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kjjj19

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My wife and I are currently discussing plans to eventually open up an Inn of some sort, we are debating on the type. She is interested in the high end boutique inns where we can have people working for us and making decent money, I would prefer an interesting B&B where I can entertain. We do not plan to make a move on this for at least 5 years because we need to make sure that financially we can handle this type of investment.

We have 2 children (8 and 2), we plan to cater to family travelers, families with disabled children, and the occasional romantic getaway. Our thoughts are to have a Boundless Playground on site that will allow children of all ages to play and enjoy their visit while they are with us. We would like to eventually expand the offerings at the Inn to include something for everyone including live music from local musicians, and local artwork on display.
We currently have two cats, and may eventually get a dog, but that depends on what happens in the future for our pets.
For backgrounds, I am an IT specialist and she is an accountant.
I understand that for the first 2-3 years unless we buy into a profitable turnkey that we will be hard pressed to make a profit and afford someone to help out. Once we have a steady income from rooms flowing into the Inn and help we would be able to spend more time with the children.
My questions are:
  1. Is it feasible to be able to be active in your children’s lives and functions while running an inn?
  2. Would the catering to Families and disabilities be a smart move? I don’t want to seem that I am trying to profit off someone, but at the same time I know there are many lodging options out there that do not consider children with disabilities when trying to become family friendly.
  3. Without any actually Hospitality Experience what suggestions can be made to gain some? There are a few local colleges that offers 2 year degrees in it and a few B&B that I might be able to network with.
  4. We would like to stay close to family, and possibly in the central IA area, but I am having a hard time trying to figure out what area attractions would be considered more then just local or regional draw. My wife thinks there are plenty.

I think this is it, but I will post more if I can thank of any.
 

EmptyNest

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Welcome..I think many of the questions you ask..have been discussed at great length here already. Take a some time to go through past threads and then come back and maybe ask for further clarification etc. I am sure someone here will be gracious enough to repond fully, but many just do not have the time to do so since this is all on line already.
I will comment just a bit.
LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION has always been my mantra. Some may not agree with it...but I believe it is critical. If there is no reason for anyone to visit your town, then why would they come to stay with you???
Are you planning on making a living off of this???? If so, you are going to need a large property which good occupancy to support a family, pay for health insurance etc etc.
We ran our small 3 room B & B for 6 years and never showed a profit.
Have you all stayed in B & B's before? If not, please do so..alot before you make a decision. Get some of the Innkeeping books and start reading.
Will you use your current home? Is zoning in place that will let you do it?
I know there are some here who have children and run their B & B successfully. I for one think it is not the way to go. Personally I don't see how you can give your family / growing children the time they need and still run a 24/7 business like a B& B. IT IS ALOT OF WORK!!!
Well those are just few cursory comment. Start reading:)
 

wendydk

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Read, Read and read some more. Then take some aspiring Innkeepers classes. Try to do an internship at an Inn in the area you want to be in.....and read everything on this forum voraciously. I found that having an innkeeper mentor in the beginning was a real blessing to us!
 

JBloggs

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She is interested in the high end boutique inns where we can have people working for us and making decent money, I would prefer an interesting B&B where I can entertain.
Nice differential. :)
There may be a reason most inns are folks nearing retirement or that era vs younger with school age children. Living inside your business vs even having a home office are two different things when it comes to family life.
Like in any choice your family s/b the priority, you can dip your feet in the water and not easily get away from the current in this business. You can't walk away, you can't just put it on the market and sell it quickly. The committment is astronomical. So whatever you choose to do make sure everyone is on board. Your kids cannot be bratty kids, even with a high temperature. No matter how many kids you invite to stay with you - the paying guests come first and they get the quiet serene stay.
I think it is fantastic to cater to families with disabilities, but remember most probably cannot afford luxury with medical bills ongoing. Most will want to pack the kids all in a room to cut the cost. So just some considerations from my perspective, You will also need special licensing, not sure what it would be, but might be considered a respite care if you classify yourself other than a BnB. Then you have more issues there, plus ;iability insurance to consider.
Just some food for thought from me. All the best in whatever you decide.
 

gillumhouse

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I am going to address the issue of attractions as I am in a place that everyone asked "Who is going to come here?"
First of all before saying there is nothing here, draw a 60 mile circle around your current location and start taking drives on back roads and also contact the Iowa Tourism Division for Iowa Tourist info. I think you will be surprised at what is there.
Is Anamosa in or near your circle? Have YOU ever heard of it? Excellent motorcycle museum. You have the Hoover site, Amana colonies, many Iowa historic sites, rail-trails..... Look around. You may be surprised at what is there that will interest people if you just tell them it is there.
As for the families with disabled children, although I am sure many do travel - I would not build around that as a targeted major segment (difficulty and cost of travel are major factors in limiting that population) although to have handicapped accessible IS an wise plan. Another segment of growing travel market is pet-friendly. You cannot be all things to all travelers - and will find you do not want to be - so figure out WHO will be your market, and be prepared to find out your guests are from a different market than expected.
Read these Forum threads - every one because it is not at all unusual for one subject to start a thread and it end up talking about something else.
 

swirt

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Welcome to INNspiring

Is it feasible to be able to be active in your children’s lives and functions while running an inn?
It is difficult. Much depends on the living quarters. The more separate they are from the guest quarters, the better. You will miss out on things in your childresn's lives..but it could be argued that you will gain some things as well because you will be home with them. I think the biggest issue is that much of innkeeping is spent waiting on other people's time table. Kids don't always adjust well to having to wait ... wait ... wait.
Would the catering to Families and disabilities be a smart move?
It could be. I would say that it depends largely on what is in the particular area. If there is a big draw in the area for families, then cater to them. If there is a big draw for romantic type things, then you might be better catering to that. Catering to both can be kind of a no win situation. Again it depends on the area, and the sturcture of the particular inn. Playgrounds would probably be a big deterent for romantic getaway.
One thing to consider...people on romantic getaways will spend money ... people on family trips, are all about trying to save money. Romantic getaways, if good, can turn into repeat business. Family outings tend to not lead to repeat as the kids don't usually want to go back to the same place (unless you are right outside some great kid attraction like disneyworld or something.)
Without any actually Hospitality Experience what suggestions can be made to gain some? There are a few local colleges that offers 2 year degrees in it and a few B&B that I might be able to network with.
Work with the B&B's and definitely as Catlady suggested...stay stay stay at them. You will learn a lot from every single one...even if they are a really crappy one....in fact at the really crappy ones you sometimes learn more ;)
 

JBloggs

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people on family trips, are all about trying to save money.
TRYING to save money, key word there. It never happens though, we all know that.
 

Morticia

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Ask your wife why she thinks there are attractions in the area that would draw people! If you want to cater to families you need to be the draw right where you are or the draw needs to be very near you. A friend of ours has the draw. He has a lake and a family-centric outlook on the business. BUT, his whole family knows that NOTHING happens in season if they want him there. His season is from April-Nov, April spent opening up and Nov spent closing down.
We moved from a location that neither hubs nor I could figure out why anyone would go there if they didn't live there. It's beautiful, but there's nothing close by to do. No restaurants, no skiing, no water, no attractions.
If you think you've found the right place look around and see how other businesses are faring. Get the lodging tax receipts from the state, get all the info you can about how that area is thriving. Unless you want to build a business and a draw from scratch, you need to find where the draw is and figure out what you can offer that is not there already.
And if it isn't there already, why not? Because it's not the right idea for the location or because no one else has had the vision?
 

Breakfast Diva

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  • Read everything you can about running/owning a B&B
  • Take an aspiring innkeepers workshop, and not just a one day one unless it's the PAII course where you can also take the rest of the workshops during the week. Spend the $ to educate yourself, it will be worth it in the end.
  • Stay in as many B&Bs as you can...all different levels. Boutique, kid friendly, romantic, small and large. The more you experience, the better you will be able to know the kind of property that feels right to you. The fact that your wife is wanting a high end boutique type and you are looking for more "interesting" properties is diametrically opposed. Know if you do the high end boutique, your clientel will be more demanding of your time and energy, and just plain more demanding. In my opinion, I just can't see how you can raise your family in that type of property unless you purchase an already exiisting property with lots of staff.
  • Scour the internet for B&Bs for sale. Look at the price ranges they are selling for. Is it anywhere near what you thought? A property that can support you and your family will take a lot of capital.
  • Get hands on experience at a B&B. Volunteer your time to work at one. I don't know of many innkeepers who would not appreciate help in their busy season. Offer to clean rooms, be an intern. Spend weekends there.
  • As others have said here, read the old threads, all the way through. Come back and ask some specific questions we can help with. You have found an amazing resource here.
  • Oh yeah, and
    Buckle your seat, it can be a wild ride!!
 

Samster

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Lots of good info from the others so far. First, my suggestion is to settle on what the 2 of you want to actually do and figure out how you can do it with children (in 5 years you'll have a teen and grade school child, at least). What type of business do you really want to own & run? You've thrown out two pretty different possibilities there. Discuss realistically who is going to do what. Will you both work in the business or will one of you keep another full-time job? How much help will you need to hire in each scenario? This is a critical step in my opinion. There is nothing like working with your spouse or significant other in a business like this in which so much of yourselves is invested. So, in the next 5 years get out there and stay at lots of different places, take classes, and maybe intern with someone and try to nail this part down. You'll find a lot of great down-to-earth info here too. Best of luck!
 

Proud Texan

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Welcome to INNspiring

Is it feasible to be able to be active in your children’s lives and functions while running an inn?
It is difficult. Much depends on the living quarters. The more separate they are from the guest quarters, the better. You will miss out on things in your childresn's lives..but it could be argued that you will gain some things as well because you will be home with them. I think the biggest issue is that much of innkeeping is spent waiting on other people's time table. Kids don't always adjust well to having to wait ... wait ... wait.
Would the catering to Families and disabilities be a smart move?
It could be. I would say that it depends largely on what is in the particular area. If there is a big draw in the area for families, then cater to them. If there is a big draw for romantic type things, then you might be better catering to that. Catering to both can be kind of a no win situation. Again it depends on the area, and the sturcture of the particular inn. Playgrounds would probably be a big deterent for romantic getaway.
One thing to consider...people on romantic getaways will spend money ... people on family trips, are all about trying to save money. Romantic getaways, if good, can turn into repeat business. Family outings tend to not lead to repeat as the kids don't usually want to go back to the same place (unless you are right outside some great kid attraction like disneyworld or something.)
Without any actually Hospitality Experience what suggestions can be made to gain some? There are a few local colleges that offers 2 year degrees in it and a few B&B that I might be able to network with.
Work with the B&B's and definitely as Catlady suggested...stay stay stay at them. You will learn a lot from every single one...even if they are a really crappy one....in fact at the really crappy ones you sometimes learn more ;).
swirt said:
Would the catering to Families and disabilities be a smart move?
... If there is a big draw in the area for families, then cater to them. If there is a big draw for romantic type things, then you might be better catering to that. Catering to both can be kind of a no win situation...playgrounds would probably be a big deterent for romantic getaway.
Not to mention the noise, or a couple expecting a romantic jacuzzi and finding an ADA compliant bathroom that looks more like a hospital facility. AND not to mention the added expense of being ADA compliant. If you want a family facility that caters to families with children of special needs, do that. However, if you want a romantic "high end" B&B experience, then do that...unless, you have deep pockets and multiple facilities on a large property.
If you try to be all things to all people, you're going to have a tough run. Specialize and be the best you can be.
And WELCOME TO THE FORUM!!

 
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# 3. Question......our Community College had a course in starting/running a Bed and Breakfast. I took the course, check around your area for a local B&B class. Also I looked at all (and I mean all ) U.S, & International Bed and Breakfast, Cottages,Inns that were on line for 2 years before opening my B&B. California and New England areas are my favorites.You must have a Business Plan........what will you have at opening, what will you add 2 to 3 yrs out, what will you add 5 to 7 yrs out ?? Etc. As all Innkeepers will tell you Business Plans are very unique to each B&B......Best of luck and success.....Mary in Bridgewater, Va.
 

YellowSocks

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Welcome to the forum!!
I started on our predecessor forum as an aspiring and I read everything ever posted, and took notes. I also took an aspiring seminar led by Kathleen Panek, and read library books, and interviewed innkeepers.
Most of the books out there are too pollyanna, but one had a piece of advice we used and still stand by: five target markets for B&B's are: 1) romantic getaways, 2) tourism, 3) business travelers, 4) universities, 5) long-term hospital stays. We have twin boys, currently 5-1/2 (the ds5x2) so we figured #1 and #5 were out. So we were looking for a university town with some business and some tourism. That is exactly what we've found and it's working great... we are between a seminary and a small university and the location is critical. People call and ask if we are walking distance, which we absolutely are. We also get people coming here for weddings, funerals, and reunions, as well as two weekends a year we're sold out because of Mid-Ohio race trace (motorcycles/Nascar).
We have the occasional honeymoon night or getaway weekend, but they are not our primary focus. Two of our rooms have jetted tubs (I should have done it on a third one, but oh well), two have king-sized beds. All have hi-def TV's, wireless, private baths, lots of amenities. Our kids are sweet and people enjoy them, and some guests don't even see them at all. But, as someone else mentioned, they HAVE to be good... I'm sorry you have a sliver, but you need to cry quietly!
But in our case, the kids are a major factor for our business... I was looking for a business they could work in and learn from, but I didn't want to farm. The first innkeeper I talked to told me bluntly, it's a lot of muscle, long days and hard work. I appreciated her honesty (man, was she right!), and I appreciate that it is, in fact, a way that I can have a business and be with my kids.
So, sometimes I get to spend a LOT of time with my kids (like off season), but sometimes my kids go down to the basement and watch videos and play gamecube while I flip a room or work on the computer. It has absolutely been a great decision and we are very glad to be here. My dh loves it too and is giving it five years to get off the ground then he's out of his factory job and we're both full-time on only four rooms. (I'm already starting to look about how we can add alternate streams of income...)
So it's hard, hard, HARD, but it's also very, very good. I don't know that my initial vision is exactly what we've ended up with, but we love where we are and what we have and what we're doing and feel that we are inordinately blessed.
I do agree... high-end boutique and family-centered are probably mutually exclusive. Everything I've read about the high-end places equals PITA city. And there are families who do like to stay in B&B's, as we have found.
Smaller equals more physical work, less money, but it's easier to start and you can do all kinds of personal service that larger inns just can't do. Larger equals more income, and more managing (you'll need staff), and somehow, just as much work!
Good luck, hang around, brace yourself... there is a TON of information here! When I opened it was smooth as could be because of all the wisdom I gleaned from others here.
:welcome:
=)
Kk.
 

happykeeper

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I started out to say what a great idea it is to volunteer at a local inn and ended up erasing it after I realized how unprepared we would be to have a volunteer. After adding the part about how you might have to pay them to allow you to volunteer, I was laughing out loud.
I still think it is a great idea, but it reminded me how important stability and routine are in operating a bed and breakfast. As we come to the end of year number 4, we have developed a core set of expectations that we no longer think about unless they are not met. The shampoo goes here, at this angle, facing that way, with the spout turned like this.
 

wendydk

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I started out to say what a great idea it is to volunteer at a local inn and ended up erasing it after I realized how unprepared we would be to have a volunteer. After adding the part about how you might have to pay them to allow you to volunteer, I was laughing out loud.
I still think it is a great idea, but it reminded me how important stability and routine are in operating a bed and breakfast. As we come to the end of year number 4, we have developed a core set of expectations that we no longer think about unless they are not met. The shampoo goes here, at this angle, facing that way, with the spout turned like this..
Ya know K....I have to agree.
I'm the first to suggest interning at an Inn prior to jumping into the field. And yet, a local gal contacted me about just that type of thing and I froze....after about a week of indecision, I told her she should contact our larger innmates in town (9 rooms). Since they actually NEED the help and do USE help, I thought they might be a better fit for her. So I guess I would amend my advice to read...."intern at a large Inn."
So many aspirings have dreams of buying a big money-making Inn, but have no idea of the stresses that come with a larger property with staff, etc....I think if you can handle interning or assistant innkeeping at a larger place, you can then certainly handle doing the same at a smaller place easily enough.
 

JBloggs

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I started out to say what a great idea it is to volunteer at a local inn and ended up erasing it after I realized how unprepared we would be to have a volunteer. After adding the part about how you might have to pay them to allow you to volunteer, I was laughing out loud.
I still think it is a great idea, but it reminded me how important stability and routine are in operating a bed and breakfast. As we come to the end of year number 4, we have developed a core set of expectations that we no longer think about unless they are not met. The shampoo goes here, at this angle, facing that way, with the spout turned like this..
knkbnb said:
I started out to say what a great idea it is to volunteer at a local inn and ended up erasing it after I realized how unprepared we would be to have a volunteer. After adding the part about how you might have to pay them to allow you to volunteer, I was laughing out loud.
You would have to pay me to help out here, or I hire you and pay you. Period.
vocationvacations.com Test drive your dream job. [COLOR= rgb(0, 0, 0)]http://vocationvacations.com/[/COLOR]
 

EmptyNest

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I started out to say what a great idea it is to volunteer at a local inn and ended up erasing it after I realized how unprepared we would be to have a volunteer. After adding the part about how you might have to pay them to allow you to volunteer, I was laughing out loud.
I still think it is a great idea, but it reminded me how important stability and routine are in operating a bed and breakfast. As we come to the end of year number 4, we have developed a core set of expectations that we no longer think about unless they are not met. The shampoo goes here, at this angle, facing that way, with the spout turned like this..
Ya know K....I have to agree.
I'm the first to suggest interning at an Inn prior to jumping into the field. And yet, a local gal contacted me about just that type of thing and I froze....after about a week of indecision, I told her she should contact our larger innmates in town (9 rooms). Since they actually NEED the help and do USE help, I thought they might be a better fit for her. So I guess I would amend my advice to read...."intern at a large Inn."
So many aspirings have dreams of buying a big money-making Inn, but have no idea of the stresses that come with a larger property with staff, etc....I think if you can handle interning or assistant innkeeping at a larger place, you can then certainly handle doing the same at a smaller place easily enough.
.
I think it all depends on what they are looking for. Interning at small as well as large gives a whole different perspective. THough a small place may not have the time nor desire to "mentor" and run their inn at the same time..they would have to give some compensation..as was stated previously. Small inns are run differently than the larger ones and their time is THEIR money.
 

JBloggs

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I started out to say what a great idea it is to volunteer at a local inn and ended up erasing it after I realized how unprepared we would be to have a volunteer. After adding the part about how you might have to pay them to allow you to volunteer, I was laughing out loud.
I still think it is a great idea, but it reminded me how important stability and routine are in operating a bed and breakfast. As we come to the end of year number 4, we have developed a core set of expectations that we no longer think about unless they are not met. The shampoo goes here, at this angle, facing that way, with the spout turned like this..
Ya know K....I have to agree.
I'm the first to suggest interning at an Inn prior to jumping into the field. And yet, a local gal contacted me about just that type of thing and I froze....after about a week of indecision, I told her she should contact our larger innmates in town (9 rooms). Since they actually NEED the help and do USE help, I thought they might be a better fit for her. So I guess I would amend my advice to read...."intern at a large Inn."
So many aspirings have dreams of buying a big money-making Inn, but have no idea of the stresses that come with a larger property with staff, etc....I think if you can handle interning or assistant innkeeping at a larger place, you can then certainly handle doing the same at a smaller place easily enough.
.
I think it all depends on what they are looking for. Interning at small as well as large gives a whole different perspective. THough a small place may not have the time nor desire to "mentor" and run their inn at the same time..they would have to give some compensation..as was stated previously. Small inns are run differently than the larger ones and their time is THEIR money.
.
catlady said:
I think it all depends on what they are looking for. Interning at small as well as large gives a whole different perspective. THough a small place may not have the time nor desire to "mentor" and run their inn at the same time..they would have to give some compensation..as was stated previously. Small inns are run differently than the larger ones and their time is THEIR money.
Do we know anyone who is willing to offer this up? I mean, I would not, innkeepers on this forum suggest that, but are THEY willing to allow a shadow or assistant/mentor? That is what aspiring classes, conferences and staying at a BnB is all about. IMO.
 

EmptyNest

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I started out to say what a great idea it is to volunteer at a local inn and ended up erasing it after I realized how unprepared we would be to have a volunteer. After adding the part about how you might have to pay them to allow you to volunteer, I was laughing out loud.
I still think it is a great idea, but it reminded me how important stability and routine are in operating a bed and breakfast. As we come to the end of year number 4, we have developed a core set of expectations that we no longer think about unless they are not met. The shampoo goes here, at this angle, facing that way, with the spout turned like this..
Ya know K....I have to agree.
I'm the first to suggest interning at an Inn prior to jumping into the field. And yet, a local gal contacted me about just that type of thing and I froze....after about a week of indecision, I told her she should contact our larger innmates in town (9 rooms). Since they actually NEED the help and do USE help, I thought they might be a better fit for her. So I guess I would amend my advice to read...."intern at a large Inn."
So many aspirings have dreams of buying a big money-making Inn, but have no idea of the stresses that come with a larger property with staff, etc....I think if you can handle interning or assistant innkeeping at a larger place, you can then certainly handle doing the same at a smaller place easily enough.
.
I think it all depends on what they are looking for. Interning at small as well as large gives a whole different perspective. THough a small place may not have the time nor desire to "mentor" and run their inn at the same time..they would have to give some compensation..as was stated previously. Small inns are run differently than the larger ones and their time is THEIR money.
.
catlady said:
I think it all depends on what they are looking for. Interning at small as well as large gives a whole different perspective. THough a small place may not have the time nor desire to "mentor" and run their inn at the same time..they would have to give some compensation..as was stated previously. Small inns are run differently than the larger ones and their time is THEIR money.
Do we know anyone who is willing to offer this up? I mean, I would not, innkeepers on this forum suggest that, but are THEY willing to allow a shadow or assistant/mentor? That is what aspiring classes, conferences and staying at a BnB is all about. IMO.
.
Yep..that is what I meant. RUnning a 3 room B & B, I certainly did not have time for an intern here.
I have "mentored" many innkeepers by meeting for a few hours with them, talking on the phone, or answering email questions etc etc. and I have enjoyed it...but I would not want someone tagging along with me in my home...sorry...I just want to do it myself. That's why we never had any help...I would have had to redo things to my standards and it would have made more work for me..which I didn't need.
 

YellowSocks

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I would.
I have four rooms. And this summer I have my stimulus girls helping out. I work a little harder when they first arrive, but it's worth it in the long run.
Sure. Why not?
=)
Kk.
 
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