Choosing the Right Property for a Bed and Breakfast: 8 Tips
Bed and breakfasts have been around for centuries and remain one of the most popular lodging options for travelers, with an average occupancy rate of 43.7 percent and $3.4 billion in total market value. One of the reasons this tourism sector has been so successful is the great variety of properties available.
There’s an ideal building for every aspiring owner, whether you like urban, rural, romantic or historical settings. Here are seven do’s and don’ts — plus a few popular types of B&B properties — to help you in your search.
4 Things to Look For
Although B&Bs come in many shapes and sizes, there is a general blueprint for their success. The most successful properties share the following characteristics.
Fulfills Personal and Business Requirements
The best B&Bs double as residences and businesses, allowing the property owners to stay there permanently. The building should have different sections or wings for privacy purposes, so your family and work lives don’t mix too much. It must also have a sizable kitchen, multiple full bathrooms and as many bedrooms as you can afford.
According to research from Firsthand, the average B&B property has between four and 20 bedrooms. It should also offer many homelike amenities, such as games, reading materials and Wi-Fi, further blending the property’s family and business aspects.
Has a Convenient Location
Every profitable hotel, inn or B&B sits in a convenient location where people regularly travel. It doesn’t have to be in a busy urban area, but at least one tourist attraction should be nearby. This arrangement ensures a constant flow of customers and gives your property some easy promotional material.
However, finding an ideal location also means competition, so you’ll have to work extra hard to make your property stand out. Zoning is another factor to consider. How will the local laws affect your ability to manage and remodel the property? If you’re worried about these restrictions, you might want to narrow your search to move-in-ready homes.
Versatile Design Options
The best B&Bs have a unique design or theme that helps guests immerse themselves in the lodging experience. The existing architecture will largely determine your B&B’s decor, but it must be able to accommodate a variety of designs. After all, your tastes might change over the years. Your customer base might also want to see something new after a while.
For example, your B&B might start as a romantic setting for couples, but those couples will become families in a few years. Your building must be flexible enough to keep up with your audience’s changing lifestyles and priorities. The most significant shift these days is a greater focus on sustainability in all types of lodging, from hotels to vacation rentals.
Some B&Bs can get away with seasonal operations if the owners can afford it, but most B&Bs need to be open year-round to remain profitable. That means you should try to choose a location with moderate weather. Businesses in beach towns or ski resort towns get great traffic a few months out of the year, while places in milder climates have a more stable business model.
3 Things to Avoid
B&Bs have found success in many odd buildings, but that was only because the structures were in good shape. It was easy and affordable to implement design changes and update the decor. The property owners also ran a tight ship, despite the building’s zany outward appearance. That brings you to three things you must avoid when choosing your B&B property.
Properties that require lots of renovations are major red flags. They might have the square footage and room numbers you want, but it doesn’t matter if the place is too expensive to repair. Costly repairs can cause the sale to fall through. In recent years, the failure rate for pending home sales has jumped from 1.4% to 4.3% of listed properties.
Adding a few walls to create extra bedrooms or installing new bathroom amenities might be worthwhile, but you should largely avoid structural renovations. They will set your business back in its early stages. In the worst-case scenario, you’ll have to keep patching up the problem and it will be a constant revenue drain.
Relaxed Building Policies
When it comes to managing your property, you can’t afford to be relaxed. Visitors can and will take advantage of your hospitality if you allow them to. You must have strict house rules and make them clear to guests before they arrive. Securing your property with locks, cameras and other smart home devices can make your management responsibilities easier.
You never want to look tacky in the B&B industry. The most atypical vacation homes work because the themes are unique and fit with the local environment, making the design feel natural and appropriate. If you want to implement unique decor, it must appeal to the location and audience. A theme that feels forced and out of place will never work.
Find Your Perfect Property
As any B&B owner will tell you, once you find the perfect property, you’ll know it. It won’t be “perfect” in the sense that the building is ready for operation, but it will have the architecture and location you’re looking for. Just keep these do’s and don’ts in mind as you browse the real estate market and you’ll find your ideal B&B in no time.