How to Bed and Breakfast: Getting Started

If this is your first venture into the world of B&Bs, note that there are two basic models in the marketplace: traditional B&Bs, and more recently, hotel-style B&Bs


Your great idea can often be the victim of time, circumstance, or a series of unfortunate events. The bed and breakfast experience can be like this. Your unique set of life skills will be applied to a the bed and breakfast model that you choose. I would advise you to think carefully about which type of B&B fits your personality and skills. 

·         The Historical B&B

In the past, the B&B was considered to amount to little more than a low-cost alternative to established hotel or inn-style businesses. If you stayed at a bed and breakfast you probably expected less as well—maybe not as little as what you would get in a hostel, but you probably expected to share a bathroom with your host. Now this is sometimes not a bad thing; many people desire a family-like setting, thus the traditional appeal of the old-style B&B.. Many travelers find that staying in a family-like atmosphere is a more wholesome experience than the commercial feel of the hotel and motel lodging.

·         Attracting More Travellers

However, remember that a significant part of the traveling public has no intention of lodging at a bed and breakfast. When their work day (or vacation day) is over, they want a quiet, isolated refuge. The same applies to their meals. Clients like this (this describes the author!) will never be a customer of a bed and breakfast unlesss unless some kind of alternative is available. Traditional hosts may not be open to changing; if business is doing OK, why rock the boat, as they say. And besides, changes cost money. But if you are a new player in the market, it may be easier for you to be different from day 1.

·         A New B&B Model

North America has witnessed a sea change in the quantity and quality of its B&Bs in the last quarter century. Demand for services has greatly increased, as travelers now expect many of the things they used to ask for. The new entrants are often much more upscale and feature-packed, but maintaining the intimacy of a B&B. One of the most remarkable changes is the emergence of bed and breakfasts which market a theme, just like many major hotels do. Now they become one-stop destinations, enabling the capture of a tourist for the single purpose of lodging. A search of the internet will find farm themed bed and breakfasts, wellness themed, education themed, or even workshop themed bed and breakfasts.

The marketplace is thus being populated by a new generation of accommodation specialists, who are trying to satisfy a wide range of customer tastes. 

·         Match the Bed and Breakfast Style to Yourself

If you want to get into this emerging market, just be yourself. Use your unique people skills, and combine them with a reformatting of your residence which will  establish a niche market that you control. I will not deal with marketing in these articles; the assumption that I will make in the following articles is that you have researched your area thoroughly, and feel that it is ripe for a B&B. Is the local market saturated? Do local ordinances prohibit the opening of any new B&Bs? These are the due diligence issues you should cover before getting emotionally involved in this business.



The next article in this series will assess the question:  How to Bed and Breakfast: Why build an Optimized Bed and Breakfast?.