We’re all looking for alternative sources of income in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even as travel restrictions start to ease, many Americans are dealing with the fact that their former jobs are either gone entirely or exist in an altered fashion. Many are looking for entirely different jobs or even careers to what they would have considered before. For one thing, you now have to consider the fact that ideally, you need a job that can be handled remotely. This would mean that even if states started to enforce personnel restrictions again, you could still work. And furthermore, you’ll be able to work in a manner that is under your control. Working from home as an entrepreneur means that you can set your own limits. But it could also mean having to invest in a new office space eventually, and come up with new concepts that might just not be what you’re looking for right now. Fortunately, a potential income stream, either as a secondary source or even eventually a primary source, is right at your feet. Right now, many are considering starting a bed and breakfast business at home.
Now, you don’t have to hone in on starting a bed and breakfast business within your very home. If you have a second home or a secondary building like a separate mother in law suite or carriage house, those options can work extremely well as business opportunities. But while this may have seemed easier prior to the pandemic, in this day and age it may be tricky in some states. You can still potentially turn your own home into a bed and breakfast business. In fact, in some ways, it might be easier for you to keep a watchful eye on what is happening to your bed and breakfast if you actually live there as well. A lot of people like the idea of running a bed and breakfast within their house because they’re able to ensure that their property doesn’t sustain damage from guests. And furthermore, it’s becoming more and more commonplace, with 70% of all inn owners living on the premises according to the Association of Lodging Professionals. With that being said, no matter what, a lot of work goes into starting a bed and breakfast business. Let’s look into what you should prioritize when embarking on this journey!
1. Online Platforms
The great thing about starting a bed and breakfast business today is that there are plenty of built-in online platforms that make it easier than ever for you to advertise your business. These platforms do come with their own pros and cons, but they’re certainly worth considering. Obviously, the most famous is Airbnb, which in many ways ushered the concept of running an inn within your home into a new era. The greatest thing about Airbnb is that it has the name brand recognition, and customers trust it. Furthermore, if you work hard on your listing, you can become a Superhost, which will make you come off as more inherently trustworthy to travelers. Airbnb also can verify the quality of your listing themselves and potentially give you a Plus designation, which will essentially offer up your bed and breakfast as a premium choice for potential guests. Now, Airbnb does expect a lot out of its Plus hosts; be prepared to have professional cleaners visit on a regular basis before you get this designation. But today, you want your bed and breakfast to stand out in whatever way possible. Another possible option is VRBO, a similar site that advertises vacation rentals by owner. VRBO is somewhat less well known than Airbnb, but it does have the reputation for putting more effort into the owner’s side of things than Airbnb does. You’ll have a case manager assigned to your listings, who will help advise you on the best ways to maximize their profitability.
Of course, these ready platforms aside, you should also think about hiring professional graphic designers and social media experts to help you both build your website and spread the word about it on social media. Your website should be both informative and attractive, easy to navigate, and especially easy to book upon. Meanwhile, having a social media manager essentially will help you build your bed and breakfast’s brand, and establish a reputation within your community as well as online. The great thing about having your own direct site is that once you start building that brand and gaining repeat guests, you can have them book directly with you, therefore collecting your income without having to pay the service fees that would be owed to Airbnb or VBRO.
2. Consider A Remodel
If you’re considering starting a bed and breakfast business within your own home, you’re probably working off of a house with good bones and an attractive aesthetic to begin with. But even the most attractive house can probably benefit from at least a minor remodel or renovation before it becomes a bed and breakfast. Furthermore, you could potentially gain more of an income if you re-prioritize the space within your house. Consider the fact that the more bedrooms a bed and breakfast offers, the more guests can come to stay. If you have the ability to minimize the space dedicated to one part of the house and create a new bedroom, it would be well worth the cost. Of course, this would involve a great deal of construction and could delay the opening of your bed and breakfast, but it’s a better idea to put your opening off until the bed and breakfast is fully prepared.
The second most important room to consider before starting a bed and breakfast business is likely the kitchen. The kitchen is where you’ll cook for your guests, and can also be a great communal space where they can get to know you and other guests if they would like. A kitchen renovation project will typically involve both appliances and the “bones” of the kitchen, as well as appliances that might need to be updated or replaced. It’s important to keep from losing the character of your home during these renovations and remodels; after all, a major reason why people choose bed and breakfast stays over typical hotels is likely in part because they want a more unique, less bland experience.
3. Make It Accessible
When starting a bed and breakfast business, you may run into the question of accessibility. Accessibility is essentially the ease through which people with handicaps can access everything in a building. It’s extremely important that your bed and breakfast is accessible because the fact is that if you don’t you’ll not only be at risk of receiving bad reviews, you’ll also be missing out on a broad demographic of travelers. If your home has more than one floor, you can begin to make it more accessible by including a general elevator. This will allow people to more easily get to different floors while using their wheelchairs or other stabilizing implements. But there is much more that you can do from there.
Elevators and residential lifts aside, you can further make your home and potential bed and breakfast more accessible by installing grip bars around the toilets and showers. Now, what you may run into are aesthetic issues that might turn off other guests. The key there would be to have a specific room in the bed and breakfast that is meant for those with accessibility issues. This way, if someone wants a room that doesn’t have grip bars, as well as perhaps alarms and devices meant for those who have auditory or visual disabilities, they don’t have to stay there. Accessibility, however, is not limited to the bedrooms or the interior of the house in general. You should also consider making that that your exterior has ramps as well as barriers surrounding any kind of pool area that would make it easier for a guest with mobility problems.
4. Build Relationships With Local Businesses
Even if you’re careful and keep a close eye on your guests, it’s inevitable that when starting a bed and breakfast business, your home will accumulate some degree of wear and tear. A big portion of a bed and breakfast proprietor’s job is staying on top of repairs and scheduling regular maintenance calls. There are some things that you can probably maintain on your own, of course. For example, you can probably take care of some cleaning issues on your own, as well as the spare small piece of damage here and there. But when it comes to repairing an older water heater, for example, you probably should consider keeping that set aside for the professionals. The great thing is that you can actually build a relationship with local businesses that will potentially leave you with lower rates, as well as a great working relationship that will ideally make it easier for you to have emergency repairs done on short notice. If the business that you work with understands that you want to offer them a regular income, they’ll likely be willing to do more to accommodate you.</p.
Of course, air conditioning repair companies aren’t the only businesses that you need to reach out to in order to stay on top of your bed and breakfast business. You should also consider making connections with the local pest control company, as well as general vendors. While it might seem odd right now, eventually we will begin interacting with each other more again on a public level. Therefore, you should consider planning events that you can throw in the future, both to attract new guests and to help your fellow small business owners out. Think about how cool it would be to host an event with live music, as well as food offered by local vendors. Both of you can benefit from these types of collaborations, and you should make them a priority once you are able.
5. Install Security Systems
When starting a bed and breakfast business, you must understand that there is a certain degree of control that you have to give up. You are not allowed to spy on your guests; nor should you attempt to do so in the first place. But you and your guests will feel better if you install great security systems. This begins with something as simple as a new lock installation before your bed and breakfast opens. After all, the last thing you want is someone who might have their hands on old keys to be able to break into your new bed and breakfast. For that matter, you should also think about installing an alarm system, or even a keypad entry code, to better outfit your bed and breakfast against intruders.
Returning to the topic of cameras, however: though you shouldn’t spy on your guests under any circumstances, you can still keep an eye on matters by having exterior security cameras installed. This will also ward off potential burglars. The most important thing, however, is to make it clear in your listings and website that you have this feature so that guests know what they’re getting into and don’t feel violated.
Starting a bed and breakfast business may be a lot more complicated than you initially thought, but it’s also much more rewarding than you could possibly imagine. You’ll not only be making money off of a home that you already own; you’ll also be able to meet new guests, possibly from around the world! That kind of experience is worth hiring a cleaning service to make your home spotless.
Don’t be intimidated by the idea of running a bed and breakfast at home. Yes, there might be a lot of work involved. Yes, we are in the midst of a pandemic, which some might think of as a bad time to start new business ventures. But the work is fun, and therefore feel like work; and people are ready to get out of their houses and travel. Do the work, do the research, and reap the benefits!