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Success in the Bed and Breakfast Industry

August 12, 2013 - General, Hospitality

Travelling is all about getting away and enjoying time to relax.  People spend time at the beach, visit historic cities and towns, or go somewhere new for a change of scenery.  One thing that’s true is that we’re constantly looking for cool places to stay.  It might be a luxury resort, complete with 5-star amenities, or a quaint bed and breakfast.  B&Bs are huge right now because they provide both luxury and home comforts, and many people enjoy finding new ones to stay at in each place they visit.  But have you ever thought about owning one?  Consider learning about the industry and what goes into creating a successful and fulfilling B&B experience.

Owning a B&B could be a dream come true.  You have great customer service skills. You love to make other people happy.  You want a cute home to share with others.  No matter what your reasoning, the bed and breakfast path feels like the right one.  So where will you start?

Pittsburgh Travel and Tourism Degree Programs

A successful career in the bed and breakfast industry begins with attaining hospitality training.  Luckily, you have the opportunity to study in Pittsburgh for a travel & tourism degree.  PTC’s Travel & Tourism Management program prepares students for success in venues as large as resorts and as quaint as B&Bs.  

In the program, future B&B owners will learn the trade by participating in courses focusing on management, tourism, marketing, event planning and others.  Classroom and online hospitality training are just the tip of the iceberg, however.  Throughout the duration of their study, each individual gains hands-on experience through visits to tourist destinations.  Having developed keen business acumen, each student will come away from their hospitality training with skills in customer service, food safety, office management, decision making and problem solving.  From here, it’s time to get down to business.

Bed and Breakfast Business Duties

Individuals desiring to be successful in the bed and breakfast industry must plan to continually learn and develop as well as have a solid dedication to stellar business quality and customer satisfaction.   A great deal of legwork is involved in starting any business, so it is essential to take all the necessary steps.  Expect to handle business logistics first.

Licensing and Permits – The start of any major enterprise is all technical.  To open and operate a B&B, entrepreneurs need to obtain appropriate permits and licenses.  These may include zoning permits, to ensure that a particular building or plot of land may be used as a B&B; business license, which will allow the owner to operate the establishment legally and/or fictitious name registration; if the plan is to open a chain of locations with different names owned under one major umbrella company.

Financial Accounts – After the location itself is secure, owners must handle financials.  This means that tax information must be handled, insurance be taken care of and bank accounts be established.  B&B owners are required to impose taxes on guests, including lodging taxes (collected specifically for overnight stays and passed on to the government) and sales tax (collected during any kind of retail transaction and passed to the government).  Each of these tax types must be organized prior to distribution to the government, so it’s ideal to create bank accounts for them.  Additionally, for business expenses and income, owners should maintain checking accounts and merchant accounts (for non-cash transactions).  To protect the company, each B&B should also maintain insurance on the business itself as well as the property and building.

Inspections and Certifications –The hard part is nearly over.  With licensing and financial information out of the way, owners must get the OK to open the doors for business.  A handful of property inspections are essential to ensure safety.  These include visits from the fire department, who will check to make sure smoke alarms are installed and working, that fire extinguishers are present and exits are readily accessible; and from the health department, who will check the building for health hazards like mold, asbestos (risky in old, historic structures) and pests.  B&Bs will also have to be certified to prepare and serve food, by passing the requirements for kitchen cleanliness, safety, food preparation and storage practices.

Day-to-Day Operations – Finally the fun begins!  Successful B&Bs have owners and workers are constantly on top of their game.  An organized reservation system, complete with arrival and departure dates, guest credit card information and more should be in place, so that individuals may easily input and change guest information.  Outstanding B&Bs also maintain clean, well-decorated rooms for guest comfort.  Personal touches like welcome letters, a basket of toiletries and cozy bathrobes in the closet help to make a guest’s stay more relaxing.  Coordination with the kitchen staff is essential too, as creating unique and tasty meals is not only enjoyable but also appreciated by patrons.  Aside from keeping current guests satisfied, owners should adopt a forward-thinking mentality, which involves marketing efforts to ensure the continued success of the B&B—be it maintaining an engaging website or advertising locally.  The sky’s the limit!

Operating a B&B is definitely hard work, but it may be tremendously rewarding.  From beginning your hospitality training at a career technical college right here in PA to experiencing the ins and outs of starting a business, all roads lead to making your dream a reality.  You have the potential to do what you love and impact the happiness of others.  What could be better than that? 

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