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Bed and Breakfast as Your Business

by , MBA

Many homeowners have discovered what they consider the perfect business. It's called Bed and Breakfast. Demand is high. To foreign visitors, it's the comfort and hospitality of home--staying overnight "with people of the land" and enjoying a hearty breakfast--without the traditional gaudiness and plastic feelings visitors get from most big cities in the United States.

To U.S. citizens, it is a welcome alternative to the same old hotel/motel circuit.

All it takes is a spare bedroom, a good cook and an outgoing personality. Prices per night range from a low of $25 to $100 or more. Extravagant bed and breakfast operations offer extra services or something unique and may charge several times what a hotel charges.

For more information about the business of Bed and Breakfasts, check out Innkeeping: The Innside Story. You can get this from Molly Locklin at (510) 524-2274 or e-mail her at mollylocklin @earthlink.net.

The sixty minute video is available for only $39.95 plus shipping and handling. To order, call (800) 586-1638, or visit Innside Innkeeping at http://www.innsideinnkeeping.com.

If you have an extra bedroom, a large home, or extra space in your farm house, you have the necessary beginnings for a Bed and Break fast Inn. One of the beautiful aspects of this idea is that so long as you're hosting "over night visitors" on a small scale, you don't usually need a license. It's always best, however, to check with your local authorities just to be sure.

Naturally, your "visitors" will expect a clean, neat and comfortable home. So assuming that your home meets these prerequisites, and you have a spare bedroom, simply "doll it up" a bit. Make sure it's painted brightly, there's an outside window, lots of room, closet space and bureau, perhaps a small writing desk, and a large comfortable bed.

Most foreign visitors will expect and appreciate a "quick tour" of the interesting sights in your area. However, as your particular popularity as a B & B Host grows, you'll find that many American tourists and business people will avail themselves of your hospitality. And they often will not require as much attention as foreigners would.

Which brings us to the basic appeal of a Bed and Breakfast Inn. Many travelers just want a quiet "home-style" place to stay. Generally, they enjoy visiting with the people off the superhighway and want to get away from the sterilized atmosphere and sameness of hotels and motels.

Most people will write to you ahead of time, inquiring about the possibilities of staying at your home while in your town or city. This means a bit of advertising on your part, or listing your availability with a B & B broker. Some people will check the local telephone listings and newspaper advertisements when they arrive in a strange town. And some people will just be driving across the country, come to a town or city they think is interesting, and start driving through the residential areas looking for Bed and Breakfast Inns.

Thus, you should post a sign in plain sight of the road. This sign needn't be much more than about two feet wide by about ten inches deep. It need only state "BED AND BREAKFAST - Inquire Within or Call 123-4567."

Also, you shouldn't be surprised to know that as of the year 2000 guide books and traditional advertising are a thing of the past and innkeepers are now getting over 90% of their business from the Web. So, be sure to have a Web presence!

For newspaper advertising, a similar listing in the personal column of your local paper, particularly on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, will be all you'll need. But when it comes to the Yellow Pages of your telephone and business directories, go with a small display ad that describes in greater detail the comforts and pleasures of your services.

Be sure to list your services with all the travel agencies in your area. A brochure or a short synopsis of what you offer will help travel steer visitors your way. At the same time, listing your services in several national travel magazines--particularly those that cater to women--will bring customers in for you.

Listing your services with a broker usually won't cost you anything up front, but they will expect a certain percentage--usually about 25% of the total bill. This same arrangement applies with travel agents.

Suppose you're organized and ready to receive your first customers. You greet them as host or hostess and offer to assist them in getting situated in the room or rooms you have for them. If they'd like to take a drive around your area and see the points of interest, you do that. And then in the morning, serve them a big, delicious breakfast.

 

For more information about the business of Bed and Breakfasts, check out Innkeeping: The Innside Story. You can get this from Molly Locklin at (510) 524-2274 or e-mail her at mollylocklin @earthlink.net. The sixty minute video is available for only $39.95 plus shipping and handling. To order, call (800) 586-1638, or visit InnsideInnkeeping at http://www.innsideinnkeeping.com

 

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