Starting a Bed and Breakfast: 10 tips
Being the largest B&B platform in the Netherlands we’ve helped many bed & breakfasts get started, with tips and advice. We also publish an extensive starter’s guide. Below are our ten best tips, use them to your advantage!
Tip 1: Ask yourself the question: how badly do I want this?
You are convinced: my very own bed and breakfast is what I want. Still it is smart to stop and think about your motives beforehand. You really have to be passionate if you want to start a B&B in or near your home. Namely you will be putting a lot of time into it and you will have to surrender part of your privacy. Therefore, it’s important that a possible partner and child(ren) also support your plans.
Tip 2: Make a financial plan
Examine the financial and organizational feasibility of your B&B plans. How much money do you want to invest in your bed and breakfast and what kind of income do you desire? Make a calculation in which you not only include the one-off costs but also the returning costs, for utilities and insurances for example. The first year you probably won’t get much income out of your B&B, so be sure to have a financial buffer.
Tip 3: Check whether the property requires special demands
Are there municipal requirements your property needs to meet before you are allowed to start a bed and breakfast in it? It’s important to check this before you start to renovate/construct or decorate. It is highly frustrating when you have to demolish a beautifully restored floor, because an official tells you the ceiling is three inches too low!
Tip 4: Determine who you want to be
Ask yourself the question: what facilities will I be using to distinguish my bed & breakfast from the competition? Will you be offering wellness facilities, or are guests able to enjoy a stay on the farm with you? An equally important question: what kind of guests would you like to welcome: families, two-income couples without children, over-50s? The more concrete you are able to describe this target group, the more you can fine-tune your promotion and offer to it.
Tip 5: Be personal
Bed and breakfasts with a personal ambiance are the most popular ones on Bedandbreakfast.nl. So don’t be afraid to put your own stamp on your accommodation: guests tend to really enjoy that. Try to be original in the decoration and let it reflect your hobbies and interests. Also show you are interested in your guests. Take the time for a chat and don’t be afraid to show yourself.
Tip 6: Aim on business travellers
Ever more companies are discovering bed and breakfast as the perfect form of accommodation. A chance for you to increase the occupation of your bed & breakfast in the less crowded midweeks and during winter season. Invite the secretaries of companies in your region for example, and introduce them to your bed and breakfast. Do make sure your B&B is equipped for business guests. In any case, offer free Wi-Fi and place a desk or table in the guest room.
Tip 7: Do not underestimate the time it takes to run a B&B
As a B&B innkeeper you need to be at the disposal of your guests, day in day out, for roughly ten months a year. Guests often arrive later than announced, so you can’t leave your home. Especially if your bed and breakfast is successful, things can get busy. In high season you might see guests arriving and departing every day for about five months. After a busy period, grant yourself a vacation to refuel.
Tip 8: Make sure to maintain enough privacy
As a B&B innkeeper you really have to maintain a certain level of privacy for yourself and your family. Most B&Bs offer their guests a separate entrance and private sanitary. In any case, make sure you have a private living space and a fenced off part of the garden, where you can occasionally withdraw out of sight from guests.
Tip 9: Offer regional products with breakfast
Guests really love it when artisanal and fresh regional products are presented at breakfast, preferably from your own property or from the farm shop around the corner. Therefore, offer (organic) regional products with breakfast and tell your guests where they come from. That way, breakfast also becomes a special experience!
Tip 10: A good first impression is vital
The doorbell rings, there are guests outside the door! Now it comes down to your skills as a host or hostess. Make sure your guests immediately feel welcome. Greet them cordially, offer them a welcome drink, and give them a tour of the B&B. Place a beautiful flower bouquet on the table for that ‘home feeling’. It’s these small acts of kindness that your guests will remember and mention in enthusiastic reviews.
Did you find these tips to be useful? In the ‘Bed & Breakfast Manual’ we go further into topics such as legislation, taxes, and the online promotion of your B&B. You will learn everything you need to know to successfully start your own bed and breakfast.