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What is a Bed and Breakfast?

Posted on April 24, 2008 at 11:11 PM
What is a Bed and Breakfast?
A bed and breakfast, is generally known as a private home where a guest is provided a place to stay for the night. In some cases, the bathroom provided for the guest is shared with the family or another guest. Although now, guests expect a private bathroom. Breakfast is usually included with the price of the room.

A bed & breakfast provided in a private home has been referred to as a "homestay" in the past.

Besides private residences, there are some establishments called Bed & Breakfast Inns. The same concept of room and breakfast apply. However, the major difference is the inn has more rooms available than the usual one to four bedrooms found in a private home. Inns usually provide meals in addition to breakfast, as well as other services not provided in a private home.

These two terms are used in the industry to distinguish the difference between a stay in a private home and an inn. But remember, no two home or inns are alike. They vary within the same geographic area of the county and even more so across the United States. These differences are what attract people to stay at a B & B home or inn and why they have become so popular. Each one has it's own personality.

Generally, a B & B is not the reason for a guest to visit an area, but due to the increase in publicity of B & B's this too has changed. People read articles in a variety of publications and are attracted by the B & B and plan visit the area specifically to stay at the B & B.

In general travelers are attracted by recreational, cultural, historic sights or business in an area. Business travelers, especially women, seek out bed and breakfast accomodations as an alternative to the typical lodge, motel or hotel facility available in an area. B & B's provide the traveler with a different lodging experience as well what many consider a safer environment.

History of  Bed & Breakfasts

The bed and breakfast concept has existed in one form or another since the beginning of man. Monastaries served as a bed and breakfast for travelers.

Bed and breakfasts have been very popular with the traveling public in Europe for years. It was in England, Scotland and Ireland that the term B & B first came into use. Tourists will see a B & B sign in many windows there. The term B & B is not used in many other countries. Terms such as paradors, pensions, gasthaus, minskukus, shukukos, pousados are used to describe a bed and breakfast.

The United States also has a history of bed and breakfast dating back to the time of early settlers. As the pioneers traveled the trails and roads across this county, they sought a safe refuge in homes, inns and taverns.

During the "Great Depression" many people opened their homes to travelers to bring in some additional money for the family. The term "boarding house"  were used at this time. After the depression, this type of lodging declined and many people had the idea they were just for the low income or drifters. In the early fifties, people may remember "tourist home" being used. This too was essentially a form of bed and breakfast. Once the motels were built on the new highways, they were soon forgotten.

Because of the number of Americans traveling to Europe in recent years and rediscovering the B & B's, there has been an increase in interest in the United States.  Today, the B & B is not viewed as a low cost lodging facility but as an alternative to the typical standard chain hotel or motel room.

Who Own a Bed & Breakfast ?

It's almost impossible to describe the typical person who operates a bed and breakfast. They come from all walks of life; from professionals to laborers. Artists, craftsman, farmers, insurance agents, teachers and anyone else you can think of have opened and run successful B & B businesses. Singles, couples and families have also been involved.

Their reasons for opening a bed and breakfast? They are just as varied. Perhaps the children have grown and moved away and there are empty rooms in a large home. Some people just have more rooms than they need. Widowed or divorced people have been involved with B & B's. While they are run for a source of income, most people do not depend on them soley for their livelihood. People retired from other professions such as professionals or farmers who have a primary source of income typically operate a B & B.

All successful B & B's have one thing in common.Owners who like people!

They also like to entertain people in their homes. Many of these owners also have skills they want to use such as cooking in order to please their guests. Others may have historically significant homes they want to share with others.

Anyone seriously thinking about opening a bed and breakfast must like people and be able to deal with all types of people. This is a people business! You must also be willing to sacrifice a big part of your personal life since guests will be living with you.

If you are still interested,before you make your final decision, it is suggested  you do a lot of reading and studying.You should also attend special workshops, which are offered all around the country.

People operating a bed and breakfast should enjoy their guest. It is not uncommon for lasting friendships to form between hosts and guests. These guests are usually frequent repeat visitors and also serve as a major source of referrals for other guests. People who stay at bed and breakfasts aren't the ordinary traveler. They are looking for quality lodging and service as well as the uniqueness of each host. They are not looking for a bargain. In fact, they are usually quite willing to pay more for something different and out of the ordinary.

As you plan for the start-up of your bed and breakfast, there are some decisions you will need to make in order for the experience to be both profitable for you and enjoyable for your guests. Do not take these decisions lightly. Taking care of these items before a situation occurs can save you money,worry and grief in the long run.

House Rules

House rules are the rules you want your guests to follow. You will want to establish these ground rules before receiving your first guests. Guests will need to be made aware of your decisions before staying at your bed and breakfast in order to avoid possible conflicts.

1. Will smoking be permitted? You may want to keep smoking limited to certain areas in or around your home or simply say "no smoking is permitted."

2. Will you allow social drinking? Some people enjoy a cocktail before dinner and may bring a bottle with them. Some hosts offer wine or other liquor to their guests. You may not sell alcoholic drinks in your bed and breakfast. This would require a special liquor license. You must also consider the fact that if by chance an accident did occur and the guest says your served him the liquor, you can be held liable. Check on your state's dram laws.If you prefer that no alcoholic drinks be consumed in your home, say so to your guests.

3. Will you accept children? Will you only allow certain ages? More bed and breakfasts are accepting children, but that decision is up to you. You may enjoy children, but will your other guests. Who will your guests be? Will you target groups that want to be around children or not? Make sure that this rule is made clear to potential guests in your brochure and advertising.

4. How do you feel about guests bringing other people into your home? May guests take others to their room? Is there a public area that can be used? You may want to set a specific time after which only guests may be in your home.

5. Will you allow guests to bring their pets? Do you have pets of your own? Be sure to inform all concerned parties about your policy. Non-pet owners may object, or you may have a guest who is highly allergic to certain animals. If you do allow animals, where will they stay? Inside? Outside? Restricted areas of the house? Remember, if you have a dog that protects your home by nipping at strangers, it could mean a lawsuit someday.

6. Will you permit guests to use your phone? Perhaps you will allow only local calls. You may suggest that all long distance calls be done with a phone calling card or charge an extra fee for any long distance calls. Will you provide a phone in each guest room? This may be an asset if you are trying to attract business travelers. Let your guests know the policy in advance to avoid problems.

7. Will you allow guests to use your kitchen or laundry facilities? Do you want strangers roaming around in your kitchen or laundry when you are not there? Will you allow limited access when it is convenient for other family members? Do you want others cooking on the premises? Perhaps you can provide a separate small refrigerator or ice maker in a public area where guests may store items and be able to help themselves to ice and beverages at their convenience.

It is important to make your rules and expectations very clear to your guests. This can be done verbally when booking a guest or upon their arrival. The use of written "house rules" posted tastefully in each guest room in another method some hosts use. Any limitations set should be used on all publicity and advertising materials.


Guest Rooms / Beds

Try to look at your home objectively. Are your furnishings in good condition? What type of beds do your rooms have? Twin, double, queen, king, waterbed etc.? Is there enough closet space? Before you open your home to guests, try spending a night in each room as if your were a guest. As a homeowner, one often becomes immune to the street noises or a bright security light in the back yard. Perhaps the hourly chimes of your grandfather clock in the hallway will keep some guests awake at night.

Find out if the beds sag? It may be time to purchase a new mattress and box springs. Are pillows in good condition? What type of pillows are there? Some guests are very allergic to down ones. Is there adequate light in the bedroom both for dressing and reading? Is the floor cold when one gets out of the bed? Do you need to get out the oil can for some of the squeaky doors? You get the idea. All of these things can mean the difference between a satisfied and dissatisfied guest.


Sharing a Bath

The definite trend in more and more bed and breakfast homes is to provide a private bath with each room. Guest now expect them. You may not be able to provide a private bath for each room. In many cases a guest will not object to this providing you have made adequate arrangements for sharing of a bathroom. But, how will you and your family feel about sharing a bathroom with strangers? You will be losing some privacy in your own home and may even have to wait in line at some time.

Are you willing to do this? When a bath is shared, you must be concerned about keeping clean and presentable for guests. How will you make it easier for everyone to cooperate in keeping the bathroom clean for the next person?

Special care must be taken to assure that bathrooms are scrupulously clean before, during and after a guest's stay. A small basket of cleaning supplies in a convenient location may help others realize that they need to keep the bathroom in good condition for others. A "clever" sign can be hung in the bathroom as a reminder to the slow pokes. Make sure that any reading material is kept in other rooms.


Security and Keys

How will you deal with security in your bed and breakfast? Some hosts will give guests a key at no cost. Others will charge a "key fee" of $5 or $10 which is refunded when the guest returns the key.

For your own security, you may give the guest a key for their room and a regular front door lock and not to the dead bolt security lock. Other hosts give guests a key to their room and then set specific hours that the front door is kept locked.

A bed and breakfast traditionally provides a comfortable night's lodging and a good breakfast in a private home. Guests choose this type of accommodations because they enjoy the personal contact that a bed and breakfast host gives to their guests. Hosting a bed and breakfast often brings many new friendships and guest who will return again and again. However, before you start your business, take a long hard look at yourself and your lifestyle. It may seem like a glamorous and interesting opportunity, but it is also one which will require many long hours and lots of hard work.

Many people dream of owning a bed and breakfast. However, it takes more than just a desire to run your own business. Many skills are needed to run a successful bed and breakfast. Do you have what it takes? Before spending a lot of time and money, use this personal assessment survey to determine if you and your partner, if you have one, really have the skills needed. Answer each question honestly by placing a check mark in the box. Complete the survey for yourself and also complete one on your partner. Have your partner do the same. Compare your answers. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Did you find any of your answers surprising? Consider ways to compensate for your weaknesses. You should now be better prepared to make some realistic decisions about starting a bed and breakfast.

A well thought out thorough plan will assure an enjoyable and hopefully profitable bed and breakfast business. Since everyone in the family will have to live with the decisions, everyone should be involved in making them. The planning process should be done carefully and should take a lot of searching and study. Be realistic in what you have to offer potential guests. What do potential guests want? How can you bring your wants and their wants together?

B & B Plan Outline

Planning is a process to help you and your family consider and reconsider a variety of ideas. Think about each of the following points thoroughly as they apply to your situation. You should first prove to yourself that your ideas for a bed and breakfast will be a worthwhile venture for you and your family. Some of the elements of the plan will also be useful if you need to borrow money for the business in the future.

What are Your Resources?

1. Your bed and breakfast home and grounds; its character, period and/or style, location, facilities and activities on the premises and within the community seasonal or year round.

2. The amount of free time you have available to manage and operate a bed and breakfast. Is it adequate?

3. Family members, bed and breakfast related skills, dispositions, and interests.

4. Available capital for bed and breakfast start up and on-going costs.

Setting Your Goals:

1. What are your reasons for considering a bed and breakfast operation? Are they just financial needs?

2. What is your desired income over a "pre-determined" number of years (net profit).

3.Do your bed and breakfast goals mesh with family goals, long and short term?

4. Modifying and prioritizing goals after making first decisions

Bed & Breakfast Requirements Study:

1. Check out what is needed in the way of licenses and permits: zoning, building and housing codes, health regulations, vendor's license, within your location.

2. Can you obtain and what is the cost to you for liability and other insurance: hazards to eliminate, liability insurance for a public place?

3. What are the tax requirements: local, state, federal, sales you will need to meet?

4. What sort of  business structure: sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation if any, will work best for you?

Market Analysis:

1. Socio-economic characteristics of your targeted guests. Consider what you prefer and/or you will most likely attract.

2. Number and location of potential clientele.

3. Distances and routes to specific targeted areas close to your bed and breakfast.

4. Anticipated growth in socio-economic status.

5. Trends in bed and breakfast preferences.

Competition/Comparisons:

1. Quantity and quality of similar B & B's and attractions in your location.

2. Profitability of competitors' bed and breakfast and trends.

3. Competitors' locations to target guests.

Management System:

1. Type of records for tax purposes

2. Start up and maintenance costs (facilities, equipment, supplies and services).

3. Pricing bed and breakfast facilities and services.

4. Inventory and depreciation record keeping.

5. Bed & Breakfast Standard Operating Procedures ( with family members assignments).

Marketing Strategy to Targeted Guests:

1. Image building: logo,stationary, signs etc.

2. Sales strategy: uniqueness, quality, price, location, etc.

3. Promotion strategy: type of advertising and media; agencies and organizations.

Action Plan:

1. Prioritized bed and breakfast goals (most desired results within six months to one year)

2. Tasks to accomplish goals. Set deadlines.

3. Needed resources: money, time, labor, etc.

4. Large action calendar (with task start dates and completion deadlines.)

Evaluate your progress periodically and update your plan. No plan is static. Things will happen that will cause you to make changes in your plans. Call on professionals for assistance; an attorney, accountant, insurance agent, a bed and breakfast organization director,  and others you may know.

Resources Available:

1. Check out other books on the subject from your state government.

2. Talk to local chamber of commerce, visitors bureau, etc.

3. Contact Small Business Association in your location for assistance

Although it is possible to start a bed and breakfast without a big capital investment, there are some important start-up costs one must consider. A major factor is whether or not you already own a building suitable for a bed and breakfast. The projections here assume that a building is completely paid for. Otherwise, you will need to include a house payment in these projections.
People have many reasons for wanting to start a home based business--the need for additional income, a way of making a hobby produce some income, the desire to stay at home with children, the need to be with the family more, or just plain tired of an hour long commute twice a day.Whatever the reason, the facts remain. Home based businesses are growing and are expected to maintain continued growth in the future.

The bed and breakfast industry has also grown significantly and many believe there is still room for more growth. Bed and breakfast operations seem to have found their niche in the hospitality industry.

If you are one of those people considering the idea of opening your own bed and breakfast, the first people you will want to discuss it with is your family. Some people may consider this the ideal way of having the best of both worlds--family and work--but think again. If your family members aren't willing to give up or share some of their space with potential guests--you have a problem.

Working in a home based business becomes a delicate balancing act between work and family. The pressures of business could get the best of you and cause some conflicts in the family. You must put a lot of thought into how your family and the business can function together. Consider these points and discuss as a family before reaching your final decision.

1. Time Schedules

As a business, bed and breakfasts are dependent on their guests' schedule and families must manage around them.

  • How will this type of scheduling affect you and your family?
  • Do you have young children that need your care and attention?
  • Do you and family members have commitments or obligations which will interfere or conflict with guests' needs?

2. Period of Operation

Some businesses can pick and choose their hours of operation. Bed and breakfasts have some flexibility in this area, but if you want to build up your business, you have to be open. Can you schedule some time off in order to be with the family? Will it hurt the business? Will it coincide with the time they have available?


3. Amount of Energy Required

Will you be able to handle the tasks required by both your business and family? In a bed and breakfast, you will need to get up early, probably go to bed late and in the beginning, do all of the housework, prepare meals, as well as manage the business. Do you have the energy level needed? Are others will and able to help?


4. Use of Space

Your home will be your place of business. Are family members willing to give up some of their space for guests? Have family members take some time to fill out the worksheet below and then discuss it with them.


5. Friends and Neighbors

How will your business affect your neighborhood? Will neighbors accept and support a bed and breakfast? Zoning is another concern for some bed and breakfast locations.

Bed and Breakfast Family Use of Space Worksheet

Use this worksheet to find how each family member feels about sharing rooms in your home with guests.
In the left column, list each area and room of your home. Across the top list each family member. Using the codes listed below, have each family member indicate how comfortable they are with guest's use of these rooms.

After everyone has finished, determine what space appears acceptable and on what kind of schedule. Now it's time to talk! Does everyone agree? Are there ways you might be able to negotiate a compromise? If not, you may need to rethink your plans for opening a bed and breakfast in your home. 

Running a bed and breakfast takes a lot of work. It may sound like a glamorous business, but it will mean some long hard hours for the hosts. One person cannot do it alone. You will need help. If family members are present, can you persuade them to pitch in? Unless you are independently wealthy, you probably will not be able to hire outside help when you begin your business.
Many people say the financial benefits are one of the reaons they want to open a bed and breakfast in their home.

It is probably not realistic to expect to earn your entire living from the operation of a small (4 rooms) bed and breakfast. However, if you are looking for a way to supplement a retirement income, or just add to your present income; a bed and breakfast in your home can provide you with a number of other financial benefits.

The Internal Revenue Service allows bed and breakfast operators to deduct some costs of maintaining the portion of your home which is used exclusively and regularly for the business. Business expenses may also be deducted as a percentage of the house you use directly for the bed and breakfast business. Since IRS rules are always changing it is best to seek out professional advice on tax matters.

Ask any innkeeper or hotel manager and they will tell you, the chances of being booked every night of the year are pretty slim. The same will be true of your bed and breakfast no matter where you are located or what you do.

So, what would be a success for your bed and breakfast? Many people would think that filling rooms 100 nights out of the year would be good, while for others it would be a disaster. According to a survey of bed and breakfast operations, the average number of room nights booked is 362. And, that is after several years of operation. If you figure that number at the average rate of $60 a night, that is an income of almost $20,000. Again, before any of your expenses are paid.

Realistically, you should not expect too much from your first year of business unless you are located in a very popular tourist area, or in an area of high demand with little accomodations available. This is not a "get-rich-quick" scheme. If you want to make more money in the hospitality business, running a full-service inn would be another alternative.

It takes much hard work and effort to run a bed and breakfast. Think of it as a way to supplement your income and the chance to meet many new and interesting people. That way, you won't be disappointed.


Determining Your Rates

How much will you charge for a room at your bed and breakfast? There are no set rules for determining the rate. There are some general suggestions you might want to follow. It does surprise many people today to find out  many bed and breakfasts are not necessarily cheaper than a hotel or motel. This used to be the case several years ago, but no longer. Guests who stay at a bed and breakfast are looking for something special and are usually willing to pay for it. Remember, you don't want to charge too much or too little.

The rate should be a function of your indirect and direct costs plus an amount for your profit. A little bit or research is in order to see what others are charging their guests. Also consider these points in trying to determine your rates:

  • The type of room available.
  • The type and size of bed in the room.
  • If there is a private or shared bath
  • Special services or amenities provided
  • The average rate charged by local hotels.
The more you have to offer a guest, the more you should be able to charge. Don't charge so much that you keep guests away, but don't charge so little that you are literally giving away your time. Afterall, you are running a business. If you need to adjust rates, have too many requests, or the lack of guests may be an indication that a change in rates up or down may be needed.

Length of Guest Stay The typical bed and breakfast guest stays only a short time. One survey conducted  indicated about sixty percent of guests stay only one night at a B & B, twenty-five percent stay two nights and about eight percent stay 3 nights. The length of stay will depend on the reason the guest is visiting in your area. If it's a business trip or if you live in an area with many tourist attractions, a guest may stay longer in your bed and breakfast. If the guest is just stopping on the way to another location, the stay will be shorter.
The bed and breakfast home is a home based business opportunity that has experienced a great deal of interest around the entire country. Laws and regulations on bed and breakfast operations are just now beginning to catch up with this part of the travel and tourism industry. Laws will vary from state to state and even county to county. Some of the more common state laws that could apply to a bed and breakfast are here. For complete information, contact sourcesin your own state or check with your own local officials.
Building Codes:

One,two, and three family dwellings with not more than five lodgers or boarders are exempt from the requirements of the Ohio Basic Building Code. However, the requirements of your local building codes would be applicable.

With more than five lodgers or boarders, the Ohio Basic Building Code would be applicable as either transient ( use group R-1) or non-transient ( use group R-2) residential buildings. Transient lodgers make use of a facility for a period of less than 30 days. Again, check with your own local codes.


Fire Inspection:

The local fire department has jurisdiction to inspect all bed and breakfast operations which have four or more bedrooms hired out to the transient public for sleeping accommodations.

In Ohio, all bed and breakfast homes which have five or mor bedrooms are subject to inspections by the State Fire Marshall's office.

For additional information on fire inspection, contact your own state or local fire department.


Food Service:

In Ohio, any bed and breakfast serving a meal or lunch to five or fewer guests is exempt from purchasing a food service license. Any bed and breakfast serving a full meal or lunch to more than six guests must obtain a food service license with the exception that there is no restriction on the number of guests that may be served a "continental" breakfast. A "continental" breakfast is defined as a beverage and pastry.

You will need to contact your local county health department for rules and regulations specific to your area.


Motel License:

In Ohio, any bed and breakfast which has five or more rooms for transient guests must purchase a motel license and comply with the requirements of the State Fire Marshall's office. Check with your state officials for any requirements in your location.


Registration of Business Name:

Ohio law requires that any business name that does not fully identify the owner(s) of the business be registered with the Ohio Secretary of State. Also, if you wish to protect or keep the name that you have selected for your business, it will be necessary to apply for a trade name registration with the Ohio Secretary of State.

For more information on registering a name and/or trade name, contact your own state government.


Sales Tax:

In Ohio, a bed and breakfast with five or more bedrooms available to transient guests is considered a hotel and the sales tax is applicable to the room rental charge. Also a "bed tax" is applicable to a bed and breakfast with five or more rooms.

You will need to check with your own State Department of Taxation for rules and regulations.

The opening of a bed and breakfast is often an issue of  concern in many areas. The majority of the bed and breakfasts are opened in private homes. And, since many communities have zoning ordinances which control or regulate the use of private property, potential operators of a bed and breakfast need to investigate whether zoning can be changed to fit the needs of this type of home based business. Failure to meet local zoning laws can mean fines and often legal actions as well as loss on money on the owners part.

Homeowners or potential buyers interested in running a bed and breakfast should raise the issue of zoning first before going any further with plans. If there is a problem, you may have a variety of options to pursue, but find out first before investing your time and money.

Zoning

Zoning is a locally enacted law that regulates and controls the use of private property. Not all communities have enacted zoning regulations. Zoning involves dividing the community into districts for agricultural, residential, commercial,industrial and public uses. The zoning law then states which specific uses are permitted in each district and under what circumstances.

Depending on where your potential bed and breakfast property is located, it may be necessary to discuss zoning matters with township, municipal and/or county officials. If the community is not zoned, then the homeowner should be allowed the proposed change in use. However, if zoning rules have been adopted, a review of the law must be done to determine whether a B & B establishment is permitted.

The zoning law should describe the procedures necessary to make a change in use. In those cases where a B & B is a permitted use, usually very little is required to affect the change other than a zoning permit application.

The zoning inspector would normally approve a change in use that is consistent with the zoning laws. If the permit is denied by the inspector, the homeowner can appeal to the Zoning Board of Appeals. In some cases if the appeal is turned down, than an alternative is to file for a variance. A variance is a type of appeal since the homeowner must first go to the zoning inspector with an application for a zoning permit. When the inspector disapproves the application, the homeowner files a request with the Board of Zoning Appeals for a variance from the strict application of the zoning law.

In some communities, the zoning law has provisions for "Conditional Use Permits". Applications for conditional use permits go directly from the homeowner to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Conditional use possess unique or specical characteristics relating to size, traffic generation, method of operation, location and design. Each use is considered on an individual basis. The zoning law normally contains both general and specific standards for conditional uses. Approval of the bed and breakfast as a conditional use then means it must meet general and specific standards.

In the cases of appeals, variances, and/or conditional uses, the zoning law specifies the procedures to use. The procedures usually include the filing of an application, scheduling of a public hearing, sending notice of the public hearing to all interested parties, publication of the public hearing in the newspaper, holding the public hearing and making a decision. It is not unusual for the procedures to take anywhere from two to three months. An appeal of the decision from the Board of Zoning Appeals must be made to the Court of Common Pleas.

Beyond the appeal, variance and/or conditional use, the only resource to zoning changes is amending the law. Zoning is not rigid and it should be updated on a periodic basis. However, this doesn't mean that just because you want to open a bed and breakfast that the laws should be changed. Anyone thinking about a bed and breakfast in a community where it is not permitted by zoning should realize that attempts to change the zoning laws is a very long process and will need a wide base of support.

The major problem today associated with getting approval of a bed and breakfast in many communities is the local zoning law. Since many of these laws were written before bed and breakfasts became popular in the United States, many of them do not contain a definition of a bed and breakfast. In some cases, local zoning officials have permitted bed and breakfasts as long as they meet the standards defined either for boarding houses or tourist homes. A number of communities have or are in the process of amending their zoning laws to clarify this issue now.

In communities where bed and breakfasts may not be allowed as permitted use or there are other problems, it is highly recommended that the owner seek legal help from someone who is experienced in zoning regulations. The administration of zoning regulations is a very complex procedure which requires a lot of attention to detail. In many cases the decision of whether to permit a bed and breakfast lies in the ability of the potential owner to convince local officials that the establishment of a bed and breakfast would be an asset to the community.

Introduction

It is not necessary to have a large sum of money or experience in business or hotel management to start a bed and breakfast operation in your home. However, a key ingredient is the ability to get along with all types of people who will be staying at your bed and breakfast. When you operate a bed and breakfast, you become the host--not an owner--who greets and welcomes guests--not clients.

Hospitality is your business. A successful bed and breakfast operation builds its reputation on the hospitality it provides. Repeat business and referrals often come as a result of your interactions with your guests. Guests who frequent bed and breakfast homes usually seek the enjoyment of getting to know their hosts and often develop close friendships with them.

Here are just a few "tips", hosts can try to increase their guest's satisfaction levels during their stay.

    Hosts should always provide a warm, friendly welcome at the front door.

    Take care of business transactions within the first 20 minutes of your guests' arrival. This will include such things as collecting payment, signing guest register,and giving guest a receipt. This allows you to then concentrate on making the stay a pleasant experience without having to worry about payment.

    Show guests to their room and give them an opportunity to settle in. If they have not had a long trip, you may also want to give guests a quick tour of your home.

    Offer a beverage and/or a light snack after guests have had some time to settle down from their trip. Check with guests to see if there is anything else they need.

    Be a "fountain of information" for your guests. As hosts, you should be able to answer questions about your area and mention nearby attractions and places of interest.

    Provide guest with an information fact sheet about common questions and answers concerning your area.

    Collect brochures and maps on sightseeing for your area as well as nearby areas of interest. Make these available to your guests at no cost.

    Collect menus from local restaurants. You may put these in guest rooms or leave them in your lounge area so that people may browse through them at their leisure.

    Offer "special touches" that will appeal to a variety of guests. Perhaps a breakfast in bed for newlyweds or for special occasions.

    Always have coffee made early. Find out when guests arrive what they would prefer as a beverage in the morning. A pot of freshly brewed coffee outside the door in the morning will be a treat for the true coffee drinker.

    Be sure to provide a variety of beverages so that guest can choose from a good selection. Coffee should be of the best quality. Never instant! Experiment with the many different blends available.

    Offer-- "for an extra fee"-- to make special picnic baskets for lunch or dinner so that guest may enjoy a special outdoor location. This will depend on local food service rules and regulation.

    An umbrella stand with loan umbrellas near the door may come in very handy for the guest who isn't prepared for bad weather.

    Set up a special corner in your public lounge area with a variety of games, cards, books and magazines. A variety of reading material in each room is also welcomed.

    Have extra sample size toilet article on hand for your guests. Things such as shampoo, hand lotion, toothbrushes, razors, toothpaste will be appreciated by your guests. If you wish, you can have a special supply ordered with your logo/name and use to promote your bed and breakfast.

    Always have liquid soap or the small individually wrapped soaps available in the bathroom so no guest has to use someone else's soap. Liquid soaps can also be used in the shower as well as a special liquid shampoo dispenser.

    A special guest "welcome tray" in each room can include fruit, cookies, or candy. Provide disposable drinking cups in each room as well as tissues etc.

    Have an area which is easily accessible to guests where they can always find a beverage or snack of some kind.

    Keep an extra hair dryer, make-up mirror, curling iron, iron and ironing board available for guest use.

    Provide local newspaper as well as one with large circulation such as USA TODAY.

    Be able to provide your guests with a local map. Mark your home on the map as well as restaurants and other attractions.

    Keep copies of articles of special interest from your local paper in a notebook for your guests.

    Collect discount coupons from local restaurants, fast food chains as well as other nearby attractions for your guests'use.

    Leave a notecard or flyer telling guests where they can order a pizza if they wish. Let your guests know it's all right to eat in their room or on your deck or patio.

    Help your guests feel comfortable in your home. Make sure they know that they should ask if there is something they need--extra towels, more pillows, iron and ironing board etc.

    Some hosts put together a collection of their favorite recipes to share with guests. You will need to decide whether or not to charge a few for them.

    If you have a special hobby or interest, invite your guests to watch you if they wish.

    If you have an historic home, your guests may want to know more about it. Some hosts keep a scrapbook of pictures and documents detailing the history and/or renovations and restoration of their home. This can be placed in a public area, or if you wish, duplicate it and place in each room.

    If your community has a walk-it-yourself tour, you may want to provide guests with a copy and make suggestions of things to look for along the route.

    Provide a list of churches in the area along with worship service hours. Be sure to keep the list up to date to avoid embarrassment for your guests should they happen in during the middle of a service.

    Be sensitive to your guests' need for privacy and space. Be available for those who want to talk to you, but just in touch enough for the guest who wants to be left alone.

    Bed and breakfast establishments often attract couples looking for that romantic get-away. If you home setting conveys that feeling, play it up. Offer guests some privacy in front of a fireplace, use a romantic decor for a special honeymoon or anniversary room. Special touches such as candlelight, satin sheets,soft music, a decanter of liqueur or brandy all add to the romantic mood. (Be sure to check the dram laws of your state BEFORE providing alcoholic beverages to your guests.)

    If guests want to get to know you better, do so. You are a unique individual. . .your way of life, your home, your town. . .all make the visit very special to your guests. The "extras" you provide go a long way. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to attract more guests and repeat visitors, so make a positive impression.





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