Dreaming Of Owning An Inn? Here Are 5 Tips For Prospective Innkeepers

We’ve all been there — you’re on vacation at a charming inn or bed and breakfast and think, “wow, I could do this. How hard could it be?” While we certainly love the dreamers out there, it’s important to keep in mind that, when it comes to opening an inn or bed and breakfast, it takes a lot more know-how than a great muffin recipe or a collection of antiques. Whether you’ve been dreaming of opening an inn for years or just started your research, these five tips for prospective innkeepers can help you turn your inn owning fantasies into reality.

Tips For Prospective InnkeepersIt’s Not About The Muffins

While your grandmother’s blueberry muffin recipe certainly can’t hurt your innkeeping popularity, running a successful inn or b&b is about so much more than baking, decorating, or entertaining. According to Leslie Malcahy of the Rabbit Hill Inn, when she talks to people about why they want to open an inn, “no one ever mentions that they want to care for people, which is what innkeeping is all about.” As any experienced innkeeper can tell you, this business is truly all about the people; embrace caring for your future guests and your new inn or bed and breakfast will be on the road to success.  

Know Your Strengths

Starting your own inn comes with its fair share of labor — make sure you’re doing the hard work that makes your heart sing! Especially if you’re running the business with your spouse, assign duties early and communicate about which tasks each of you love. If you have an eye for finances, handle the banking. If chatting with people is your thing, manage the staff. Just be sure that neither of you is stuck with a duty that you truly hate.

Think About The Family Factor

Chances are, you’re not heading into this endeavor flying solo — your kids are coming along for the ride as well. Most innkeepers live in or directly adjacent to their properties, which means their kids grow up surrounded by guests and learning to put their needs first. Innkeepers and their children should be prepared that owning an inn may mean missing out on more than a few soccer games and school plays for the sake of greeting guests or running the inn’s restaurant. However, if managed correctly, inn ownership can offer a very positive lifestyle for innkeepers and their family.

Learn How To Manage People

When we said it was all about the people, we weren’t just referring to the guests. As your inn grows beyond just you and your spouse, managing staff will inevitably follow. While you shouldn’t need to use it often, don’t shy away from putting on your boss hat now and again. Keeping an orderly and efficient staff will be the key to running a smooth operation.

Get More Knowledge

Our number one tip for prospective innkeepers? Go in with your eyes open. Consider attending a seminar on innkeeping or hear directly from current innkeepers about their experiences and successes in the industry. The more knowledge and know-how you can gather before starting your inn or b&b, the better!

6 thoughts on “Dreaming Of Owning An Inn? Here Are 5 Tips For Prospective Innkeepers

  1. The family factor is misrepresented here. Children being raised in an Inn is a benefit to everyone. The kids see a true small business at work. The interaction between mom and the guests is very enriching. The children learn skills that are priceless, they can actually see that money does not grow on trees. Innkeeping is the best stay at Home mother job! My kids grew up in the Inn and now work at the Inn. Their knowledge and respect of the property can not be matched. Promote family business.

    1. Kristen, thank you for your comments. We could not agree with you more! We have worked with many successful innkeepers who have raised children at their inn and would not have had it any other way. In fact, we ran our inn with our children (and grandchildren) and recognize the joys and challenges that arise when running a family business.

      This will actually be the subject of a future episode of the Inside Innkeeping podcast, which will offer an in depth look at this important aspect of innkeeping.

      Stay in touch,

      Heide Bredfeldt

  2. Hi
    I have been following you on this and I am great full for the 5 tips to consider before opening an inn which I dream of daily planning to start one next year


    1. Carol,

      We are very glad you found the article helpful. We would welcome a call from you over the next year, if you have any questions or thoughts to share in advance of purchasing your dream property!

      Kind Regards,
      Inn Partners

  3. Hi Heide – we went to your seminar about three years ago in Durham and enjoyed it immensely. We have owned our bed and breakfast for almost two years and we love it. Caring for people really does summarize it all and that is the main reason why folks choose bed and breakfasts over other accommodation choices. Thank you for your helpful information.

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