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guest house

Sector Spotlight: Guesthouses and B&Bs

Find out more about this sector that provides you with a home away from home!

The lure of running your own guest house or bed and breakfast can be quite enticing. You get to escape the monotonous schedule of a nine-to-five job while earning and making a living surrounded by an environment of your choosing.  

This specialised industry can also be quite a profitable small business if you take the time to create a homelike atmosphere. Savvy travellers who want to be immersed in the local culture are looking for unique, personalised lodging that can only be found in someone’s home.

Let’s take a look at some helpful information that can guide you as you decide whether owning a guest house or bed and breakfast is the right fit for you.

Facts and stats:

  • According to a recent report, motels and hostels are the bed and breakfast industry’s greatest competitors.
  • To compete with accommodation-sharing networks like Airbnb, successful B&B operators are increasing their online presence, advertising on multiple sites, offering niche experiences, and maintaining competitive pricing.
  • IBISWorld has determined that the key factors attributed to success in the accommodation industry are establishing a good reputation, having a close proximity to key markets, and implementing a competitive pricing policy.

A home away from home

The accommodation industry includes guest houses and bed and breakfasts that are typically located in the host’s private residence.

These guest houses and B&Bs provide short-term lodging for customers, with breakfast included. Sometimes they will also offer laundry and other services at an additional cost.

Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind for this industry:

  • Customer service is key: Your success depends on providing exceptional, personalised customer service. When your guests first arrive, ask about their food preferences and what time they would like to eat. Do your best to offer some of their favourite foods and to accommodate all their requests.
  • Offer additional packages: Niche B&Bs are growing increasingly popular, especially with the highly coveted millennial market. If you have any specific skills like painting, sketching, pottery, massage therapy, acupuncture, etc., consider creating special packages so guests can participate in those activities or receive those services.

The upside of owning a bed and breakfast

Owning a business in the accommodation industry has some definite benefits:

  • Self-employment and working from home: You’re your own boss and in control of your own destiny. You can choose your guests, establish your rates, and set your hours and days of operation.
  • Interesting international guests: You will meet fascinating people from all over the world and have the opportunity to socialise with them and learn about their cultures, experiences, and lives.
  • Tax deductions: You can claim additional tax deductions. Consult an accountant for advice, but you can deduct a portion of your living expenses off your income taxes.

Day-to-day challenges

While being your own boss offers tremendous freedom, it also comes with its own unique set of challenges. Before venturing into a new industry, it’s always helpful to be fully aware of the potential struggles you may face. For example:

  • Demanding schedule: Depending on how you choose to run your establishment, you could potentially be on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Lack of flexibility: Schedules change, and your guests might be significantly delayed. As the owner, you have to be willing to cancel your own plans in order to be able to greet your guests with a friendly smile whenever they happen to arrive.
  • Unpredictable income: It will take you a while to recoup initial startup costs, but even then, you probably will not have predictable, dependable income. Instead, it will most likely vary with the travel market and the season.

Essential skills

There are a variety of skills and personality traits that will come in handy when owning and running your own cosy little haven for travellers. At the top of the list are the following:

  • Extroverted: You should love meeting new people and enjoy socialising with others on a daily basis.
  • Accomplished cook: You will need to provide excellent meals—either making them yourself or hiring responsible staff to do the job.
  • Flexible: You will need to be able to adjust to constant changes in your guests’ schedules without showing your frustration.
  • Organised: The everyday chores of cooking, cleaning, greeting guests, and bookkeeping can become monotonous, so make sure you enjoy multitasking, establishing routines, and tackling repetitive tasks.
  • Knowledgeable about your location: Your guests will want insider tips on transportation and “must-see” tourist spots in your city.

So, be prepared to provide the most up-to-date information on highly recommended restaurants, entertainment venues, transportation schedules, and discount days and times for a wide variety of activities.

With the accommodation industry seeing a rise in competition, you will need to think outside the box and come up with creative ways to set yourself apart. Think you’re ready to start or buy your own guesthouse? Discover various guesthouses in Australia for sale on our site. 

Faye Ferris

About the author

APAC Sales & Marketing Director for, the world’s most popular website for buying and selling businesses globally, which attracts over 1.2 million visitors each month.