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.
It’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!