Opening a bed and breakfast is a project that many people dream of, but how does one go about setting one up?
On this page, you'll find everything you need to know about how to open a bed and breakfast and make it a success.
Choosing the right location to open your bed and breakfast
The very first step in opening a bed and breakfast is to choose its location. As for any other business, it's essential to carry out market research here to verify that the business is commercially viable and to choose the most effective strategy to attract and retain customers.
Market research for a bed and breakfast should include statistics on tourist stays, as well as occupancy rates for nearby bed and breakfasts and hotels, so you can assess the level of demand in the area.
Taking the time to talk to local B&B owners also plays a key part in helping you get a feel for the area and gather valuable insider information about day-to-day operations and challenges within the area or industry.
Before opening up your bed and breakfast, you should also make a list of all accommodation available in the area - to assess the level of direct and indirect competition. Within this list, include any nearby hotels, campsites, hostels, Airbnbs and, of course, other bed and breakfasts. Make sure you also take note of the facilities and services they offer guests, so you can identify any customer needs or desires they're currently neglecting.
Defining the concept of your bed and breakfast
Once your market research is done, it's time to consider the type of bed and breakfast you want to open. It's essential to think carefully about the concept of your bed and breakfast so you can set yourself apart from the competition, thereby ensuring a maximum occupancy rate.
Think about the clientele you want to welcome when opening your bed and breakfast: are they young groups of friends, couples, families, or even adventurous retirees?
Opting for a distinct concept is an excellent way to stand out from the crowd. You can, for example, offer eco-friendly accommodation or special suites with a hot tub experience for those craving a glamorous stay.
Taking the time to consider the concept of your bed and breakfast will also be relevant if you're considering buying an existing bed and breakfast, as it allows you to renovate or revitalise the image of the premises to attract more customers.
Setting out the marketing plan to open your bed and breakfast
To get your bed and breakfast's name out there and make it profitable, you'll need an effective marketing plan when opening your bed and breakfast.
Targeted advertising is a good way to introduce yourself as a new player on the market for those interested in what you’re offering. This can be done by appearing on online booking websites such as Booking.com.
A listing on Airbnb, the world's number one private rental company, will also give you a wider scope of visibility, with lower commissions than on more general websites.
You might also want to consider being referenced on Google Maps when opening your bed and breakfast, as this could help draw in new visitors to the area who are looking for a place to crash at the last minute.
It’s important to also create a website that shows everything you have to offer - including photos, customer reviews and information about availability.
Finally, consider promoting your B&B with local tourism bodies, such as the tourist office, travel agencies, and local restaurants.
The rules and regulations of opening a bed and breakfast
Now that you’ve decided on the marketing plan for your bed and breakfast to be, it’s time to deal with the legal side of things.
Most cities require permits and licences to run a bed and breakfast, so you must first check with your local authority and check what regulations there are for opening a bed and breakfast. They sometimes vary from one place to another.
Apply for and obtain all the necessary licenses before opening your bed and breakfast (and factor the price of these into your start-up costs.)
You also have to consider the legal form of your bed and breakfast. The legal form will have an impact on several things including, but not limited to the organisation, the number of partners and the tax regime - so getting them right is important.
Whether you choose to be an unincorporated or incorporated business, your choice will be determined by the specific constraints of your venture and your personal preferences.
To help you make your choice, you can find more detailed information on the different legal forms available to you on the gov.uk guide for UK business owners and SBA guide for those of you based in the US.
Writing the business plan for a bed and breakfast
Now it's time to write your business plan to open your bed and breakfast. A business plan is a document in which you lay out the details for your bed and breakfast, the objectives you have for your business, and the steps you'll need to take to ensure it's a success.
If you’ve never done a business plan before, don’t panic, as you can use an online business plan software to help you put it together. Curious? Why not try our software for free by signing up here.
Securing funding for your bed and breakfast
Once the business plan for your bed and breakfast has been drafted up, the last step is to secure the funding required to launch your business.
Opening a bed and breakfast requires significant investment. Thankfully, there are multiple ways to get funding to back it up. From obtaining a bank business loan to calling up a friend or family member to join as an investor to help increase the sum, and even crowdfunding - the possibilities are vast.
For more information on the funding options available to you, check out our guide on how to take over a hotel with no money.
Useful links for how to open a bed and breakfast
- UKHospitality - the UK's leading hospitality trade association
- StayNTouch - online guide offering a wide range of hospitality resources and articles
- American Hotel & Lodging Association
Now you know everything there is to know about how to open a bed and breakfast. We hope you found this article useful. If you have any questions or queries at all please do not hesitate to contact our team.
Also on The Business Plan Shop:
- Business plan template for a hotel
- How to take over a hotel
- How to create a successful business plan for a hostel
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