A guest house is a commercial accommodation that offers between 4-16 bedrooms (a business with more than 16 bedrooms is called a hotel), and which has, as its primary source of business, the supply of tourist accommodation. Breakfast and dinner are made available to guests, particularly where the latter is not readily available in the vicinity of the business.

A lot of guests choose guest houses because of their cozy and welcoming feel which is often lost in large hotels. In this business first impression really matters. If you have a sign, always make sure it’s accurate in displaying whether you have vacancies or not. Always maintain your garden to make sure it’s neat and tidy as this shows to your guests that you take pride in your guesthouse and the interior is likely to be well arranged.

Clean, high quality bedding is a necessity as comfort should be at the forefront of your aim as the owner of a Guest House. Make it a point of duty not to forget the small things which need cleaning, and always ensure that everything’s pristine and make a checklist if it helps you to remember every single aspect of the room which needs cleaning. We also suggest that you add a touch of luxury to your guest rooms by laying out dressing gowns, towels and slippers for your guests.

All these small gestures show your guests that you care about them staying. In the hospitality business, customer service is very important, particularly in guest houses, small hotel and B&Bs. A lot of guests choose these options because they enjoy the personal service and often enjoy liaising with the small team of staff.

This is why you always have to show interest in your guests’ lives and activities. Also, giving out tourist advice is a nice touch as you’ll more than likely be well acquainted with the area, and make maps available on request too. We also believe that creating a massive online exposure for your new business is very crucial to your success. In order to continually increase your customer base, you will need to make more people aware of your new guesthouse.

Leveraging social media to promote your business can really help to spread the word. Hosting competitions online can help you gain more fans and followers. When you must have built a concrete fan-base, engage with them to sustain their interest and post any news and events which are to take place at your guesthouse.

Always make it your major main aim to make your guests feel welcome and comfortable in their stay. If you have good food, cleanliness and great service standards, you are more likely to get return customers.

18 Steps to Starting a Guest House Business in South Africa

1. Understand the Industry

Indeed South Africa’s hospitality sector is expected to growth more in the next five years on the back of rising room rates and growing tourism numbers. Reports project the overall occupancy rate across all sectors in south africa to rise to an estimated 58.4% in 2018, with total room revenue expected to reach R28.7-billion.

Occupancy rates in South Africa’s hotels are expected to grow from 58.9% in 2013 to 71.1% in 2018, overtaking guest houses, bush lodges and guest farms to become the leading category once more.

Experts believe that one of the most significant developments in 2013 in the South African hospitality industry was the rise in average room rates, which increased 8.4%, well above the 5.9% rate of inflation. Even with the recent economic uncertainty, the total number of foreign overnight visitors to South Africa rose by 3.9% in 2013, down from the 10.2% increase in 2012, but still reflecting continued growth in foreign travel to South Africa.

Without doubt tourism is considered to be a key element in South Africa’s economy, and is recognized in the National Development Plan as a very important driver of economic and employment growth. We believe that the growing tourist numbers in the country will fuel growth in the accommodation industry across the African continent during the next five years.

Reports have it that the overall spending on rooms of all categories in South Africa rose by 14% to R17.3-billion in 2013, showing an increase in “stay unit nights” and an 8.4% rise in the average room rate. Stay unit nights for hotels rose 4.8% in 2013, whereas stay unit nights for guest houses and guest farms fell 4.5%.

The overall occupancy rate across all sectors rose to 52.6% in 2013. Even though guest houses and guest farms had the highest occupancy rate at 60.5%, it was the only category to show a decline in 2013, having posted an occupancy rate of 65.3% in 2012.

Hotels accounted for 71% of total accommodation revenue in 2013, with experts believing this share would rise to 73% by 2018. Have it in mind that the pick-up in hotel occupancy rates has put into place a new activity in South Africa’s hospitality industry, with a lot of major hotel chains in the process of upgrading facilities, renovating their properties or making plans to open new hotels.

We believe there are about 63, 600 hotel rooms available, up from 60, 900 in 2013. It’s very important to also state that South Africa’s overall room capacity is expected to grow at a 1.3% compound annual rate to 123, 400 in 2018, from 115, 700 in 2013. Guest houses are expected to be the fastest-growing category in respect of the availability of rooms, averaging 3.7% compounded annually, with slower growth in other areas.

2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

You can’t just wake up and decide to start this business. First and foremost, you will have to go through a hard core planning stage, and that includes researching the type of guests you can attract and planning how you’ll attract them. Below are typical target markets you can possibly attract in this business. If you can pull in two, or several, that’s great. But you’ll need to attract at least one, or get creative and come up with something else that will bring ample visitors.

  • Romance

Everyone enjoys a romantic gateway and it is a sizable market in South Africa. When people gateway for a romantic weekend or moment, it creates a target market you can attract when done right.

  • College or university

If your guest house is located in a college town, it provides you with a built-in market, at least during certain times of the year. Football games, homecomings and graduations, not to mention new student orientations and parents’ weekends, conferences and other academic or public events can bring visitors in droves. Don’t forget that your business will be seasonal unless you can augment it with another target market.

  • Locals’ extra bedroom

People around you can also be a potential client to your business. You can develop a tidy additional market by promoting yourself to locals as “your extra bedrooms.” Somebody is always having a wedding, family reunion or other event for which they invite lots of out-of-town visitors, and then have nowhere to put them up. You can fill the gap.

  • Tourists

These are vacationers who are out to have real fun and enjoy themselves. Visiting amusement parks, national parks and museums, beachcombing, boating, skiing, sightseeing and, of course, shopping are their modus operandi. So if you’re close to any sort of natural or man-made attraction that brings people in, you’ve got a great market. The tourist market can be extremely seasonal, but it all depends on your location.

  • Business travellers

Be it traveling salespeople or company presidents, business trippers account for a lot of lodging stays. South Africa can indeed boast of one or two large corporations that generate a lot of income, and a fair amount of business travel. As an added bonus, business travel, unlike the tourist trade, isn’t seasonal.

3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On

Customers in this industry are always looking out for a great personal touch, so plan on offering services that will make their stay more comfortable. Have it in mind that vacationers at Guest houses typically look for relaxation, so you could build a secluded outdoor area for guests to lounge.

Some guest houses usually don’t offer things like gyms or restaurants, but you could include these as well. Just keep in mind that every extra service you decide to offer is an additional financial cost, both to build and maintain.

Be sure to budget carefully to avoid losing money on these ventures. Customers and target audience are basically what differentiate the paths businesses take in this industry. Be sure to research carefully before you start this business, as your location will be a major determinant in this business.

The Level of Competition in the Industry

Just like we stated above, tourism is a major contributor to the South African economy, as well as a significant source of foreign exchange revenues, contributing to 9.3% of country’s GDP. South Africa is a developing, young country with a median age of 25.9 years and has a population of 52.98 million. It has a well-developed constitutional democracy.

The country has brought economic reforms, which have led to macroeconomic stability and one of the largest stock exchanges in the world. The country has a well-developed transport infrastructure, sound macro conditions and robust financial and legal framework.

South Africa is among the top developing nations but faces problems like skills deficit, poor labour relations, lack of electricity, violent crimes, corruption, unemployment and immigration laws. But to attract foreign investors, the government has initiated simple tax rules, investment incentives, protection of intellectual rights, and better regulatory policies through foreign investment grant, skills support program, the Protection of Investment Act, and the strategic industrial project programs.

South Africa has great potential for foreign investors as it is largely a free market economy, has a transparent regulatory framework, a large population, access to raw materials and political stability, with the country being the third largest FDI recipient in Africa with most of it going to the telecommunications sector.

The government is taking steps to curb the unemployment rate and provide continuous electricity. It has a large English-speaking population and hence is a popular choice for foreign investment, which in turn heightens the fight for market share in the hospitality industry.

4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry

  • Amazulu Lodge
  • Battlefields Country Lodge
  • Aberni on sea
  • Le Manior de Brendel Estate
  • Southern light country house
  • The woodpecker House
  • Monto Christo Country Lodge
  • Hyde Park villa
  • L’Auberge country hideaway

Economic Analysis

You need to understand that the very best guesthouses start up with solid business models and practices. Prices at these places are usually higher than competitors, not lower. A strong Business model, professional practices, and higher prices allow the owner to continually update, refresh and maintain the facilities, and pay staff well.

Note that a virtuous cycle develops for guesthouses that function professionally, while a quickly degenerating cycle develops for guesthouses that operate without care for facilities, staff, and guests. This is why getting the business model “right” for a specific town, city, and country situation is necessary. The recipe will be a bit different in each place but there are some foundation pieces that seem to be universal.

The business model of a guesthouse is solely focused on the quality of the room, the overall facility, and owner’s manner of running the place, which is why to maximize profits, the guesthouse owner provides a social, non-party atmosphere, cozy comfortable rooms with character, and excellent facilities.

A Guest House is a “safe sanctuary” from which to explore a city and area, place to return to at the end of a day of exploring to share experiences with others, get advice, rest, refresh, feel emotionally safe, and get culturally grounded. In exchange for crafting this experience, the guesthouse owner can charge much more than a hostel and have longer-staying and better guests.

5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch

When thinking of starting this business, you have to decide if you will buy an existing guest house or build a new one. This is the first decision you’ll have to make when you settle on a town. You could either find a guest house an owner is looking to sell, or you could build a new one from scratch. But then there are positives and negatives to each option that you should weigh carefully before making your decision.

If you decide to buy an existing guest house it will probably be cheaper than building a new one, unless the property needs major renovations. You may also be able to keep some of the staff, which will simplify your employment hunt later on. But if the hotel you’re buying has a bad reputation, your profits may suffer. Also when you buy an existing guest house, you will have to work hard to advertise that the hotel is under a new management.

It will be more expansive to build and start your guest house business from the scratch, but you will be able to build it the exact way you want, which means you could design it for a specific niche or market. But then if you build a new hotel, you’ll have to work hard to advertise your grand opening to get customers. Also make sure that when building a new hotel you check to make sure the area is zoned for hotels and guest houses.

6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face

When starting a guest house, you’ll probably need to get startup capital from either a bank or private investor. Either option will want to see a business plan to determine if your business is worth investing in. A good business plan is beneficial for you to organize your goals for your guest house and get a clear picture of how to make it a success. The possible challenges of starting this business includes…

  • Capital
  • Choice of Location
  • Getting experienced workers
  • Attracting customers
  • Industry competition
  • Lack of steady electricity
  • High cost of electricity

7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity

Choosing your legal entity might be the hardest decision you will have to make. It’s very important to wisely choose the entity that’s best for your business, make changes when necessary, and take advantage of the benefits of your business structure. The following issues could have a major impact on your entity decision:

  • The amount of your earnings and deductions
  • Tax planning to avoid paying too much self-employment tax
  • Liability exposure from your product, services, or location
  • Whether you have a partner or investor in the business
  • Where you live and are conducting business
  • Business goals and marketing plans
  • The administrative costs and demands of setting up certain entities

When it comes to your guest house business, you may be registered as a sole proprietor, or your business may be registered as a Private Limited Company (Pty) Ltd or close corporation (CC). Chambers of Commerce are a good contact through which to obtain details of organizations that can give advice on the structuring of your business.

8. Choose a Catchy Business Name

  • Entrada Resort
  • Fountainhead Reserve
  • Papuan Beach Lodge
  • Historic guest House
  • The Houstonian Hotel
  • Kahala guest House
  • The Lakefront
  • South Sands
  • Knights Inn
  • Land’s End Lodge
  • Lexington
  • Beach walk
  • Cedar Guest House
  • Crescent Lodge
  • Denali Resort
  • Enchanted Isle
  • Ramada
  • Sunset’s View
  • The Awua
  • The Hot Springs Lodge

9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You

The insurance you will need for this business is a unique type of insurance, falling in a category between personal and business insurance. The owners of guesthouses, Bed And Breakfasts and even Boutique Hotels are faced with some rather unique perils, and they need to find the correct insurance to cover them against these perils. Note that an excellent guesthouse insurance should be tailored to each individual guesthouse, meeting both the needs and the budgets of the owners.

  • Insurance to cover damage to buildings and structures
  • Insurance to cover appliance maintenance and household maintenance services
  • Insurance to cover threats to business / operational wellness
  • Insurance to cover transportation risks
  • Insuring contents
  • Insurance to cover threats presented by guests
  • Insurance to cover damage caused by employees

10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents

You need to understand that intellectual property system is applicable to the tourism sector. Developing and exploiting brands is particularly appropriate to the service sector and thus to the tourism sector. Core to developing and exploiting a brand are trademarks, geographical indications (certification marks, collective marks or a sui generis system) or industrial designs as well as other intellectual property rights.

Trademarks are any sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one business from another. Today even sound, shape or smell could amount to a trademark provided they function as trademarks in the marketplace. We believe that intellectual property system protects such marks, allowing the owner to have exclusive use of that mark and providing him the right to prevent anyone else from using that mark with respect to the same or similar goods.

You need to understand there are other categories of trademarks which are very important. Collective marks are owned by an association whose members use them to identify themselves with a level of quality or other requirements set by the association.

Examples of such associations would be those representing accountants, engineers, or architects. Certification marks are given for compliance with defined standards, but are not confined to any membership. They may be granted to anyone whose goods or services meet certain established standards.

A geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on goods that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities, reputation or characteristics that are essentially attributable to that origin. An appellation of origin (AO) is a special kind of GI.

Note that an industrial design is the ornamental or aesthetic aspect of an article. The design may consist of three-dimensional features, such as the shape or surface of an article, or of two-dimensional features, such as patterns, lines or colour.

11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification

The hospitality industry is becoming increasingly competitive not only in South Africa, but all over the world and professionals are always under pressure to differentiate themselves from the competition. If an individual has gone through the process of obtaining professional certification, having the credentials at hand will give them an advantage over other businesses without the certification when looking to attract customers.

12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate

Just like we stated above, a guest house is a commercial accommodation business offering between 4-16 bedrooms which has, as its primary source of business, the supply of tourist accommodation. Just like other countries, there policies you need to adhere to in South Africa if you hope to achieve success in this industry.

A Draft Policy prepared by the Provincial Planning and Development Commission (PPDC) states that the following standards should be adhered to regarding guest houses:

  • Land Use Zoning – Approach the Local Municipality to establish whether the Town Planning Scheme permits the activity on the site  you have chosen;
  • The establishment of a new enterprise in which the present use is substantially changed and may require a scoping report to be prepared in terms of the National Environmental Management Act (107 of 1998). The Provincial Departments of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Rural Development should be consulted in this regard;
  • In the case of the establishment of a new enterprise, special consent in terms of the Planning and Development Act (5 of 1998) must be obtained from the Local Council prior to establishment;
  • Licensing and Registration – Approach the Town Planning Department of the Local Council for permission to go ahead with your plans. Once permission has been obtained, register with the District Municipality;
  • A trading license must be purchased from the Business Licensing Department of the Local Council at a cost of R200 for the sale of perishable food;
  • Your application for a trading license will be circulated by the Local Council to the Health, Fire and Building inspectors, the Town Planning Department, and, in some cases, the Development Services Board (DSB). These bodies will ensure that your plans comply with their regulations before the application can be approved;
  • You must register your establishment with your provincial tourism authority, in this case, TKZN.
  • Neighbours are to be advised about the proposed business
  • Any objections received from neighbours must be motivated by the person objecting (complainant). A special consent application can then be made in terms of the Development and Planning Act, by the owner, to the Local Council. For:
  • Group Housing/Cluster Area Applications – the owner is to obtain consent from the Body Corporate or the Home Owner’s Association, prior to submitting an application to the Local Council;
  • Title deed conditions/restrictions become applicable only when the predominant use of the land is other than that of the current usage;
  • Road and directional signage is to be in line with the existing character of the locality and to adopt the signage policy of the Local Council, or any other regulations that exist. Signage erected on state roads in rural areas will be subject to the policy of the Provincial Department of Transport;
  • Neon lighting shall be in line with the existing character of the locality.

13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital

With a good business plan, you’ll be able to explain whether your guest house will be a lucrative venture, which will convince investors to provide you with the money you’ll need. You have two choices for acquiring capital, and may end up using a combination of both.

  • Banks

First you can get a loan from a bank for a few months to a few years, but it all depends on the type of loan. This can cover your opening costs and your first few months of operating expenses.

  • Private investors

We believe that these can be friends, family, or other business owners interested in making an investment. Always ensure you define whether these people are just providing a loan that you will pay back with interest, or if they’re actually buying into your company. It would be helpful to draw up a contract defining the terms of your agreement and having it notarized to prevent problems in the future.

14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business

Just before you start getting bothered about exact locations, you’ll have to think more broadly and decide what city or town you want your guest house in. At the minimum, you’ll have to consider what the tourism industry in a given area is like.

Since you are building a guest house and not a chain, your ideal customers will be vacationers and sightseers instead of employees on business trips. So we suggest you choose an area that people would want to visit. When it comes to zoning and land planning usage, we suggest you consult with TKZN whether you have enough space to cope with the number of people you wish to accommodate. The following questions should be asked:

  • Is the site you have chosen quiet enough for people to sleep undisturbed?
  • Are the streets well-kept and maintained?
  • Is the site free from unpleasant odors?
  • Is the site easy to find for people using their own transport or using public transport?

The Local Municipality controls the erection of any signs. If new access onto streets is needed, the Local Municipality will usually construct them at the cost of the developer. Permission must be obtained from the Provincial Department of Transport to construct new access points onto main roads outside of Local Municipality areas.

15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs

In this business, the size of your staff will greatly depend on the size of your guest house. A guest house with multiple rooms, even small ones like yours, usually need a team of workers to keep them running smoothly.

  • A maintenance worker

We believe that one or two maintenance workers should be enough for a Guest house. They need to be general-purpose workers who can perform a large range of tasks like plumbing, painting, repair work, electrical, etc. That way you can let your maintenance men take care of smaller tasks and if they can’t handle something, you can hire a professional to do a comprehensive job.

  • A cook

You will need at least one cook for your guest house. Guest houses ideally offer breakfast, so you may only need to have the cook in for a few hours a day.

  • Housekeepers

To succeed in this business, you need to make cleanliness your number one priority. We all can agree that a dirty guest house will get a bad reputation quickly and customers won’t come. It all depends on the size of your guest house; you may need only one housekeeper or a team. A housekeeper can usually cover about 10-15 rooms per day, so keep this in mind when hiring.

  • Desk staff

Guest houses are always expected to have someone on the front desk at all times. You could do this yourself during some hours, but you’ll need a team to staff the desk 24 hours a day.

The Service Delivery Process of the Business

You need to know that your prices will determine your level of profit in this business. Your nightly rates will vary depending on local competition, your operating costs, the season, and a myriad of other factors. Note that the general rule when setting prices is to keep them low enough to attract customers and high enough to earn you a profit. There are a number of things to keep in mind when coming up with prices.

  • Outline your costs

We advise you calculate exactly how much it will cost to keep your guest house open every day. Then multiply this to find out how much it will cost to run your hotel on the monthly basis. Your income will have to at least cover your monthly expenses or you won’t be able to stay open.

  • Adjust prices based on the season

We suggest you adjust price during busy season, you can afford to make prices higher because more people are looking to go on vacation. In slower seasons, make your rates lower to attract off-season customers.

  • Cut costs when necessary

You need to understand that even with good financial management; your guest house will almost certainly experience slower times. This is why you should analyze your costs regularly and decide which ones are necessary and which ones you can do without. In slow times, cut out unnecessary costs to save money.

  • Know what customers are willing to pay

Indeed it will take some trial and error. At that point when you’re just starting out, your only guideline may be your operating costs. But after a few months when you notice that your rooms are constantly booked, you can afford to raise prices. If you’re having trouble getting customers, lower your prices. You can also survey customers after they stay and ask if they found the room rate fair.

16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies

The best guesthouses have some pretty clear principles that make them successful. It’s not just enough to operate professionally, in a friendly manner, and with awesome service; you have to market and promote your business to let people know where you are and what you offer. Marketing Principles for your Guesthouse may include…

Amazing service

  • Customers are communicated with over the internet in a rapid time frame when they contact the guesthouse with a query or reservation booking. Best: Within 12 hours. At worst, within 24 hours. In some countries, 12 hours might even seem long, but we must recognize that guests may be inquiring from other time zones and no guesthouse owner is expected to answer emails 24 hours a day.
  • Customers are greeted warmly upon arrival by the owner or a staff. 100% of the time. No excuses for less than 100%. This is the first time the customer may be in the country, city, and culture. They are hyper-sensitive to everything.
  • Customers are shown personally to their rooms and are given a full introduction to the guesthouse, making them both feel at home and safe.
  • Guests are supported fully with their travel information, comfort, and social needs during the stay. Guesthouse owners and staff learn very quickly how to personally and professionally manage guest social needs.
  • Guests are treated just as well when they leave as when they arrive. This cements the relationship and creates the natural opportunity to ask them for a Trip Advisor rating and referrals.

Establish mutually beneficial relationships with other hospitality service providers in the area

  • It is almost ridiculous how well some highly successful guesthouses integrate with other hospitality service providers, including local restaurants, shuttle operators, and tour guides. Note that everyone doesn’t just earn a commission on bookings in both directions, but guesthouse owners are in the perfect position of trusted advisors to the guest, building their own credibility and customer satisfaction from awesome integrated guest experiences.

17. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win

Competition in this business is intense and the ever growing population of South Africa coupled with the growing tourism rate are not helping issues at all. Policies to put in place to ensure you come out on top in this industry may include…

Make your customers feel welcome, safe, certain, comfortable, and relaxed in your guesthouse

  • The owner or a staff member speaks the local language and usually at least one other, such as English.
  • Customers of all ages, sexes, and styles of being are welcomed and made to feel at home.
  • The owner has good welcoming skills.
  • The owner is friendly and hospitable.
  • The owner is available during the day to greet, settle, and help travellers.
  • Staff are managed well, treated like family, and paid well. This results in the staff, and not just the owner, being friendly with guests.
  • Staff have a clear and professional system for doing their jobs. They are clearly trained and empowered to feel part of the success of the guesthouse.
  • The owner and staff are culturally adept and adaptable, meeting the needs of different traveller profiles.
  • The owner and staff have good problem solving skills.
  • Staff are able to take initiative in meeting guest needs and in managing guest expectations proactively and in response to issues that arise.
  • Staff have uniforms, making it clear that they are staff.
  • The guesthouse handles online booking queries promptly, professionally, and personally, creating a relationship with potential guests before they even arrive.

Make your rooms intimate, safe, comfortable, and private

  • A locking door that provides proper noise, light, and intrusion protection.
  • Windows with natural light coming in. Thick, full curtains or blinds.
  • Comfortable, newer mattresses.
  • Mattress covers and full sized higher quality bed sheets. Both are new and in excellent condition
  • Generous blanket options, for people who need more warmth.
  • At least 2 full sized, thick, new pillows per double or large sized bed.
  • Decorated – the room has some character.
  • Warm coloured paint
  • No fluorescent lighting in the room. The room is well lit with incandescent, halogen, or full spectrum LED bulbs.
  • A side table with a reading lamp.
  • Storage space such as a shelf, dresser, luggage stand and/or closet.
  • Wood that adds to the feeling of warmth in the room.
  • Very clean
  • Recently painted
  • Very well maintained. Everything works in the room.
  • Simple but strong, solid furniture. Not clunky, tiny, or worn out.
  • Double pane windows for quietness, if in a noisier and colder area. At least solid single pane windows in places where double pane are either not available or are prohibitively expensive.

Your bathrooms are sanitary, nurturing, available, and certain.

  • Very clean. If shared, cleaned 2 or more times a day.
  • 24×7 hot water.
  • Sufficient water pressure.
  • A spacious shower stall
  • Well lit with warm, bright, incandescent lighting.
  • Instructions posted for anything unusual or potentially unclear about the bathroom facilities.
  • Well stocked with toilet paper and hand towels.
  • Bath towels provided for guests.
  • Ventilated with an exhaust fan.
  • No drain smells. Plumbed properly.
  • If shared, a locking door that provides full privacy protection.
  • Sufficient space to move around and change clothing when showering.
  • Ceramic tiled throughout.
  • Modern fixtures.
  • Well maintained – paint, appliances and fixtures, tile grout, lighting.
  • Decorated – with some character.
  • A shelf for belongings. Hooks for clothes. Bars for towels. Soap shelf in the shower. Vanity or shelf for toiletries. Little details such as these are important!

Spacious, friendly, comfortable, welcoming, and social common area(s).

  • Common area is separate from the bedroom area to protect from noise transference.
  • Spacious
  • Contained space (intimate) but open and bright.
  • Quiet spaces and social spaces.
  • Variety of seating options, including couch, hammock, armchair, and table & chairs available.
  • Chairs have cushions.
  • Lots of plants.
  • Optimal: A rooftop terrace, patio, or lounge in a warm climate country. Even better: With a nice view.
  • Non-smoking
  • Decorated – character.
  • Books and games.
  • Guests feel free to be themselves – not being watched suspiciously by staff.
  • Not a thoroughfare for staff.
  • No fluorescent lighting. A mix of festive, functional incandescent, halogen, and full-spectrum LED lighting.
  • Lit well at night.
  • Lots of electrical outlets for computer and smartphone users.
  • Good Wi-Fi service in common area(s).

Offer extra value and special character

  • Organize social events
  • Free breakfasts that are both tasty and generously portion-sized.
  • Towel service for rooms and local beach (if applicable)
  • Internet computer station with printer.
  • Free filtered water access.
  • Beer, soft drinks, juices, and snacks for sale.
  • Kitchen for guests to use.
  • Wi-Fi service throughout the guesthouse.
  • “Above and beyond” service from the owner and staff.
  • Bicycle, boat or other rentals available at low cost to guests.

18. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity

Have it in mind that it’s not enough to just get a license and a good staff to run your guest house business. We believe that the most important preparation to make is how to get your business to potential customers, to let them know that you exist. You can do this by advertising.

  • Décor and food

You need to understand that look and feel are pleasing factors in the hospitality industry. Ambiance of the room and other parts of the hotel like lobby, meeting rooms will help you distinguish from other hotels. Is your hotel room well decorated? What special food/drinks do you offer in the restaurants?

  • Packages and deals

Note that travellers look for various packages and deals while booking their stay. If you offer them a spa package along with the booking or any add-on service for direct booking, it will definitely help in sealing their decision to choose your hotel. Add some value to the packages and use it to differentiate from your competitors.

  • Online marketing

Also note that being present on search channels and listings is very crucial to set you apart from your competitors, especially if a few of them still don’t have a website. With effective SEO, you can make sure that your guest house website will be discoverable by the travelers easily, and participating in the local listings will help travelers identify you without going through the OTAs.