How to Start a Bed and Breakfast

Man talking on phone in kitchenBed and Breakfast hotels are becoming more and more popular as an alternative form of lodging for a variety of different markets including baby boomers, college students, business travelers. Their draw can be location, cost savings, unique environment, etc..

You’ve got to enjoy being around people and be knowledgeable of activities and transportation options in the area. For people who are social or enjoy entertaining, this can be a terrific home-based business.

Keep in mind that this is typically not a high-earning line of work – it’s more of a lifestyle decision. That said, this business offers lots of benefits, including, home decorating, event planning, socializing, cooking and more.

B and B Training

You do not have a degree in hotel management to run a bed and breakfast business. However, innkeepers with B&B industry knowledge and experience have a greater chance of success than those who don’t, simply because they are better prepared to handle unexpected situations that frequently occur in business. is a team of experienced innkeepers who offer bed and breakfast training to entrepreneurs wanting to start their own B&B’s. Also, the Professional Association of Innkeepers International has a membership website that provides current industry information to it’s members and a networking forum for further learning.

Food Safety Training & Certification This course prepares food managers for the ANSI-CFP certification exam (nationally accredited). This exam can be taken through Prometric, the National Registry of Food Safety Professionals or the National Restaurant Association(ServSafe).

Zoning and Licenses:

If you already own a property or have found one that you want to use for your bed and breakfast, you want to make sure that it is located in a neighborhood that is zoned for business. Zoning laws can also impact parking and signage for your business. You can check with your city on this.

You will also need to register your business name and apply for a business license. Requirements vary by city, so you may also need a bed and breakfast license, a home occupation permit. If you have a kitchen where you will be preparing food for guests, it’s likely that you’ll need to have your cooking space inspected by your state’s Department of Health.

Start-Up Costs and Rates:

Start-up costs will of course vary on a variety of things, including size, location and amenities. advises to allow $20,000-$50,000 to furnish each guest room.

The rates that you charge guests will depend on similar factors, plus the going rates of competing hotels. The more value, amenities, activities or services that you can offer guests, the more visitors you will attract and the more money you can make. Therefore, you want to look into services you can offer guests that offer more value than what they cost you.

It’s even better when you can give your guests services that they can’t get elsewhere in the area. For example, I stayed in a B&B that offered free bicycle use to guests. Centrally located downtown where parking could be a hassle, this was a great selling point, so I booked a room. Turns out we never took advantage of the bikes, but they got our business because of the unique amenity.

Bed and Breakfast Supplies:

Need supplies for your bed and breakfast like furniture, appliances, bed linens, bath accessories, office and lobby supplies, staff uniforms, outdoor furniture, housekeeping supplies and cleaning products? Check out American Hotel Register Company. HD Supply also has plumbing, lighting and HVAC products, tools, hardware, fitness equipment and more.


Bed and Breakfast Start Up GuideHere’s the bad news: in the bed and breakfast business, it can be easy to make costly mistakes because you are dealing with such a large investment. Getting a few tips from a successful inn owner can make the difference between making a $1,000 mistake – or not.

With the start-up kit below, you can see step-by-step how to open your bed and breakfast inn with professional advice from multiple inn owners for $40 $30.

Find out:

  • Where to find inns to buy, how to renovate and decorate an inn plus what you should have in common areas
  • How to set room rates, take reservations, decide policies, handle repairs, guest safety AND everything you need to know about serving food
  • How to market your B&B through reservation agencies and directories, set up a website, ways to keep your inn full in the off-season and how to keep your guests coming back.
  • Lots of sample checklists and forms, plus ideas for products you can sell at yourB&B to make more money.

See Testimonials | Get Started Here


Turn a Farm into a B&B:

Many successful B&B’s offer more than just a place to stay. They make themselves a destination spot that travelers want to explore, and guests want to visit again. An example of this is a farmhouse converted into a guest lodging. This can also be a farm that rents out a few rooms to generate some extra income.

Farmers can teach guests about milking cows, making cheese, hold organic cooking classes or beekeeping workshops – even cattle drives. These activities are great for families with kids, but are also now becoming more popular with people who want to escape city life or prefer a learning vacation.

These B&B’s don’t have to be fancy or exotic, in fact many visitors are looking for quite the opposite. Simplicity, peace and a chance to experience something new. Check out Hidden Villa for example.

Marketing Tips for Bed & Breakfast Businesses

Local Marketing for B&Bs More and more people are looking for local businesses online (instead of the traditional yellow pages) – and it is easy to start advertising to travelers using this method. Local Search sources that are affordable and receive substantial traffic include: Google Local, Yelp, Super Pages and specialized site Trip Advisor.

Advertise Your Business Online

If you have a vacation property, a tour business or travel service, you can get access to millions of interested customers online with a travel directory like RealAdventures. Find customers who have money to spend and want help planning a vacation. It can’t get much easier than this. Start here: Get customers for your B&B

Bed and Breakfast Associations

Professional Association of Innkeepers, Intl.
For innkeepers offering inn keeping courses & seminars on starting and running a bed and breakfast.

American Bed and Breakfast Association
The American Bed and Breakfast Association is an organization dedicated to the promotion of bed & breakfast (B & B) inns nationwide.

Hospitality Net
Founded in 1946 in Paris, France and move to Geneva, Switzerland as of January 2008. The IH&RA is the only business organization representing the hospitality industry worldwide.