Bed and Breakfast Operator  What They Do

Just the Facts

Lodging Managers Career Video

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dotIf you like to cook and enjoy welcoming guests into your home, you might find that running a bed and breakfast is a perfect fit.

A bed and breakfast (B and B) operator is someone who runs a mini-hotel from their home. Sometimes, their home is an historic building. The home can be large and spacious, or small and cozy. The home has one or more extra rooms that the operator, also called an innkeeper, rents out to guests.

dotThere are many duties that a B and B operator must perform. The house has to be kept exceptionally clean because guests are always coming and going. Breakfast, snacks and occasionally dinners are the responsibility of the innkeeper. Plus, records need to be kept.

Additionally, since B and B operators usually live in the home from which they rent rooms, there might be little time away from work, especially during peak seasons, such as during holidays and over the summer.

Because most B and B operators work from home, the environment should be one they enjoy spending time in. Many choose to operate a B and B because they have extra space and enjoy the company of others.

dotIt's a good idea to for a B and B operator to join a B and B association, says Harriet Gould. She's a board member of the Nebraska Association of Bed and Breakfast and has her own B and B.

"There are a lot of advantages," says Gould. "First of all, we're all inspected (this gives guests extra peace of mind). Secondly, there's the opportunity to showcase ourselves on the association's website." Gould says the association also publishes travel brochures to help attract clients.

And one of the best advantages of joining an association? "The networking opportunity with other B and B owners, to talk about issues and problems," she says.

The Internet has proven to be a wonderful tool for B and B operators to promote their businesses to potential guests worldwide. Therefore, if you have technological skills, that's a big asset. However, at the end of the day what's most important is making people feel welcome in your home.

“We’ve got a lot of members who are tech-savvy, they are ‘One with the Internet,’” says Ingrid Thorson with the Professional Association of Innkeepers International. “But we also have those that don't live and die by search engine optimization, and they still do well. The common thread is they provide outstanding customer service.”

For many B and B operators, it's a part-time business. They continue working another job until retirement. At that point they devote all their time to their B and B.

"Location is the main factor in being able to make it a full-time business," says Gould.

Gould says that additional amenities, such as spa and fitness facilities, make it more likely that you can earn a full-time living from your B and B. Of course, this requires a much larger investment in your home. But if you can do it, then you can attract high-end clientele and increase your revenue.

If you're located in a popular tourist destination, are near a large city, or you're in a warmer climate, then it's generally easier to attract guests throughout the year.

At a Glance

Run a mini-hotel from your home

  • You have to like people
  • Part of the job involves providing food
  • You'll need some business training