Owning a Bed and Breakfast Now a Viable Career for Young Professionals
ILoveInns.com Explores How to Start a Business in the Bed and Breakfast Industry
By Shirley Anitra Swagerty
Young professionals are joining the ranks of B&B owners after exploring how to start a business in the bed and breakfast industry. Owning a bed and breakfast has often been considered a retirement venture and the bed and breakfast industry has a long-held perception of attracting older innkeepers. However, the look and perception of innkeeping is changing as young professionals desire to own their own business and have a fulfilling lifestyle outside of mainstream corporate America as bed and breakfast innkeepers.
American Historic Inns and ILoveinns.com interviewed the owners of four B&B’s and learned what inspired them to join the ranks of young business owners, specifically in the bed and breakfast industry. As young professionals they made a major shift from the corporate world to make innkeeping and B&B ownership a way of life after they learned how to start a business in the B&B industry.
Civic Leaders from Holladay House Bed and Breakfast
The idea of becoming B&B owners and innkeepers began about five years ago for Sam and Sharon Elswick, avid travelers and young professionals in Washington, DC. Now in their early thirties, they spent two to three years researching, attending innkeeping seminars and meeting with consultants before purchasing Holladay House Bed and Breakfast two years ago in Orange, Virginia. Fulfilling their criteria for owning and running a bed and breakfast, this small-town, historic B&B had an established client base, was in close proximity to their supportive family and was well designed with a separate living area for innkeepers to allow for their privacy as well as their guests. Sharon and Sam have an optimistic outlook and are enthusiastic about providing a memorable experience that is enhanced by local events and activities. Sam said, “It makes me feel good to exceed our guests’ expectations.” Active in the local business community, Sharon serves on the Board of Directors for the Orange Downtown Alliance and Sam is chairman of the Board of Directors for the Bed and Breakfast Association of Virginia.
A 30th Birthday Present–Clark Point Inn
October 15, 2008, will mark the one-year anniversary of Jennifer and Mark Nicknair as owners and innkeepers of Clark Point Inn in Southwest Harbor, Maine. These young professionals wanted to own a business that they could both actively contribute to. Jennifer said, “I think people our age have a misconception that they can’t own their own business, but it’s definitely doable. Buying this inn, which is also our first home, was my 30th birthday present.” After completing a local innkeeping seminar they realized that they wanted the challenge of building up the business of an under-performing inn. Working with a realtor they found the right B&B that included spacious onsite owners’ quarters and was located near their relatives. They were well-received in the community and developed a five-year plan which pays attention to current trends of growth and includes renovations. When they feel completely satisfied by what they have accomplished they will consider selling the inn and buying a larger one.
Finding new inn-lovers at Forty Putney Road
Tim and Amy Brady left executive jobs in corporate America to start a business in the bed and breakfast industry. Realizing the advantages of living onsite, they began a two-year search for a B&B that included a private living space that would be separate from their guests. Almost a year and a half ago they found and purchased Forty Putney Road, a B&B in Brattleboro, Vermont, and immediately began establishing good relationships with the local business community. Two out of five of their guests have never stayed at a B&B before. Tim said, “We wanted to attract new inngoers; we successfully created a huge shift in our audience and experienced a definite increase in traffic by 30% over last year.” These young innkeepers in their early thirties enjoy sharing their extensive wine and beer collection with guests in the intimate fire-lit pub.
Three Brothers Take Turns at Catskill Lodge
Three brothers, Aaron, Adam, and Dan Miller are the young owners of Catskill Lodge in Windham, New York, not far from where they grew up. Their passion for the region continued even after they separately began working out of the area in high-powered finance-related and real-estate jobs. Knowing how to start a business came from their extensive educational and career backgrounds while owning a B&B grew naturally out of hosting groups of friends who enjoyed the many seasonal activities and scenic setting. The location is perfect for the proprietors and guests who come from New York City. Innkeepers David and Jim were hired to manage the B&B during the week and on weekends the brothers take turns managing the inn. Youngest brother Gabriel, a senior in a nearby high school, can even be found doing odd jobs and may someday be an equity partner as well. “We are young and ambitious and plan to expand by opening more inns in various locations,” Adam said.
A Perfect Fit
Each one of these young professionals was motivated to start a business in the bed and breakfast industry and it has been a perfect fit. The interests and talents of these young proprietors make them well-suited for a successful and fulfilling career as innkeepers and B&B owners.
Browse through the 19,000 bed and breakfasts and country inns that specialize in events and locations that may interest you. Some of the properties listed above may be in the best-selling bed and breakfast guidebook Bed & Breakfasts and Country Inns with a Buy-One-Night-Get-One-Night-Free Certificate. I Love Inns also offers Bed and Breakfast Gift Certificates, a perfect solution to help celebrate any occasion.