A bed and breakfast owner has to be prepared for anything

When I was getting ready to start my bed and breakfast, I was focused on the logistics – getting everything set up, letting people know I was open for business and making sure I had everything on hand for those first guests to arrive.

Within a few days, I realized I hadn’t thought beyond that point at all.  I realized that while one can have policies in place, there are situations that arise that may be an issue based on the guests you have in the house.

Here are some key things bed and breakfast owners need to be thinking of ahead of opening,…

….so that you are prepared to deal with them:


  • Rainy day activities – my B&B was located in an outdoor paradise; and there wasn’t an awful lot for people to do if it rained.  Most of the guests carried on with their itinerary, but I had more than a few guests that I had to create new itineraries for.  Sitting down and having a list available will make it much easier when you face this situation!
  • When a B&B item gets broken/lost/disappears – some bed and breakfast owners just shrug and assume it is part of the cost of doing business, while others have gone to the extreme of posting a price list of the replacement cost in every guest bedroom.  I was fortunate that nothing major was broken and am one of the believers that it was the cost of doing business.  However, I did not have anything out in the B&B portion of the house that couldn’t be replaced – and anything of sentimental value was located in my quarters.
  • Inappropriate guest behaviour – can range from bad language and/or improper conversations to overstepping your (or another guest’s) personal boundaries; late arrivals or early check-ins; drug and/or alcohol mis-use all the way to unrealistic expectations, such as having the b and b owner provide transportation.

It happens!

As much as I would like to deny it happens, I can think of at least one circumstance based on each of those items. And, to be perfectly honest, I must admit that my reaction (good or bad) would often depend on how tired I was and how the rest of the guest’s stay had gone – and how much longer they would be staying for.

Over the years I have developed what I refer to as “outs” – for instance, if people wanted me to provide transportation I advised that my insurance prohibits me from driving guests anywhere.

If a guest is using our outdoor seating area and is being noisy, I would tell them about our noise by-laws.

In the case of inappropriate behaviours, I tried to ask myself first “who’s problem is it?”  Just because I don’t think people should drink or do drugs, if it doesn’t directly interfere with me or one of my other guests, I worked really hard at letting it go. However, if it affected my other guests then it was definitely my role to deal with it.

I always tried to deal with the individual in private and would be very clear of the impact of their behaviour on the other guest(s). Separately, I would apologize to the other guests.  That seemed to work.

Being prepared for situations that can’t be mandated by policies are part of a bed and breakfast owner’s life.  The way that each one deals with the situation is as individual as their B&Bs.  There are no right or wrong answers to inappropriate guest behaviour – whether it is a request or an action on their part.  You need to do what feels right for you.  And depending on the circumstances, you might change your mind about what you want to do.

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