Naming your bed and breakfast is one of the most important decisions you will make as an innkeeper. You're likely to be stuck with whatever you pick forever, so do not make a hasty choice. From a marketing perspective, you want the name to be original so nobody has used it before. You also want a name that's easy to remember and simple to search online for guests looking to book a trip.
Coming up With a Good Name
- Make a fairly long list of potential names before settling on one.
- Ask some friends whose opinions you trust to give honest input.
- Consider using your inn's location in the name. But be careful—names like Inn by the Sea are overused, and you want the name to stick out from other hotels, inns, and resorts.
- If your inn has a special history, consider working that into the name.
- Think about alternative meanings. For example, "Harry" sounds like "hairy" and might not always be particularly inviting.
- Say the name out loud several times, and have people who aren't familiar with it do the same. Names that are hard to pronounce aren't the most useful.
- Make sure it's fresh. Search for the name on the Internet—if dozens of hits come up in any context, or if even a small handful of other bed and breakfasts are already using the name, throw it away.
- Think about how it will look in a logo. Long names can be hard to use on brochures and business cards.
- Look up potential URLs. If you want to be Smith's Bed and Breakfast, look up URLs like smiths.com and smithsbb.com to make sure a good one is available for you. And, since domain registration is relatively inexpensive, you may as well go ahead and reserve any domain name you might want in the future.
- Don't forget that someday you may want to sell the inn. Personal names (e.g. Smith's Bed and Breakfast) generally don't pass on as well as names like Golden Eagle Bed and Breakfast.
- Think alphabetically. Some B&B directories list inns in alphabetical order. Apple House Bed and Breakfast scores better here than Yellow Frog Inn.
- Remember that naming your inn should balance all of these suggestions. AAA Bed and Breakfast might get you good placement in some inn directories, but it sounds stale and institutional.
- Make sure you like the name. After all, it is your bed and breakfast!
If you're really having trouble, consider contacting a local advertising agency or marketing company for a consultation. Some can even set up a focus group to review your options. You may also want to keep these consultants around for any further questions as you start your new business. On the downside, this will cost money, but it will be money well spent in the grand scheme of your B&B. Most entrepreneurs and new business owners would prefer to do the research—and pay well for it up front—rather than have a tough time getting customers and guests down the road.