Retiring to Start a B&B

Many people dream of running away from the daily grind and starting a bed and breakfast with their partner or a friend. While there are many advantages to doing this, and plenty of people have created very successful B&B operations later in life, there are a number of things that everyone should be aware of before they decide to chuck it all in, move to the countryside and start taking paying guests inside their new home.

Getting Ready for Opening Day

It’s important for any new B&B owner to ensure they have plenty of time and money in a contingency fund in the run up to the opening. This is because unexpected expenses are almost certain to crop up in the final days before a B&B opens. Undoubtedly, this can happen for any number of reasons ranging from expected furniture not arriving to last minute snags with builders or catering facilities. By being able to dip into a contingency fund to pay for these types of unexpected issues will make the process of opening a B&B far less stressful and could even save owners from running into financial difficulties if they have to put significant amounts of expenditure onto credit cards or other types of short-term finance.

Get the Word Out

There are many places where B&B owners can advertise their venue. These range from some of the biggest travel websites such as TripAdvisor and to smaller operators like Special Places to Stay and independent guidebooks. B&B owners should do what they can to get in touch with these organisations and providing them with plenty of information about their property. Having high-quality photos is a must. Badly shot or poorly lit photos will create a very poor impression with potential guests. In many cases, it is advisable to hire a professional photography service to prepare these shots.

Hire Staff When Practical

Far from marking a slowing down in their pace of life, many people who retire to start a B&B find that they are working harder than ever. This is because they are the only members of staff at their new tourist accommodation and guests require round the clock service and assistant. Once the B&B is off the ground and cash flows have become regular and manageable, it may be a good idea to hire staff to take care of some jobs. This will allow the owners to enjoy a little bit of rest and relaxation as well as serving guests.

Planning in advance will make the process of opening a new B&B much less stressful for everyone involved. With a little bit of advanced knowledge, everyone can know what to expect and ensure that everything goes smoothly.

Deciding Where to Open a B&B

Anyone who has decided to retire or give up their job in order to open a bed and breakfast should spend plenty of time considering the best place to open it. Different parts of the world have very different tourist seasons and levels of demand for B&B accommodation. It’s also essential to consider the competition that exists in the same area. This doesn’t just come in the form of other B&Bs. It is also very important to think about hotels, campsites and anywhere else that offers visitors a place to stay overnight. All of them are alternative options for people who may consider your B&B.

In general, most (although definitely not all) B&Bs are located in small towns, villages and the countryside. This is because tourist accommodation in big cities tends to be larger and therefore less suited to the B&B format. One of the biggest draws to a B&B is the individual charm of the property and its location, and this can be harder to achieve in a city.

Once you have chosen a location, do whatever you can to find out what other B&Bs and hotels in the area offer their customers. This will enable you to match or ideally exceed the levels of service that are available in the area. If you fail to live up to these standards, it won’t take long for bad reviews to spread. It can take a very long time for a B&B to recover from this type of repetitional damage, particularly if the owners are new to the area.

The final thing to keep in mind when choosing a location is how well connected it is to other places. Sites with easy access by train or plane are increasingly popular among visitors who may not want to drive all the way to their destination. If possible, let your visitors know how they can get to your B&B from the nearest station. It’s easy to use a service like Google Maps to offer this type of advice. It’s the type of thing that can make a real difference to visitors and will likely lead to much more positive reviews and repeat visitors. It’s the little things that count at a B&B!

Things That Can Go Wrong When Starting a B&B

There are many B&B horror stories online from both the owners’ and guests’ points of view. Avoiding these issues is particularly important for newcomers to the world of B&Bs. Here are some of the traps to avoid.

Not Providing a Great Service From the Start

Any new business will take a period of time to bed in, and guests will generally be forgiving of this if you let them know and price their room accordingly. However, it’s very important for owners to make sure that they have the basics sorted before opening a B&B. This means making sure that your accommodation is clean, that all of the major facilities in the room like the TV and hot water work and that you are able to provide a good quality breakfast to every guest. If your B&B is not yet ready to reach these standards, then it is generally better to arrange an alternative for your guests.

A Bad Review

Since the advent of online review services like TripAdvisor, many B&B owners have learned to fear the wrath of a guest who feels that they have been wronged. While every B&B will at some point have to face the guest who seemingly cannot be pleased, there are a number of things that owners can do to avoid bad reviews. The biggest is to resolve any issues that may arise there and then and to be reasonable and patient when dealing with guests. Just as they may not be aware that the B&B owner has had a long and difficult day, the owner may not be aware of what has put them in a bad mood. Both sides being patient is far more likely to lead to a good outcome.

Finding a B&B in the City

Most people associate bed and breakfast accommodation with small towns and the countryside, but that doesn’t mean it’s difficult to find a B&B or another type of independent accommodation in a big city.

In some cases, a B&B in a big city won’t actually be called a B&B. Many places offering this type of service tend to brand themselves as hotels. Most booking websites will give the number of rooms that a particular hotel has, and this can be a good way to work out whether or not it will be similar to a B&B. In other cases, you may find that a pub with rooms is another option.

It’s also worth checking out review sites to get an idea of the feel of any hotel. While many hotels will use all sorts of fancy words to describe their rooms and atmosphere, getting the opinion of a previous guest can be the best way to discover what a hotel or B&B is actually like to stay in. Guests should try to read multiple reviews rather than putting too much into one particular comment to avoid one bad experience ruining expectations.

Things to Remember at a Countryside B&B

Anyone who has travelled in the UK before will know that bed and breakfast accommodation is synonymous with the countryside. The ability to wake up surrounded by beautiful and peaceful landscapes and enjoy a delicious cooked breakfast just steps from a bedroom is a joy that keeps guests coming back year after year. However, first-timers should be aware of a few things before they plan their first trip.

Hire a Car or Do Your Research

Unfortunately, public transport in rural areas of the UK can leave a lot to be desired, and guests who do not have access to their own car may struggle to either get to the B&B or get around when they are there. Plenty of advance planning is required for those without their own vehicle.

Don’t Rely on Broadband

While the vast majority of bed and breakfast operators offer free Wi-fi to their guests, the quality of the broadband connection can be relatively poor in rural areas. This is down to the old telephone lines that are used to deliver the service. Guests who are worried that this may be an issue should call to check in advance.

Why B&Bs Are Different From Hotels

Undoubtedly, one of the main reasons that people choose to stay in bed and breakfast accommodation, instead of more standard hotels, when they travel is because of the individuality of each property. The vast majority of B&Bs are run by resident owners who live in the property. This means that they are able to put their own touch on things and that every bed and breakfast is slightly different.

This also means that visitors have the opportunity to stay with locals who know the area that they are in very well. B&B owners are often excellent sources of advice for newcomers to a particular region who want to get the most out of their time there and experience life as the locals do.

While B&Bs can vary from one another in terms of style, there are a number of B&B rating schemes in countries like the UK make it possible for B&B visitors to ensure that they will receive excellent quality accommodation and service wherever they decide to travel.

The other major factor that makes B&Bs different from hotels is the size. The majority are in converted houses and can only accommodate a small number of guests at any one time. Compared to a hotel that might have hundreds of rooms, this means that the owners can offer a much more individual and bespoke level of service to every guest that comes to stay with them. Many people become friends with the owners of B&Bs that they visit regularly.

Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing a B&B

B&Bs are different from hotels, and there are a few things that can trip up the first time visitor. While it is possible to find a unique B&B almost anywhere, there are a few things to keep in mind.

The first is that services may be more limited than in a hotel. Breakfast will always be available, but other meals like lunch or dinner may not be available. Rooms may also be more basic, and services such as multi-channel TV are less likely to be available. The vast majority of B&Bs now offer free WiFi to their guests, but speeds can vary. In many cases, this will not be down to the owner but will simply be as a result of the poorer quality broadband services that are available in the countryside. Finally, it’s worth keeping in mind that a B&B is likely to be small, and in some cases, you may have to share communal facilities with other guests. In the vast majority of cases, this information will be available on the B&B website, but any guests who are unsure should call to ask.