Running a bed and breakfast can be a great way to make some extra money, either a side hustle or as your primary revenue stream. Tourists and travelers from all over the world love B&Bs: not only are they often a cheaper option than traditional hotels, but also come with breakfast included. They also allow the guest to connect directly with the local culture.
It is for these reasons, many individuals have decided to devote themselves to this type of vacation rental. In the UK, for example, it is estimated that there are around 25,000 bed and breakfasts, more than 700 in Ireland and approximately 17,000 in the US. The many choices obviously help the potential guest, but all the competition can pose a challenge for the host.
If you want to differentiate yourself from other bed and breakfasts, it best offer your guest a great experience from start to finish. This can help ensure the success of your short-term rental business.
8 tips for a successful bed and breakfast
That said, here are 8 tips to ensure the success of your B&B.
1. Don’t underestimate the decor of your B&B
How much do decor, furniture and knick-knacks affect your B&B’s occupancy rate? Imagine potential guests looking for the perfect rental for their vacation. After considering price and location, they will look at photos of available properties to choose the one they want to book.
Based on this scenario, there are two key points for the success of your B&B:
- Make sure you have professional photos on your listings and direct booking website.
- Don’t underestimate the decor of your bed-and-breakfast.
Here are some tips for decorating your B&B that will help you stand out from the competition:
- Always pick quality furniture-it’s a worthwhile investment. Each room should have one or more beds with comfortable mattresses, practical nightstands and spacious closets. Add at least one piece of personalized and unique furniture to each room: artwork, photographs, knick-knacks, etc.
- Make sure each bedroom has good lighting, working Wi-Fi and electrical outlets in strategic locations.
- Buy quality sheets and towels and make sure they are always clean. White is always a good option, but you can also opt for soothing colors and pastel tones. Either way, make sure each room has a coordinated color palette and style.
- When decorating your rooms, think about your target audience. If you often welcome families with children, make sure the rooms are safe, choose cheerful decoration, and add toys. If you welcome guests with dogs, have dog beds available.
- Add ad hoc equipment that your guests can use during their stay. For example, if your B&B is near the beach or a lake, provide extra towels and an umbrella.
- Don’t forget the kitchen, garden, and breakfast area. Make sure your guests can move freely in the common areas and add spaces where they can sit and relax.
To learn more: check out our article on 10 most common mistakes when furnishing an accommodation.
2. Offer a sustainable experience
The effects of climate change are becoming increasingly evident, and tourists around the world are now more aware than ever of the impact of their travel on the planet. As revealed in Booking.com’s 2023 Sustainable Travel Report, 80% of respondents said it was important for them to travel more sustainably.
This means that when booking their next vacation, many travelers will opt for rentals that clearly state their commitment to providing an environmentally sustainable travel solution.
It is not enough to state in your listing or on your website that your B&B respects the planet. You must also deliver on your promise and demonstrate this to your guests. Here are some ways to promote sustainable tourism at your bed and breakfast:
- Avoid using single-use plastic during breakfast: cutlery, glasses, plates but also products in single-serving packages.
- Also avoid shampoo, soap, and other single-serving hygiene products. Rather, equip your rooms with refillable bottles.
- Make it easy your guests sort their waste in and recycling in appropriate bins.
- Reduce electricity consumption in your B&B. Use energy-efficient light bulbs and turn off lights, air conditioning and other appliances when not needed.
- Encourage the consumption of local produce and prefer zero-mile foods whenever possible.
- Provide bicycles for your guests or direct them to the store where they can rent them. Alternatively, you can explain how public transportation works in the area.
- Direct your guests to local stores. You can provide them with some addresses in your digital guest guide.
- Offer discounts and economic incentives for those who choose sustainable options at your B&B.
- Consider installing renewable energy solutions, such as solar panels. There are several incentives and financial breaks to help businesses that want to become more sustainable.
3. Aim for an unforgettable breakfast
Many tourists decide to book a bed and breakfast because they don’t want to think about breakfast when they are on vacation. They ensure an effortless start to their day to without having to worry about anything. So, the first step to having a successful B&B is to offer an unforgettable breakfast.
Here are some tips:
- Aim for local products. Select local food from your region. From cheeses and sausages to pastries, you will have the opportunity to showcase the culinary richness of your area.
- Always offer fresh foods: fruits and vegetables from the garden, freshly baked bread and croissants, homemade cake, and eggs and milk from the local area.
- Give your guests a choice of savory or sweet breakfast. Not everyone is used to starting the day with eggs, beans, and bacon!
- Consult your guests regarding allergies or food preferences. They will appreciate it.
- Put an artisanal product from the area on the table, indicating where you bought it. Your guests may be looking for some souvenirs for family and friends!
Your guests, satisfied with your service, will be more than happy to leave you a good review at the end of their stay. Since many short rental booking portals rely on guest reviews to place their listings, positive reviews are critical to the success of your B&B.
Please note: In most states, B&Bs that want to offer unpacked fresh and homemade food must obtain safety certificates. Check the rules in your area to learn more.
4. Add that extra touch to set yourself apart from the competition
In addition to a sensational breakfast, there are many small gestures that can make your guests feel welcome and appreciated at your B&B.
Here are some things you can do to differentiate your bed and breakfast from the competition and delight your guests:
- Prepare a welcome message, perhaps translated into your guests’ language.
- Add a welcome gift: chocolates on the pillow, a welcome bottle, a local product, a toy for the children, etc.
- Offer toiletries, possibly with local and sustainable products.
- Arrange a small table with a kettle, cups and herbal teas.
Not all rentals make this extra effort. Your guests will recognize and appreciate your attention to detail and your commitment to providing them with a positive experience. Which can translate into more positive reviews, better rankings, and increased bookings for your B&B!
5. Ask your guests for feedback at the end of their stay
Your bed and breakfast will inevitably receive negative reviews. A broken piece of furniture or malfunctioning appliance, a noisy neighbor, an inefficient check-in, a late response, a double booking: there are many problems that lead guests to leave a negative review.
But is there anything you can do to limit the effect of negative reviews on your B&B’s reputation?
A good way to avoid negative reviews is to openly ask your guests for feedback at the end of their vacation. Send your guests an automatic e-mail immediately after their stay. Thank them for choosing your bed and breakfast and ask them what could be improved in your offer.
By doing so, you will not only have the opportunity to reduce negative reviews on booking sites, but you will also have a way to learn from your mistakes and improve.
Nowadays, social media plays an important role in the success of a business. Major brands know this well, which is why they strive to be present and active online. Your bed and breakfast is no different.
Even if your B&B’s Instagram account won’t bring you direct bookings, it’s important that you have one. You’ll appear more reliable and up-to-date, and you’ll have a platform to stay in touch with your guests.
Periodically share photos of your B&B (rooms, breakfast, surrounding area), news, events in the area. You don’t have to post every day, but be sure to respond promptly to any comments and requests.
7. Offer discounts and promotions to increase occupancy rates
Discounts and promotions are great tools for increasing your bed and breakfast’s occupancy rate. With the right promotional offers, you can get some off-season bookings and attract guests to your B&B, even if it is not located in a highly touristy area.
Even if you run an occasional B&B, which means you won’t stay open year-round, using discounts can help you maximize profits from available dates and retain regular guests.
Here are some events you can take advantage of to offer discounts to potential guests:
- Mother’s Day and Father’s Day
- Valentine’s Day, August public holidays, Easter
- Country fairs and local events
- Anniversary of your B&B
8. Streamline the management of your B&B with Smoobu’s channel manager
Managing a rental on your own can be quite time-consuming and, at times, could prove challenging. For this reason, many hosts rely on channel managers to help them manage their short-term rentals.
Smoobu is an all-inclusive software that specializes in managing vacation rentals, bed and breakfasts, and room rentals. Smoobu allows you to:
- Automatically synchronize your bookings on booking portals and your direct booking website. In this way, you will reduce manual work and avoid the risk of double booking.
- Automate communication with guests. Create email templates for all occasions, and Smoobu will take care of sending them to your guests on the appointed day and time.
- Build your B&B website, complete with an automatically synchronized, real-time availability calendar.
- Enhance the guest experience by providing guests with a convenient and professional service. For example, Smoobu’s digital Guest Guide is a great tool for providing your guests with all the information they need about their stay and some useful tips for making the most of their vacation.
- Implement a whole series of integrations that will allow you to optimize other aspects of the management of your bed and breakfast: online and self check-in, dynamic pricing, housekeeping services, etc.
Efficient management and attention to detail for your bed and breakfast’s success
Standing out from the competition can sometimes be a daunting task. However, by following our 8 tips, you will be able to provide an unforgettable experience and develop a successful bed and breakfast.
Always pay attention to details, from the quality of the towels you offer to the chocolate you leave on the pillow when guests arrive. Aim for a quality breakfast and a sustainable experience. Strengthen your online presence and don’t be afraid to offer discounts and promotions.
And finally, consider using a channel manager to manage your B&B. Test Smoobu for free with our 14-day free trial and decide if it is the right solution for you and your bed and breakfast.
Table of Contents
- 1 8 tips for a successful bed and breakfast
- 1.1 1. Don’t underestimate the decor of your B&B
- 1.2 2. Offer a sustainable experience
- 1.3 3. Aim for an unforgettable breakfast
- 1.4 4. Add that extra touch to set yourself apart from the competition
- 1.5 5. Ask your guests for feedback at the end of their stay
- 1.6 6. Keep your bed and breakfast’s social media active
- 1.7 7. Offer discounts and promotions to increase occupancy rates
- 1.8 8. Streamline the management of your B&B with Smoobu’s channel manager
- 2 Efficient management and attention to detail for your bed and breakfast’s success