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Joey Camb

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DH and I have the option to buy a neighbouring B&B about 20 meters away but are wondering about the logistics of operating two locations (I can easily run booking and so on centrally) but want to be sure it doesn't turn into one of those places with a lock box and you let yourself in, check yourself in and just have a waitress on at breakfast. Any advice or hints and tips would be welcome. Also my chamber maid may want to live in so could keep an eye on things for me but we would have to give up a bedroom for her to live in and I'm not sure what their bookings are like ie how soon they have times they are not full so she wouldn't be messed about.
 

wendydk

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That's a tough one. There are several innkeepers I know who operate more than one Inn, or an Inn with multiple buildings. I think it can make you or break you. Is your place busy enough to call for such an expansion? Certainly do your research on their place!
 

Joey Camb

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That's a tough one. There are several innkeepers I know who operate more than one Inn, or an Inn with multiple buildings. I think it can make you or break you. Is your place busy enough to call for such an expansion? Certainly do your research on their place!.
It is already running as a B&B and making a profit but the owners who are friends of mine have just had the opportunity to buy an excellent wedding venue from the bank (previous owners went bankrupt renovating it) so A have enough on running the other thing and finishing the renovations B need to release money to do the work. Otherwise it is lovely, newly renovated and making a profit with good forward bookings.
 

seashanty

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'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'
my opinion: you MUST have an on-site, live-in innkeeper. why would you have to give up a bedroom for her to live there? can't she become your onsite and live in the owners' quarters? don't they live there now? surely you won't be living there ... if you want to stay a nite, YOU take an odd bedroom or bunk in.
please explain
i have seen other b&b's become like hotels ... innkeepers living off site, rushing in when there is a problem, staff coming in and out as their shift determines, staff coming and going (in other words, quitting or being fired) ... and losing what made the place so appealing ... and profitable!
 

Joey Camb

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'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'
my opinion: you MUST have an on-site, live-in innkeeper. why would you have to give up a bedroom for her to live there? can't she become your onsite and live in the owners' quarters? don't they live there now? surely you won't be living there ... if you want to stay a nite, YOU take an odd bedroom or bunk in.
please explain
i have seen other b&b's become like hotels ... innkeepers living off site, rushing in when there is a problem, staff coming in and out as their shift determines, staff coming and going (in other words, quitting or being fired) ... and losing what made the place so appealing ... and profitable!.
No the owners have a house off site and there is a house keeper who does breakfast and then the rooms or Alex and Liz do it depending. (Also their current house keeper has had to quit due to medical problems) They often check people in over the phone leaving a key for them which is not something I believe in. It is attractive to us as it is only about 30 meters away from us so it would be easy to cover both locations between 6 people. They get away with this as it has been done so beautifully but I am not a believer in having it so unattended. (they have expensive tv's and all sorts and they leave the front door key in a leaflet box (not locked) I am worried people will get to know and they will be burgled.
 

Innkeeper To Go

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'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'
my opinion: you MUST have an on-site, live-in innkeeper. why would you have to give up a bedroom for her to live there? can't she become your onsite and live in the owners' quarters? don't they live there now? surely you won't be living there ... if you want to stay a nite, YOU take an odd bedroom or bunk in.
please explain
i have seen other b&b's become like hotels ... innkeepers living off site, rushing in when there is a problem, staff coming in and out as their shift determines, staff coming and going (in other words, quitting or being fired) ... and losing what made the place so appealing ... and profitable!.
seashanty said:
'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'
my opinion: you MUST have an on-site, live-in innkeeper. why would you have to give up a bedroom for her to live there? can't she become your onsite and live in the owners' quarters? don't they live there now? surely you won't be living there ... if you want to stay a nite, YOU take an odd bedroom or bunk in.
please explain
i have seen other b&b's become like hotels ... innkeepers living off site, rushing in when there is a problem, staff coming in and out as their shift determines, staff coming and going (in other words, quitting or being fired) ... and losing what made the place so appealing ... and profitable!
Agreed.
Camberley if you're going to do this, I'd recommend a live-in innkeeper rather than a live-in housekeeper. You really need someone on site who can welcome and assist guests if it's going to retain its profitability as a B&B.
Sure you can oversee the whole thing from afar to a certain extent. But there is no substitution for a caring, live-in innkeeper to attend to guest needs.
 

Joey Camb

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'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'
my opinion: you MUST have an on-site, live-in innkeeper. why would you have to give up a bedroom for her to live there? can't she become your onsite and live in the owners' quarters? don't they live there now? surely you won't be living there ... if you want to stay a nite, YOU take an odd bedroom or bunk in.
please explain
i have seen other b&b's become like hotels ... innkeepers living off site, rushing in when there is a problem, staff coming in and out as their shift determines, staff coming and going (in other words, quitting or being fired) ... and losing what made the place so appealing ... and profitable!.
seashanty said:
'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'
my opinion: you MUST have an on-site, live-in innkeeper. why would you have to give up a bedroom for her to live there? can't she become your onsite and live in the owners' quarters? don't they live there now? surely you won't be living there ... if you want to stay a nite, YOU take an odd bedroom or bunk in.
please explain
i have seen other b&b's become like hotels ... innkeepers living off site, rushing in when there is a problem, staff coming in and out as their shift determines, staff coming and going (in other words, quitting or being fired) ... and losing what made the place so appealing ... and profitable!
Agreed.
Camberley if you're going to do this, I'd recommend a live-in innkeeper rather than a live-in housekeeper. You really need someone on site who can welcome and assist guests if it's going to retain its profitability as a B&B.
Sure you can oversee the whole thing from afar to a certain extent. But there is no substitution for a caring, live-in innkeeper to attend to guest needs.
.
I agree with having someone on site I have this terrible fear of fires (re-inforced by a local big hotel catching fire a month ago with loss of one life) I am thinking my parents who help with the camberley and sit in for me could sit in there during checking in hours freeing up the chamber maid to have a life in the evenings etc and then she would sleep in at night with us arranging appropriate cover for holidays or days off etc it is all still in the idea stage. My ideal choice would be to buy our next door neighbours place and knock through but she is asking too much money at the moment so I may hold out and see if she comes down.
 

seashanty

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they check people in over the phone? i have never heard of that.
truthfully, their setup surprises me (and it's successful!)
i have only stayed in one place that turned out not to have a resident innkeeper and i won't be going back. not to rehash, but there was a problem in the night and no night staff ... i had no idea what to do! when i was checked in, i was not told this. i learned the next day that there was an emergency phone number taped to the wall next to the phone to call the 'innkeeper' who lived 1/2 hour away. i felt very unsafe and vulnerable. just not what i expected.
 

Joey Camb

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they check people in over the phone? i have never heard of that.
truthfully, their setup surprises me (and it's successful!)
i have only stayed in one place that turned out not to have a resident innkeeper and i won't be going back. not to rehash, but there was a problem in the night and no night staff ... i had no idea what to do! when i was checked in, i was not told this. i learned the next day that there was an emergency phone number taped to the wall next to the phone to call the 'innkeeper' who lived 1/2 hour away. i felt very unsafe and vulnerable. just not what i expected..
I have done it myself when people have arrived early and I have popped out. I have a lock box with a combination and talk them through what to do then dash back to make sure they are ok it makes them happier than having to wait outside. Alex and Liz are a full time taxi driver and part time air stewardess though are helped by her mum and dad. Maybe it is a grumpy English thing but as long as there isn't a problem people don't seem to be bothered. Maybe it is like a spin off of seviced apartments which are really popular they do a lock box system and you never see any staff from when you arrive to when you leave.
 

Innkeeper To Go

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'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'
my opinion: you MUST have an on-site, live-in innkeeper. why would you have to give up a bedroom for her to live there? can't she become your onsite and live in the owners' quarters? don't they live there now? surely you won't be living there ... if you want to stay a nite, YOU take an odd bedroom or bunk in.
please explain
i have seen other b&b's become like hotels ... innkeepers living off site, rushing in when there is a problem, staff coming in and out as their shift determines, staff coming and going (in other words, quitting or being fired) ... and losing what made the place so appealing ... and profitable!.
seashanty said:
'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'
my opinion: you MUST have an on-site, live-in innkeeper. why would you have to give up a bedroom for her to live there? can't she become your onsite and live in the owners' quarters? don't they live there now? surely you won't be living there ... if you want to stay a nite, YOU take an odd bedroom or bunk in.
please explain
i have seen other b&b's become like hotels ... innkeepers living off site, rushing in when there is a problem, staff coming in and out as their shift determines, staff coming and going (in other words, quitting or being fired) ... and losing what made the place so appealing ... and profitable!
Agreed.
Camberley if you're going to do this, I'd recommend a live-in innkeeper rather than a live-in housekeeper. You really need someone on site who can welcome and assist guests if it's going to retain its profitability as a B&B.
Sure you can oversee the whole thing from afar to a certain extent. But there is no substitution for a caring, live-in innkeeper to attend to guest needs.
.
I agree with having someone on site I have this terrible fear of fires (re-inforced by a local big hotel catching fire a month ago with loss of one life) I am thinking my parents who help with the camberley and sit in for me could sit in there during checking in hours freeing up the chamber maid to have a life in the evenings etc and then she would sleep in at night with us arranging appropriate cover for holidays or days off etc it is all still in the idea stage. My ideal choice would be to buy our next door neighbours place and knock through but she is asking too much money at the moment so I may hold out and see if she comes down.
.
If your parents are there during the day and the chambermaid is onsite (and available for evening issues as they arise), sounds like you have a plan.
You are, as you say, only 30 meters away so it's not like you're on the other end of town.
Of course, if your next door neighbor's place does come down to the affordable range, you'll be sitting pretty.
So here is my one concern that you're not addressing at all. You say the current owners are your friends. That can get especially tricky as you make changes to the place over time. Fortunately most inn owners are really ready to move on by the time they sell. But having them nearby may eventually pose some risks to the friendship itself. I'd consider that risk as well, if it were me, and there's no easy answer as to how well that may work.
But as for the business plan, it sounds like you would be able to cover both places with your parents helping out.
 

Innkeeper To Go

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they check people in over the phone? i have never heard of that.
truthfully, their setup surprises me (and it's successful!)
i have only stayed in one place that turned out not to have a resident innkeeper and i won't be going back. not to rehash, but there was a problem in the night and no night staff ... i had no idea what to do! when i was checked in, i was not told this. i learned the next day that there was an emergency phone number taped to the wall next to the phone to call the 'innkeeper' who lived 1/2 hour away. i felt very unsafe and vulnerable. just not what i expected..
I have done it myself when people have arrived early and I have popped out. I have a lock box with a combination and talk them through what to do then dash back to make sure they are ok it makes them happier than having to wait outside. Alex and Liz are a full time taxi driver and part time air stewardess though are helped by her mum and dad. Maybe it is a grumpy English thing but as long as there isn't a problem people don't seem to be bothered. Maybe it is like a spin off of seviced apartments which are really popular they do a lock box system and you never see any staff from when you arrive to when you leave.
.
I actually know several B&Bs in Northern California who have self-checkins and even know one that does do telephone check-ins. I personally don't consider them to be B&Bs even though all of the inns I'm thinking of are members of CABBI and PAII. They provide breakfast fixings in the fridge and say that's the same as providing breakfast and apparently that's good enough for membership.
I think you never get the real B&B treatment and the indulgence of personal attention that comes along with that unless there's an onsite innkeeper.
But 30 meters away is awfully close. And your parents are innkeepers themselves who would be an ideal fit for this situation.
IMHO.
 

IronGate

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Seems to me that you can neatly have two levels of services here, and keep all the guests. Maintain the Camberley for a true B&B experience, and use the other place for those who want a lower price point, and are willing to accept a lower level of service. One has a full breakfast, afternoon tea, common areas, etc., while the other is more a place to lay your head at night at get a self-serve continental breakfast on your way out the door in the morning. Maybe make the other place a longer-term stay?
You'd have to decide if you want that arrangement to be truly transparent ("Two ways to serve you -- take your pick!") or unknown to the guests ("Oh, that's way too expensive!" "Well, the inn two doors down offers the price point you are seeking. It sounds like that might be a better choice for you.") Of course, if you are trying to keep the guests unaware of the arrangement, you'd have to have a separate way of communicating with the guests (or learn how to disguise your voice ;) ). My choice would be to let everyone know exactly what is going on, so no one feels duped when the truth inevitably comes out.
 

JBloggs

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Would you be combining both residences into one B&B (name as well as ownership)? If so does this mean you can swap guests out when one is booked and one has openings? Just thinking how it would all pan out. Obv a business is a business, and if you can manage them then I say go for it!
 

Joey Camb

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Would you be combining both residences into one B&B (name as well as ownership)? If so does this mean you can swap guests out when one is booked and one has openings? Just thinking how it would all pan out. Obv a business is a business, and if you can manage them then I say go for it!.
I would keep them as separate in name but if people ring asking for one and it is full I can say our sister B&B up the street has vacancies etc. At this stage it is all in discussions and banks and things as we have a separate house that we rent that we would have to sell to finance it. I had only been holding onto it because I wouldn't make as much on it to sell right now as it cost to buy (bought at the top of the market GRRR) but it wouldn't matter if what I was buying was cheeper to so it would all balance. Its all something to think about. However breakfast wise I would have a house keeper who would do breakfast and then the rooms but then it is recruiting the right person as their current lady who was excellent her arm has swelled up like a balloon and they have told her not to work indefinately and it is getting someone either English to interact with the customers or a European who's english is good enough. We struggle to get reliable staff who are english or they are reliable but don't speak enough english for what I want.
 

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Seems to me that you can neatly have two levels of services here, and keep all the guests. Maintain the Camberley for a true B&B experience, and use the other place for those who want a lower price point, and are willing to accept a lower level of service. One has a full breakfast, afternoon tea, common areas, etc., while the other is more a place to lay your head at night at get a self-serve continental breakfast on your way out the door in the morning. Maybe make the other place a longer-term stay?
You'd have to decide if you want that arrangement to be truly transparent ("Two ways to serve you -- take your pick!") or unknown to the guests ("Oh, that's way too expensive!" "Well, the inn two doors down offers the price point you are seeking. It sounds like that might be a better choice for you.") Of course, if you are trying to keep the guests unaware of the arrangement, you'd have to have a separate way of communicating with the guests (or learn how to disguise your voice ;) ). My choice would be to let everyone know exactly what is going on, so no one feels duped when the truth inevitably comes out..
IronGate said:
Seems to me that you can neatly have two levels of services here, and keep all the guests. Maintain the Camberley for a true B&B experience, and use the other place for those who want a lower price point, and are willing to accept a lower level of service. One has a full breakfast, afternoon tea, common areas, etc., while the other is more a place to lay your head at night at get a self-serve continental breakfast on your way out the door in the morning. Maybe make the other place a longer-term stay?
Good point. I know an inn in California that does just that. One inn is a regular B&B for overnight guests. The other place looks like a B&B but the rooms are only available for weekly stays. Rooms are cleaned only when guests leave. The common areas are lovely and well stocked but guests are on their own. Guests have access to the kitchen (which is cleaned daily, of course) and to a washer/dryer. It works really well for them.
 

Samster

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'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'
my opinion: you MUST have an on-site, live-in innkeeper. why would you have to give up a bedroom for her to live there? can't she become your onsite and live in the owners' quarters? don't they live there now? surely you won't be living there ... if you want to stay a nite, YOU take an odd bedroom or bunk in.
please explain
i have seen other b&b's become like hotels ... innkeepers living off site, rushing in when there is a problem, staff coming in and out as their shift determines, staff coming and going (in other words, quitting or being fired) ... and losing what made the place so appealing ... and profitable!.
Seashanty said: "i have seen other b&b's become like hotels ... innkeepers living off site, rushing in when there is a problem, staff coming in and out as their shift determines, staff coming and going (in other words, quitting or being fired) ... and losing what made the place so appealing ... and profitable!"
That's exactly what has happened here with the largest B&B and they are struggling to re-gain their reputation. It could be a great place but they're missing the key element and keep focusing on other things. They have lost their BRAND!
 

JBloggs

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But according to her user id and website she is already a hotel, not a small B&B. Why is everyone talking B&B on this subject?
Cambes, when will you have room pix? You gotta do it, I beg you! I would love to come over and help out and take a gazillion photos and help edit. I will enlist another innmate from the forum and we can come over and explore from the GUEST point of view and click click click. :)
 

Joey Camb

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But according to her user id and website she is already a hotel, not a small B&B. Why is everyone talking B&B on this subject?
Cambes, when will you have room pix? You gotta do it, I beg you! I would love to come over and help out and take a gazillion photos and help edit. I will enlist another innmate from the forum and we can come over and explore from the GUEST point of view and click click click. :).
Its kind of a long story so I'll sum up real quick when we first bought the Camberley 5 years ago the definition of hotel in this country was a lot looser and then although we were only 8 bedrooms we came under that category. The domain name came with the sale as did the email. However 2 years later the trade descriptions act changed and said that if you live on the premises and are owner operated you cannot call yourself a hotel. We tried to get to the bottom of what the exact differences were but they were completely vague. So in compliance with this we changed all our sinage, stationary etc to the Camberley as did 50 other small hotels/B&B/Guest House in town. I don't think you have the Guest House category much in America. We didn't want to come under the Guest House category as it has a bad reputation for cross old ladies at the see side who kick you out at 9.30am and you weren't allowed back till 6 and had to be in by 10 for lock up and they also had a bad reputation for low standards and quality. So now we come under 2 categories Guest Accomodation and B&B. However I do appreicate I am bigger than a lot of places on here having 12 bedrooms. Trouble is I am not quite a fit in any particular tick box which is the story of my life.
So in order to gain the best exposure I walk a fine line as most people seem to have no clue what the differences are.
 

JBloggs

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From my inn the news i get so often the guest house is indeed a dirty word, small hotel. or Inn or boutique hotel sound better and more like what I envision your place to be.
12 rooms is no longer a mom and pop B&B and I think there are tons of people who like that size, I know I do, to be a bit little red riding hood "not too big and not too small...jusssssssssss' right!"
As for the URL and all that, you know I wish for you only the best and desire to see your web presence glisten with photos to outshine all the rest in your proximity.
Heck when we bought this place a B&B with the same name in Texas had the .com so we HAD to take the .net. Then they went for BnB in the name, so we snapped up the .com as well.
But I will say "It is not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog." Or the other essential saying which I hate but agree with in our context "There is more than one way to skin a cat!"
Even if you load up your blog with images, I say go for it. Again, the UK has a different style and mentality on marketing (from what I can see they are link farms for the most part). But just remember we invented the thing, this www and the USA are leaders this www is never stagnant, you cannot say what is okay for one moment will last even one year we have to be proactive and roll with the punches - so I would latch my hitch onto this wagon...
 

Innkeeper To Go

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But according to her user id and website she is already a hotel, not a small B&B. Why is everyone talking B&B on this subject?
Cambes, when will you have room pix? You gotta do it, I beg you! I would love to come over and help out and take a gazillion photos and help edit. I will enlist another innmate from the forum and we can come over and explore from the GUEST point of view and click click click. :).
Joey Bloggs said:
Cambes, when will you have room pix? You gotta do it, I beg you! I would love to come over and help out and take a gazillion photos and help edit.
Camberley, JB is so very right on this. I know you're busy so it may seem unnecessary. But however busy you are now, you will do amazing things with a good website and good pix. It can make all the difference in the rates you are able to sustain.
If you can't find anyone to take some good pix, let me know. DH has photographer friends literally all over the globe, he may be able to find a friend to help you out.
But get pix. Get online reservations. And as JB says, even if it's loading up your blog with pix for now, do that.
Pix, pix, pix.
Next time I cross the Atlantic in your direction, I'm sure DH would be happy to snap some pix for you - on the house. I'm hoping, though, that you'll have some stunning photos up long before that.
 
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