you need to consider, provide valuable contacts, and give you some ideas about your potential guests
• Do some rough math to figure out whether you can make enough money to make your feel adequately compensated for your efforts
• Find some courses put on by actual bed and breakfast owners to continue your exploration
Running a bed and breakfast in your home is a great lifestyle if you are prepared for the reality!
About the author:
Susan Poole, The B&B Coach is the owner of the award-winning 40 Bay Street Bed & Breakfast. Her 3 step system has been created to help people figure out if owning a bed and breakfast can produce the income and fulfillment then envision. After completing the "How to turn your passions into a thriving bed and breakfast business" system, people will know how much income they can create, how much work it will be and what the risks are for them.
*Survey in summer 2012 consisted of 992 traveler responses