The #1 Question every Bed and Breakfast Owner Needs to Be Able to Answer

Bed and breakfast owners need to be able to answer the first question potential guests always ask – how far are you from ____? The answer is how potential guests make a decision on where to stay.

As a new bed and breakfast owner, you might as well be prepared! The number one question potential guests generally ask has nothing to do with the rooms and amenities at your B&B, but rather…“How far are you located from _________________? “. 

Location is tends to the main reason a potential guest chooses a certain B&B.  Even with Google Street Maps and location pages on your web site, people like to clarify your position in relation to whatever happens to be bringing them to the area.

Be prepared to discuss your B&B’s position in regards to:

  • Distance from other cities and tourist sites – for instance, I get asked by a lot of people how far Parry Sound is from Niagara Falls, Ottawa and Toronto.  I have learned to point out to people is that in Canada, we tend to talk about the time it takes to drive from one place to the other, and not the number of kilometers, as speed limits and road conditions vary depending on your route.  I also warn guests about peak traffic times they might want to avoid, if at all possible, to make their trip less stressful.
  • Distance from major transportation routes, such as highways, airports, bus and train stations.  Think about how your guests might be arriving at your location and be prepared to provide them with travel options and routes.
  • Public transportation such as bus, subways/metros and taxis.  This works both for when people originally arriving to check-in, as well as during their stay.
  • Local attractions – whether they are something specific to your area, such as sight-seeing, or something more generic, such as golf courses or movie theaters.
  • Key venues for entertainment – beyond movie and performing arts theaters, think about wedding venues, banquet halls and other places that can accommodate large groups of people.
  • Shopping and restaurants – even if guests are just stopping over on their journey, they will need to get out and stretch their legs.   Shopping might include the need for additional supplies for the road, gifts for people at home or just a pleasant diversion.  I have found that guests like restaurants nearby so that they don’t have to worry about drinking and driving, as well as avoiding having to get back into the car for any reason!

Once people decide to come to an area, they generally want to be as close as possible to that site.  How can you assure your guests your bed and breakfast is the ideal location?  Step 3 of the “Design Your Dream B&B” System goes in-depth about how to analyze any location to successfully generate the amount of revenue your future B&B can earn.


  1. Dawna

    Very good suggetions. When we operated our BnB in our small town we would invite the whole staff from the local tourist booth to come out to our place in the country. Many of them had been there for the first time, we served our signature brownies, answered questions and gave them a tour of the property. This was helpful in being first and foremost in their minds when being asked about accommodation in the area, how far we were from town etc. As BnB owners we have wonderful opportunities to showcase our area, so be sure to know your stuff!!

    1. Susan Poole Post author

      Dawna – it’s amazing how the small things are the ones that make the biggest difference! You were lucky that the staff were given the time to be able to come out to your B&B; that is not always the case.
      Focusing on local networking can have a big payoff – even if the people who stay are from further away.
      However, it does mean that you need to make a conscious decision to accept walk-ins, and be prepared and ready for people even if you don’t have bookings.

  2. Kris Ullmer

    Thanks, B&B Coach, for this practical tip! We’ve published a link to your article in our News You Can Use newsletter, which goes to thousands of innkeepers and aspiring innkeepers! We appreciate your expertise. Kris Ullmer, Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII) Executive Director

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