Maybe it’s just me, but I think everyone that loves older homes has wanted to open up a bed and breakfast at some point in their lives. Having a historic home filled with other old house lovers, feeding them brie, croissants and fresh fruit, with gatherings in the evening featuring one of the guests playing the piano while you relax and get to know everyone over a glass of wine. It all sounds magnificent, but there are a few things to consider before you make that decision.
Why Do You Want a B&B
Wanting to share your home, and needing to meet financial goals are two different things. Knowing why you want to start a bed and breakfast and how your guests will help you accomplish that should be your starting point. A smaller home may be sufficient for someone looking to entertain guests, while a much larger home may be needed if you are looking to fund your retirement.
Can Your Home Meet the Demands for Amenities
Today’s bed and breakfast scene is changing with AirBnB, VRBO and hotels offering suites popping up more. Guests are demanding private bathrooms, cable, wifi, and free breakfasts in order to book a room. Thinking about how you could add bathrooms and establish eating areas without changing the character of your older home will be important. If your home is located in a downtown area, parking will also need to be considered.
If you plan on living in the home, you will need to think about how separate an area you need or want as well. If you are single this might be less important than if you are married or have children. If your home has a carriage house or what could be considered an in-law suite or separate attic apartment already set up it will be easier than creating a space from scratch. I can’t imagine anything worse than having an argument with a spouse while guests are within hearing!
Is Your Location Right
Most travelers book rooms based on the local attractions. So unless your home is a waterfront home or an attraction unto itself, you will need to be local to other spaces that attract visitors such as museums, sports centers, vacation areas, or business centers. Large festivals and events can also attract visitors but are typically booked for shorter durations as these events tend to last less than a week.
A more rural B&B could be operated as more of a resort or retreat center if you can offer more activities on site such as nature trails, gardening, animals, water activities, or even space for classes such as yoga or painting. By creating a destination rather than relying on local activities you could attract more guests. Partnering with other local businesses to create weekend retreats is a great idea.
Of course local zoning laws will need to be investigated as early as possible.
Can You Handle the Schedule
Operating a bed and breakfast is usually done completely by the owners. If you offer meals this means you will have early mornings, offering late check-ins can also increase bookings but may mean later evenings. Weekends and holidays will never be your own, and if you want to take a vacation you will have to find someone to manage the B&B while you are gone, or plan far in advance and make sure you don’t take bookings for that period of time.
Do the Financials Work
While we all know the cost to renovate a historic home can be high, adding amenities for a bed and breakfast can be even higher. Ongoing costs need to be considered as well. Increased utilities, groceries, insurance, taxes, booking software, marketing, and of course paying yourself will all come into play when deciding if you should turn your home into a B&B.
If none of this has scared you then you might just be cutout to be an innkeeper! I encourage you to continue researching by reading up on other bed and breakfasts, search for a historic home if you don’t already have one, and of course send us photos (and an invite to your launch!)