Can you run a B&B if you're an introvert?Jun 30, 2021
On paper I don’t make a very good B&B owner.
I don’t like early mornings, I’m not a fan of cleaning and I’m an introvert.
Ignoring my 17 years of experience, would you give me the job? No, I thought not.
Despite my obvious flaws I’ve run a rather successful B&B myself, welcomed many repeat guests and taught many hundreds of people how to do the same.
B&B owners come in all shapes, sizes and personality types. But there are certain personality characteristics and skills which mean you might be more suited to the Bed and Breakfast life than someone else.
You may question why we put labels on people. And why does this stuff even matter?
If you do find yourself identifying with one personality type more than another, it can help to understand yourself and your guests a bit better. You'll understand why you react in one way to a situation, whilst your fellow B&B owner sees things completely differently.
It will also help you to develop strategies to deal with different situations. You may even decide to run your B&B in a different way!
And running a B&B is a people oriented job. By understanding your guests better, and your own interactions with them, it may help you become a happier B&B owner!
In this week’s blog post I’ll talk about whether you can run a B&B if you’re an introvert, and make some suggestions on how to enjoy it more if you are.
And so you extroverts don’t feel left out, there’s a section on there for you too.
Until doing a bit of research, I’d never really understood how I could be confident greeting guests and happily present to a crowd of 500 people, but freeze whenever I entered a networking event and hated parties!
And, armed with this knowledge, it’s helped me travel an easier path through life.
Whether you’re an introvert, an extrovert or somewhere in the middle - omnivert anyone? - one of the most important characteristics for any B&B owner is …
I once had someone tell me that they didn’t like people very much and didn’t like the idea of having strangers in the house, but they’d like to run a B&B.
If you’re running a B&B from your home and providing a full B&B experience, interacting with your guests on a daily basis, then I think this one is non negotiable. You have to like most people!
Many people come to a B&B for the personal touch and to chat with the owners and other guests. I can often be standing chatting to guests in the dining room for a good hour after they’ve finished eating.
But maybe, if you’re running a B&B more in the Airbnb style, with the guests not living in the main house and you’re providing a DIY breakfast. It may be less important.
If you really don’t like people, I would encourage you to think very carefully about the realities of running a B&B. Then honestly assess whether it’s the best choice of business for you.
What's the difference between being an introvert and being shy?
People can get confused over the difference between an introvert and someone who is shy. They are 2 different things.
Introverts can like and enjoy spending time with people, but they also need time alone and can get emotionally drained when they’ve spent a lot of time with others.
A shy person doesn’t necessarily want to be alone but can get nervous, anxious or afraid to interact with others.
As a B&B owner, if you’re an introvert, you’ll probably be fine greeting guests and chatting with them.
But you find you get emotionally drained if you have to spend too much time doing that.
If you’re shy you may find it more difficult to engage in the sort of interaction that many guests want from a B&B owner.
This is going to be less of an issue if there are 2 of you running the business, as the less shy partner can be in charge of front of house.
In my case, I’m good at welcoming guests and finding out whether they want to chat or be left alone. But if I’ve been chatting to guests for too long or have too many nights without a break, I start to get grumpy.
It’s one of the reasons I stopped serving evening meals. I recognised that I needed at least part of the day to myself. whilst I’m fine welcoming couples, I do struggle a bit with larger groups of friends.
If you do identify more as an introvert, make sure you schedule in sufficient days off and breaks to allow yourself to rest and recharge.
This isn’t selfish, it’s good business sense.
One of the most important assets in your business is you. If you’re tired, you’re likely to make mistakes which could impact your guests and your business.
If you’re at the point of never wanting to talk to anyone else again - ever, you’ll unlikely to be able to make guests feel really welcome. Unless you’re a fabulous actor of course.
Protect your space
I think it’s very important to get clear on what you want your guest interactions to be like, and to set suitable boundaries.
I often see B&B owner friends saying how they’ve enjoyed a drink or dinner out with guests. Honestly, this would fill me with horror!
You’ll need to decide up front if this is something you’re going to be comfortable with at your own B&B.
If you don’t want to socialise with guests, then identify a list of ready made excuses to get yourself out of it when the guests ask.
It’s much easier if you’re prepared for the eventuality rather than having to think of something off the cuff!
I’ve talked a lot about the importance of setting both time and space boundaries - especially to us introverts - in this blog post - Running a B&B | setting Boundaries
What about you extroverts out there?
At first glance, it would seem that running a B&B is the ideal lifestyle for extroverts.
Generally - and I am generalising as every extrovert and introvert is unique - extroverts love to talk, socialise and are good at interacting with others. You’ll find it easy to meet new people and to make new friends.
Your extrovert guests are going to love you! But be aware of what may happen when you welcome introvert guests. Those people who don’t want to chat and just want to go to their room.
I’m reminded of 2 of my guests who told me their B&B horror story. Arriving at a local B&B, they were herded into the guest lounge, had unasked for drinks put into their hands - they were teetotal - and were talked at for an hour by their extrovert host.
Always take the lead from your guests. Identify some questions that you can ask when they arrive to get a feel of whether they want to interact or be taken to their room and let alone.
Something like “Would you like tea and cake in the guest lounge, or would you prefer to take it in your room after your long journey?”
Your guests don’t hate you
Don’t make the mistake of thinking, because your guests aren’t chatting away to you, that they don’t like you or your B&B. It may just mean they are shy or introverts!
Your own social life
Whilst introvert me is quite happy curled up on my own with my knitting and Netflix in front of a fire, you may prefer to be going down the pub to meet your friends.
Bear in mind that guests quite often don’t play by the rules; turning up late or constantly messaging you about one thing or another - this can play havoc with your social life.
I’m not saying you can’t have a social life when you run a B&B, but you may need to put measures in place such as self service check in or asking guests not to contact you outside of certain hours unless it’s an emergency.
And if you have a very special event coming up that you really don't want to miss, then consider closing the B&B for that night or getting someone in to help out.
To dive a bit deeper into what's needed to run a B&B, check out this blog post → Is running a bed and breakfast the right business for you
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