Are B&Bs viable business travel lodging alternatives?


Looking for less expensive places to stay when traveling on business?  All you need to do is access the Internet and you’ll find thousands of listings for B&Bs.

These are no longer exclusively delegated to Mom and Pop country homes that have a few extra rooms where cityfolk can escape from downtown pressures. You know the type: rooms with four poster beds, lots of country prints and a delicious breakfast served with homemade breads and jams. The host family generally hovers and serves as guides with a vast amount of information about the area that they’re delighted to share.

There’s a new trend. B&Bs in major cities are mushrooming and many of the owners are doing their best to cater to business travelers. Some business travelers think they’re the answer. Others wouldn’t go near them.

For example, one road warrior says he always shies away from them for work related travel because he needs a certain amount of anonymity. The management consultant explains, “During breakfast, I don’t really want to chat about homemade scones. I’ve got to get my mind/notes together for that day’s meetings.”

Others are converts who opt for B&Bs over hotels even though they might not be substantially less expensive than inexpensive hotels or motels.

But, there are certain requirements and an increasing number of B&B owners are willing to supply them.  The economy is tough for everyone.

Here are a few things people cite as priorities when opting for B&Bs:
1. Location
2. Easy access to public transportation
3- Free WiFi
4- Use of a printer and a photocopy machine
5- Good beds
6- TV’s in the room with English language channels
7- Good showers with lots of hot water

When it comes to breakfast, some business people say they prefer having the option of self-service and being able to carry it away rather than sitting down at a communal table.

Other necessities:
24-hour-a-day access to the premises without disturbing others.
Being able to book on-line and pay with a credit card.

Some people do appreciate the coziness of B&Bs plus the ability to connect with others. One friend stays at them when she’s attending conventions. She’s willing to walk up to 20 minutes and likes returning to a smaller place after she’s spent the day being jostled by too many people in a convention hall. She’s quick to say it’s nice to be able to have a drink in her temporary home’s living room and relax. In addition, she’s met some nice people.

The B&B concept is growing in popularity. Ten years ago, there weren’t any in Central Paris. Now there are hundreds.

What’s your take?

Karen Fawcett is president of BonjourParis.

  • Kelly

    I live in Michigan and I rarely find B&Bs that less expensive then hotels around here. So where are these so called bargains?

  • Alice

    I’ve totally removed myself from the B&B trade, and no longer view it as cheaper or ‘cosy’. In fact, I’ve had it with B&Bs. Objections include: Prices rivaling hotels, Lack of privacy, too ridgid timetables, including some B&Bs booting patrons out during the day, and communal anything with high prices.
    B&Bs had my interest as inexpensive lodging. That’s no longer the case.

  • Maine Innkeeper

    I still think this kind of story misses the mark. Yet again, another writer insists on the tired out cliche of what a B&B represents. It is a business, run by professional business people, looking to make a decent living providing a service in their community.

    I’m in the tranquility business. I’m here to make sure that you have what you need during your stay, whether that be vacation, work or a combination.

    The last thing I am going to do is natter on at breakfast, or any other time about MY life. This is your getaway, not mine. If you choose to talk with me, the topic is yours to choose. If you wish to read the paper, work on your laptop or peruse your notes, I will serve your home-cooked breakfast and stay the heck out of your way.

    Do you need to leave before breakfast time? Not a problem. I will put together a ‘to go’ breakfast for you and leave it in the fridge. Help yourself to coffee.

    Our business guests oftentimes stay here and then travel an HOUR to get to their meetings because they like ‘coming home’ to a well-lighted, clean and comfortable ‘home away from home’.

    Many of our business guests return at other times of the year with their spouses to enjoy a getaway. I cannot be all things to all guests, but many a different traveler has found exactly what they needed here.

    Please stop including such images as the following ” You know the type: rooms with four poster beds, lots of country prints and…” in stories about B&B’s and business travelers with the implied notion that a B&B that HAS those amenities is somehow LESS than the standard someone should aspire to.

    To Kelly, who replied about not finding inexpensive B&B’s…it may be your location. However, I encourage you to also look at the amenities provided by each type of lodging and balance that against what you need. If you only require the bare essentials in your choice, then you may find that a hotel meets your needs very well. I know where I live, that I cannot reduce my prices in the off season to the $59/night that the hotels charge. And yet, in season, I am not charging the very high $300/night that same hotel is charging. So, it’s a deal to stay with me in the summer, but it may be perceived as not such a deal in the winter.