So you’re starting a bed-and-breakfast. Congratulations on your new venture! It can be tough, but it’s rewarding. You’ll need to plan and manage everything from the food and beverage service, housekeeping and maintenance, and even the guest experience. While you’ll need a considerable investment to open a bed-and-breakfast, most experts say that you’ll need around $35,000 to $50,000 per guest room for larger operations, while $20,000 to $40,000 should cover smaller ones.
Explore some of the challenges someone might face in taking on this endeavor—everything from finding affordable catering services to designing beautiful interiors with limited funds.
Transportation is one aspect of operating a Bed-and-Breakfast that many people underestimate. As guests arrive at their destination for vacation or business travel, they may expect free transportation back to an airport or train station for departure. If not, then it is a good idea to have a shuttle service available. To ensure no one is stranded you might want to offer rides or place them on a list for the taxi to contact when they are needed.
In addition, if any of your guests require special transportation services (such as wheelchairs and motorized scooters) make sure to discuss this in the contract when they book the room. You’ll want to provide all options so that your guests are satisfied with their travel arrangements.
Food and Beverage Service
Food and beverage service is another aspect that often intimidates people. As with all businesses, you need to know your customers’ wants and needs and provide a product or service that satisfies them.
When starting a bed-and-breakfast, as with the name of the business itself, you’ll want to offer impeccable breakfast options. Breakfast buffets are standard in the industry, so this is something you can add as a premium when your guests book rooms. Offer a continental breakfast buffet so that your guests can have a taste of Europe. Create a dedicated caffeine corner where guests can see the whole brewing process—grinding coffee beans and brewing coffee.
If your budget restricts you from offering a breakfast buffet, you can offer your guests an à la carte all-day breakfast menu. There’s nothing more comforting than eating pancakes and bacon at midnight while watching your favorite series.
Housekeeping and Maintenance
Housekeeping and maintenance are always vital when starting a bed-and-breakfast. But at this stage, you will only need to hire a few extra cleaning staff and maintenance workers as your business grows.
When starting up your bed-and-breakfast, you’ll want to focus more on housekeeping than maintenance. You will want to clean your rooms thoroughly every day, change the sheets and do laundry at least twice a week, and polish everything from lamps to tables every day. But there’s no need to focus on maintenance until you’ve established a steady flow of guests yet.
Once you expand your business, you can hire a groundskeeper and a maintenance worker. A groundskeeper is responsible for keeping the exterior of your bed-and-breakfast in good condition (the lawns, the trees, the shrubs, and the walkways). A maintenance worker is responsible for fixing broken objects around your bed-and-breakfast–everything from broken chairs and rakes to bathroom stalls and leaky faucets.
The guest experience is a crucial element of any business, but it’s even more important when starting a bed-and-breakfast. You want to give your guests a five-star experience, but it’s more important to make them feel right at home. And a simple way of doing that is by providing a detailed orientation of the house.
When starting up, you will need to create an orientation booklet for your guests. Make sure the guidebook includes information about:
- breakfast and dining options,
- transportation options,
- housekeeping and maintenance services,
- local tourist spots, and
- other amenities (e.g., games, books, movies).
This will give your guests all the information they need to make the most of their stay and to feel like they are in good hands. In addition to this pamphlet, you will want to display signs directing guests a way around the house. This way, guests will know where to find what they need (e.g., the laundry room, shower, exits, etc.).
Another critical part of your guest experience is your staff’s attitude. Make sure that your employees are friendly and well-groomed when working with guests. At this point, you will want to hire only people who are patient and willing to help. You can also add a “welcome kit” to your guest rooms. This welcome kit could consist of a set of toiletries, local information pamphlets and maps, and coupons for restaurants and other shops.
A bed-and-breakfast is a great way to start a business in the hospitality industry, but it’s important to be prepared for the challenges that come with this type of business. From hiring staff and keeping them happy to maintaining an immaculate property, there are many things you’ll need to think about before taking on this endeavor. The biggest takeaway here? You want your guest experience to make a lasting impression and encourage guests to return.
Bernard is a recreational lone traveler, looking for the next hiking adventure ideally in the winter/spring seasons. His favorite hiking locations are the Philippines, Hong Kong and the Kansai Area of Japan. He published his travels on his Youtube Channel “Wandelust” for the most important person in his life – his Mom.