How do I get a good understanding of the B&B industry?

From “Ask Kit!”:

Q: I am considering being a B&B Owner/Operator and would like to be in that position within 5-7 years. I would like to better understand the ins and outs of B&Bs and how to make a successful living out of running one. Can you help? I need a guiding hand.

A: I’m an information junkie and think you can’t do too much to gain understanding and knowledge of the B&B industry. If you attend B&B conventions and conferences, take classes, read the books, and even work at a B&B, you will be set. And as you travel, stay in various bed and breakfasts; that will teach you what you do and don’t like about B&Bs so yours will be “just right”.

There are bed and breakfast conferences available almost year round and across the country. And you can find classes of all types on Yellow Brick Road’s website ( I have a list of the B&B books, as well as other books that will be useful to your education, on my website ( And don’t stop at one conference, class or book — the more you do the better prepared you will be.

Challenge yourself and your concepts and learn from every opinion and experience you encounter.

1 thought on “How do I get a good understanding of the B&B industry?”

  1. I enjoyed visiting other B&Bs before I became an innkeeper/owner – but there’s nothing like working at a B&B to get a really good feel for behind the scenes operations.
    Working at a B&B will give you experience with:
    * taking reservations
    * processing payment
    * interacting with guests to address concerns or complaints
    * housekeeping
    * inventory and supply
    * maintenance
    * marketing
    * bookkeeping
    * employee work schedules
    … and other areas just to name a few.
    Some of the guests who have stayed at my B&B have asked me how to go about becoming an innkeeper. Once they’ve learned how tied we are to our facilities and how much work we have to do on a given day, most of these people have lost interest.
    Being an innkeeper is hard work. I literally worked every day of the week with no days off from mid-February 2004 through October 28th. That’s 7 1/2 months working from 5:30 AM to 6 PM on weekdays and 6:30 AM to 5 PM on weekends, day in and day out. (That totals 75.5 hours a week). On nights when guests ordered dinner, I have worked until 9 PM.
    On Thursday, October 27th, during a training exercise at a night school for volunteer fire fighters seeking state certification, I nearly had a heart attack. (Yes, in addition to being an innkeeper, I am a volunteer fire fighter. In my copious free time, I am also the chair of the local historical committee and I’m writing a novel).
    Even allowing for the fact that I have a type A personality – my doctor has told me that I have physical limits. I’m 45 years old and I’m carrying a few extra pounds. (I prefer to think of this as personality and once had a child tell me that I had a LOT of “personality.”)
    I am now learning to cut back a bit on my schedule. I no longer serve dinners and I don’t answer fire calls after 11 PM.
    I used to answer the phone after closing until 8 PM but I no longer even do that.
    My time off is my time off.
    With this being said, I still put in a long work week.
    If this is your cup of tea, then well and good. But if it’s not, then you’d best look for another career.
    There are of course, exceptions to every rule. I’m not married so I don’t have a significant other to divvy up the work load. If this was a larger facility with a correspondingly higher gross revenue, I’d also be able to hire additional staff to help me out. Unfortunately my facility is a modest 7 bedroom B&B and I can only afford one part time housekeeper. Anything my housekeeper doesn’t do is done by me.
    Last June that turned into a lot of work insofar as this facility sold 180 rooms.
    So to come full circle, know what you’re getting into. Try working for a couple of months at a B&B and see what you think. If you like it, well and good. If you don’t – then it’s best that you find out now BEFORE you buy a facility and land up to your proverbial neck in work, work, and more work.

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