Italy attracts more than 90 million tourists each year and thousands of Expats each year. Although many stay in hotels and hostels, an increasing number prefer to have a more authentic experience and stay in a smaller Bed and Breakfast instead.
Each region, and province, of Italy is completely different with a diverse range of attractions, cultural sites and local heritage, which means that tourists often go off the beaten track to find the very best that the country has to offer.
Tourists regularly chose to travel from place to place spending only a few nights in each location; in which case, staying in a Bed and Breakfast makes more sense than being reliant on the large hotel chains that are primarily clustered around the major cities.
A Bed and Breakfast can offer tourists a genuine Italian experience with a warm, cozy atmosphere that is welcoming but does not restrict their daytime itineraries; allowing them to eat out for lunch and dinner in nearby tavernas and restaurants.
This means that if you were considering starting a hospitality business in Italy then setting up a Bed and Breakfast is an affordable investment that should give you great returns in the medium to long term. It will also give you the chance to meet people from all over the world and show off the beauty of the country that you have made your new home.
As well as the financial and social benefits of setting up a Bed and Breakfast your English language skills will make it far easier for you to communicate with guests from all over the world; something which will make your Bed and Breakfast more appealing to a lot of international travellers.
Is A Bed & Breakfast The Right Choice For You?
Running a Bed and Breakfast, or B&B, is a wonderful joy, allowing you to live in a beautiful location in Italy that other people travel from all over the world to visit! However, it can also be hard work and there are always chores to do and routines to be maintained. You’ll also need to be friendly and sociable to welcome your guests; so if you’re not a ‘people person’ then it might not be the right occupation for you!
It’s obviously essential that you have breakfast ready each morning for your guests, that the rooms are cleaned each day and that you are there to meet guests when they arrive. As a result, running a B&B is a full time job which requires excellent organization skills and a bit of hard work!
If you don’t want to clean the rooms or cook the breakfasts you can take a more managerial role in the business and employ a cleaner and cook to work with you. Alternatively, if you’re running the B&B as a couple or a family you can share the duties and save on the costs of employing extra staff. All this will have to be considered before you decide whether running a B&B is right for you.
Can You Make Money Running A Bed & Breakfast In Italy?
When you run a B&B you should certainly be able to turn a decent profit; and even though there will be times in the year when business will be slower at other times of the year, during the tourist high season, there will be more demand than you can cope with!
One of the main factors that will determine the profitability of your B&B is the size of the property. How many guests can you accommodate each night? A larger B&B will be able to benefit both from economies of scale as well as the larger volume of tourists you’ll be able to get through the doors.
Another factor to consider is the location of your B&B. If you’re in a major city on the tourist route you can charge more per person per night but you’ll have to pay more for the property; whereas, in a more rural location the property will be cheaper and you’ll have less competition. You will have to do careful calculations when it comes to the profitability of different locations before making a decision on where to locate yourself.
A key factor in your profitability would also be the occupancy rates. Occupancy rates above 50% are difficult to achieve particularly if the business is seasonal.
Lastly, your prices per night will be determined primarily by the quality of the rooms, amenities, parking facilities, the type of breakfasts and other services you can offer. A luxury B&B will naturally be able to charge more for their rooms but even a humble rustic B&B can turn a decent profit while charging less for the rooms.
Something which is important to understand before you get into the B&B business is that it’s as much a lifestyle choice as it is a purely profit driven venture.
Expenses – Business And Personal.
When you’re planning to set up a B&B in Italy you need to have a clear idea of what your expenses will be; otherwise, it will be impossible to calculate whether the business has the potential to be profitable.
The first expense you need to consider is the property price itself. Are you going to buy it or rent it on a long term basis? It will usually be better if you can buy the property so you have more security in the long term.
As well as the property you may need to conduct renovations to make the B&B the way you want it, in terms of style, facilities and interior design. These costs can be quite high but may be worth the expense if you can charge higher rates for the rooms.
Ongoing business expenses need to be taken into account when figuring out the profit potential of your B&B. Regular expenses include, but are not necessarily limited to:
- Merchant Services.
- Food and kitchen supplies.
- Laundry; including sheets, towels, table clothes, napkins etc.
- Utility bills, including Wi-Fi for the rooms.
- Routine property maintenance.
- Business supplies – dependent on the B&B’s facilities.
- Garden maintenance and upkeep.
- Staff wages.
- Taxes – local and national.
- Personal expenses; including healthcare insurance, wages, living costs.
Where Should You Open A Bed & Breakfast In Italy?
There are more than 30,000 B&Bs scattered all over the country; from the hectic cities to the quiet towns and rural idylls. The cities that attract the most tourists each year are the centers of art and culture including Venice, Florence, Palermo, Naples and Rome.
However, you don’t necessarily need to set up in a city because there are many rural locations that are just a short trip from major cultural centers which gives your guests the best of both worlds.
When choosing a location for your B&B you should also consider the type of place that you would personally like to live as well! You should find somewhere that you will be happy to live and then use a good marketing strategy to attract the tourists to you.
If you do choose a smaller town or rural location try to select somewhere that has good rail and road links as well as a few popular tourist attractions nearby.
Who Stays In An Italian Bed & Breakfast?
When you’re setting up a B&B you need to have a clear idea as to who your business will be providing services and accommodation for! This is essential for your marketing and advertising but it’s also important so you can create the right kind of atmosphere and ‘vibe’ for your guests. It also helps you to decide whether you’ll need more single, double or family rooms.
Your location will play a big part in determining who will be your potential guests. For instance, if you have a rural B&B near archeological and UNESCO sites your clientele will be very different than if you were in the middle of a city near to the bar and nightclub district!
According to research by the Italian tourist agency, more than 70% of B&B guests are aged between 25 and 40 years, while more than 80% are couples and just over 50% stay for 2 nights.
One of the most surprising things to come out of the recent research was that only 5% of guests said that their selection of a B&B was based primarily on price; compared to 30% who said it was the warm welcome when they arrived that was the most important factor.
The top three nationalities of guests who stay in Italian B&Bs are German, American and French, with Chinese and British coming in fourth and fifth. This means your English language skills will go a long way in terms of welcoming and assisting your guests, but obviously, any extra languages you can speak will be useful in the hospitality trade.
A hugely important statistic to remember when you’re setting up a B&B is that nearly 80% of guests arrive in a car; which means that if you don’t have parking facilities this can be a serious problem for you, especially in Italy where the streets are often narrow and on-street parking is limited.
Important Rules And Regulations.
Italy is famous for its bureaucracy and setting up a B&B will require you to jump through a few regulatory hoops. The first thing you need to do once you have bought your property is to check that the electric and gas utilities are up to health and safety standards; you can hire a Geometra to check this for you.
Next, you need to go to the local town hall, or ‘Comune’, to fill out a form to officially declare that you are starting a B&B. The form is called the ‘Segnalazione Certificata di Inizio Attività’, or the SCIA. You will need proof of ID and other documents including your Codice Fiscale to complete the process.
There will also be a fee to pay for the town hall to process your SCIA which varies by region but is usually between 50 and 150 Euros. If you’re a bit nervous about dealing with the bureaucracy, and especially if you don’t speak Italian, then it’s advisable to hire a local lawyer to handle it on your behalf.
How Do You Promote Your Bed & Breakfast Once It’s Open?
Now that your B&B is ready to go and your doors are open you need to promote it so that potential guests know that you are there! In the modern world it’s vital that you set up a website for your B&B with contact and booking forms so that people finding it online can book themselves a room.
As well as your website a Facebook page can help to drive traffic to your B&B while creating a forum for people to leave reviews.
You should also use online platforms such as AirBnB, TripAdvisor, Bed-and-breakfast.it to further advertise your B&B to a wider audience.
Starting A B&B In Italy – A Lifestyle Choice Full Of Opportunities.
There’s a lot to consider before you set up your B&B in Italy but it can be the beginning of an amazing opportunity, that for many represents the ideal lifestyle. You’ll constantly be meeting interesting new people from all over the world, living in a beautiful country and earning a good living.
When setting up your B&B you really have the chance to put your own personality into it which will shine through to your guests. Just make sure to do your research before you purchase a property to make sure that your business can attract the numbers of guests that you need to turn a profit.