Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is Bed & Breakfast Association NEW ZEALAND?
The organisation is a society that was incorporated under the legal name of "The New Zealand Association of Farm & Home Hosts" on 17 July 1987. It was formed by an association of personally hosted accommodation owner/operators throughout New Zealand. Whilst the legal name continues, the day-to-day name of @home NEW ZEALAND was adopted in 2003 when the organisation was re-branded. In 2011 the organisation has become known as Bed & Breakfast Association NEW ZEALAND.
2. What is the purpose of "Bed & Breakfast Association NEW ZEALAND"?
Our mission is to "Promote the growth and quality of farm and home hosting in New Zealand". Our purpose is also to increase the visibility of our members to travellers, through the publication of a printed Bed & Breakfast Association NEW ZEALAND Directory and our website.
3. Who are "Personally hosted accommodation owner operators"?
There is a little confusion over what the terms "homestay", "farmstay", "country stay", "B&B", "lodge" and "boutique lodge" stand for. The common denominator is the level of "hospitality" that is provided to guests. It is that hospitality that distinguishes us from other accommodation providers such as hotels and motels. There is also a legal responsibility to look after the well-being of guests and that has implications for adequate insurance cover (see elsewhere). Staff working for the owners can assist with the provision of hospitality but owners have to be on site to provide a personal touch. Within the wider tourism industry, all these properties are recognised as coming under the classification of "Guest & Hosted" - see the accommodation sector of the web site www.newzealand.com - the official site of Tourism New Zealand.
4. How do I qualify for membership to Bed & Breakfast Association NEW ZEALAND?
Please refer to the membership information on the About Us page.
5. I run self-contained apartments - can I become a member?
Again refer to the membership criteria mentioned above. If you have the appropriate level of interaction with your guests (as described in the criteria) then you will qualify. Many members have both kinds of accommodation. However, if you just offer the room key to the guest, place milk in their fridge and do not want any further contact with them until they pay the bill next morning, this is not home hosting as we know it and you will not be able to join Bed & Breakfast Association NEW ZEALAND. There are, however, other organisations that you may be eligible to join. Also, be aware that Tourism NZ and Qualmark have a separate category for the self-contained apartment market.
6. What does the Bed & Breakfast Association NEW ZEALAND Logo represent?
The logo is part of our "brand" and may be used by full members in the promotion of their properties. Use of the logo denotes they meet the minimum standards set by the organisation and have been assessed by an appointed assessor at two-yearly intervals. It differentiates operators who meet the standard from those who do not and in time, it will become much more readily recognised by the travelling public, including international visitors.
7. So what is QUALMARK?
Qualmark is New Zealand's formal tourism industry quality assessment system. The principal partner is Tourism New Zealand. The process is completely independent and provides an in-depth assessment of a range of factors affecting your business. an increasing number of tourism business types are being included in the assessment process, one of which is the "Guest & Hosted" sector. The Qualmark process is not inexpensive and will not be appropriate for the majority of operators. The Bed & Breakfast Association NEW ZEALAND assessment process is designed to provide a measure of quality below the level offered by Qualmark. Both logos provide the tourist with some form of confidence, but recognises that the Bed & Breakfast Association NEW ZEALAND logo indicates that at least the minimum entry-level criteria are being met. For further information on Qualmark visit www.qualmark.co.nz
8. What is required of a Bed & Breakfast Association NEW ZEALAND member?
A "Code of Practice" has been developed by the association and can be viewed on the About Us page. (See Membership Criteria and Code of Practice.)
9. How do I learn more about being a guest & hosted operator?
The association has published a booklet called "Home Hosting Ideas & Suggestions for getting Started" - this can be obtained by using the contact form and requesting it. through the Contact Us page.
10. What sort of meals should I be offering?
Breakfast is the most important meal as it is often the only meal guests have with you and it is certainly the last one they experience while at your home. Not all guests want breakfast and if that is the case you can reduce the tariff slightly to reflect their situation; however, you must offer to provide it! The Association requires operators to include the cost of breakfast in the tariff. It is also important that you specify the type of breakfast you provide in your advertising material. Breakfast types are Full, Continental, and Special. What breakfast consists of depends entirely on your market position and tariff. Bed & Breakfast Association NEW ZEALAND has set certain breakfast standards. The minimum required for a Continental breakfast is a selection of cereals, fruit (either fresh, stewed or canned), pure fruit juice (not fruit drinks), tea, coffee (ground - not instant unless specifically requested), toast and spreads, yoghurt, walter and milk. Full breakfast includes all the ingredients of a continental breakfast plus a cooked dish. Some operators provide a selection of cooked dishes from which guests order their breakfast the night before, thereby simplifying the host's task next day.
Guests are usually out and about during the daytime so lunch is not generally required. However, you may consider providing a cut lunch to enable guests to better enjoy their daytime activities. This service will incur a charge in addition to the daily tariff.
Dinner can be provided, even if you call yourself a B&B. Again, the type of meal served will depend on the price, market position and quality of produce. Whether the meal is a "family" meal, a "restaurant style" meal or even a "light meals" - you should ensure that it is of a good quality. Where dinner is offered it is usually advertised as being an extra cost and charged on a per person basis. The price will depend on many factors and we suggest you canvass other operators of a similar standard to you to see what they charge. Rank your product against that and attempt to set your price at the "market price".
Having dinner with your guests can be a very enjoyable experience and catering for your guests incurs a marginal extra cost. However, it is important to supply all meals on a sound business footing as it is easy to lose money in this area. Undertaking a "cost plus exercise" can be quite revealing and our advice is to talk to an operator who caters for dinners and listen to what they have to say. Some operators get bookings because they offer dinners, and if you live some distance from a restaurant offering dinner will probably increase guests' satisfaction level. On the other hand, preparing dinners takes a lot of work (and worry) so think carefully before venturing down this path.
11. Should I eat with the guests?
Again, this is a matter of personal choice. Some members favour having only the main dinner course with the guests, but not the first course. Some do not take breakfast with their guests as serving guests and yourselves at the same time can be difficult, depending somewhat on your kitchen and dining facilities, and personal preference.
Our advice is to try different approaches and discover for yourself what works best for you. Experience shows that the more interaction you have with guests, the better they enjoy your product. It can be quite fun dining with your guests as this is a great opportunity to learn more about each other.
12. What are the legal requirements of a guest & hosted operation?
There are many laws relating to this subject and not all of them are logical. Also, local authority by-laws differ and some regulations may be interpreted or applied differently in various parts of New Zealand. Some provisions are set out in this website, but if in doubt ensure you consult the proper authorities before commencing business. You can be assured that there are strict requirements covering fire safety, building codes and resource consent processes and other areas such as guide dogs and disability access.
FIRE & BUILDING REGULATIONS: This subject comes up many times and the booklet mentioned above provides information as far as the New Zealand Fire Service is concerned. Bed & Breakfast Association NEW ZEALAND has based some of it's assessment criteria on the matter, especially with regard to smoke detectors - their location etc - fire exits and evacuation policies. Prospective members are encouraged to discuss fire and building regulations with their nearest fire safety officer and local council building inspector (respectively) before they consider hosting paying guests. The assessment schedule lists the Association's requirements, which differ from the Fire Service recommendations at times.
INSURANCE - The Association strongly recommends that you have full insurance cover while operating a B&B. While Public Liability and Fire & General insurance may not be a legal requirement, you do have a heavy responsibility for your guests and their possessions so adequate protections need to be in place. Also, those protections are required to be in place before you can join Bed & Breakfast Association NEW ZEALAND. Insurance protection is provided on a doctrine of "full disclosure" and if you neglect to advise your insurance provider that you are home hosting you will probably find you have no protection at all - and discovering that when you happen to make a claim is just a little too late! Further information and assistance is available in the Members Only section.
13. Should I have a reservations and cancellation strategy?
We recommend that you do seriously think about how you are going to take bookings - what sort of strategy are you going to adopt? A professional approach is required in that you need to know which rooms you have available and when, what they cost, what commission is applicable (if any - see Commissions) and under what conditions those rooms are let under (like no smoking). Reservations can come from all sources - telephone, fax, e-mail, off the street. The common denominator is that the enquirer wants a quick reponse. Answer phones these days are not a good tactic - you will lose business. Better to get a call diversion onto your cell phone or to somebody who can deal with the enquiry.
There are a number of companies that offer an "on line" reservation system to make the reservation process easier to handle. It is hard to beat the well managed diary though!! It is good advice to answer your faxes and e-mails as fast as possible - a slow answer means that you are not attending to your business.
Bed & Breakfast Association NEW ZEALAND is often asked about cancellation policies. Our recommendation is that a cancellation received within 48 hours of the intended stay should attract a full charge for that room unless it can be sold on. Outside of that period, no charges should apply. However, this advice is probably not applicable to businesses that have long stay clients - you may want to extend that period in such circumstances. If you invoke the cancellation charge, then you are entitled to keep any deposit or put through any credit card charge AS LONG AS the client knew of this arrangement at the time of booking the room. (For credit cards you will need to have made arrangements for this with the credit card company).
14. Should I pay commissions?
This is entirely up to you - but if you expect business from travel agents and information centres you will need to pay commission to them. How much? The association advises that overseas or wholesale agents can charge up to 20% commission, whereas retail agents should only be charging 10%. These are industry norms. Over 20% is not recommended unless there are some particular circumstances that warrant such a level. Please note that it is against the law to add commission to your room rate - if applied. If your room rate is $100 and the local information centre (I-Site)charges you 10% - you cannot then charge $110. (The same law says that you can't increase your prices for credit card use either - unless clearly advertised). If you anticipate agents sending you business, your room tariffs should have a commission rate built into them.
15. Should I be GST Registered?
If your anticipated turnover is going to be over $60,000 per annum, you have to be. If close to that turnover, it would be worth going to your local IRD office and have a chat or talk to your accountant. If you are GST registered, your quoted tariff should include the GST content.
16. Should I be Credit card capable?
Credit cards are being increasingly used and so a new operator should seriously consider the matter. The problem is of course is that a credit card company will want to take a commission in return for guaranteeing payment to you - that commission can be as much as 5%. There are companies that will process credit card payments for you - also for a commission.
Through Bed & Breakfast Association NEW ZEALAND membership, you can become an associate member of the Tourism Industry Association and one of the major benefits of such membership is that you can achieve a lower commission rate through their preferred bank WESTPAC.
If you do become credit card capable, investigate also having the facility to take credit card numbers for security of reservations. This will mean that you can charge cancellation fees (if such details are known to the client at the time of booking) for "no shows". (You can also validate the card number against the name).
Most tourists know that by giving their credit card details, they are guaranteeing their arrival - so you need to guarantee their room. Be aware that credit card companies have a confidential "floor limit" of a set monetary amount. If that amount is exceeded on a single transaction, authorisation must be made by the credit card company through an 0800 number.
17. I would like to talk to someone - who should I contact?
The board, secretary and many members of Bed & Breakfast Association NEW ZEALAND are very willing to promote their association to interested people.
There is a list on the About Us page with details of the President, Board members and Secretary. However, if you see a "Guest & Hosted" operator displaying the Bed & Breakfast Association NEW ZEALAND logo, they may be able to help you as well.
18. What is the cost of membership?
Please refer to the About Us page for the current membership fees.
19. What happens after I become a member?
After the process has been completed and the assessment of your property is confirmed as meeting Association standards, you will be issued with a certificate. This certificate can be displayed in your home to advise guests:
- that you are a current member of Bed & Breakfast Association NEW ZEALAND,
- how long you have been a member,
- and your membership number.
You will have the opportunity to purchase both front door and street signs, to inform travellers that you are members of Bed & Breakfast Association NEW ZEALAND. Using the Association brand will make it more readily identifiable - especially if you recommend other members' accommodations to your departing guests. However, please note that these signs remain the property of Bed & Breakfast Association NEW ZEALAND - you retain a licence to use them so long as you remain a financial member.
You will also enjoy the benefits of being in an association of like-minded people who can help you develop your new business. You can attend the annual conference which provides an excellent opportunity to network with other members in different parts of the country. Conference is also a great time to learn more about home hosting. Representatives of those commercial firms usually attend conference and set up trade displays so you can view their products. Conferences are also a lot of fun with many social activities being held - they are held alternatively in the North and South Islands. In recent years conferences have been held at Wellington, Christchurch, Rotorua, Nelson, Napier, Greymouth, Auckland, Wanaka and New Plymouth - all were well attended. As an Association member you are also eligible to join the Tourism Industry Association (TIANZ) as an associate member.
20. How often is my property assessed, and why?
After your initial assessment, an accredited Bed & Breakfast Association NEW ZEALAND assessor will reassess your property every two years. If you have a current Qualmark rating for your property the requirement for further Bed & Breakfast Association NEW ZEALAND assessments is waived. The reason Bed & Breakfast AssociationNEW ZEALAND assesses at two-yearly intervals is to ensure that Association standards are being maintained.
The key to successful home hosting is to strive to deliver a better service than that expected by your guests. "Quality assurance is about setting standards and consistently ensuring that they are achieved and maintained" (Principles of Tourism by Alan Collier). There are three possible outcomes when a guest stays with you:
- If guests perceive that the service and product is poor, they are unpleasantly surprised and dissatisfied.
- If the service and product meet their expectations they are just satisfied.
- If, however, the quality of service and product is better than expected, then guests will be pleasantly surprised and highly satisfied.
Bed & Breakfast Association NEW ZEALAND is about providing members with a minimum standard of expectation for the tourist. How that is delivered is entirely up to you, but a very good starting point is to view things from your guests' point of view. However, if the Association's standards are not maintained and enforced (for whatever reason) then members' standards will also slip away. It is worth saying again that with the number of new B&Bs coming into the market, having a recognisable standard that you have to live up to will give you a much stronger market position.
21. What are the advantages of membership?
The accommodation sector is expanding to meet the increasing number of travellers coming to our country. The "Guest & Hosted" sector is becoming very popular as it satisfies the needs of visitors who want a special personal experience. The advantages of "collective association" will help you differentiate yourself from the "cowboys" in the industry. Bed & Breakfast Association NEW ZEALAND is also represented on the Hospitality Council that is administered by the Tourism Industry Association. TIANZ has direct links with the higher levels of the tourism industry, including Central and Local Government agencies and Bed & Breakfast Association NEW ZEALAND can lobby and influence decisions that are made by those agencies. The Association successfully negotiated that "Guest & Hosted" operators catering for less than 10 guests, no longer required a liquor licence (under the Sale of Liquor Act) and several attempts by councils to change ratings to that of commercial buildings have been stopped, thus illustrating the power of collective responsibility. Until this reform took place in 1999 operators were breaking the law when supplying alcoholic liquor to their guests - even if the liquor was provided without charge.
The introduction of a low cost hosts directory and a website which has a more marketing focus are also benefits of belonging to the association.
22. What is the TIANZ?
The Tourism Industry Association of New Zealand represents all sectors of the tourism industry, including airlines, activity operators, accommodation providers, attraction owners and so on. Membership of Bed & Breakfast Association NEW ZEALAND entitles the member to make application to TIANZ for membership and to enjoy the benefits that are provided, including commercial discounts. For instance, discounts are available when travelling by air, train, or inter-island ferry. Some discounts are available when you are travelling overseas. There are different levels of membership and having a full TIANZ membership increases the strength of our Association's voice.
To get more information on this organisation click www.tianz.org.nz
23. Must I have a liquor licence?
NO - an amendment to the Sale of Liquor Act exempts hosts from the requirement to have a licence. The Association was responsible for that change which became effective on 1 December 1999. Section 5A was created and provides that nothing in the Act shall apply to an individual who:
- 1. occupies premises that are used exclusively or principally as the home or residence of the individual or the individual and his or her family; and
- 2. for reward, permits guests to stay, from time to time, on the premises or other premises nearby; and
- 3. in the course of or incidental to the stay of not more than 10 guests, sells or supplies liquor to some or all of them.
24. Does "Bed & Breakfast Association NEW ZEALAND" have a conference?
Yes - absolutely. Apart from the constitutional aspect of such a conference where the AGM is the central purpose, there is an opportunity to learn from others at workshops, to be inspired by guest speakers, to network with colleagues and to form good friendships. Conference is held in the winter months and alternates between the North and South Islands on a yearly rotational basis. (See also FAQ 19 above)
25. What are regional groups?
Regional Groups have been formed in an increasing number of areas of New Zealand. As the name implies, a regional group consists of Association members who form (formally or informally) a sub-Association that is principally available to Bed & Breakfast Association NEW ZEALAND members. Regional association has the advantages of being able to address local issues and to facilitate local networking. However, some regional issues do have a habit of becoming national issues and so the regional group role in providing feedback to the national association is very important. The regional group will conduct its own affairs in whatever way its members agree and involvement with such a group is highly recommended.
26. How do I make an application?
Register online, confirm your email in the link that will be sent to you by email, then add a listing - the choice is Pending Member or Associate. If you choose Pending Member, once payment is received, your listing will be "live" but limited in the amount of detail until you have been assessed as meeting the standards required.
If you choose Associate Membership, you will have a limited listing , no assesment and the listing will go live as soon as payment is received.
27. Can Home Hosting be fun, or must I be a Professional?
This often starts a good debate amongst our members! The position of the Board is that if home hosting isn't fun, then don't do it. Having "fun" 100% of the time with your guests (or at least giving the genuine appearance of having fun) even when you are not feeling that great, makes you a professional. A good maxim is "promise only what you can deliver and deliver more than you promise". Guest satisfaction comes from having their expectations exceeded - so have fun but do the job right.
28. Will I make money from being a B & B operator?
The answer to this is "not normally" - income derived from providing small scale accommodation is usually "secondary" income for operators. However B&Bs with more than two rooms and based in high traffic tourist areas can make a realistic return for their business. If you are in a retirement situation and your property is debt free, a "lifestyle" income can be quite useful to supplement other retirement income. If in full-time employment, you can also become quite "tax efficient" through operating an accommodation property. However, if you look at the value of your property and divide your income into that value to give a return on capital - you may be quite disappointed. Therefore, if the motivation to run an accommodation business is simply to "make money" you should probably not consider this sector. We strongly recommend that you seek professional advice on the matter of income derived from guest hosting activities from both the IRD and your accountant.
29. So why do it?
Only you can answer that - but to all of our members, the joy of meeting interesting people from around the world and showing them some good old fashioned "Kiwi hospitality" by sharing your home is the motivation for being involved in this "game". It is a truism that "people people make the best hosts" so it is the social interaction between you and your guests that is the best reason to get involved in this business. However, you have to accept that this "enjoyment" can be invasive, especially during a busy tourist season. You don't have to accept guests all the time, but when you do you must accept they are using your home. If you are uncomfortable with that prospect then perhaps you should consider operating self-contained apartments or a motel where there is little social contact with guests.
To help keep your home the way you want it you can set your own "house rules", for instance, just about all members have "no smoking indoors" policies. Others don't take pets or children. This is entirely your choice. Certainly a second income is useful, but if you intend making a lot of money from such activity - think again.