How to Start a Bed and Breakfast

What to Charge

Your room rates will depend on several factors:

  • The amenities you offer. You can provide luxury features like whirlpool tubs, fireplaces, king-size beds or private balconies, or more common features like a swimming pool.
  • Your location. A bed and breakfast tucked off the beaten track where tourists or business people don't often tread won't be able to charge as much as one in a popular tourist and/or business destination. Your location within your community can make a difference as well. In a beach town, for instance, a beachfront B&B can command higher rates than one that's a mile, or even two blocks, off the sea. An inn in the heart of a popular historic district can demand higher rates than one on the highway leading into town.
  • The going rates in your region. No matter how upscale your amenities or how desirable your location, your rates will have to be in line with other B&Bs and lodgings in your area. If you charge significantly more, you'll lose business and--perhaps surprisingly--if you charge significantly less, you'll also lose. (People will think there's something wrong with your inn and won't try you out.)

So where exactly do you start? Go back to your market research. Take a look at the rates charged by everybody in your town, from budget motels to luxury hotels to, of course, other bed and breakfasts. Then decide where you fit into the lodging hierarchy. If you're a simple homestay, offering a family atmosphere but not a lot of frills, you might want to price your rooms comparably with an upper-range motel or similar B&B. If, on the other hand, you've got luxury amenities and an elegant ambience, you might price your rooms to match those of luxury hotels or upscale bed and breakfasts.

Keep in mind that you probably won't charge the same room rates all year, or even all season. Most lodgings, from the humblest motel to the mightiest hotel, vary their prices with the season. This is especially true in very seasonal areas.

Room rates can also vary by the day of the week. Inns and hotels often offer midweek stays at discounted rates during slower seasons. This is smart--if your area is not highly traveled by vacationers at certain times of the year, the guests you do attract will tend to be weekend-getawayers. A three-night midweek stay for less than the price of a two-night weekend can encourage guests to call in sick, come on down, and fill in your week's calendar.

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