B&B Industry Facts & Figures

Industry Overview

BedandBreakfast.com surveys both innkeepers and travelers to measure changing trends, marketing preferences, economic indicators, and more. Our survey results are available as PDF documents below.

For more information, or if you have difficulty downloading the documents, please contact Press@BedandBreakfast.com.

B&B Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do B&Bs have to be licensed? Do they have to follow health code, zoning and other municipal codes?
Although standards vary widely from state to state and even county to county, most states in the U.S. regulate B&Bs of a certain size; many require B&Bs/country inns with five or more rooms to comply with the same standards hotels and larger lodging properties must follow.  In Europe, B&Bs are often regulated and/or rated by different government agencies than larger inns and lodges.

Are B&Bs inspected? 
Click here to see a list of state and regional B&B associations; many, but not all offer inspection programs for their members.  Members of the BedandBreakfast.com Diamond Collection undergo a rigorous inspection process.   While inspections remain a significant tool for measuring the quality of a B&B or inn, consumer reviews are generally viewed as being equally important.

What is the difference between a bed and breakfast and a country inn?
    • Homestay or Host Home: A private residence where paying guests are sometimes accommodated in 1-3 guest rooms. Breakfast is usually the only meal served. Guests and owners may share the same common areas.
    • Bed and Breakfast (B&B) and/or B&B Inn: Generally owner-occupied dwelling with 1-15 guest rooms, plus guest common areas separate from the owner's quarters. Located in a legally zoned area, B&Bs normally meet all local tax, fire, building and health requirements. Some B&B inns also host weddings and business meetings.
    • Country Inn: Owner-operated establishments providing lodging and meals (generally breakfast and dinner). Some provide dinners to overnight guests only, others have full-service restaurants open to the public. Typically 10 or more guest rooms.

Where can I learn more about the B&B industry?
Contact Press@BedandBreakfast.com.

History of the B&B Industry in the United States

The tradition of extending hospitality to traveling strangers goes back to the earliest recorded history for almost all religions and cultures worldwide. Other than soldiers and religious pilgrims, travel for business or pleasure primarily started in the 1700s. Scores of “coaching” or “stagecoach” inns, common in England and the eastern United States, typically provided stabling for horses and lodging for travelers; accommodations were extremely modest (at best). The advent of the railroads provided a huge boost in travel comfort, and hundreds of hotels were constructed close to train stations to accommodate growing numbers of travelers.

As the United States industrialized, more people had time and the discretionary income for travel; summer escapes from the sweltering cities to cooler mountain or seaside villages became popular. Wealthy families summered in private villas or luxury resorts, while the working classes headed for boarding houses.

During the Great Depression in the United States, taking in boarders to help meet expenses proliferated. Homes located on state routes (this was long before Interstate Highways) often posted signs reading Tourist Home or Guests, where travelers could typically find a room for the night for about $2, usually including breakfast.

Travel to Europe boomed after World War II; a strong U.S. dollar allowed millions of Americans to discover England’s and Ireland’s B&Bs , and equivalent accommodations on the Continent. Throughout the 1980s, the seeds for the B&B boom were planted. Interestingly, although B&Bs in the U.S. began as informal, inexpensive places to stay with shared baths and minimal amenities, they are now largely luxury accommodations with high levels of comfort, service, and luxury.

The B&B boom in the United States was influenced by several factors:

  • Enjoyment of the B&B experience by millions of Americans who traveled in Europe.
  • The U.S. Bicentennial in 1976 sparked a renewed interest in preserving America’s architectural heritage, and accompanying federal and state legislation provided tax credits for the preservation of historic properties. Many such buildings were on fairly busy roads, making them undesirable for private residences but ideal for conversion into bed and breakfasts; similarly, the large size of thousands of Victorian-era homes made them inappropriate for single families, but perfect for B&Bs.
  • The 1980s saw a rapid growth in the numbers of B&Bs in the U.S., but despite considerable media coverage, advertising was expensive, and getting listed in the many B&B guidebooks took a year or more.
  • The growth of the Internet provided the biggest boost to the B&B industry, and leveled the playing field so that a bed and breakfast could afford to compete with area hotels, by listing in directories like BedandBreakfast.com, establishing a first-rate website, and offering a safe, secure online booking option.

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Additional Media Resources

  • B&B Photos and Video: Whether you need pictures for your website story, high-res files for print, or TV-quality video, we can help you locate just the shots you need. Email Press@BedandBreakfast.com.
  • B&B Industry Facts, Figures, and FAQs: Here are the backgrounders you need, from "How many B&Bs are there?" to "What's the difference between a B&B and an inn?"  For details, click here.
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