The best advice I was given before starting my bed and breakfast

Establishing how you will handle family and friends’ visits during busy times at your bed and breakfast will help prevent hard feelings and embarrassment

Believe it or not, this piece of advice had nothing to do with the day-to-day operations or how to get people to stay at my bed and breakfast.  It was about my family and friends!

When I found what I thought was the perfect property in the perfect location, I wanted to validate all the research to make sure I was right.  So I decided to stay at local bed and breakfasts’ and talk to the owners about my plans and ideas and get their feedback.  (This is just one of the many tips I recommend in Step 3:  Learn How Much Money Your Future B&B Can Earn)

That was the smartest thing I ever did, although not for the reasons I thought it would be.  The owner listened very carefully to my plans, my motivations and then said to me “the most important thing you need to decide is how you are going to handle family and friends that will want to come and stay with you.”

Here are some of the things you need to think about:

  • Will you be comfortable having family and friends as “guests” when there is the potential for other guests to be present at the same time?
  • Will you treat them exactly the same as any other guest?
  • Do you expect them to help with the work around the B&B?
  • Will you be charging them to stay with you?
  • If you are going to charge them, how much? The same as everyone else?  Less?
  • Will they expect you to spend time with them that you wouldn’t spend with other guests?
  • Can you afford the time and money to have them stay with you during busy times?

Here’s why you need to think about these things:

  • Having friends and family as guests when you have other guests can lead to some problems.  They have a certain “familiarity” with you, and more than likely expect to access areas of the house – like the kitchen and your private quarters –  where you don’t want other guests to go.  How are you going to make that distinction to “regular” guests?
  • Are family and friends expecting the same “perks” as the other guests, whether they pay or not?
  • If family and friends join the other guests, sometimes the discussions with you can get personal or touch on topics you would never choose to discuss with your regular guests – which can make everyone feel uncomfortable!
  • If you, like me are located in a seasonal tourism destination, it means you will have a limited time to make most of your money – can you afford  to pass up the opportunity to make money if you don’t charge family and friends?
  • If you am going to charge them (and let me tell you – that is a very awkward discussion to have!) what rates – the same as everyone else?  At a discount?  Not at all?
  • A lot of family and friends want to help out, but in my experience don’t realize that the way you do things may not either “be the way you were brought up” (from my mother) to “I didn’t know you’re such a perfectionist”! (from a friend).  How can you dissuade them not to help? – or to do it your way?
  • Can you be very clear about your boundaries and how much time you can actually spend with them while they are staying?  Don’t forget you will have to be around for check-in times, to answer guest questions, help guests with their plans, etc., which may mean you won’t be able to get away for dinner, etc? If there is the expectation that you are going to provide them with dinner, where are you going to eat?  How will you handle the other guests?
  • Will they understand that you can’t stay up all night visiting with them?  You will more than likely be tired and your day starts early preparing for breakfast

My solution to having family and friends visit during my busy time is to book them to stay somewhere else, and set specific times to get together to visit.  This works best for me as it means I don’t have to worry about giving them preferential treatment, I can get my work done as required and still enjoy spending some time with them.

Every situation is different.  But by thinking how you will deal with  visits from family and friends and letting everyone know ahead of time what to expect can save everyone a lot of headaches – and may be even heartache!


  1. Jay and Jessie

    We made it very clear to friends and family that “the family and friends discount is in the off season”. To let them know that if they wanted to visit then they are expected to pay. Being a seasonal business located in a tourist destination we cannot afford to give away rooms in the peak season.

    1. Susan Poole Post author

      Hi Jessie

      I’m so glad you did that right at the beginning – it will save embarrassment and hard feelings from occurring!


  2. Paul and Beth Maryan

    Family will lay the going rate for the tine of year and season. The only exception will be closest family such as mother, father etc..

    1. Susan Poole Post author

      Paul and Beth:

      Don’t forget to communicate your policy ahead of time, so no one is disappointed!


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