Do you get all giddy when you’ve got guests staying over? Or perhaps you take it that one step further and leave them a small bar of soap with neatly folded towels on their bed? If your answer is yes, then you might just have what it takes to open up a bed and breakfast.
Owning a B&B is a great way to start your own business from your home and offer an atmosphere that people will enjoy – especially if you’ve got the room and patience like those on Four In A Bed .
Fiona and Bruce from Montrose House & Berry Farm in Sutton Forest NSW give us their top tips on building a hospital, enjoyable retreat at home. Their basic tip? “You must like people and cleaning!”
Developing an effective and realistic marketing plan should be your first big step – as is planning a budget. Fiona and Bruce market their country cottage online, by word of mouth and through the local tourist bureau. “Choose your market carefully and price the accomodation appropriately,” urges Fiona.
The best way to know where your business sits in the B&B mix is to speak to other business owners in the area. Making close contacts in the area will also help you bring in local produce for your guests. If you’re in the middle of wine country, speak to local winemakers about striking up a deal for your guests, same goes with other local artisans.
Also don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth. In the hospitality industry it can make or break you. “Word of mouth is exceptionally important as is a warm welcome,” Fiona adds.
The home away from home
As the name suggests, a typical bed and breakfast provides a comfy place to sleep followed by a yummy breakfast in the morning. So, pay particular attention to both those two aspects when considering opening up your home to paying guests.
Ensure the quality of the beds are top notch and will have your guests bragging about their stay rather than complaining about their bad back!
Most people like the choice of a cooked breakfast as well as continental – and laying out a spread in a common dining room is the most popular way to go. But if you don’t want fancy the fuss, consider providing a breakfast platter for your guests to enjoy in the comfort of their own room. This is also handy if you have self contained rooms.
Stay true to your area:
If your home is by the beach, consider a beachside or nautical theme for your visitors homestead. It’s also a nice idea to provide a few items to help make their stay that little more enjoyable, such as some fishing rods, snorkel gear, or even a beach cricket set for the kids. The same goes with a country property. Common things people look for when wanting to get away for a winter weekend is a cosy log fire, and a decent collection of reading material.
Be prepared with what’s happening in your local area too – produce markets, festivals, fishing competitions, etc. And be sure to have a map or information on the area in your visitor welcome pack. “You must be passionate about providing a great experience for your customers,” Fiona adds.
Other things to consider:
- Will you hire any housekeeping/cooking staff, or do you plan to do it all yourself?
- Do you plan to be open all year round or just during peak season?
- Houserules! A set of guidelines needs to be made clear to your guests. Things such as cancellation penalties, pets, smoking, etc.
- Consider guests needs - extra pillows, blankets, dietry requirements, etc.
- Enjoy it and don’t let it run your life. “You don't need to be on hand 24/7 as most people want the solitude of the country and freedom of the property,” Fiona adds.
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