Starting Or Improving a Bed and Breakfast, Country Inn Or Rural Hotel? Make More Money This Way
Plan to start a green business, home business, or is your current small business a bed and breakfast, country inn, or rural hotel? You can cash in on the burgeoning eco-travel and huge local food movement by adding a simple boutique mini farm enterprise to your current green small business or small business plan, even on less than an acre.
Small business owners of hotels and bed and breakfasts, as well as innkeepers, can dramatically increase their business profits, word-of-mouth marketing, and attract substantially higher numbers of bed and breakfast, country inn or rural hotel guests by surrounding their rural or small town accommodation business with a synergizing second revenue stream — either a “micro eco-farm,” or “agritourism,” or both. A micro eco-farm is a small cottage or boutique mini-farm that operates for profit with eco-friendly practices. Agritourism means hosting guests on a real farm for added revenue for the farm owner. Most green bed and breakfast, country inn or rural hotel treatments involve green energy additions and reduced indoor toxins, and these are commendable. But the next cool green trend emerging is local sustainable food production, along with a renaissance of delicious lost heirloom, gourmet, and artisan foodie delights that are easily grown, but not provided by conventional food production.
Below we’ll describe how to do it easily and successfully.
But first, here are the many benefits:
1. You’ll add a huge customer draw to your bed and breakfast, country inn or rural hotel. Owners of hotels even in more urban settings can create their own exclusive chef gardens which are becoming very popular for 5-star restaurants. For rural hotels, bed and breakfasts, and country inns, the appeal of farmstays has grown dramatically. Purdue University reports that visits to real farms are the fastest growing segment of tourism in the country. People love to see roaming hens that produced the eggs for their breakfast, pet a few rare wool sheep that provided wool for the throws on their beds, or tour a blueberry patch and organic market garden. Small town bed and breakfast, country inn or rural hotel owners can set up the popular urban “chicken tractors” for fresh eggs and plant herb and flower gardens to adorn their guests’ rooms with bouquets and scented potpourri. Your bed and breakfast, country inn or rural hotel can create a one-of-a-kind ambiance and atmosphere just like the popular Tuscany agriturismo does, only celebrating your own country, region and culture.
2. You can add income by producing farm-grown non-perishable products to sell retail to your guests. Farm grown and made strawberry jam, world-cuisine salsas, hand-woven Shetland sheep (rare miniature sheep that produce luxurious wool) shawls, herbal candles, hand-crafted goat-milk soap. Even a small town bed and breakfast with an herb garden can make sachets. These items can be sold year-round online as well. Guests love to take home something tangible from their stay, and love to be reminded of their stay by continuing to purchase items for themselves and as gifts online once they return home.
3. You can further draw new customers by offering agritourism activities, once you own a real farm. Allow guests to tour your flower garden or collect their own eggs and pick their own blueberries, view the ducks or pet the goats.
4. You can generate even more sources of revenue while simultaneously getting more word-of-mouth marketing with agritourism activities that you offer for an additional fee. Offer them not only to bed and breakfast, country inn or rural hotel guests, but also to day visitors, or both, allowing yourself to generate income from far more than just overnight clients. For example, offer a periodical cooking class using the farm’s ingredients that both overnight or day guests can pay to attend, a gardening workshop in spring where you can also sell garden starts to the local community, or give tours of the farm to school children for $5 a head during weekdays when you have less overnight clients. Two tours in a day with 50 kids each not only brings an extra $500 for the day, but kids and adult chaperones will begin generating valuable word of mouth marketing about your bed and breakfast, country inn or rural hotel.
5. You can cut expenses on flowers and food. The flowers and food items you grow yourself will look and taste outstanding, have the customer appeal of being locally grown, and cut your bills. Further, you can grow those exotic African jelly melons or miniature Mexican cucumbers that no other bed and breakfast, country inn or rural hotel offers.
6. You can stay ahead of other farmers because of your bed and breakfast, country inn or rural hotel. The big issue for many farmers isn’t just growing the crops or raising the animals. It’s knowing there are enough customers waiting to buy the product. With your farm’s crops serving your own bed and breakfast, country inn or rural hotel and its retail shop and agritourism activities, you have your own self-made market.
Start with the bed and breakfast, country inn or rural hotel’s menu. (If you don’t have a food menu, see below). Then design the micro eco-farm to produce the menu’s products. This will become the eco-friendly farm that wraps around your bed and breakfast, country inn or rural hotel.
You may want to raise egg-laying ducks for something delicious yet different, grow raspberries, currents, or a few antique apple or Asian pear trees. You might want to add an herbal tea garden, a couple dairy sheep or a miniature dairy cow that double as a petting zoo. Your country bed and breakfast, country inn or rural hotel customers will love and remember the small farm setting, and it all synergizes just like the pre-industrial farms once did. The sheep, cow or ducks will provide organic fertilizer along with ingredients for breakfast omelets and creamy gourmet yogurt, the ducks and goats can eat prunings from the plant crops, and the plant crops provide customers with freshly baked raspberry scones, current jam and antique apple butter. As well, the bed and breakfast, country inn or rural hotel is now surrounded by a customer-attracting small farm ambiance which is supplying its high quality locally grown food at the same time. For hotel inns or other accommodation or hospitality businesses that don’t serve food, the mini eco-farm can also supply products for hotel inn exclusive non-perishables to sell retail to guests, such as herbal body care products or fruit preserves.
To add this century’s New Agritourism to your bed and breakfast, country inn or rural hotel, first consider what you’re growing on your farm, and what activities could go along with that for your guests, such as viewing and photographing the goats, collecting eggs, or participating in an apple harvest. Don’t make the mistake many agritourism farms make in assuming that every farm must have wagon rides. Today’s sophisticated eco-tourists want the real thing and the one-of-a-kind. And they don’t want wagon rides unless the farm actually uses the wagon. Instead, they want to see what you really grow and what you really harvest. If you grow chocolate mint, show customers the garden and demonstrate how to harvest it. You don’t have to add a corn maze if you don’t grow corn.
Once your main agritourism activities are established, you can add to the main farm agritourism activities by considering your own hobbies or other passions you’ve always wanted to pursue at least part time, and see if you can tie them in. Love Italian cooking? Start a small Italian cooking school and grow a garden of Italian heirloom tomatoes. Always wanted to make candles? Grow herbs than can scent and decorate the candles, and give candle-making demonstrations to your guests. Want to renew an old massage therapist license? Grow clary sage and lavender on your mini-farm, teach guests how to make body care products with the herbs, and offer massage to your guests as a paid extra, using your own farm-grown herbal oil.
Some who want to start a business are actually beginning with agritourism first, then adding the bed and breakfast, country inn, or rural hotel later. Either way, the demand for agritourism and local food production’s popularity continues to grow.
Micro Eco-Farming: Prospering from Backyard to Small Acreage in Partnership with the Earth
The New Agritourism – microecofarming.com