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Top five bed and breakfast mistakes to avoid for beginners

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June 23, 2017
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You’ve found the perfect property, you’ve identified your target market, your website is brilliant, your marketing is inspired, but have you spared a thought for some of the most common first-time mistakes that new bed and breakfast owners often make?

Owning and operating a bed and breakfast business is an ideal opportunity for many people to earn a steady income, but it can swiftly turn into a nightmare if you don’t plan ahead to avoid problems. Adrian Flux, one of only a handful of insurance brokers that offers a full range of bed and breakfast business insurance cover to B&Bs and guest house properties, offers first-timers advice on how to avoid five common mistakes.

bed and breakfast


Five big mistakes that B&B owners make:

    1. Underestimating how much time your guests will want to spend with you: not all guests will expect you to give them chapter and verse about where your B&B is based, how you got into the business, where you go on holiday and so forth, but some will. For a lot of guests, chatting to the owner of a B&B is part and parcel as to why they chose to stay in a bed and breakfast, as opposed to being lost among hundreds of guests at a hotel – you need to be prepared to keep the conversation flowing if required.
    2. Trying to do it all: you know what your strengths are – maybe you’re great with numbers, love talking to people and making new friends. Perhaps you’re a demon decorator or a conscientious cleaner, maybe you’re the kind of person that excels at problem-solving. If, however, numbers are your enemy, stop struggling and hire a bookkeeper. If you resent every minute you spend cleaning the crevices in the bathrooms, find a cleaner. Concentrate on what you’re good at and your business will have more chance of thriving.
    3. Claiming to be available 24 hours a day: it’s fair enough for your guests to know they can contact you in a dire emergency, but no one needs to take a telephone booking at 1.30am. Give your guests an emergency mobile number and make sure they have all the information they need at their fingertips for other emergencies, such as the address for a local NHS Walk-in Centre, a list of chemists that are open locally and so forth. Let an answering machine take the strain during the evening and return calls during office hours the next day.
    4. Assuming your customers are ‘just passing through’: treat every customer as if you’ve bagged them for life – keep in contact with them by email and on social media after their stay (don’t lovebomb them with dozens of messages, just keep them on a low-key mailing list). As soon as your customer books with you, send them information prior to their stay and ask them if there’s anything additional you can help them with. Keep a list of forthcoming events in your area and include them in your mail-outs to entice former customers back.
    5. Not setting clear policies: if you have no clear rules for guests and employees, it’s easy to find yourself dealing with endless misunderstandings and problems. Make sure your policies are available to everyone they apply to – post them on your website and discreetly at your property (possibly at the back of your welcome pack). Think about issues such as – do you accept bookings from potentially rowdy hen or stag parties? Do you offer refunds? Do you allow pets to stay in rooms? What is your attitude towards noise? Bear in mind that while you want your visitors to feel at home, it’s still your home and your rules and theirs might be very different!

* All Adrian Flux’s B&B insurance policies are designed especially for each individual business and each quote will receive the attention of a qualified underwriter. For more information call 0333 5555000, or 0800 3698590 free from a landline.

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