Bed and Breakfast BnB Advice

(In development October 2013)

Although this subject is not the leader theme on Holiday Lets for Sale, the response to Twitter has been strong from BnB owners, so we feel it right to cover this area.  We have systematically trawled large sections of the internet and spoken to owners to establish some fundamentals.  Experienced operators will not be surprised with virtually all that is considered below.  We were, certainly, pulled up short in the light of areas where BnB differs, significantly, from running holiday lets.

There is so much that we may introduce different pages as we have done for Holiday Lets.  Important detail, like templates for enquiries, bookings, follow ups and so on needs to be covered.  I.T. requirements including wifi and all attendant complications including any booking software and I.T. systems would be useful.  Sadly, at this stage only a skeleton information is available on this page.DSCF2495  Even so, there is so much that we will shortly be creating other pages to reduce the sheer size of this one.

 

Some differences, compared to Holiday Letting

An outsider may think that there are many similarities; there are, but an outsider could be quite surprised at what is involved.   If you are choosing which type of business to pick it is absolutely essential that you are clear about some fundamental differences between the two types of business / occupation / lifestyle activity.  Bed and Breakfast tends to ask more in direct commitment and emotional involvement than holiday letting and there are many other differences.

Prices tend to be by the night and the tariffs are generally less complex than holiday letting pricing. Seasonal differences and changes in prices caused by local festivals are much the same but holiday letting often has a more complex approach.  A holiday let may adjust charges depending on guest numbers and will often charge a higher pro rata rate for weekend nights than for weekday nights.  The way people buy and the way they see the market is significantly different between the two sectors.

Guest types, considered in more detail below, are hugely more varied for BnB compared to holiday letting.  The niche markets are different and they behave in different ways.  For instance, commercial letting is uncommon, although far from unknown, in holiday letting where it can be the most important part of the business for bed and breakfasts.

Hospitality is much more of an active and engaged aspect for BnB.  Holiday letting still requires a positive approach to hospitality but once guests have arrived, been greeted and appreciated a welcome pack, aside from attending to queries or problems, active hospitality, ‘though hugely appreciated, is optional.  Things are very different for bed and breakfast operations.

Accounts and all that goes with that dry activity vary also given a significantly higher number of transactions for BnBs.

Cleaning and changeover (in holiday letting terms) are substantially more for BnBs.  To do this you may well have to employ staff on a part time or even, sometimes, on a full time basis.  This is a very different scene from holiday letting where changeovers are often only once a week involving a cleaning and bed making blitz of, sometimes three hours or so to get the let ready for the next guests for a short break or a full week’s stay.  The logistics are different and it follows that labour requirements, equally, vary.

Operational aspects differ in other ways.  For instance, when running a bed and breakfast, it is common to have to wait until the last guests are up and leaving for the day.  This DSCF2524can create voids.  This is one of the reasons why the take up of social media tends to be stronger in the BnB world than in many holiday letting operations.

Holiday letting features many who are not running their operations as businesses but have found a property to store value or an inheritance of money and wish to cover costs with a little extra whilst they can enjoy what feels like a ‘free’ holiday home when it is not rented out.  The emphasis is not always on the bottom line.  However, in cases where holiday letting is treated as a business, usually with four or more holiday lets, a significant difference between bed and breakfast and holiday letting people falls away.

In general, bed and breakfast people tend to be more focused on profit and loss.  Some manage to make a return on the capital investment in the property itself but getting more than 5-10% return on gross income is about as much as could be expected.     Given the high property prices in the UK, this is a great result.  The problem for many bed and breakfasts is that the best areas to operate them tend to also feature proportionately high property prices.  It becomes a fine art to buy at the right price without compromising the potential market or demand.  Just as with holiday letting, buying right is absolutely essential.  If you get this wrong you might just as well never launched into the adventure in the first place.

It is possible to manage a holiday let from a distance, although it does demand some skill, but this would be totally impossible for a BnB.  This illustrates the huge difference between the types of business.

 

Some Areas covered:

Setting up a B and B.  Personal, Financial, from scratch or an existing business, and long term objectives.

Running a B and B.     Operational, marketing / selling, emotional and physical, hospitality and care

 

Setting up

Personal

BnB economics are such that large companies are virtually unknown to provide this service.  The economics are tilted towards economies of quite small scale and lifestyle aspects are a major factor.  It is the rule that owners either live in or near-by to the vast majority of all Bed and Breakfast establishments.  In other industries similar arrangements were quite common.  For instance, in the 1980s well over half of all trucks on UK roads were owned by those driving them.  Since then, the economics have swung towards larger organizations, significantly reducing the share of the market once dominated by ‘owner drivers’.  It is possible, for instance if the value of property radically shifts, that a similar change might happen in the B and B sector but it is unlikely to happen for some time to come.

Lifestyle benefits are a huge factor:

Some advantages:

You work for yourself.  It offers an escape from politics at work and commuting.  You are in control of the business and you choose what and how things are done. You determine the schedule based on your financial and personal priorities.

You will meet many interesting people but you must be someone who, generally, likes people and serving them well.

Expenses and other tax benefits are available to set against your business so enabling you to enjoy a larger and, often, more substantial dwelling than you had before.  Many expenses are allowed against income for taxation purposes.

No one can fire you, except the market or yourself.

In this whole process you are more free to be creative and end up with a saleable business or, if you have bought an existing business, a more valuable asset through your own efforts.  This is about independence and, if you get the formula right, an enjoyable way of life.DSCF2474

 

Some challenges:

Running your own business, especially if you have been used to working in a large corporation, can spring some surprises.  It can come as a shock when, after the umpteenth problem is solved, that you and only you are there to solve problems and make things happen.

Cash flow can be an issue as demand often fluctuates depending on many factors including the seasons… and it has a irritating habit of unpredictability.

It is not cheap setting up.  Particularly in the UK, where property prices are sky high (October 2013) and extras such as fire systems, compliant kitchens, en suites etc: can add significantly to the cost.  A rule of thumb, when setting up a BnB from scratch is to allow between 20 and 30% of the initial purchase price for cash flow before the business turns to generate sufficient to finance itself on a rolling basis.  If you spend, say, £500,000 buying a property the extra comes in at least £100,000.  This can come as quite a shock.

It is a responsibility both financial and personal to have paying guests in your home.  In extreme, if you get certain things badly wrong, aspects of health and safety can make you personally criminally liable.  Although this is very unlikely, it is a sobering thought.

As with any small business where you do not have immediate colleagues ‘all in the same boat’ you need extra confidence and drive to combat any feeling of loneliness.  It’s about motivation and facing up to challenges.

You need to take to cleaning, changing beds, maintenance, cooking and hospitality, and you need to like it.  There is no choice. If one partner is not happy doing this sort of thing, you could have a recipe for failure on your hands attempting to get two people to live the dream of one.

You also need to be aware of one of the key things that causes so much upset for owners.  The more you care and work to get things right the more upset you can get when someone does not appreciate your efforts or chooses to leave unjust or unfair feedback on Trip Advisor or even just on an e-mail to you.  It is a difficult art to remain positive and sensitive to guest requirements and to wish the very best service following what feels like a bruising unfair attack from someone who appears to lack kindness or understanding writing upsetting feedback.  This is, perhaps, one of the key tests for those thinking of running a B and B.  The problem is that it is very difficult to predict how you will react until you experience it yourself.

We have covered, below, how to respond positively to negative or challenging feedback but this can never totally remove the greater impact it can easily make on those who are naturally care that bit more for getting things right and providing a really good service.

 

Financial

If you do not know how to do a profit and loss or understand a cash flow it is a very good idea, it is close to essential, that you learn. These are simple methods and are very important in controlling a business as well as helping work out if a proposition might be financially viable.  Plan to invest over a period because businesses change and you need to be ready to adapt and respond to the market as it, in turn, adapts to your style, innovations and approach.  Do not over invest when you start out.

It will be worth considering and, later keeping records of:  Room occupancy, monthly fixed and variable costs, advertising and marketing spend in relation to income, labour and other outgoings, seasonality and how to generate counter seasonal demand, a running break even analysis, and minimum room occupancy to keep afloat.

A few brave souls still think it is an option to ignore the internet.  Have no illusions, if you choose this route you will either have be very lucky or you will pay for the luxury of doing so many times over.  You have to work the internet almost as much as to appreciate and enjoy being hospitable.

These factors are as important to consider before buying as they are to maintain when you start your new business.

DSCF2535

Aside from a heavy commitment in purchasing the property itself it is worth being aware of other significant costs:

Kitchens must comply with local and national hygiene regulations

Fire safety, especially if you cater for above a certain number of guests, and involve complex and costly systems as well as the standards of fire extinguishers, procedures, fire doors (internal and external) and emergency fire exits where necessary.  The usual risk assessment procedures are, of course, necessary.

Decent furniture, TVs, Wifi, coffee and tea making facilities and so on are essential.

En suites are fast becoming the rule.  If you do not provide them, it could disadvantage you in the market.  They are costly additions.

Good quality beds, mattresses, and linen are a major cost.  Buying the right linen at the right price is an art.

Arranging the right suppliers from laundry (if you choose to contract this out) through to I.T. , advertising and marketing, building maintenance and so on takes time, effort and care.

Even things like insurance can be involved covering: Public liability; Employee liability; Buildings and Contents; Cancellation if guests let you down; Personal Accident, Key Person and Health and, of course, Motor Cover.

Card payments are a major feature.  It can be quite a struggle finding a card services company to accept a new business and their requirements can be involved.  As card payment companies provide a guarantee to card users they need to be satisfied that businesses are sound and will not leave them in the lurch.  In addition, the mechanics of card payment can call for a specialised company to make the I.T. happen.  One such is provide by Sage in the UK but there are many to choose from.  The charges made by card services companies and be over 3% for small businesses.  For a turnover of, say £150,000, you could land up paying £4,500 pa in card charges alone.  Business people and those not on holiday tend to use credit cards more frequently, so attracting such charges.  However, the good news is that debit cards usually attract a much lower charge from card services companies taking the sting out of many transactions.

In the holiday letting sector, the vast majority of transactions are made using debit cards and it is customary for booking agents, at least, to charge on card costs.  But it is not necessarily customary or welcome to do the same in the Bed and Breakfast sector.  In the latter, it is often necessary to absorb the costs across the business and recover them from the income for stays.

Unlike in holiday letting, much more time has to be set aside for day to day financial matters, meeting and greeting and day to day cleaning and room changeovers.  If you are away or if you are running a large establishment, this can lead to unforeseen costs.  Following on from this, staff employment law, how much you pay them and how they are trained and supervised  and how to get the best and maintain a happy working environment from day to day are key factors.

 

 Buy an existing business or start from scratch?

These options share similar aspects but there are radical differences.

Before buying, it is essential to check the local competition, find out where the demand comes from and how it changes, throughout the year.  Do not spend less than several days doing this.  It is an exhausting task and you should be ready to do this two or three times before you find an area where property is available and demand is sufficient to support a healthy BnB.  Demand is much more complex than for holiday letting businesses.  The different types of guest are numerous but you still get seasonal fluctuations just like in holiday letting.

In addition, you need to consider how and what people may expect depending on the niche markets you end up serving.  Breakfast behaviour varies from sharing tables and falling into pleasant conversation with guests to couples preferring their own company and people on business hiding behind papers getting their minds ready for another day visiting a branch of their business in the locality.  What sized business and its niche markets will determine how much, in certain respects, you may end up engaging with paying guests.  This is a complex area.

Likewise, if a significant proportion of guests are blue collar people you, will tend to find that, after a hard day’s work, they can put extra demands on washing and cleaning facilities adding to room changeover labour and, sometimes, costs.  This is not to say that white collar are not less demanding in this respect, but the tendency due to occupation is always there.  Each niche has different characteristics from couples passing through on holiday, to business visitors doing a tough four days stint sorting out the accounts at a local branch to contractors mending installations for energy companies.  Bed and Breakfast is radically more varied in types of guest, which are varied enough, compared with holiday letting.DSCF2501

Deciding on theming or changing and existing theme to a Bed and Breakfast is worth considering.

If you do decide to start from scratch, it is essential to check local regulations and licensing requirements.  In some places, planners may zone areas which can prohibit the business as well as restrict the type of guests. You need to check something as basic as to whether and what specification of signs  you are allowed to have  for your business.  Careful investigation of other requirements needs to be done including any safety matters through to access, requirements to join or register with local organisations and so on.  As with buying a business, financial planning is essential to include a business plan, a profit and loss and the all important cash flow projections.

If you buy an existing business, you need to be absolutely certain about the reason why it is being sold.  Take a very good look at the state of the bedrooms from decor right through to the quality of the en-suites; check the kitchen; check for changes in local plans and so on.  If you feel you can do better than the existing owners then you need to have a very clear idea how they are running the business, as it is now.  It is a common mistake to see what you think are a couple of glaring errors and then march on to impose what you think is an ideal set of proposed changes, should your offer to buy be accepted.  The best way is not to dismiss anything as you collect information.  Due diligence, as with any business purchase, is essential.

Once you have collected all the information and made all the necessary and basic enquiries, consider how well the business caters for existing and potential demand.  This is essential.  You can avoid heavy unnecessary expenditure on, say, a conservatory or extension to a breakfast room and divert the investment into, say, an overhaul of some rooms and en suite facilities which could generate far more income, depending on the circumstances.  Never let your ideas and hopes interfere with initial investigations of how an existing business is operating.  The key is to have good and complete information of how the business is currently working.  If you have already checked the local market and competition, you are then in a position to see if changes can be made to the existing way of doing things to increase income and improve the business.

Avoid jumping the gun and imposing what you think is right.  This is, perhaps, to avoid the single most damaging error made by those buying existing businesses with hopes to improve them.

 

Long term objectives

These should be split between personal and financial.  Clearly basic financial objectives have to be reached, but running a BnB can easily take up every hour of your life.  The trick is to get as much pleasure out of the business whilst running it in a financially sound manner.  This is, often, far easier said than done.  As most owners live in the same building as visiting guests, there is an inevitable blurring or personal life and business activity.  Before starting, it is essential to understand and be ready for what this entails.  Encountering and handling a complaint from a guest which might have been magnified in emphasis due to something else that they may have experienced when out and about, is difficult enough in itself.  However, if you are working hard and really care for good service this can easily impinge on the private life you have, only a door’s width away, from that difficult, hopefully, successful and sensitive handling of a difficult situation.

Any long term objectives must fully take this sort of thing into account. It is the nature and part of running a b &b.  Sometimes things are brought into focus only after a few months when the need to find a locum arises… and there can, depending on local regulations, be restrictions on who you choose to employ.  If they are to work in the kitchen the need to be trained to a certain level in food hygiene could well apply.  Environmental health (in the UK) departments in local authorities will be able to advise on this and much more.  Cleanliness is, perhaps, the number 1 factor for success.  This should never be compromised.

 

Running a BnB

OperationsDSCF2208

I can only make a scratch on this here but there are some useful tips:

Your market will be much more varied than that for holiday lets. Guests come in different forms and their demands and behaviour can vary accordingly.

Families; young couples; older couples; general holiday makers; walkers; cyclists; leisure travellers; colleges; universities and other educational establishments; blue collar contractors; white collar managers and staff; business travellers; commercial sales people; hotel overflows; other BnB overflows; wedding; funeral; christening guests and others.  It is important to be aware of different characteristics.  Blue collar staff, especially those doing particularly physical work, can put more demands on certain facilities than others.  Some will appreciate a conversation at breakfast where other types of guest may not.  Some will need to leave at different times than others.   Some will pay for their own stay where others will be paid for by their companies.   Some may be one off guests where others may return time and again, involved in projects or cyclical business activities, such as scheduled maintenance on installations.  In some cases guests could be managers who have moved job and are seeking to buy a home locally, in others, it could be for local people in between houses where they have sold their home and are waiting to complete on the purchase of another.

Some will wish for early breakfasts, some may seek an evening meal, some may prioritise secure parking for their cars or vans where others may not worry.  The needs of single women staying can vary from those of single men. If you are new to the business, it is worth recording the needs and requests of different types of guest from the beginning.  As experience grows you will, then, be able to prepare and ask the right questions or suggest useful ideas to guests so making thing easier and increase a feeling of hospitality.  Some niche market can be quite demanding such as the family market.

Here family rooms may be required complete with cots / bunk beds.  Highchairs for breakfast are often a good idea and more than the usual storage in bedrooms is welcome.  If staying for more than one day, keeping a stock of games and toys often helps if bad weather sets in.

The variety of guests and their reasons for staying is huge compared to holiday letting.  This adds complexity but also interest to running a BnB.

 

The market and selling

There is quite a bit to this and I hope to include the information at a later date.  However, at the very least, you need to be willing to be at home with the internet and set up your own web site.

You need to check that there are sufficient guests to sustain you.

Visits to the local Chamber of Commerce, tourist and council information offices are a good start.  Consider the competition, how and what they charge for, their standards and howthey do buisness including things like meet and greet, decor, facilities, house rules and so on.

Consider a listing on Trip Advisor.  Going in for awards can be a good idea but try to find out the most worthwhile ones.  Guest books and other ways of getting a record of feedback are useful.  Things to do and other information are a good plan to provide.  It is worth looking at the Welcome Pack advice for Holiday Lets to get ideas on what could be useful to include by way of information for guests.

Small things can be important to ensure guests have a stay to recommend a return trip.  A good mattress leading to a good sleep is important.  Thoughtful provisions like arrangements in case guests lose their keys or are locked out at night.  Another useful provision is a standard approach if people prove noisy or who act to detract from others enjoying their stay.

Establish and edge on any competition.  This means you need to work out who, how, what and where they are.  Analyse how they trade and seek to provide added value and something extra to eclipse their offerings.   To do this, of course, you need to be in the sights of potential guests so working out how to access the market is an utterly essential task.  Consider your own website, listing sites, agency or booking services, local authority and local and national tourist information web sites.  It is a good idea to see how your competition advertises.  If all major competitors use a particular advertising medium, it is a fairly good bet it might be worth considering.  Then contrast different types or establishment and standard of service to the advertising they use.

Getting the information together can be quite a struggle, but with some perserverence, if you look at, say, 12 competitors in detail, you might see a pattern develop.  Some establishments do better using some types of advertising where others do better with others.  This depends, not only on the whim of the owners, but also on the nature of the markets and niches they major on.  Thus, if most of the business of a b n b is commercial they will, most likely, advertise in a different way compared to a b n b more focused on the leisure, holiday or non business guests.  Size and quality can have a significant bearing on where the most cost effective use of money should be made.

Each possible competitor needs to be identified in the following terms:  Location, maximum numbers of guests, quality, estimated occupancy, and then split down by estimated niches or types of guest served.  Much of this will depend on sharp observation and there will be certain to be an element of guesswork.  If you can visit the reception areas the way they are laid out, the quality of management and a glance into the common guest areas can be quite informative.  Get, of course, the tariffs, offers, and any other information you can in the process of any visit.  In extreme, it can be worth staying at several to really get a feel for the area.  This is, of course, more economic and sensible if you are still in the process of either buying an existing business or thinking of setting up a new business converting an existing property.

When investigating prioritise and make sure that you gather information and do not let this process become spoilt or less effective by passing judgement as you collect the information.  Even if you stay at a b n b which appears appalling do not leave in disgust but seek out facts and detail all about the place whether it is good or bad.  Once you have collected all the information and recorded it, then it is time to compare and contrast to try to come to a conclusion about what the market likes.  The market may well like a particular bland style of decor with some highlights which is not to your personal taste.. but giving people what they want and what makes them feel is pleasant and appropriate is the best way of getting the business you need.

Do not impose your own preferences, prejudices or taste onto your business.  It is possible that your personal choices might be what the market will respond to.  However let investigation, collation and direction from the information gathered direct you; if is matches what you wanted, then this is an additional gift.  If it does not and you choose to go with your personal preferences as opposed to those the market may indicate, you must be prepared to pay a price for this choice.   In small things upsetting the formula for success is not a danger; you do not need to be robotically determined by what other people want.  However, if you choose to radically depart from what the market is comfortable with, then you will have to be aware and happy to pay the price.

 

Quality and star ratings 

The importance of these has declined a little but they still remain significant in the bed and breakfast market.  A rough guide to the stars:

One Star.

Hardly known.

 

Two Star

Not that common, nowadays, but:  Moderate quality;  TV in bedroom, heating, reasonable decor / lighting / flooring / bath or shower not necessarily en suite / good maintenance, clean and working / any provided meals should be not be re heated.

 

Three Star

More space and comfort in bedroomsDSCF2447a

Better quality and style of decoration including co-ordination with carpeting

Sound furniture, better lighting and control over heating

Wash basin, where no en-suite. Soap provided

Better breakfast cooked to order

A good hospitable standard of service with guest care being evident

 

Four Star

Better decoration, fixtures, fittings and furniture showing evidence of careful thought

Extras such as radios or hairdryers

Over 50% of all rooms will have well fitted out  en-suites to a modern standard, including appropriate toiletries good towels and with good lighting and high standard decor.

A high quality breakfast, including local specialities and the service to go with it.

Equal hospitality or more so than that expected of 3 star.

 

Five Star

Top quality, clearly luxurious matched by the level of hospitality

The bedrooms will be spacious and luxurious.  This includes top quality beds, bedding, mattresses along with equally fine furniture fixtures and fittings.

Good decor and high quality furniture and fittings will extend to all guest areas

En suites are necessary for every room and their quality will match or exceed the bedrooms

High quality towels, a wider range of soaps etc: are necessary

Other public areas to the same level of quality should be available for guests to relax

Breakfast should be top quality, including a good selection with several choices of cooked items and also locally sourced foods and specialities.

Five star hospitality is essential.

 

Emotional and Physical

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Responding to feedback

When you first encounter bad feedback, a good rule is to think of Basil Faulty, stand back, take a deep breath and start thinking again.

Always respond to reviews, good or bad.  At the very least, this is a matter of courtesy.  You can be sure that authors will look to see if you have replied.  An honest, positive and understanding reply will often leave a very good impression and can generate return business.  More importantly, a well crafted and thoughtful reply can speak volumes in return.  However, there are challenges.

One of the most upsetting things is to open up Trip Advisor, or some other feedback site, to find someone has been less than kind and, possibly, unfair reviewing a stay at your BnB.

Anyone who cares for service and putting in the hours and graft as well as being of an hospitable nature is bound to be hurt.  More often than not, bad feedback appears without any warning, out of the blue.  The question often arises, why did they not speak to us?

Take a deep breath and try to read what has been said without overlaying it with upset and dismay.  This is not easy.  Sometimes, bad or unfair feedback is hard to stomach.  We know of a high quality BnB which had bad feedback saying that the local shop was expensive and any alternative was 15 minutes away in a car.  Despite the fact that the location was patently highly rural, the owners were taken aback that they should be criticised for something utterly and completely out of their control and irrelevant to their service.  Some other aspects of the feedback appeared equally unfair.

Once you have sorted out what the feedback has said.  Sit down and write out the key elements.  Do not, although it is hard, even think about what you plan to say at this stage.  Before doing this, keep in mind that you need to do justice to the reviewers words and to leave a good impression on the hundreds who will be keen to see how you have responded.  A crafted, intelligent and positive response can create a marketing plus out of what first seemed a serious setback.

If there was a genuine problem, and we had one in our sister business, Country Holiday Lets on our feedback site.  The link is: http://www.feefo.com…..377108    It is important not to try to dodge the bullet.  We had wrongly listed a microwave as being provided in a holiday let.  Rather than try to imply that the owner was at fault… and they were absolutely not at fault, or try to dodge the question or simply not to respond, we noted that there was no microwave and that we had instantly corrected the web site information.  The reviewer sent an e-mail to us thanking us for our response and was so pleased that they will seriously consider re-visiting our area either to the same cottage or another.

Yes, we had made an error, but we had responded quickly and had not tried to dodge responsibility.  Dealing with upset is not easy even when you are calm and level headed, it is made many times more difficult when you, too are upset.  It is worth remembering that feedback sites such as Trip Advisor put serious heat under low quality operations and are the single most important development from the start of Star ratings, or even from before them, to increase the quality of service in the BnB as well as the self catering sector.  If you offer higher than average quality, the occasional unfair review is worth it to end poor quality competition spoiling the market and taking good business away from people who deserve it like you.

One approach is to say that: Every concern is very important. You wish every guest has a good stay…..

Feedback sites often have a limit on the number of characters you can use in a reply so it can be quite difficult replying to several allegations as well as, possibly fair observations, but you must try to maintain positive humour in your response.  Remember, this is more about marketing and learning to make improvements than any contest with an upset guest.  Be positive all the time and avoid, at all costs, any suggestions of untruths in feedback or any personal remarks.  For example: ‘We checked and were unable to identify the problem but did offer etc:’  should be enough to suggest without any unpleasant implication.  Readers who, hopefully, have seen many positive feedbacks will, then, understand that either you had a bit of bad luck and did what you could as a good host or that the reviewer was being a bit unfair.  You can often win either way as long as you are gentle, kind, thoughtful and positive in your response.

How easy all this sounds. If you do not have enough characters available, pick the main points of any bad review and address them.  A well crafted, positive and stylish response to what could well be an unfair and, sometimes, angry review could be as valuable, if not, more so than a well received and helpful positive review.  If you show that the review is unfair in a gentle positive way, even though you have not addressed every point, people reading often conclude that the other points are of a similar status.  Many people know that replies are restricted to a limited number of characters.  It can be an idea to get someone not emotionally involved to suggest or even edit a proposed response; if you can get a couple of people to do this, even better. It gets easier as you go along.

 

Hospitality and care

Hospitality is absolutely essential and is a necessity as well as caring, always, that the job itself is done well.  Engagement is much more involved and close than in many other occupations making it, at times, more difficult to be detached when addressing problems, complaints or challenges.  The luxury that many have to switch off at 5 pm and switch on at 9 am is not available for BnB  proprietors.  Linked to this is the physicality of the work from D.I.Y. to keep costs down to the daily making of beds, cleaning, cooking and keeping the establishment in top order for all the guests.

The physical aspect should not be underestimated.  The rhythm of work can settle down, but when you are feeling off colour, tired or are in need of a holiday this can become more onerous.  It is marked that if high standards of cleanliness are maintained including washing hands for hygiene in the kitchen many say this also has some impact in reducing the frequency of seasonal illnesses although it can never eliminate them.  A similar benefit, of course, will be experienced by guests.

Underneath all is the need to like people and a resilience never to be put off by the inevitable concerns and complaints that can arise even for the best run of businesses.  There are times, especially when the year is not so good, when some owners may feel after all their efforts, when they receive a less than fair review, ‘why are we bothering to do all this?’    It is hard to remember the good feeling of dozens of good reviews faced with one unfair one that is very difficult to answer fairly within the restrictions of some feedback sites.

Before buying a BnB think hard about ‘why are we bothering to do all this?’  In the vast majority of cases the feeling will pass, but you do need to be aware that the feeling will be known almost universally across all BnB businesses.

 

Fundamentals apply across all stars including excellent cleanliness, professional attention to any enquiries and, more importantly, a highly professional approach to handling problems and concerns. Speed of response and attention to detail as well as ensuring every major matter is correct are essential.  Everything from the moment of booking the stay to any follow up e-mail requesting feed back should all be considered part of the quality of the service.