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How to Run a Bed and Breakfast

If you're a social butterfly with fresh ideas and a willingness to be hands-on, then your B&B business will flourish.

It may take time to fine-tune what ideas work best for your customers, but here are some tips that all Bed & Breakfast owners can benefit from.

Reviews

Most guest house businesses rely on 5-star ratings and honest guest reviews to generate bookings.

With the UK being saturated with holiday letting sites, guests now have an abundance of information at hand to research your B&B business before they book.

You may have a B&B with views of the ocean lapping onto the copper shores of Prince Edward Island, or a log cabin nestled in the iconic Rockie’s mountain range, but if you don’t have an online presence and positive reviews, you may as well be non-existent.

List your B&B business on TripAdvisor, Airbnb, Booking.com, Facebook and the many other social media and reviewing platforms out there.

Upload good quality photos that boast the beauty of your accommodation and provide detailed descriptions of what facilities and amenities you offer, and also information on the local area.

Also, responding to any negative or critical reviews in a professional and explanatory manner means that potential guests can read your side of the story alongside any bad reviews.

Replying to positive reviews also establishes a good relationship with your guests a could result in repeat business or referrals.

Social skills

Everyone likes to feel they’ve had a unique experience when they’ve been on holiday. Have you also heard the expression 'it's the people that make a place'?

Customers may choose to book a B&B for various reasons; perhaps there are no hotels in the area or they may prefer to be in a remote location.

However, a common reason why guests prefer to stay in a B&B is to experience an independent, one-of-a-kind type of holiday accommodation.

So, take the time to speak to your guests. When you own any business within the hospitality sector, you need to have strong social skills, and have the patience to enjoy speaking to your customers – even when they are complaining!

Utilise check-in time, by being on-hand to meet your guests when they first check in. First impressions are always important.

Be local

The location of your B&B business will determine, to an extent, what type of guest you will attract.

For example, if you're situated near a highway or airport then you're likely to appeal to business travellers; whereas if your guest house is near an area of natural beauty or walking trails then you can expect to host families and couples.

Every town or city has its own history, quirks and niche produce that is it's known for and offering this information or produce to your guests will give them a taste of the area.

Offering your guests a complimentary local jar of preserve won't cost you much but will be an unexpected surprise for them on arrival.

Support other local businesses by recommending independent restaurants and stores.

Try to build up good relationships with other business owners in the area and they may, in return, recommend your B&B business to their customers too.

The power that word-of-mouth recommendations have is still very strong in the hospitality and tourism industry.

House rules

Cleanliness is vital and should be a top priority when running a B&B business.

Assume the role of a clean-freak, even if it's not something that comes naturally to you.

Guests may not only leave a bad comment and low-star rating for cleanliness in their review, but you may also find photos uploaded to your review pages.

It's important to bear in mind that you could lose business if, for example, there is hair in the drain or the bedsheets are discoloured, or even if the lightshade is dusty.

Don't take any chances and, if you have a cleaning staff, ensure the rooms are checked before guests arrive by either yourself or a manager.

Communicate your house rules in a friendly yet firm way to your guests.

For instance, if you are based in the countryside and want to avoid guests trampling mud throughout your carpeted room, then put a sign at the door asking guests to take off their shoes at the entrance.

If there is any damage to the room that you notice after guests have checked out, then you can refer to the house rules when asking your customer to repay any costs incurred for fixing the damage.

An upfront security deposit is also appropriate for five-star, luxury rooms or boutique, historic accommodation.

Competition

If you consider yourself a luxury B&B business offering spacious rooms that cater for high-spending guests, this should be reflected in the décor, amenities, service and location.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you are targeting budget-conscious backpackers, then spending a lot of money on high thread count linen and gourmet sausages for breakfast will eat away at your profit line!

Understand your target market as well as who your local competition is.

If there is a competitively-priced, 50-room hostel a few blocks away, it's unlikely your humble B&B business can compete; instead, try to attract a midmarket crowd that is willing to spend a little more for extra luxuries.

If you also have busy and quiet seasons – like many - plan your room prices accordingly for the year.

Similarly, if there are events in the area then you can raise the price slightly to benefit from the high demand - but don’t be too greedy. Making your prices too high could discourage customers, or guests may rate your business less on value for money.



Krystena Griffin

About the author

Krystena Griffin writes for all titles in the Dynamis stable including BusinessesForSale.com, FranchiseSales.com and PropertySales.com as well as other industry publications.

@Be_TheBoss

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