Things to Consider When Buying a Bed and Breakfast Inn

There are many attractive aspects of running a bed and breakfast. The chance to meet travelers from all over the world, have the freedom of running your own business, and making a difference in the life of others are all things that draw people to B&B ownership. While you may dream of opening your own inn someday, not everything about the profession is as glamorous as it seems. Like any small business, bed and breakfasts have a great chance of failure if not managed correctly from the start. When deciding to purchase and open a bed and breakfast, there are many important things to carefully consider.

Can you Afford It?

Opening a bed and breakfast isn’t something you can do on a whim. It requires a significant start-up investment, and it’s important to have a good idea of what your cash flows might look like once you begin operations. Analyze data for your region to see how much tourism there is each year, and take a look at the competition in the area. Is the market already saturated? If the hotels and inns surrounding you never seem to light their “no vacancy” signs, chances are you won’t either. 

You’ll also want to talk to your bank about financing options so you have a realistic idea of what your revenue needs to be to make a profit. Don’t forget about the day to day costs of operations, as well as one time renovations and purchases to get your B&B up and running. Attend a conference for innkeepers, or reach out to established bed and breakfast owners to learn more about the business, so you don’t end up surprised and in debt with no way out.

Starting from Scratch?

Location is one of the most important keys to success for a bed and breakfast inn. An attractive B&B is often located in a spacious home with unique architectural or historic elements, and is either in close proximity to popular destinations or surrounded by beautiful natural views  (or preferably both!). When it comes to selecting the perfect home for a bed and breakfast, there are many options:

  • Opening a B&B in your own home. Many empty nesters who find themselves with extra bedrooms find the idea of turning the extra space into an inn attractive. Remember that if you choose to do this, there are still a lot of costs that go into renovations and updates to make the home suitable for guests. If your location is good and you’re willing to give up the privacy of maintaining a space separate from your business, this is the lowest cost way to get into the business.
  • Purchasing the perfect home for a B&B. Did a historic home just go up for sale in your area that you think would be ideal for a bed and breakfast? This is a big investment of both time and money, but sometimes the perfect bed and breakfast is one that comes from your own vision.
  • Buying a previously established bed and breakfast. While this can be a very expensive venture, having the space already furnished and suitable for guests is a huge time saver, and will help get your inn open faster. Sites like innshopper.com can help you find the perfect B&B.

What’s your niche?

Do you want your bed and breakfast to be a honeymooners paradise? Do you dream of elopement ceremonies in a backyard garden, or older couples escaping for a quiet getaway? Since bed and breakfasts are so small and intimate, they often cater to a smaller audience than a full-service hotel. Think about what patrons you want to serve, and decorate and market your bed and breakfast accordingly. Think about the capabilities and amenities you can provide to make your bed and breakfast stand out from the others.

About the Author: Steven Andrews is a retired real estate agent who now works in consulting for bed and breakfasts and boutique hotels nationwide. He works with both new and established bed and breakfasts, including the award-winning Mount Merino Manor in Hudson, NY and more.

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