Innkeepers work for themselves. The charm of bed and breakfasts is that they are owned and operated by individuals, or individual families, who live on the premises. Though bed and breakfast "chains" may be a thing of the future, they are not expected to greatly affect the business of the traditional "mom and pop" operations.
Many bed and breakfasts exist in rural areas and small towns where there are no large hotels. Though the number of inns in cities is increasing, only 23 percent of the inns in the United States are located in urban areas. According to PAII, the majority of inns (43 percent) are in small resort villages, and 29 percent are in rural areas.
An innkeeper's income is derived from room rental and fees for any "extras" such as additional meals and transportation. An inn's guests are often from outside of the local area, but an inn may also cater to many area residents. Most guests are screened by reservation service organizations or travel associations; this helps to protect both the guest and the owner. Bed and breakfasts must pass certain approval requirements, and guests must prove to be reliable, paying customers.
Bed and breakfast owners have different stories about how they came to own their businesses. Some convert their own homes into inns; others buy fully established businesses, complete with client lists, marketing plans, and furnishings. Others inherit their bed and breakfasts from family members. And still others lease a house from another owner. Usually, bed and breakfast ownership requires a large investment, both in time and money. Before starting your business, you must do a great deal of research. Make sure the local market can support an additional bed and breakfast and that your house and grounds will offer a unique and attractive alternative to the other lodging in the area. Research how much you can expect to make the first few years, and how much you can afford to lose. Be sure to promote your business, but don't go overboard.
Established bed and breakfasts for sale are advertised nationally, and by innkeeper associations. Prices range from less than $100,000 to more than $1,000,000. An established business is often completely restored and includes antique furniture and fixtures, as well as necessary equipment.
Bed and breakfast owners "advance" by generating more business—and profit—for their inn. Some innkeepers may open additional B&Bs, add more rooms to their existing inn, or offer catering and other related services in their community.
In many cases, a married bed and breakfast owner may continue to work full time outside of the home, while his or her spouse sees to the daily concerns of the inn. But once a business is well established with a steady clientele, both spouses may be able to commit full time to the bed and breakfast.
Join the Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII) and associations at the state level to access training and networking resources, industry publications, and employment opportunities. Visit the PAII Web site for a list of state-level associations.
Read InnOvations Magazine (https://paii.wildapricot.org/Innkeeping-Now-Magazine) to learn more about trends in the industry and potential employers.
Apply for jobs in the bed and breakfast industry. Visit the PAII Web site for job listings.
Conduct information interviews with bed and breakfast owners and ask them for advice on preparing for and entering the field.