B&Bs Take the Stage – A New Marketing Tool

The main difference between a bed and breakfast and a hotel is that the owners of a B&B see their patrons as guests, while hotels may see their patrons as customers.

white curtains on window wall

To increase their personal appeal, a few B&B’s have added interactive murder mystery plays to their repertoire to appeal to holiday makers. From A Homicide in Horse Country to Railroad (Mis) Fortunes in the Lehigh Valley, they have turned to the theater to attract and amuse patrons. (Bed&Breakfast.com)

Entertainment Tips for House Parties, Too

Finding Talent

It’s surprisingly easy to find theatre talent. Actors, directors, storytellers and musicians love providing this form of entertainment for house parties.

My neighbor hosted a Christmas Eve party which featured two musicians/actors from nearby Colonial Williamsburg (Virginia) who played 18th C. holiday music and spun stories from Colonial Times. Guess who remembers that party some 10 years later?

The Independent Eye, based in California, tours the country every year with their own brand of story telling–only 2 actors with a plethora of puppets. For more than 40 years, The Independent Eye has toured the USA, logging over 3,000 shows in big cities and tiny towns, from Off-Broadway to church basements, even in people’s living rooms. The magic of human connection can happen anywhere, and does.

The Independent Eye

The Lady Next Door, a B&B in Cherokee, Iowa, is integrating theater into the attractions offered by their charming home-away-from home.

For the second year, they plan to do a one-man production, The Concise Christmas Carol , a 50-minute show, as part of their nightly holiday entertainment. The owners of The Lady Next Door, Andrew and Pamela Linn, have some theatrical experience, so they expect to self-produce.

The Lady Next Door is a Guest House/Vacation Rental in Cherokee, Iowa. Built in 1892, she is loaded with charm.


But what if you don’t have that experience? How can you include entertainment into your amenities? It’s not as difficult as it might seem.

The first issue is choosing the right dramatic vehicle.

Think Seasonal; Think Short

Any season of the year will lend itself to performance. Short holiday plays can spice up Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Passover, or even July 4th for guests away from home.

You can find a secular play that lends itself to otherwise religious holidays. The Trunk, for example, is a 15-minute comedy/allegory about redemption. Independence Day is a collection of short plays for seniors. Fall Back, Spring Ahead takes on the confusion of Daylight Savings Time.

people standing under the awning

Google “10-minute plays” and you’ll find a host of dramas and comedies to choose from.

Think Small Cast, Simple Set

Keep sets simple. Most living rooms or dens can be turned into mini-stages with props found in the attic or basement. Small casts make room for your actors and for your guests.

Think Local Community Theater

If you or your friends and/or staff don’t have the acting or directing itch, consider contacting your local community theater where you will find an abundance of talent.

Present them with the right script and the opportunity, and you will find an abundance of willing actors and directors just waiting to bring their magic into your establishment.

Think Readers Theater

Just getting started in your business or don’t have spare cash to hire actors or musicians? That doesn’t take you out of the game. Take a leaf out of the Murder Mystery handbook and create a Readers Theater with your guests taking part. (If there are kids, they’ll love this chance to show off their talents.)

  • Purchase enough copies of a well-known adaptation or relevant original play to go around. (Blue Moon Plays has scripts earmarked as suitable for home and B&B house parties.)
  • Find minimal props or costumes in your attic, garage, basement, or local thrift store.
  • Invite friends and neighbors to participate if you have a small group of visitors–that’s what families do.
  • Have fun! Give small prizes for your “actors.”
  • Finish the night off with your own Tony (fill in your own name here) Award.

Check out some scripts here:

So, think about taking to the stage for any upcoming holiday or just for fun. You’ll have visitors talking about their exhilarating B&B experience for years to come.

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