Tourism accounted for 2.8% of the U.S. gross product in 2011. One in seventeen Americans already works in this sector, and tourism is expected to keep growing. Do you have some extra space in your home and some extra time? You can become a part of this growing industry – and bring in extra income – by turning your home into a bed and breakfast!
Travelers can choose from a number of accommodations, including hotel rooms or condominiums. However, bed and breakfasts provide travelers with an option that feels more like a home away from home.
These steps will guide you through the process of launching your bed and breakfast and give you an idea of what life as an owner is like.
In most cases, you’ll want to renovate your home to attract guests:
1. Your home needs to pass health and fire department inspections.
This means you might have to replace potentially dangerous construction materials and upgrade your home.
2. A good bed and breakfast should provide guests with a clean, comfortable, and private space.
Separating the portion of your home you’ll use to welcome guests from the rest of your home is a good idea.
3. Invest in some new furniture for the guest room and renovate your home to make it look more welcoming.
New flooring and a fresh coat of paint will make a huge difference.
4. Details matter.
Small things such as new curtains, neatly folded towels in the guest bathroom, and fresh linens will make your guests feel welcome in your home.
5. Do your best to keep your home clean and comfortable.
You can invest in more furniture and amenities once you ￼start generating a profit. For instance, you might want to build a patio or swimming pool to make your home more appealing.
Some bed and breakfasts are simply a place where guests can spend a night, while others offer additional services.
Consider these services:
1. You can offer just the room.
If you want to boost your income without investing a lot of time and capital into this project, advertise your guest room as a safe and comfortable place you are renting for the night.
2. Better yet, include food too.
You can charge more by including food like breakfast, lunch, dinner, afternoon snacks, or to-go bags.
3. Become an expert on the different attractions in your area.
Travelers often appreciate help with finding their way around your town. Sharing helpful tips doesn’t cost you ￼anything and makes the experience of your guests more enjoyable.
4. Call local businesses for discount coupons.
Providing your guests with discounts or tours of local farms or factories is a great way to attract travelers looking for an authentic experience while adding value to what you offer.
✓ See if you can negotiate advertising fees or referral commissions for the guests you send.
5. Consider investing in additional amenities.
Guests will enjoy their stay and be more likely to come back or recommend your place to their friends if you invest in a pool, Jacuzzi, mini golf, or a shuttle to drive them around.
6. Open a small gift shop.
Selling souvenirs, crafts made by local artisans, or produce from local farms will make your bed and breakfast a more pleasant accommodation.
There is some red tape to go through before you can open your bed and breakfast:
￼1. Apply for a business license and a DBA.
You can download the forms you need on www.sba.gov. All you have to do is provide some basic information about yourself and your business and pay a small fee.
2. Apply for a federal and a state tax ID.
Visit www.sba.gov to apply for a federal ID and look up the official website of your state to learn more about obtaining your state tax ID.
3. Dealing with zoning issues.
Zoning may or may not be an issue depending on where you are located. In some counties and towns, Bed & Breakfasts are residential businesses and you can open one in a residential zone. However, some counties and towns consider B&Bs as regular businesses and will require you to re-zone your home.
4. Purchase insurance.
Besides insuring your home, you will need to purchase additional liability insurance.
5. Obtain your business accounts.
You’ll need a business checking account as well as a reliable merchant solution so guests can pay with debit and credit cards.
6. Obtain a ServSafe food certification.
If you plan to offer food to your guests, you’ll need a food safety certification. Visit www.servsafe.com to learn more.
￼7. Get a liquor license if you need one.
Contact your city or township to ask about liquor licensing if you plan on serving alcohol.
Your job as a B&B owner includes finding guests.
These tips will help you get started:
1. Define who your guests are.
Ask yourself what attracts tourists to your area. Keep in mind that your guests will probably match several profiles (for instance, people looking for a romantic getaway, tourists interested in a local festival, or parents visiting their child at a nearby college).
2. Find the right price.
Look around to get an idea of what similar establishments are charging in your area.
3. Provide guests with a safe way to book and pay.
Ideally, guests should be able to book and pay over the phone, online, or in person.
4. Use word of mouth to attract more guests.
Let everyone know about your B&B and encourage your guests to share their experiences.
￼5. Use online marketing.
Create a website for your B&B, list it with several business and tourism directories, and create profiles on social media.
6. Use a turnkey service.
Using an agency to find guests and handle booking for you means you won’t earn as much per guest, but the agency might bring more customers, and this could be a great way to get started.
Launching and running a bed and breakfast requires dedication. Your hard work will soon pay off as you get the satisfaction of running a successful establishment and enhancing the stay of many tourists as they discover your town.
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