The humble Great British bed and breakfast should not be underestimated. It’s not only an attractive prospect for those looking to book a room but a B&B can also be a lucrative business proposition.
According to the the website Smarta, this sector turns over £2bn per year. That makes it 28% bigger than the low-cost hotel sector and represents more than a third of the UK hotel market as a whole.
With those figures in mind, it’s perhaps only natural that you might want to tap into this and set up your own B&B. If that’s the case, here are six things that you will need to know…
The right location
First things first, where do you want to set up a guest house? The location is vital to the success of your business. Clearly, popular tourist spots are likely to have a greater appeal. Ideally you’d pick somewhere that you already know about so that you already understand the best places to look for B&Bs. Otherwise, spend some time in your chosen location – preferably in a B&B – and get a feel for what it takes. This will be valuable research. Don’t forget that fact that trade is very seasonal in some places, particular seaside resorts.
The right mortgage
It’s likely – although you should check your own personal circumstances – that you will need a commercial mortgage to be be able to purchase your guest house. In which case you’ll typically have to find a 25% deposit. Be aware, too, that if the property you are purchasing is not currently a bed and breakfast, you might need to apply for planning permission to make any alterations that are required. All of these are important considerations when weighing up the finances involved in setting up a B&B.
The right insurance
It’s important to get the right level of cover for your business so that you can operate on a sound footing. Many lenders offer a bespoke B&B policy that includes the public and employers’ liability cover you need as well as loss of income cover and protection for the personal property of guests. It’s a good idea to take out one of these.
The right beds
You’ll be wanting to kit out your guest house with the best equipment to keep the customers happy. The beds should be right at the top of your list, and are key to your punters getting a great night’s sleep. Make these a priority. People will forgive a bit of basic paintwork if they sleep in perfect comfort. Research places where you can purchase hotel contract beds for your B&B.
The right amount of time
Don’t be under any illusion. While it can be rewarding, running a B&B is a full-time job. You need to be on-hand to greet guests, clean rooms, make breakfast and handle bookings every single day. This isn’t something to be done lightly. You must decide whether you have the time and energy to dedicate to this before you begin.
The right marketing
Once you’ve got your B&B open you need to let people know about it. You’ll need a website as a bare minimum to capture people searching for accommodation. You should look to make use of social media – setting up a Twitter and Facebook page to help people to find you. You can also list your guest house on hotel booking sites although, as This Is Money notes, they could charge up to 15% commission on bookings taken through their portal.