Running a Bed and Breakfast - Deciding What Rules You Should Have Your B&B
What Rules Can You Have?
Coming from a corporate background I was used to rules and regulations so it took me a while to get used to the idea that this was now my business and I was the one setting the rules. However, you do need to consider a couple of things when rule setting; firstly, that you are not breaking the law and, secondly, how the rules you set will affect your business.
Be Careful of Inadvertent Discrimination
The VisitBritain pink booklet contains all of the legislation you need to know to ensure you and your tourism business stay on the right side of the law. For example, you need to ensure that the rules you set do not break any discrimination laws by not allowing people on grounds of race, sex, sexual orientation or disability to stay at your B&B. And you also need to be careful that you aren't inadvertently discriminating against people e.g. not allowing assistance dogs at your B&B.
How Rules Affect Your Business
The second consideration is how the rules you set will affect your business. When I first set up the B&B I was very flexible; allowing children, one night stays, cooking evening meals. My concern was that as a new business I didn't want to risk turning anyone away. However over the last few years, having gained more experience, I feel more confident about putting some new terms and conditions in place.
Business Rationale for Rules
I have recently stopped accepting one night stays on a Friday and Saturday night. I still find it very difficult to say no to a booking when I have availability, however I have good business reasons for doing so. I can normally guarantee that I will get a 2 night booking for both rooms every weekend. If I take a one night booking then I've effectively lost out on at least £70-£80 worth of revenue. I felt this particularly keenly during the winter when the weekdays were emptier. Accepting a one night weekend booking could effectively half my revenue for the week. However you do need to consider your market before adopting this sort of strategy. For example if you're next to a wedding venue, you may need to be more flexible about one night stays as wedding guests tend to only want to come for one night.
Deciding Which Rules are Right for your Business
When you first set up your B&B you may want to test the water and see what sort of guests you get before you make a decision about whether to exclude, for example, children. I've been running the B&B for 3 years now so I know that not allowing children under 12 will not adversely affect my business. I hardly ever get children staying, but I do get a lot of parents staying for a romantic break who have left their own kids at home - so having a no children policy may actually improve my bookings - if people have gone to the effort of finding a babysitter for a childfree weekend they will probably not want to be faced by someone else's 5 year old over breakfast. But if you're right next to the best children's theme park in the country you will probably benefit from having a children friendly B&B.