How can you set your B&B apart from an Airbnb?

For many B&B owners the question of alcohol licensing may never crop up, but increasingly, it’s becoming more common as greater and new competition is cropping up. Now that it seems the Airbnb network is here to stay, what are you to do to continue asking top dollar for your room? Well, first and foremost, most B&B guests are willing to spend more for special. Airbnb guests are not. AND….if you add special touches that get you more reviews, all the more business for you. Lastly, if your B&B is in a remote location with little choices for meals and entertainment, consider offering alcohol. Creating atmosphere and adding special touches will help set your business apart from those popping-up-everywhere Air B&Bs,

The Myth of Free Alcohol and Licensing

Before going too deeply into this subject there’s a myth that needs clearing up. Some B&B owners have tried offering free alcohol, usually limited to a glass of wine or a pint of beer, in the mistaken belief that because they aren’t “selling” it there is no need to apply for a license.  NOT  SO.  You must adhere to alcohol licensing laws (see Restrictions and Conditions, below)

Guests Bringing Alcohol into the B&B

If your guest is under the influence of alcohol that you have allowed them to drink on your premises, things get a little sticky.  Even if you didn’t sell it to them, you could be held partly liable for their actions as it was done under your roof.  

Consider the Marketing Effect

It’s unlikely that offering alcohol at your B&B will create a profit or loss, but it can act as a further draw to attract guests.

Consider your target market 

People who stay at bed and breakfasts are not ordinary travelers. They are looking for quality lodging and service, as well as the uniqueness of each B&B and each innkeeper. In fact, B&B guests usually not looking for a bargain (like those shopping on Airbnb) – they are willing to pay more for something unique and different and even out-of-the-ordinary mimosas with breakfast!  

Do serve alcohol with your all-important breakfast

Most guests want a very special breakfast – and being able to offer a mimosa will certainly add to your atmosphere of a very special and memorable breakfast.   Apply here.

B&B alcohol licenses

In order to be granted a bed & breakfast alcohol license, an establishment must:

  • consist of no more than 15 bedrooms available for rent
  • offer transitory lodging (or non-permanent sleeping accommodations) to the public, in exchange for compensation
  • offer at least one meal per day (does not need not be breakfast) to each person to whom overnight lodging is provided

Restrictions & Conditions:

  • Where you purchase your alcohol that you plan to sell is important.
    • It must be purchased from a government store, wine or beer wholesaler or farm winery. 
    • Keep purchase receipts.
  • Alcoholic beverages may be served:
    • only to overnight guests (over legal drinking age)
    • in dining areas
    • in private guest rooms
    • in outside terraces or patios
  • No additional fees, premiums or surcharges, are allowed be charged for the service of alcoholic beverages.
  • Guests making reservations may order any alcohol beverage to be available upon their arrival (at no additional fee above the purchase price). 

Organization is key:

  • Alcohol inventory for your B&B must be stored away from any private alcohol stock (always keep personal alcohol stored separately).
  • Maintain complete and accurate records of the purchases of alcoholic beverages and provide sufficient evidence that at least one meal per day is offered to overnight guests.

*Disclaimer: this article and its contents represent the opinions of the author, only. It is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice. ABC Consulting is a private consulting firm, and in no way do we represent the Va dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority. You should not act upon any such information without seeking qualified professional advice based upon your situation.

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