Time was when a bed and breakfast arrangement meant breakfast as well as interpersonal contact with a host or hostess or both. These days, however, many guests find themselves meeting a lock box with no interaction with an owner or manager, other than an email. What are the advantages and disadvantages for both guest and host for these types of arrangements, when there is no on site personal support?
In some areas like Hawaii where many people want vacation opportunities, the bed and breakfast option is an economical one. People are able to rent whole condominiums or sections of homes that allow more than one person, or whole families, to stay together at a much reduced cost than a hotel stay might be. This has raised concerns from the hotel industry that has seen its numbers drop as the bed and breakfast brigade continues to foster new members.
The problem with the lockbox-no personal contact option is that often there is neither breakfast nor support for learning about an area from an owner who provides a tour guide and little else. For some guests, however, this is satisfactory as they may be seeking as much independence as possible from the hovering of a host on the scene. It is not for everyone to need guidance, and some people like to discover restaurants and sites to see or experience on their own.
On the positive side being able to rent an entire house or condominium allows people who may be under water on a mortgage or need to move yet cannot sell the property or who want to maintain the property themselves for short-term stays to keep it and be able to make the payments. It can allow people to sustain improvements and make an income when there are financial setbacks. For some people who have physical limitations it is a way to earn passive income. For still others in Hawaii who have difficulty making the payments on Hawaii’s expensive housing, renting to vacationers allows individuals to purchase a home when they might otherwise have difficulty doing so. Renting to visitors can help people afford a home without having to move away from Hawaii when housing prices become too high to make payments easily.
For the guest, a bed and breakfast option such as sites such as Airbnb provides, allows families to vacation together rather than renting individual hotel rooms. When the host is available, guests can interact with people who know an area and can offer directions and information personally about a tourist site, restaurant or shopping.
The downside of the short-term rental business is that some areas are not zoned for letting people stay for just a few days, which is a problem for many of the bed and breakfasts that operate in Hawaii. Furthermore most places require a special tax to be paid on the income from rentals, with a surcharge if a unit is rented in the manner of a hotel room. Some people have avoided paying these taxes by not disclosing their arrangements. The legislature of Hawaii has responded by enacting new rules about renting, but the enforcement of these has yet to take place. The authorities have often simply not enforced the rules and may have not mechanism for doing so. The bed and breakfast brigade continues, but it is a concern to the hotel industry since it supports with its taxes many important projects Hawaii needs. In addition, as more and more people purchase property specifically as an investment, then rent only to short term visitors, long-term residents suffer from lack of available housing. Also in some neighborhoods property owners are concerned about the burgeoning bed and breakfast businesses in residential neighborhoods.
The bed and breakfast brigade is likely here to stay, and one of the many changes in how people travel throughout the world that is making a difference in the economy as well as the individual pocketbook.