Bed and Breakfast

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Dixie912, Jan 27, 2005.

  1. Dixie912

    Dixie912 Well-Known Member

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    We are considering turning our place into a Bed and Breakfast. Anybody out there with any experience?
     
  2. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    From my book. Doesn't answer you question, but does provide some informatio on the subject.

    BED AND BREAKFAST INN:
    If you have extra bedrooms in a large house (e.g., your children are no longer at home), like to meet new people and would not mind strangers in your home, a bed and breakfast inn can command rates similar to, and possibly more than, area hotels and motels. Many state tourist offices publish a bed and breakfast inn directory.
    A location near a major tourist area would be pref-erable and four bedrooms or separate outbuildings, each with a private bath, is considered to be the minimum required for a successful operation. Most states do not require a restaurant license, as only a light breakfast is served, but do require as a minimum an annual inspection for compliance with health and fire codes. Since claims against bed and breakfast inns have been minimal, insurance rates are still reasonable.
    Studies have found bed and breakfast inns which incorporate antique bedroom furniture and antiques in general are the most popular. Those with repeat business primarily excel in one quality, the friend-liness of the hosts. Theft of property almost never occurs.
    However, there is an old saying company and fish start to smell after three days so you may want to limit stays to no more than three nights even if it means lost business.
    It may be difficult to enforce some policies. Say you are a no-smoking establishment. Clients may still reek of cigarette smoke on their person and clothing. Would you want someone in your home who literally bathes in a heavy scented perfume?
    For advertising, you can have your own profession-ally-made brochure done and left for pick up at places frequented by out-of-towners, such as res-taurants, antique shops and tourist attractions. The Chamber of Commerce will likely actively work with bed and breakfast operators, as the inns draw additional income to the area. Your state’s tourist office may accept brochures for information cen-ters at points of entry on the interstate highways. If there are several operations in one area, joint ad-vertising is a possibility.
    For reservations from out of the area, two national reservation services for bed and breakfast inns are the Bed and Breakfast Services World-Wide, Box 14797, Baton Rouge, LA 70898-4797 and Innpoints Worldwide (800-401-2262). They try to match guests with compatible inns (e.g., some will not accept children, smokers or pets).
    Over 20,000 B&Bs are listed in The Complete Guide to Bed & Breakfasts USA and Worldwide by Pamela Lanier, Ten Speed Press, P.O. Box 7123, Berkeley, CA 94707-7123
    National groups include Professional Association of Innkeepers International, P.O. Box 9071, Santa Barbara, CA 93190-0710; American Bed & Break-fast Association, 10800 Midlothian Turnpike, Suite 254, Richmond, VA 23235; Bed and Breakfast Na-tional Network, Box 4616, Springfield, MA 01101 and National Bed and Breakfast Association, P.O. Box 332, Norwalk, CT 06852. (They may be able to help refer you to a bed and breakfast consultant in your area who can assist with start up.)
    (A ‘bed and breakfast’ need not be restricted to humans. See the item on Boarding Kennel or Pet Sitting Service.)
    For further information see:
    • Bed & Breakfast in … by Bernice Chesler, Chronicle Books, which is a series of 15 B&B guides by geographic area. In addition to listing the B&B, these guides tell something about the owners and unique services they offer.
    • Developing a Bed and Breakfast Business Plan by Robert Espeseth and Robert Buchanan, available from the Ag Publications Office, 54 Mumford Hall, 1301 West Gregory Drive, Univer-sity of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801.
    • How to Open and Operate a Bed & Break-fast by Jan Stankus, Globe Pequot Press, P.O. Box 833, Old Saybrook, CT 06475-0833.
    • How to Own and Successfully Operate a Country Inn by Vincent Shortt, Berkshire House, P.O. Box 297, Stockbridge, MA 01262-0297.
    • How to Start and Operate and Run Your Own Bed & Breakfast Inn by Carl Glasman and Ripley Hotch, Stackpole Books, P.O. Box 1831, Harrisburg, PA 17105-1831.
    • Open Your Own Bed and Breakfast by Barbara Notarius and Gail Brewer, available from Storey’s Books, Schoolhouse Road, Pownal, VT 05261.
    • So You Want to be an Innkeeper: The Complete Guide to Operating a Successful Bed and Breakfast Inn by Mary Davies, et al, available from Storey’s Books (address above).
    • Start and Run a Profitable Bed and Break-fast: Your Step-by-Step Business Plan by Richard and Monica Taylor, International Self-Counsel Press, 1704 North State Street, Bellingham, WA 98225.
    • Starting a Bed and Breakfast or Farm Va-cation Business, available from the Extension Spe-cialist for Tourism Development, Department of Agriculture and Applied Economics, University of Minnesota, 218 Classroom Office Building, 1994 Buford Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55108.
     

  3. Dixie912

    Dixie912 Well-Known Member

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    Thank you so much for your answer. We have thought about, and completely discussed, most of the points you brought up.
    We live in a rural area close to a huge city that attracts a lots of tourists for historical sites. Our house was built to look like an 1860s plantation and it is furnished top to bottom with period furniture. My husband is a historian and gives fantastic tours.
    The biggest problem we are running across at this point is the health inspector. There seems to be no distinction here between restaurant and B&B. They want us to install illuminated exit signs and double stainless steel sinks. If we do that, we will lose the very reason people come here in the first place... to see what life was like in the 19th century. Do you think we can work out some sort of compromise??
    Suggestions or precedents would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!!
    Dixie
     
  4. Momo

    Momo Well-Known Member

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    A friend of mine runs one about a mile from here. She makes nearly all her money from meals. Although she is a B&B she has a regular restaurant (seating 40) in her house. All the same rules and regs as to the health dept. apply here as well. However, the liability insurance is a good bit less if you are considered a B&B rather than a restaurant. She does a great weekend business serving food.
     
  5. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    Open a business and all of the rules apply. Don't forget making your place handicap accessible.
     
  6. mtman

    mtman Well-Known Member

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    and handycah doesnt just mean makeing the doors wider you need grab bars in the restroom your sink has to be higher with paded pipes under it your stove will need a halon setup to put out fires that means a special hood it goes on and on
     
  7. BCR

    BCR Well-Known Member

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    Go to SCORE.org for free small business advice. You can get e-mail counseling or meet with a local rep, still free. Always make a business plan and re-make it as needed (often as often as 2 months!). They can hook you up with local organizations that know your state code as well. Local/state workshops on starting a business are often cheap (such as under $25).
     
  8. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    Wading in here, let me give you some numbers to work with. If you don't know what the public is looking for, you can't very well provide it!

    These statistics come from the latest nationwide survey of the American traveling public, and the stats are for 2004.

    Americans take 4 "vacations" a year, but for the purposes of this survey, an overnight away from home was counted as a "vacation." Even though this would skew results somewhat the survey shows (it has been ongoing for years) that American vacations are no longer week or two week affairs... the majority are for 4 days and span a weekend. Most professionals traveling with their family will check into their office, via phone or computer, several times in those 4 days. :rolleyes:

    85% of the traveling public are looking for "new experiences" when they travel. This is WAY different from 10 years ago, when people looked for familiarity, and night go to the same resort year after year. 40% of those surveyed said they would welcome a little novelty in their lives, 61% like to step outside of their affluent lives when they travel and experience another lifestyle. So far... you are SO in the pocket!

    What's the down side? The survey shows a precipitous drop in the people going to a B&B... and my own observations among my clients show that B&B's, even established ones, are buckling right and left. A survey of my clients shows that people arriving at a B&B often have unrealistic expectations... don't know how to behave, don't realize they are staying in someone's home, etc. AND (this is very important) in the 2000's... cheap is chic. People have learned to dicker, and get quite ugly, about price. The traveler does not care what your costs, overhead, and profit margin, are. They want it for less and they're not afraid to get ugly about it.

    So. We know that the American traveler is doing much of their vacation planning online. Therefore, you will have a website. My suggestion is that you sell the experience, being very clear about what that experience is, and that you vet your customers, going over with them on the phone exactly what it is that they are buying. This both reinforces your pricing (it is so much more than a room for the night.. it is an experience), and makes what you offer clear (and enticing) but also what you expect from them clear.

    The following are real examples of situations ONE of my B&B's have faced: the inn is non-smoking by state mandate.. in one 24 hour period a guest blocked up the bathroom door with a towel and smoked sufficient numbers of cigarettes in there to yellow the wallpaper and clog the toilet. Guests have flushed astonishing things and backed up their septic. Guests have ruined expensive antique quilts which were in the room (on the wall!) for decoration by taking them down and using them as picnic blankets or to sop up water when they didn't use a shower curtain. Nevermind what they've done to bedding by resting on the bed with dirty shoes on. Guests have arrived with hampers and coolers of food which they expected to not only store in their room but cook in their rooms (on hot plates). Guests regularly ignore the signs which notify them that the kitchen and private living quarters are not open to the public (she now makes her bed every day!). Every time they think they've seen it all.. something else happens!

    Now, throw inexperienced people and kids into the mix with animals, and you've got a whole 'nother set of issues. The state of Vermont has a full binder on the rules and regs of running an "open farm" or "farmstay" or "agri-tourism" operation. Which includes, among other twiddly and annoying things, hand washing stations in the barn.

    I'm not saying "don't do it," because judging from my web traffic (either www.vermontsheep.com or www.woolandfeathers.com) and email people WANT to visit a farm, in the worst way. However, their expectations are very "picture book-ish." Now, you can either sell them what they want to experience, or you can drag them into a reality they may not be happy about.

    But you need to have a sort of "mission statement" and know what you're selling, what they're buying, and position yourself so you're not one of the B&B's failing because the public isn't comfortable staying at a B&B.
     
  9. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    Having seen what people can do to motel rooms, I wouldn't expect them to treat a B&B much different, except you would be an on-call maid and butler. You might be amazed at the amount of towels and toilet tissue some can go through in a single day.

    Heard the story one B&B had antique bedroom furniture. Shortly after a family check-in they heard a crash from their room. They found their wonderful old bed on the floor. Their kids had done what they always did in a motel - immediately used the bed as a trampolene.

    Most B&B limit themselves to a cold breakfast only, which should limit the kitchen requirements. You may have to have a dishwasher set with a high temperature.

    Personally, it would not be my forte.

    Ken Scharabok
     
  10. homestead2

    homestead2 Member

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    We have two vacation cottages that we rent by the day and do Bed & Breakfast here at the main house.

    We are not old hands at it. (This will be our fourth year.) I am sure we will eventually see the bad guests that they all caution about, but so far, every one has been so appreciative of their accomodations and grateful for anything we do for them.

    We are still gaining momentum with our occupancy and are encouraged by the bookings so far for 2005.

    We are always sure to say "Our accomodations are pretty basic, but our claim to fame is our breakfast." That way, they are never disappointed in their room. (Our rooms are nice, but not anything like the amazing rooms of some of the B&B that we have toured.) And, our breakfast is never a disappointment.

    Keeping in mind the number one complaint from surveyed B&B guests, - "host too chatty." - we take our cue from the guests. Some just want to sleep, nibble and go. Others want an experience.

    Ask yourself - do you like people, - really like people. And, talk to your insurance agent.

    homestead2
     
  11. doohap

    doohap Another American Patriot

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    Good information here. Thanks!

    doohap
     
  12. BCR

    BCR Well-Known Member

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    The West Virginia B and B association is having a big workshop coming up in the eastern panhandle. March 14-15, 2005.

    Learn more here: http://www.wvbedandbreakfasts.com/conference.htm

    Supposed to be good for people interested in starting one as well as for those already in the business.