New Plan - it might work

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TheBeachHouse's picture
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We did some math yesterday and realized we make 90% of our revenue in 6 months of the year.  Based on that figure, and our winter fatigue, we are looking at the possibility of closing the inn from November 1 - April 30.   We would have to be open for Thanksgiving, because we have several regulars, but what do you think?

What do you do on the down time?  We are looking at joining a gym, pool, or class.  Maybe being in a play!!    We even thought of moving into the inn for the winter!

Anyone else do a full on seasonal close?    In the past, we've only closed for short vacations.

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First season and yep...we closed mid November until mid January...

Time for family, Holidays, friends, grand-babies due, travels for us and more. Even random months when one of our adult kids or their families have special events we will block the dates and be gone (or them here). Our quality of life (with family or privately) still takes priority. We also still have date nights or dinners with friends (sometimes even here at our house - even if we have guests - they don't use the dining room at night anyway!), go to concerts, events, or the beach on a sunny afternoon!  I am still available and attentive, but don't need to be a slave to fully capable adults staying at our B&B! We are also fortunate not to BE the destination, but simply offer lodging for an area that IS the destination! 

TheBeachHouse's picture
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The more we talk about it, the more excited we get.   We are now researching best vacation destinations in March and April.   Smiling

Morticia's picture
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TheBeachHouse wrote:

The more we talk about it, the more excited we get.   We are now researching best vacation destinations in March and April.   Smiling

Utah was lovely in April. Outer Banks also.

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TheBeachHouse's picture
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we love the Outer banks.  I would not have thought of that.   Great idea!

I did look at golf resorts in Georgia and Florida.   Checking OBX now!

Morticia's picture
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Try to avoid when the local grade schools are on break. Ugh. Non stop noise at the hotels. Beaches were empty, tho, it's too cold for the locals!

PhineasSwann's picture
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If you have winter activities in your area, work with those areas to create "Winter Getaway Packages." People in your area snowmobile? Lots of people would love their first chance to try it! Dogsledding? Even better. Any ski resorts less than an hour away? Go for it.  Winter vacations can be good business. You might try just opening for the obvious dates (MLK weekend, Presidents Day, school breaks) and see how it goes.

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Winter here is dead. I have a regular 2-night in January for a local company's tax man, but otherwise it is whenever the phome rings or a surprise online rez. Since I live here, I just stay open for the odd room night traffic because other than leaving the heat on in the bathrooms to prevent frozen pipes, the electric baseboard heat only goes on when there is a guest in that room. I keep the downstairs where I live at 64 (forced-air gas heat down here and small heaters in the kitchen and my bathroom in this old house) and if it gets REAL cold, will plug in a heater in my office. Sweaters are cheaper than the gas company.

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Ugh....sounds like everyone is saying business is dead during the winter months?  I hope not.  I was hoping that when I get my web site done and all the marketing in place that things would pick up.

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MNVineyardBB wrote:

Ugh....sounds like everyone is saying business is dead during the winter months?  I hope not.  I was hoping that when I get my web site done and all the marketing in place that things would pick up.

Going strictly by your user name, I'm going to assume you have a b&b with a vineyard in Minnesota. So, what is there to do in the winter? Are you the destination? Will you have wine tastings in the winter?

Some of us are busy year round, either because the weather cooperates, we're in, or near big cities, we've promoted our properties as destinations, we're near colleges and hospitals, etc.

Some of us are in very seasonal locations and we take our downtime seriously. For some, their season is just ramping up, others are winding down.

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Yes we're in Minnesota.  We have the super bowl this year, skiing, ice fishing, we're on a snowmobile trail system, we're 40 minutes from the Mall of America, then there are people traveling for business or to visit family, etc.  I have to think that if we get listed on a travel service where we show up when people search for hotels that we would do well in the winter.  There are no hotels in the immediate area so I think if people know about us that we should do okay.

TheBeachHouse's picture
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Depends on where you are.    The coast north of Boston?   Yeah.   In fact, most restaurants and stores  in this town close in the winter.

Tom
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My mother now lives in Ipswich, moved there from Lanes Cove, Cape Ann, just to try to stay warm in the winter.  The wind off the ocean made the candles flicker even with the windows closed.  Tonight more snow coming in.  Wet and heavy close to the sea, but accumulating by morning.  I miss sailing there (solo) when I was 16 in a 16 foot sloop and I miss the lobster rolls, but I don't miss the winter.

Close and go to where your heart urges you to go.

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Tom wrote:

My mother now lives in Ipswich, moved there from Lanes Cove, Cape Ann, just to try to stay warm in the winter.  The wind off the ocean made the candles flicker even with the windows closed.  Tonight more snow coming in.  Wet and heavy close to the sea, but accumulating by morning.  I miss sailing there (solo) when I was 16 in a 16 foot sloop and I miss the lobster rolls, but I don't miss the winter.

Close and go to where your heart urges you to go.

We are on Cape Ann!   One of our favorite things to do on our first Fall day off, is to walk Crane Beach.

Morticia's picture
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I love the winter! Beaches all to ourselves. Snowshoeing along the coast. The color of the sky right now is breathtaking.

Gomez wants to go back to SC. No can do.

Morticia's picture
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TheBeachHouse wrote:

Depends on where you are.    The coast north of Boston?   Yeah.   In fact, most restaurants and stores  in this town close in the winter.

My town is open year round. Some places close mid week or for a couple of weeks. But, a lot of guests wait to check the weather, and we've had enough occasions where driving was not the smartest thing to do, that closing has saved us aggro.

There are towns, big tourist areas here, that are virtually ghost towns in the winter. Perfect time to visit as there are no crowds. But, you've got to be happy with eating at the same restaurant everyday. Or, having sandwiches from the gas station.

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Depends where you are and what your clientele is. I'm not dead in the winter, just quieter.

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Morticia's picture
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Start taking deposits. Even if it's $100 at a time. (It can be remarkably stressful to see the old bank balance take a precipitous dip as we head toward May. Taking the deposits keeps me happy.) It keeps money coming in all winter. Open for holiday weekends if your stats show you'll be mostly full.

We could open for Valentine's day and close again after that for another month. We don't, but we could.

We don't heat the house above 50 in the winter. Lights are off. We unplug everything that's a ghost draw - TV's, clocks, guest fridge, coffee maker, guest computer.

Another thing I spend a few days doing - making jam.

TheBeachHouse's picture
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Great idea unplugging refrigerators and TVs.   We talked again and are thinking we need to be open for Thanksgiving and New Years.  We have regulars and generally full house for both.  

I'll talk to him about deposits.   Makes sense to keep the cash coming in.

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TheBeachHouse wrote:

but what do you think?   

I'd say it all depends on your math and what you would do during the time that you are closed.

Revenue doesn't always equal profit, how much will it reduce your profit? Are there expenses that will continue, costs that 10% is presently paying that will reduce your final profit by more than 10%?

If you moved into the inn for the winter would it save you housing expenses and allow you to accept a few inn reservations if it suited you to do so and would those few reservations off set some expenses.

I expect many here are busier/work harder than we do so I don't really walk in your shoes. If weather is cold we have a winter season as well as a warm season, but for a number of years we took off most of November and April between seasons, kids are here to help now and we thought we would be taking more time off, but so far it has been less as we have lost some of the folks we too off to visit.

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TheBeachHouse's picture
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Mathwise, it seems to make sense.   We generally sell the cheapest room.   Subtract 15% cuz it's ALWAYS through you know who.   Then you have to heat the rooms, shop for food, run the gas fireplace, and the shower and keep the front lights on.    No idea what that actually costs, but not enough for one room of people we will never see again.  

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TheBeachHouse wrote:

Mathwise, it seems to make sense.   We generally sell the cheapest room.   Subtract 15% cuz it's ALWAYS through you know who.   Then you have to heat the rooms, shop for food, run the gas fireplace, and the shower and keep the front lights on.    No idea what that actually costs, but not enough for one room of people we will never see again.  

If you decide to stay open, block the cheapest room from being booked until other rooms are taken. Seriously. We do that. And there was a gal on here awhile back who does a boat b&b and she did the same thing. Why put on the whole show for the least amount of money possible?

TheBeachHouse's picture
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We have talked about taking the cheap room off the booking books.   Good advice.

We are doing two bathrooms this winter and raising the price for the cheap room to match the second cheapest room.  The bathroom will still be down the hall, but it will be a really NICE bathroom!

Silverspoon's picture
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We were open year round for 26 years.  Like you, we made most of our $ in a few summer months.  This year we closed the house after Labor Day and the cottage at the end of November.  What a relief!  No more shoveling snow for guest access.  And we can plan a winter getaway!  We have even turned away regulars who want the cottage in February...it costs us almost as much to heat the place as we get for a couple of nights.  

If you are not staying open for cash flow, by all means close!

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TheBeachHouse's picture
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Silverspoon wrote:

We were open year round for 26 years.  Like you, we made most of our $ in a few summer months.  This year we closed the house after Labor Day and the cottage at the end of November.  What a relief!  No more shoveling snow for guest access.  And we can plan a winter getaway!  We have even turned away regulars who want the cottage in February...it costs us almost as much to heat the place as we get for a couple of nights.  

If you are not staying open for cash flow, by all means close!

The snow is a consideration.  I stress over the front steps which are generally covered with ice.   Hubby brushes off cars when it snows, but you still have to worry about guests walking on ice.

OnTheShore's picture
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We close mid-October until mid-May.

Of course the water supply to the cottages is all above ground, and the cottages themselves are generally not winterized, so we have to drain all the pipes before freezing temperatures hit.

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Generic's picture
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We close for a month each year... and go away. 

Morticia's picture
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You could just open on weekends, too. That's basically all the work we have from now until May.

Morticia's picture
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We close from Jan 1 until Valentine's day weekend. Then another 3 weeks around the end of March.

What we do: 

  • Repairs
  • Upgrades
  • Relax
  • Go on short trips to get ideas for guests
  • 2 week vacation away from here
  • Work on marketing plans
  • Goof off
  • Go snowshoeing
  • Have friends visit
  • Go out for lunch
  • Gomez volunteers every morning at the food pantry

We have friends who rent a condo on the other coast. They spend 4 months relaxing and beachcombing. Much better than my list!

Seriously, other than this past weekend, this year we could have closed a month ago! We're hoping this year was a fluke.

TheBeachHouse's picture
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We've had too many days with one room.  It is cost prohibitive to do all that work for one room.   I think we're on to something.

Yes, I wouldn't mind a couple months in a warm climate, but we do have to watch our budget, so maybe a 4 day at a golf resort in Florida.  

I like the short trips to other B&B's idea.  

January, we are having two bathrooms gutted and rebuilt.   So  we are already closed for January and until Valentine's day.

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