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Wednesday , June 28 2017
Bed & breakfast

Is the B&B business worth getting out of bed for?

I recently heard an interview on Radio New Zealand with Brent Thomas, Airbnb executive who was talking about the 19,000 odd Airbnb listings they have across New Zealand. While this may not be accurate, considering the number of multiple room listings on Airbnb, he confirmed that Airbnb hosts in New Zealand could expect to earn about $3,700 a year with only 27 guest nights per year.

I did wonder how many prospective B&B operators might be listening, and decided to focus my column on is what intending B&B hosts need to consider before opening for business, in addition to their potential earnings.

If all those would-be Airbnb partners researched everything about operating a bed and breakfast would the earnings be enough to get them out of bed in the morning?

Have they thought about all the costs of running their B&B – such as power, breakfast provisions and cleaning? What about their compliance costs such as insurance, health and safety and fire regulations? Taking these costs into account, I suspect that some would choose not to open their homes as a B&B, or make a loss. Or worse still, some would choose to operate under the Airbnb cloak, which might mean they were non-compliant.

In my role as president of the Bed & Breakfast Association, I receive many calls from people wanting to open their home as a B&B, and many have not considered the costs. A good financial return is possible, but a B&B is not a ‘cash cow’, and much will depend on how the business is run.  The word to note here is ‘business’.

Upon opening their homes to paying guests, prospective operators become part of the hospitality industry, with all its accompanying responsibilities. I encourage intending hosts to think carefully about their responsibilities; and although hosting offers rich experiences, it comes with a certain level of commitment.

Research is paramount, and joining the B&B Association can ensure that new operators open their B&B on the front foot – informed, and fully compliant. The membership is dependent on hosts being fully compliant, and support and advice is plentiful.

For example, B&B operators need to have be correctly insured, regardless of the scale of their operation. Failing to inform insurers about operating a B&B within their home results in contravention of the policy, and owners could be operating outside of the law.  The B&B Association requires its members to have a minimum of $1million of public liability cover, in accordance with legal requirements.

Publications produced by the B&B Association, such as A Guide to Running a Successful Bed & Breakfast have been designed to ensure all B&B hosts have an awareness of their legal obligations, as well as minimum standards guests expect when staying in bed and breakfast properties.

I believe the industry as a whole is responsible for ensuring that all those operating within the hospitality industry are operating within the laws of the country. Ignorance is no defence; the information is available, as is support for achieving compliance. A compliant, B&B business, following best practice operations is definitely worth getting out of bed for!

About Kathryn Officer

Kathryn Officer
Kathryn Officer is the president of the Bed & Breakfast Association New Zealand.

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