This article on basic income pillars your can incorporate into your business affairs covers those businesses that are part of the inn itself. These are simpler opportunities that involve less effort or expense on your part.
Reading the first article in the series, Define Your Purpose First, will be a good springboard to this topic.
Increase Your Income Pillars — Basics
What additional activities fit with and support your inn’s concept? I’ve already mentioned restaurant, bar, and wedding/meeting businesses. There are lots of options for you to consider. Your personality, location, and dreams will help guide which additional income pillars blend with your inn idea. A gift shop, spa, and affiliate programs (like teaming up with a bike shop, gym, carriage-ride service, or even an Uber or Lyft driver) come to mind immediately as additional income pillars that can reasonably be incorporated into your inn’s environment. The opportunities are limited only by your imagination, zoning/licensing, and finances.
- Gift Shop
A gift shop is a natural with an inn because your guests may need something they forgot to bring. If their guest experience has been wonderful, they want to take a memento of your inn home with them; a gift shop item fits the bill. I knew an innkeeper years ago who created a guestroom’s worth of income from her gift shop, which occupied a corner of her inn’s kitchen (accessible to her guess). She didn’t have to change the beds or clean rooms for that income; she merely treated her guests well, giving them the experience they sought and she promised, and then let them buy myriad items with the inn’s logo, location and contact information printed on them. What a show of appreciation those purchases were! She considered her gift shop easy money. Guests may love your soap, hand lotion, coffee mugs, bathrobes, and any number of other items in your gift shop. Heck, there are big-chain hotels that offer their sheets, pillows, and even mattresses in their online gift shops. The profit on all these items can be lucrative.
- Meeting Space
A meeting or special event space is another great income producer for inns. That space can be rented out to others as requested or used by guests if available. Renting the space to outside groups provides attendees with the chance to see the property and experience the inn’s atmosphere and hospitality. Their experience may lead them to return for a getaway of their own, or booking their own even there, increasing your lodging business and income. The charged rental fee ideally is great enough to not only provide additional income but to also cover the use, utilities, and wear and tear, improving the inn’s bottom line. As long as the meeting space business doesn’t interfere with the lodging business — the common areas promised to the guests — it’s a great income pillar to add.
- Food Opportunities — Picnics
Breakfast is a given at a bed and breakfast, but not necessarily at other boutique properties. And what about lunch and dinner at any inn? Providing food opportunities can be a wonderful income pillar. There are numerous simple ways delicious meals can be prepared for overnight guests. Picnic lunches or dinners can be as simple as a bagged or basketed meal. The items you include in a meal should be easy to keep on hand: bottled water/soda/juice/wine/beer, cookies, fruit, and vegetables. For the entree portion, consider a sandwich, quiche, pot pie, cheese and sausage, or hard boiled eggs and caviar with french bread and cheese. Just be sure to avoid the use of Styrofoam and use either durable or compostable containers (to keep a lighter environmental footprint). How you package the meal (whether it’s bagged or basketed) depends on the meal itself, the price you charge.
- Food Opportunities — Dining
Providing food service to your guests is a big decision. Running a restaurant is a whole other business dimension than running your inn. That said, dinners can be an easy service that will win your guests’ hearts forever. Dinners served at the inn can be served either in the guest’s room or the dining room, and by prior arrangement. If you don’t have a full kitchen to work from can still arrange for delicious and fresh food to be served. I’ve offered foods that range from fresh pasta to gourmet pot pie to lasagna, served with a vegetable, dessert, and beverage. You could also hire a private chef to cook special meals for your guests, if that’s more your style. This is a profit center you can consider when it’s offered like this, so don’t fall into the trap of thinking this is something that should be done for your guests only at cost. It’s not necessary to be as gouging as some room service menus are, but it’s not a cheap option for the guest either. This is an additional service being provided for guests, for their convenience, so consider it a viable income pillar.
The next article, Advanced Income Pillars, is the third and final in this series on Income Diversity And Profits At Inns.