The Mississippi Development Authority’s 2012 development workshop for the Mississippi bed & breakfast industry (B&B’s) kicked off last week with meetings in Columbus, Clarksdale and at Jackson’s popular Fairview Inn.
MDA representative Joy Foy says the program hopes to grow the industry and is in its third year thanks to a partnership between MDA, the Mississippi Department of Archives & History, and the Bed & Breakfast Association of Mississippi.
Further workshops will be held September 5-7 in Natchez, Hattiesburg and Gulfport.
“We haven’t had masses, but we didn’t expect to have big crowds.” Foy said. “We feel like those who have attended are those who are really interested and we have been very pleased.”
Designed to teach prospective owners the basics on B&B operations, management and promotions, the workshop will address issues like business plans, historical impacts, zoning regulations, tax credits and how to find that perfect property.
Foy says that even in a down economy, people wanting a classic Mississippi getaway are still spending money on the bed & breakfast experience.
“Maybe we’re a little off in thinking people’s expendable income is not where it was,” she said. “Mississippi’s occupancy rate is higher than the national. We’re bucking the trend here.”
“Marketing is one of the biggest aspects of a bed & breakfast,” says Peter Sharp, proprietor of Jackson’s historic Fairview Inn. “We work to be as visible as we can be both on the Internet and in the local community so that we get referral business.”
Sharp spoke further with MBJ-TV about how the Mississippi Delta could be utilized for further B&B development.