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How to Run a Family Friendly Bed and Breakfast

How to Run a Family Friendly Bed and Breakfast

marketing a bed and breakfast running a bed and breakfast starting up a bed and breakfast Mar 22, 2024

In my last blog post and podcast, I talked about the importance of understanding your ideal B&B guest. It's all about tailoring your B&B to meet their needs and making marketing efforts more effective. Today, I'm delving into what it takes to run a family-friendly bed and breakfast.

Thank you to past course attendees for their contributions to this post including Lynne of the St. John’s Guest House in Weymouth and Lor Camille who is planning to open the Domaine La Gazailles de Camille in May.

I'll be suggesting some products from the UK Hospitality Supplier Out of Eden in this blog post. For more about my collaboration with Out of Eden, check out this post: Where to shop for your hospitality supplies.

Just a heads up, this is a paid sponsored post. This blog relies on the support and trust of readers like you. Collaborating with companies like Out of Eden, and only recommending products I'd actually buy or have been recommended to me by other hospitality providers I trust, helps me keep providing valuable content to you for free.I'll be recommending some products from the UK Hospitality Supplier Out of Eden in this blog post. For more about my collaboration with Out of Eden, read this post >> Where to shop for your hospitality supplies.

The Difference Between Just Accepting Families and Being Genuinely Family-Friendly

In the course, I talk through the importance of actually welcoming a specific demographic rather than just accepting them at your B&B.

Being genuinely family-friendly requires going the extra mile to create a welcoming, comfortable and safe B&B, tailored specifically to the needs of families.

If you enjoy welcoming families to your business then there are a whole load of advantages such:

  • Attracting larger groups and multiple room bookings as families often travel together
  • Creating long term loyalty with guests, who may return year after year
  • Setting yourself apart from your competitors and attracting more guest
  • The experience of running a B&B may be more relaxed ( though potentially more work ! )
  • Enjoyable for you as a B&B owner if you love having young children around

If you don’t feel that accepting families is for you, then that’s OK too ( provided you're not breaking any laws in the country you're running your B&B in by excluding under 18s ). There are plenty of other target markets you can tap into. And, from my own personal experience, I know that are plenty of people who are looking for adult only accommodation.

A Quick Word About the Legalities

In the UK ( if you’re not in the UK, check with your local laws ), the Equality Act 2010 applies to your business. This means it is unlawful to discriminate against customers with certain “Protected characteristics”. Age discrimination applies to guests aged 18 and above.

You can read more about Protected Characteristics at the Equality and Human Rights Commission Website here.

What I did at my B&B

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, my biggest mistake when I set up my B&B was thinking that I needed to create a B&B that welcomed everyone. And by trying to welcome everyone, you will always be putting someone off!

I accepted children of all ages at the B&B when we first opened - my daughter was just 11 when I started the B&B - without putting a lot of thought into what running a family friendly B&B actually entailed.

I’d created a B&B that was a combination of all of the good things we loved about accommodation when we went away - the B&B that we'd want to stay at! It was aimed at couples enjoying a luxury break away in the countryside.

And many of my guests were parents looking for an adult only break whilst someone else looked after their kids for the weekend, or grandparents looking for the same, as they were childminding during the week. And by accepting children, I was putting my preferred potential market off. Once I realised this I decided to go adult only, and it was a sound decision for my business.

How to run a child friendly B&B

Know Your Ideal B&B Guest!

I may be getting boring on this point, but understanding the needs of your guests is key to running a successful family-friendly B&B. Get really clear on who you want to attract and what it is they want from a family friendly B&B.

Consider what age ranges of children you will welcome, and what their specific needs will be.The needs of a parent with a newborn are going to be very different to the needs of an 11 year old. And your B&B may be more or less suited to a specific age range.

As Lynne says
“We are family friendly but think it’s important to know your limitations. We take 6 and over, it was 4 but parents were bringing 3 years old and sometimes younger. We aren’t geared up for babies (cots, high chairs, stair gates) but happily welcome the older children. Games and wet weather entertainment in the guest lounge along with plenty of children’s DVDs and books.”

Make Your Policies Very Clear in Your Marketing

Ensure that your family-friendly policy is very clear on your website and in all of your marketing. If guests book with you expecting your accommodation to be adult only and then there are children staying, they may well be disappointed.

As one course attendees says “We are adult only and we often receive very positive comments about being adult only. Guests trying to get away from their own children normally! I would think it is therefore important to be very clear in the listings that a B&B was family friendly so that guests seeking to avoid families are not disappointed / surprised.”

You should also make it very clear on your website and social media what equipment and services you do and don't offer. I'd also suggest making this clear in confirmation and reminder emails sent prior to arrival.  It's not unusual for guests just to assume that you will supply something.

And once you've set your policies, make sure you stick with them. Guests may well have booked with you because of these policies and will be disappointed to find out that there is a difference between what they were expecting and their actual experience.

I made this mistake after I moved to an 18 and over policy at my B&B. My ex boss rang to stay and asked if she could bring her daughter in law and 2 young toddling grandchildren. I made an exception for her, and the other guests were there on honeymoon, expecting an adult only stay - oops. Lesson learned!


Create Family Friendly Comfortable Rooms

Ensure your rooms are spacious enough to accommodate families comfortably. Think about providing extra bedding options like sofa beds, bunk beds or zip and link beds for children. Families appreciate thoughtful touches like blackout curtains for naptime and ample storage space for their belongings.

If you are planning to accept babies and toddlers, then consider investing in a travel cot and bedding, like this one available for Out of Eden >> Folding Travel Cot

If your market is older children, and you have the space having a good quality folding bed, like this one from Out of Eden is ideal.

πŸ‘©‍πŸ’»Karen's Tip

If you are planning in investing in travel cots and / or folding beds:

  • Make sure that your B&B rooms are big enough to accommodate them comfortably.
  • You'll also need space to store them, along with the extra bedding you'll need to buy.
  • If you have lots of rooms, will you need to buy multiple cots and folding beds?
  •  Consider having a web page with a list of all the equipment that you do ( and don't supply )

When you’re thinking about your rooms, you’ll also need to consider whether you have adequate soundproofing and the comfort of your other guests.

I once had guests staying with a newborn that was not sleeping. The baby cried most of the night and I lay awake worrying myself silly about the other guests.

On one occasion we stayed at a B&B with a family of young children staying above us. The room upstairs had a wooden floor and we were woken very early by children charging round the room at speed!

You may also want to consider leaving a cleaning pack just in case of emergencies, as children may be more likely to spill things on carpets and furniture.

A stain remover, like this one from Out of Eden, may come in very useful! >> ZEP stain remover

Safety First

Safety is paramount when hosting families. Conduct regular checks to ensure your property meets safety standards, including fire safety and childproofing measures. Clearly communicate any potential hazards to guests and provide safety equipment like stair gates and socket covers upon request.

If you don’t have younger children, or it was a long time since you had a toddler in the house, consider asking a friend with young children to help out.

This article on the Pampers website is very comprehensive >> baby proofing your home 

As well as the interior of your B&B, you’ll also need to review the outdoor space, especially if you have ponds, electric fencing, pets etc.

In the UK, Under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, you are required to do a risk assessment.
“You are responsible for ensuring, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of all your employees at work, plus anyone else who could be affected by your work activities – for example customers, casual workers and contractors.”

Note that you only need a written health and safety policy if you have 5 or more employers, but it makes sense to write it down anyway.

UK readers can find out more on the Health and Safety Executive Website 

Child-Friendly Equipment

As well as providing cots and/or folding beds, you can set your B&B apart by offering amenities tailored to young guests. Consider providing high chairs and age-appropriate toys and books.

A dedicated safe play area or outdoor space where children can let off steam is always a hit with families.

You could consider providing children friendly toiletries! Check these ones out sold by Out of Eden.

πŸ‘©‍πŸ’» Karen's Tip

Rather than guessing what a family might want from a child friendly B&B, it's worth your time to go out and do some research.

You could ask friends with children on different ages, do a Google search or check out the websites and reviews of other B&Bs and hotels who specialise in being child friendly.


Family-Friendly Breakfast

It's not just the B&B bedrooms you need to consider but also the other public spaces you have in your B&B such as guest lounges and the dining room:

  • Will you provide high chairs and booster seats?
  • Will you need to offer a more flexible breakfast times for children ( and their parents ) who wake up early?
  • When you’re designing your breakfast menu, how will you take the likes and dislikes or children into account?
  • Will you provide facilities to warm food and bottles or supply fridge space?
  • Will you offer activities for children such as colouring pages, books, toys and puzzles?

Out of Eden offer Kellogg’s Mixed variety portion packs, as well as other boxed cereals >> Kelloggs Cereals 

Local Attractions and Activities

You can make your B&B more attractive to guest by helping families make the most of their stay by highlighting nearby attractions and family-friendly activities. Create a list of recommended outings, from scenic parks to child-friendly museums, and provide information on transportation options and admission prices.

Make sure you include information about these in your blogs and on your social media.

Personalised Service

The difference between just accepting families and positively welcoming them is going the extra mile to make families feel welcome and valued. Take the time to greet parents and children alike, offering a warm smile and personalised recommendations for their stay.

Anticipate their needs, whether it's arranging a babysitter for a night out or providing extra towels for a spontaneous beach trip.

As Lynne says “... We consider ourselves to be family friendly, not just tolerant. One review said “that children are treated lovely and ours were given treats by Andy and Lynne (with permission of course) which was very kind of them.”

A final Word

In conclusion, whether you decide to welcome families or cater to a different market, clarity in your policies, understanding your audience, and providing personalised service are key. It's not just about accepting families; it's about genuinely welcoming and catering to their needs, which can lead to a rewarding experience for both you as a B&B owner and your guests.

And remember not to make assumptions about what their needs might be, but do your research carefully beforehand.



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