help for the soon to be newbie :)

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08/28/2017

I was so excited when i found this site! I've been reading through so many of the forums and conversations and you are all such a wealth of information and support. I'm looking forward to learning so much!

My husband and i are working towards opening our B&B within the next year. We purchased a wonderful old property in a fabulous setting and are making it through our restoration and transformation projects to meet the needs for a comfortable, elegant B&B and tea room. The property was never used as a B&B so we are doing our best to renovate accordingly to meet the needs of our guests and ourselves. I have a background in interior design (20+yrs), real estate sales (6+yrs), corporate events & trade shows (13+yrs) and definitely a love for cooking, entertaining and creating memorable experiences. Even with my experience, there is still so much to learn and refine to ensure our success.

As we are getting closer to the completion of our projects and approaching the timeline to welcome guests, nervousness, blossoming into panic, is working its way into my B&B dreams.

I'm hoping you can assist us with getting up and running on the right foot. As seasoned professionals and quintessential hosts what key advice would you give, as being most important, for the best guest experience and functional sanity for the innkeeper? 

We are  considering taking a training workshop but many of them spend a lot of time on sourcing the property and location which we are already well past. Any suggestions for seminars in the New England area would also be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance for all of your valuable insight!

 

 

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Hi all-

My husband and I are in the process of gathering all the information and feedback possible as we wish to have our own inn. Between the two of us, we have 20+ years marketing experience, 15+ years event management, catering and F&B experience, management, promotions and brand management experience. Both of us have worked within hospitality and/or entertainment. I previously owned a bakery which provided catering to clients and currently work within the hospitality industry as an event director. Also, I am an artist and creative designer.... including floral design, events, and menu design. 

We are wanting to find a great bnb or inn that we might be able to work with for a while to get some actual experience with running a bnb. Is this something that you would recommend? 

An even better scenario would be to find that awesome inn where the current owners may be getting ready for retirement, but are willing to stay around a while to help with training and such. Maybe the option of a purchase at some point? 

Some other questions revolve around health/dental/other insurance for ourselves, location, benefits of having an event space associated with the BnB, and other...

We ave been perusing the ads of the available inns on the market, as well as innkeeper couple jobs... We live in Texas currently, however, should an awesome opportunity arise, relocating has been discussed. 

Any feedback is greatly appreciated. We love sharing new opportunities with folks, joining together for a great meal and learning about new things.

 

thanks everyone...

 

Paul and Jenn... looking for an INN!

 

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Jenn and Paul

 

Morticia's picture
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05/22/2008

Jenn and Paul-

Think about taking an innkeeping class where you live. Check with the state innkeeping association to get info.

What you want is a hands on class, not a straight business class where you sit and listen while someone talks at you.

You also need the business side so you understand how to calculate the value of the properties you ultimately look at.

If there is an innkeeping convention you can go to, split up and take all the classes they offer then compare notes later.

Right now, make lists of your strengths and weaknesses. Who would be responsible for what? Who would be crabby all day if they were forced to do x? What do you need for personal space? Would you function well as a couple if your space was a single room in the building?

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Most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes. - Oscar Wilde

 

JimBoone's picture
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jennandpaul wrote:

We are wanting to find a great bnb or inn that we might be able to work with for a while to get some actual experience with running a bnb. Is this something that you would recommend? 

An even better scenario would be to find that awesome inn where the current owners may be getting ready for retirement, but are willing to stay around a while to help with training and such. Maybe the option of a purchase at some point? 

Some other questions revolve around health/dental/other insurance for ourselves, location, benefits of having an event space associated with the BnB, and other...

Like you Maxine and I thought that lodging sounded like an interesting business and would allow us to live in our vacation area, still happy with that idea many years later, nothing against training, but we just jumped in and became innkeepers.

I'm afraid most owners/operators that are successful and not desperate would be reluctant to rent or lease their property, in many cases I would think that the property is the retirement account and would need to be sold in order to fund the next stage of life.  We started with my retirement account money and selling and/or borrowing against our home and property.

Health/dental insurance: I was able to keep a retirement health insurance package from my former employer in our first years, later gained full time employment that provided our insurance till I retired and went on Medicare, during those years Maxine ran the business and I was the nighttime and weekend helper.

Location/event space/etc.: Location means a lot of things, but where do you want to live? For me, if I'm not happy with where and how I live I'm afraid I would burn out quickly, for me happiness/way of life, means more than top dollar. Event space sound like a large operation, I would think you would need to be well funded and speaking of a large operation with staff, I can't contribute to that question, our goal was small, simple, get it paid for and enjoy life. 

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Jim & Maxine

 

TheBeachHouse's picture
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06/24/2013

Welcome, congratulations and best of luck!!

My first thought is that, since your place is brand new, you need excellent marketing.  

List with your chamber of commerce, make sure you are on any tourist maps, have all your first guests leave reviews on Trip Adviser.  (If you have family or friends stay with you, insist on a review.)

Send press releases to all the news outlets in your state and even Yankee Mag and other magazines that may highlight stories on trip planning, home renovation, entrepreneurs, your town, whatever might help.

 Gotta get your name out there.

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TBH

 

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08/28/2017

Thank you for your input and sorry for the delay in my reply. We are hoping to have our initial guest rooms up and running by early spring so have many renovations still underway. We have just gotten a website up and running and getting the tea Room part of the business going in the meantime until the guest rooms are ready. Would love any thoughts and feedback as we continue to build and customize the website. www.sereniteabedandbreakfast.com 

Highlands John's picture
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04/16/2010

Ease yourselves into it, you don't want to be fully booked day 1. You need organisation and processes in the background to make sure everything runs smooth so it looks effortless to the guests and those you'll develop as you get into the (endless) repetition. Once you don't have to think about these things you'll have much more time and brain capacity to be smiles and hospitable with guests.

 

There was a TV program in the UK earlier this year following people doing exactly what you're doing. On one program the commentator complained because they took 35 minutes to cook breakfast and the guests were getting fidgety (it was their first day). Every morning for a month after that when I plated up breakfasts for DH to take through to guests I said to him "No one has to wait 35 minutes at the xxxxxxx house", he got really fed up with me. devil

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If you wanted hotel facilities you should have booked a hotel and paid hotel prices!!!

 

Anon Inn's picture
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Highlands John wrote:

There was a TV program in the UK earlier this year following people doing exactly what you're doing. 

 

HJ - what is the name of the program?  We may be able to access it on U tube.

Highlands John's picture
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Anon Inn wrote:

Highlands John wrote:

There was a TV program in the UK earlier this year following people doing exactly what you're doing. 

 

HJ - what is the name of the program?  We may be able to access it on U tube.

its was called "Our Dream Hotel" and made by Channel 5 over here. The hotel inspector, Alex Polizzi voiced it but didn't appear and there only seems to be 3 episodes so don't know if that means it was only a pilot or they'd didn't make more because it flopped.

http://www.channel5.com/show/our-dream-hotel/

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also B&B the best coveres a bit as well

notAgrandma's picture
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Highlands John wrote:

Ease yourselves into it, you don't want to be fully booked day 1. You need organisation and processes in the background to make sure everything runs smooth so it looks effortless to the guests and those you'll develop as you get into the (endless) repetition. 

That's excellent advise! I wish I'd thought of that 6 years ago. I had a full house for New Years 2 weeks after opening (10 guests). Breakfast was mass chaos. I didn't think everyone would come to the table all at once. Previous owners did 2 serving times, as the table they left me only sat 8. Had to cram in 2 more place settings. Rearranged the dining room after that fiasco!

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Your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are. - John Wooden

 

Morticia's picture
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If your website isn't up yet, do that soon. It takes time to get to the top of Google. If all you have right now are a lot of renovation photos, post those. Get a Facebook page going. Start engaging your future guests. Right now you're working in a vacuum, you need some input from your fans to get you over the nervousness and back to excited.

seashanty's picture
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06/02/2008

Congratulations! I took a seminar (long ago) with the B&B team bbteam.com 

It was great. As I recall, all attending had already purchased their property so we did not cover that at all.

There was a lot of discussion of getting a new place up and running, keeping or changing a name, and also (for me) opening a place that had closed long ago and so had a local reputation for being closed or run down and definitely not the place to stay! 

I would suggest you call and talk to them - to find the right seminar for you. Even if there is material not exactly for you, there is so much to learn.

Another idea is there was (maybe still) an innkeeper or two on this forum offering a seminar at their place. I don't know if they still do. Shadowing someone and then jumping in and doing is a real eye opener! 

When I first opened, it was 'fake it 'til you make it.' I felt like I was pretending at first. I was very nervous. After the first few nights, the nervousness was gone. Good luck.

 

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Wear cute PJ’s to bed; you never know who you may meet in your dreams.

 

2cat_lady's picture
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09/24/2014

Nearing the end of our fourth season. This group offered invaluable advice, sometimes delivered brutally, lol. But the best group of people to have on your side. 

My semi-newbie advice to you is look after yourself. Suffering some semi-burn out here and so can speak from experience. Year five will be a little different. A regular day off, minimum stays and sticking to your policies. But, you'll find your groove with time. We're all different and all want to get different things from our choice of vocation. 

TheBeachHouse's picture
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06/24/2013

2cat_lady wrote:

Nearing the end of our fourth season. This group offered invaluable advice, sometimes delivered brutally, lol. But the best group of people to have on your side. 

My semi-newbie advice to you is look after yourself. Suffering some semi-burn out here and so can speak from experience. Year five will be a little different. A regular day off, minimum stays and sticking to your policies. But, you'll find your groove with time. We're all different and all want to get different things from our choice of vocation. 

We are celebrating our fourth anniversary too!   We initiated a vacation plan last year that included a week off in June and a week off in September.   Closed the inn from Sunday night through Thursday night.   It helps tremendously.

  (We are 99% full during July and August.)

This past few weeks, we started a new 'day off' habit.   Once a week, he gets a 'day off.'   Meaning I answer all phones and doorbells.  He can leave the house if he likes, or hang  around, but he is not responsible.   It helps.   If you are a pair, give each other a day off once a week.  

Lee2014's picture
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12/11/2014

   Always smile even if it hurts.  Most guests are wonderful and at ease if you can be yourself.  You will meet lots of people and have fun doing it!

   The best advice given to me has been this, Hire out what you don't want to do.  Don't do it all.  Do what you enjoy.  Block rooms to have time for yourself and family.  This will keep you from burning out. 

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Have a great day!

 

TheBeachHouse's picture
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The one exception to 'always smile' is when you are confronted by a true and complete a-hole.  At that point, be free to process his refund and show him the door.

It's really a liberating experience when you realize you are fully in control of who stays, and more importantly, who doesn't stay in your house.

eyevea's picture
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06/09/2010

We just opened our place after 6 years of renovations.  So exciting.  Good luck with yours. We've had our 1st and 2nd guest sand so far, so good.

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eyevea

 

TheBeachHouse's picture
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eyevea wrote:

We just opened our place after 6 years of renovations.  So exciting.  Good luck with yours. We've had our 1st and 2nd guest sand so far, so good.

Congratulations and best of luck!!

gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

Keep the house clean, the food good to excellent, the hosts welcoming, and above all, be yourselves. Relax and roll with it. That is what all of us did and do.

Behind the scenes - keep good records, have online reservations, and keep a good bottle of wine.

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as part of the keep good records - don't be putting everything in a shoe box till the end of the year and then run about in a headless chicken panic! try and do a bit every week or have say 45 mins twice a week to keep on top as then when its crazy busy there isn't too much to catch up on.

Lee2014's picture
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    Have a bunch of envelopes labeled, food, maintenance, repairs, etc. and throw the papers in them in the shoe box.  We also do different receipts for different items at the store.  People can raise their eyebrows all they want about all the different orders on the counter, it really helps later on! 

Highlands John's picture
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Jcam wrote:

as part of the keep good records - don't be putting everything in a shoe box till the end of the year and then run about in a headless chicken panic!

Have you been spying on me angel

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Ditto!

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02/15/2017

Ditto!

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