There are so many answer resources I feel I can’t even begin to cover them all in a short article, much less in a long conference. So let me strive to cast some seeds of ideas about and let your imagination expand the list from there.
- People Sources
- B&B associations — trade journals, conventions, trade shows
- city/county/state/federal officials
- chamber of commerce or tourist bureau
- hotel/motel associations
- industry professionals
- lodging and tourism suppliers
- newspapers, to learn about the city’s goals and plans
- PAII’s bi-annual Industry Survey
- tax records for your city or county
- trade journal authors
- Uniform Building Code
- Research Sources
- Leigh Stowell Data
- Robert Morris Annual Statement Studies
- Smith Travel Research
- Trends for the Lodging Industry (Pannell Kerr Forster)
Now is when you also start your market analysis. No matter how well you conduct your market research or how imaginatively you implement your research, you aren’t in business until you have a customer. Answering these questions not only will mesh with your market research but also will help you develop your marketing strategies, staff policies, and house rules. You influence who your guests are by decisions you make on inn location, decoration, house rules you establish, and how you visualize your inn. These elements help you narrow your scope of whose needs you want to satisfy. You can’t be everything to everyone, so don’t try. Be the best you can be in your niche. Here are some areas to contemplate to help you define who your guests will be.
Other educational steps include staying in B&Bs, working at a B&B, taking miscellaneous courses (bookkeeping, business, cooking, B&B) as well as B&B seminars, attending a variety of B&B conventions, and reading as many B&B “How To” books as you can. Get involved in determining if the lifestyle is for you. Delve into the finances to make sure you will earn what you want and need. This is a more complex business than it appears on the surface because it is a job and a lifestyle.
I’ve talked about asking questions, and now I’ve covered how to get your answers. Dig deep. Look far and wide for answers. Soul search. Then decide, again and again. It’s a great business. But it’s not for everyone. Make sure you are one this business is good for.