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Do you need a licence to sell alcohol at your B&B

running your b&b Nov 30, 2020

Whether you need a licence to serve  alcohol at a B&B ( in the UK ) is one of the questions I’m asked most frequently. This blog post covers all you need to know, including whether you need a licence if you’re providing “free” alcohol to guests or running an honesty bar.

My friend, Rachel Jones and her husband, Richard, run A470 Training, specialising in hospitality and licensing qualifications. So I asked Rachel to write a guest blog post explaining the licensing process along with the approximate costs. Note that the costs will vary from council to council.

Whilst Rachel covers the legal and practical side of things, I also went out to the amazing facebook group for past course attendees to ask if they thought being licensed was worth the cost and effort. In next weeks blog I’ll be covering what they had to say.

“Karen asked  if I could pass on a few tips to B&B owners thinking about selling alcohol.

Over the years I’ve...

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5 Kitchen Essentials B&B for owners

running your b&b Nov 23, 2020

The blog post I wrote about my  5 favourite B&B gadgets several  weeks ago was very popular, so I thought I'd follow up with my next 5 as promised.

Whilst they're my favourites and make running a B&B a little easier, they're very unpopular with one member of our household. Our dog, Saffy, absolutely hates me using the grater, the pasta machine, the salad spinner and the rolling pin! I've been known to take the salad spinner upstairs so as not to set her off

Just a reminder, as part of the online course I include a 27 page room design checklist you can download, which covers all of the items you'll need in your B&B bedrooms and bathrooms 


Click on the picture to link through to find out more about each item on Amazon.

 1. Microplane Grater

I seem to spend a lot of my time zesting lemons. It's what gives my lemon drizzle cake that lovely flavour. 

I'm a huge fan of Microplane graters. I use the...

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4 places your B&B guests are checking your rooms for cleanliness

running your b&b Nov 10, 2020

I have to admit that one of my secret vices is watching too much daytime tv. 

As a child, I always preferred to watch TV rather than listen to the radio. And even when I was doing homework and exam revision, I’d always have the TV on.

Fast forward to running a B&B, the TV was always on as I prepared breakfast and went about the cleaning. Just for background noise in an empty house really.

However everything has changed in the last 8 months. Lockdown has had the very welcome side effect that my husband is working at home, rather than spending the week working and staying down near Heathrow. And one thing he’s never liked is the TV being on during the day!

So the TV has remained off and I’ve not really missed Phil and Holly at all.

But the other morning I did turn BBC Breakfast on, as I wanted to catch something important on the news. It didn’t get turned off and I ended up half listening to the consumer programme that followed. 

My ears perked up...

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10 Ways to Get More Repeats Guests at your B&B

I wrote a post a few weeks ago about how important repeat guests were to many B&Bs. This week I wanted to go into a bit more detail on how to turn first time guests into loyal repeat fans!

I welcome many repeat guests to my own B&B, so I have a good idea of what it takes to get guests to come back. But I decided to go out to the Facebook Group of Past Course Attendees and asked them what THEY do to persuade guests to return.

I think this post, and all of the ideas generated by an amazing bunch of B&B owners, shows the power of community and shared ideas. Community is at the heart of my new B&B Marketing Club membership. Check out my 5 steps to marketing  a B&B webinar to find out more.

1. Be clear on the type of guests you want to attract

I do rather go on about this at length in my courses. But the most important thing you need to do, when you’re setting up, or buying, a B&B, is to be very clear on who your customers are and what it is...

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Why repeat guests are so important to most B&Bs

Why I love to welcome repeat B&B guests

Since the first lockdown ended here in England, like many B&Bs across the UK, my own Bed and Breakfast  has been very busy. Many people have been desperate to to get away after months of lockdown or have had their trips abroad cancelled. 

It’s not all been plain sailing though. Whilst some people have been desperate to get away, others have been more apprehensive. I’ve had 28 B&B nights, booked before lockdown, cancelled because people are too nervous to travel or have had some change in circumstances due to COVID19.

Looking back at my diary for the last few months, I think about 90% of my bookings have been repeat guests. And looking forward, 100% of my bookings are guests who have stayed with us before. My bookings in a normal year are made up of  about 60-70% repeat business.

Having repeat guests to stay is a just a bit more relaxing

Even after over 16 years of running a bed and...

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Do you have to serve a cooked breakfast at a B&B?

One question I’m asked an awful lot on the courses is “Do you have to serve a cooked breakfast?” In the UK, that would be a full English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish, with even more regional variations.

And my answer is “No you don’t” but then I add a “BUT…” I have a pretty standard answer for this on the course, but I thought it would be fun to go out to the FB group for past course attendees and ask them what they offered for breakfast.

There are a number of things you need to consider when planning what sort of breakfast you will serve to guests.

  • Your personal preferences and cooking abilities
  • The type of guests staying at your B&B and why they’re staying
  • Where you’re located and if there are places to eat nearby 
  • The size of your dining room and your B&B rooms, if you’re doing room service
  • Staying safe with social distancing in the current Pandemic

What sort of breakfast do you want to serve?

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Running a B&B | My top 5 gadgets for B&B owners

running your b&b Aug 22, 2020

One post that is sure to get a lot of comments in the Facebook Group for Past Course Attendees,  is the one that asks for recommendations on the best gadgets to use for the B&B. Everyone has their favourite!

I wish the group had existed 16 years ago when I set up my own Bed and Breakfast, as it would have saved me an awful lot of money over the years. It's painful to think of the money I've spent on gadgets over the years, either to have them either sit in cupboards unused or to end up at the rubbish tip.

If you've been following me for any length of time, you'll know I hate cleaning and I love knitting. So many of the items I've bought have all been about minimising the time I actually have to work and maximising the time I can sit and knit!

Here are my favourites..... 

By the way, as part of the online course I include a 27 page room design checklist you can download, which covers all of the items you'll need in your B&B bedrooms and bathrooms 


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Running a B&B | Has it met my expectations?

running your b&b Aug 15, 2020

I was running the regular Zoom Q&A group chat for the online course this week, when one of the participants asked me if running a B&B had met my expectations.

It's a really interesting question and one that threw me a bit. It's been 16 years since I set up my own B&B, and I can't really remember what my expectations were back then. To really answer it, I need to explain a bit more about how I came to run a bed and breakfast.

I actually need to take you back to 2001. Both my husband, Rob, and I were working for British Airways in the Marketing and IT departments, respectively. I'd recently been promoted to manager and had just taken over the role of managing about 50 people.

Both us were enjoying our jobs, working for the airline and enjoying the perks of staff travel. That summer, we'd had the most glorious 2 weeks in Maine , staying in a cottage by the sea with our daughter, Jess.

At the beginning of September we'd bought a lovely little cottage in Shropshire. Our...

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Running a B&B in the Covid-19 pandemic

covid-19 running your b&b Jul 19, 2020

As B&B owners prepared to open and think about their post lockdown B&B cleaning we were bombarded with risk assessments and checklists from well meaning organisations. And reading these in detail was really quite scary from a B&B owner’s perspective.

One of the problems with risk assessments prepared by organisations such as this is that they look to address every single risk. One suggested that you should wrap sofas in communal areas in clear plastic. That’s not to say they aren’t very useful – and I’ve included some links to them in the notes for this lesson. But each business needs to assess the risk for their  own situation.

You should also note, that the health and safety executive says that you should take REASONABLE precautions to reduce the risk.

Do a risk assessment and identify where the high risk areas are and look to focus your attention there.  For example, you need to identify the points in a room that guests are...

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Preventing Legionnaire's Disease at your B&B

covid-19 running your b&b Jun 25, 2020

Many showers in B&B bathrooms having been standing unused over the past few months during the COVID lockdown. There is a big risk that the legionella bacteria could be in the system.

If you haven’t been running water through the taps and showers regularly, then you need to take steps to ensure it’s safe before you welcome back guests.

The good news is that it’s not a difficult thing to sort out. The South West Tourism Association have kindly allowed me to share their step by step guide. Here’s what they have to say:

Firstly, with our properties having been standing empty for months now, we all need to be aware of the risk of Legionella in the water systems. This is a HUGE RISK.

Standing water presents a risk of Legionella bacteria accumulating, and is particularly high risk in showers, as Legionella bacteria is dispersed in airborne water droplets, so the spray created by a shower is the perfect delivery mechanism.

Anyone using a contaminated...

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