The Bob’s Burgers Guide to Starting a Bed and Breakfast

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Who’s the first person you think of when you think of hospitality?

starting a bed and breakfast

Linda Belcher. Obviously.

How did I know? Easy.

Aside from her obvious grace as a triple threat mother, dancer, and dinner theater star, people often forget her most memorable quality: her superb skills as the owner of a short-lived bed and breakfast.

BnB owners have a lot to learn from Linda Belcher. While she isn’t perfect (an innkeeper can always improve), her business savvy earns a few extra bucks during a long weekend, and proves that maybe Bob isn’t the only one who can lead a business.

So what can owners do to be more like this gifted hostess? Apart from embracing your musical side, below I’ve compiled a list of a few do’s and don’t’s you can learn from Linda Belcher to become your own version of a master innkeeper.

Let’s get started. Alriiiiiiight?

starting a bed and breakfast

DO: Be Welcoming

No one rolls out the welcome wagon quite like Linda, whose hospitality goes the extra mile to make her BnB feel warm and inviting. Though the Belchers often don’t have money to spare, Linda purchases doilies, “soapies,” and potpourri to create that quaint and cozy atmosphere to make guests feel right at home. Not to mention that on the day of check in, Linda also hangs a large welcome banner for an extra, friendly touch.

While these are little details, it’s important to think of how you’re going to set the tone for your guests’ stay. Whether you’re operating an upscale hotel or a folksy BnB, it’s important for you to stay true to the tone of your lodgings and make your guests comfortable during their visit.

DON’T: Be Overbearing

While Linda does a terrific job at welcoming her guests, she forgets that hospitality means also giving guests the space they need. Maybe we should have seen this coming with her welcome banner, but her blatant disregard for boundaries leads to some pretty embarrassing moments with her guests.

It’s important to remember that your guests are guests and you’re meant to serve them, not yourself. Linda may have wanted to bond with the customers, but because they have other plans in mind, her mood sours and she ends up locking her guests in as punishment. The guests do eventually manage to find a way out (through a window), though their final rescue is contingent upon fulfilling Linda’s wishes.

DO: Schedule Fun Activities

Linda may be overbearing, but she does a great job offering a variety of social opportunities for guests to get to know the Belchers and each other. In addition to a (rather awkward) meet-and-greet, Linda manages to organize a wine and cheese mixer, as well as an ice cream social before her guests’ departures.

Your BnB should aspire to do much the same. Some guests may be in for the weekend on business or staying for a few weeks on holiday, but either way, providing unique entertainment is a great way to ensure the happiness of your guests and give them a memorable experience that will lead to recommendations and returns.

DON’T: Overload

Once again, Linda’s tendency to overdo things leads to catastrophe. While she does a stellar job offering social events for her guests, she does so without bearing in mind their differing schedules or their preference for staying in their rooms.  

While you should schedule a few events to pique the interest of your guests, be sure that you get a return on your investment. If you plan too many activities, don’t count on your guests’ availability to attend every gathering. Quality is better than quantity and spending more time to make an event fantastic (and ensuring attendance) will result in a far better turnout than hodge-podging your events spontaneously.  

starting a bed and breakfast

DO: Positive Attitude

Even as the wife of Bob Belcher, Linda’s infectious optimism always has a way of offsetting the negative, no matter how bad things may seem. So it’s no surprise to BB fans here that Linda Belcher’s attitude is key when it comes to having a hospitality mindset.

Nothing’s more awkward than a Debbie Downer. Instead, you should remember that your role as an innkeeper is to put your guests in that BnB spirit. Try to remain positive because a smile can go a long way.

DON’T: Sour Your Mood

Linda’s mood transforms when she finds that her guests weren’t willing to participate in her festivities. But no matter how bad you feel your guests are, it’s ill-advised to spoil the mood with a negative attitude.

Ever seen a behind-the-scenes fight you weren’t supposed to know about? It’s awkward enough when you see your server and the cook going at it, but in a BnB? Unlike a restaurant, your customers will be staying for longer than a meal, so it’s important to leave negativity at the door. Great service, especially in a difficult situation, has the prospect of turning things around. If only Linda had remained positive, her future problems might have been avoided.

DO: Get the Word Out

Linda does a fantastic job online of spreading the word that she’s opening a BnB for the tourist-flooded weekend. Even if she just has two rooms available at the start, being booked solid is something all BnBs aspire to.

So be sure you’re utilizing your social media channels and making use of seasonal deals and steals to drive reservations and revenue.

DON’T: Overbook

Linda knows that Louise won’t go quietly if forced to part with her closet/room, but she books Teddy for a night there anyway, despite the word of warning from her daughter. Louise’s revenge is swift, leading to a face full of beetles for lovable Teddy, not to mention a traumatic visit from the costumed Party Pals.

Chances are your BnB is bigger than an apartment above a burger joint, and if you’re preparing for a tidal wave of guests this season, it may be best to invest in some reservation software to help managed third-party bookings and room availability. It’ll save you a headache in the long run and give Louise’s sister Tina plenty of space to thrash, instead of having to share the bed with her whole family.

starting a bed and breakfast

DO: Reward Great Guests

How can you not love Teddy? Not only is he the only person supportive of Linda’s business at the outset, but he also puts up with unbelievable conditions while a guest at the Belcher home, laughing it all off until the Party Pals arrive. So when Linda rewards Teddy with platinum status, it more than makes up for all the shenanigans he is exposed to.

Now, not all your guests will have Teddy’s enthusiasm in unfortunate situations, but rewarding repeat guests or those whose experience was less-than-thrilling is a great way to keep the negativity at bay and spread a positive word about your hospitality.

DON’T: Punish Nightmare Guests

It’s important to remember than no one is perfect, including your guests. Don’t lock them in their rooms so they attend your ice cream social, or force cheese in their mouths.

I shouldn’t have to tell you not to take it out on your guests (no one wants to be an American horror story), but sometimes hotel employees still do some sketchy things. As an innkeeper, make sure you have guidelines for staff conduct and behavior as well as regular training so you can help your employees navigate difficult situations. Because even if your guests decide to be “holed up in their rooms like dirty little gophers,” that’s their decision.

starting a bed and breakfast

DO: Encourage Guest Reviews

Linda’s excitement about the potential of online reviews is well-founded, as they can increase a hotel’s revenue per available room (RevPAR). While she doesn’t continue her BnB after the weekend, in the long term, positive online reviews could have cemented her status as a hospitality all-star and led to bigger profits.

Whether you get your guests to do so through an incentive or organically, the digital age demands online reviews. Positive reviews do wonders for your brand and it’s a great way to see what guests love about your space

DON’T: Force Guests to Recommend

When Linda finds the Samuels dangling outside their bedroom window, she has a clear opportunity to redeem herself. And while she does eventually come their rescue, her help is contingent upon the couple agreeing to leave their email address and recommend the place to their friends.

Similarly, when I’m at a clothing store and the cashier asks for my email address, it takes everything in me not to let out a pained sighed. We all know what this means: endless email blasts and notifications pinging on your phone at 4 a.m. No one wants that.

So what to do?

Newsletters are one of the top ways for businesses to connect with their customers, so it’s no wonder that online contact info is a goldmine for marketers. But give your guests the option of opting in or out. You don’t want your brand to become a source of irritation.

starting a bed and breakfast

Conclusion

Think there are more do’s and don’t’s to Linda Belcher’s BnB experience? What else could she have done differently or better? Let me know in the comments below.

Header by Rachel Wille

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