What is Guest House Management?

Simply put, Guest House Management is the managing and running of a guest house and all the day-to-day activities that go along with that. This includes things like handling the bookings, dealing with customers, arranging for housekeeping and more.

The tourism industry is one of the biggest and fastest growing industries in South Africa and guest houses are particularly popular with tourists. This is because it is a much more personal experience than a hotel and because there are so many guesthouses available.

Many Guest House Managers also own the guest house that they are running. One of the reasons for this is because guesthouses are usually quite small businesses and don’t have many staff members. Often a guesthouse will be run by a family, with each member helping in some way.

What are the Duties of a Guest House Manager?

The duties of a Guest House Manager include administration, maintenance, meal planning, and giving information.

The administration of a guest house involves things like making bookings, managing the guest house’s finances, keeping track of the supplies, ordering supplies when needed, and general Office Administration. Any kind of paperwork is also part of the administrative duties.

Guest House Managers also have to deliver customer service. This means that they have to deal with customer complaints, make special arrangements for customers when needed. Another part of customer service is providing guests with information. This could be anything from information about public transport, train schedules, local and nearby tourist attractions, and personal safety advice.

Guesthouses usually include at least one meal per day in the price of a room. This means that the guesthouse manager will need to plan a menu for each day. Planning these meals doesn’t simply mean deciding what food you will serve. It also means figuring out the ingredients you need and how much you will need depending on the number of guests, and how much it cost.

As the Guest House Manager, you will also be in charge of the maintenance of the guest house. Whenever something is broken or a guest reports a problem, it is your responsibility to fix it. You will regularly need to do inspections of all the rooms, the building, and equipment to make sure that it is all in perfect condition.

What is the Difference Between a Hotel, Bed and Breakfast (B&B) and a Guest House?

Many people are confused about this, especially about the difference between a B&B and a guest house. This is because these words are not used in the same way by everyone. Generally though the term B&B is used to refer to a guest house as well.

To put it simply, however, a hotel is a much bigger business with many more rooms. A hotel is often owned by another company or part of a chain of hotels, for example, the Hilton Hotels.

A guest house or B&B is a smaller, privately owned business. They usually have anywhere from four to ten rooms and are much cheaper than a hotel. A guest house also doesn’t usually have rooms like suites available.

One of the biggest advantages of a guest house is that they offer a much more personal feel to the experience. In a big hotel, it is easy to feel like ‘just another guest’ whereas in a guest house things are much more personal. In some guest houses, the owners will often even eat meals with the guests making it feel more like a family than a business.

What Kind of Salary can I Expect to Earn?

On average a Guest House Manager can expect to earn around R77 000 a year. It is important to remember, however, that this is only an average and you can earn a lot more too. Also, owning and running a guest house can be expensive and most of the money that you make will be used to maintain and improve the guest house as well as doing things like ordering supplies. A well run guest house can become a very profitable business, however.

Note: These figures were correct at the time of writing.

How can I Start my own Guesthouse?

You might be thinking about starting your own guesthouse but you’re not quite sure what you need to do and think about. There are many different things to consider when starting a guesthouse. You will need to look at your location, target market, local laws and regulations, advertising and more. If you are not a South African citizen and want to start a guest house there are other laws and regulations you need to look into as well.

Of course, the first thing you will need of course is a guesthouse. You could choose to buy a guesthouse, renovate a home, or even build one if you have the money to do so. Buying a guesthouse is the simplest way but buying an existing guesthouse is more expensive than buying a normal home.

Renovating a home is another way in which you can set up a guesthouse. The problem with this method is that it might not be cheap as you think. Renovating can become very expensive and it can mean that you have to wait months before your property is ready to use as a guesthouse.

One of the most important things to think about is your location. Are you starting your guesthouse in a tourist-rich area or is it a university town for example. In any area, you will need to look into the needs and wants of your potential clients. It is also important to remember that while you might have customers all year round, you will have more business at certain times of the year such as during tourist season.

It is important to check with the local government about where you want to start your guesthouse. There might be some problems if you want to start it outside the main tourist areas.

Once you have set up your guesthouse you will need to make sure that people know about it. This means advertising. You can advertise online, in local newspapers, and using flyers. You can also look for any local tourist publications and trying to advertise at the local tourist information centre.

If you are not a South African citizen, the first thing you will need to do is get a business permit to allow you to start a business in South Africa. Once you have done that you will go through the same kind of steps as mentioned above.

Tips for Running a Successful Guest House

So you’ve set up your guesthouse, you’ve advertised it, and you are getting many customers. That’s great, but you need to make sure that you are running your guesthouse well. If you don’t, it won’t last.

So what kind of things do you need to do to make sure your guesthouse is successful? The important thing to remember is that you want your guests to feel good when they are there. This means making it attractive, making sure it is clean and everything is in good condition, that your guests get good service, and that people know about you.

First Impressions

The outside and the entrance to your guest house are probably two of the most important areas in your guesthouse. This because they are the first things your guests see and it can easily make people decide whether they are staying there or not. Make sure that the outside of your guesthouse (including the garden) are well maintained and attractive. Not only will this make a good impression on your guests when they arrive but it might even draw in customers from the streets who haven’t booked yet.

It is also important to make sure that your vacancy/no vacancy sign is set correctly. You don’t want to lose customers because you left the sign saying that you are full when you aren’t.

The entrance or reception area to your guest house is the first impression guests get of your guesthouse. If the entrance looks dull, rundown, and dirty, it won’t matter if you have the most comfortable and amazing rooms. That first impression is what is going to make up your customers mind.


Just like your entrance that needs to be appealing, your rooms must be in good condition and attractive too. This is why it is important to make sure that nothing is broken or looking shabby. Above all, your rooms need to be neat and clean.

Also, you will need to make sure that the room has everything it needs and everything that was advertised. If you say that every room has a TV for example, you will need to make sure that every room does, in fact, have a TV. You will also need to make sure that everything is in working order. It’s no use if the room has a TV but it doesn’t work or it doesn’t have any reception.

Make sure that your rooms are cleaned daily and that guests know when you do this so that they can make sure that they are not there or make arrangements for you to do it later.

Customer Service

As important as everything else that has been mentioned is, the most important thing of all is customer service. You need to make sure that you give your guests the best service that you can.

Being friendly, professional, and helpful will make their stay at your guesthouse a pleasant experience for your guests. No one wants to stay in a place where there is poor or rude service. If your guests have a problem or a question, make sure to deal with it immediately. Being rude or making your guests wait for help will make them feel that you don’t care and they will never come back to your guesthouse again. They might even leave early and find somewhere else to stay.

If you give your customers good service, they might become a regular customer, staying with you whenever they are in the area. It is also a fact that people talk about their experiences. If your guests had poor service, they will tell their friends and family to avoid staying with you. Giving them a great experience, however, might make them recommend you to others, which will bring in more customers for you.


Yes, advertising again. It is not enough to only advertise your guesthouse when you start it. You will need to keep advertising it all year round. Make sure you know when the tourist season is and put even more effort into your advertising during these times. The more you advertise the better.

Where can I get the Skills I Need to be a Guest House Manager?

You don’t need any qualifications or training to open a guesthouse. However, getting proper training is always an advantage. Doing a course in Guest House Management will be a very good idea. It will give you skills and knowledge that you might not have thought about otherwise.

Courses in Guest House Management

There are so many different courses available. If you do a search online you will be flooded with different courses that you can do. Most of the courses you will find are short courses, but even so, you will need to decide which course is best for you.

 One great option is to do a distance learning course. Distance learning courses allow you the freedom to study when it suits you. You can even work full-time while you study. You don’t need to go to any classes and you can study from wherever you are. Skills Academy is a company that not only offers distance learning courses but also has Guest House Management courses on offer.

Skills Academy Guest House Management Courses

Here at Skills Academy, we offer three separate Guest House Management Courses. Each course can be done by itself. The three courses are the Short Course Certificate in Guest House Management, the Proficiency Certificate in Guest House Management, and the Comprehensive Certificate in Guest House Management.

The only entrance requirements to these courses are being at least 16 years old, being able to write and read in English, and having Grade 10.

Short Course Certificate in Guest House Management

This is our most basic course in the field of Guest House Management. This is a four-month course which covers three subjects. You will study:

  • Introduction to Business English
  • Face-to-Face Communication
  • Introduction to Guest House Management

Introduction to Business English teaches you all the basics you need to know about proper business communication. This includes things like Business Writing and Presentations.

One of the most important subjects you will cover in these courses is Face-to-Face Communications. This is because it is one of the most important skills you will need when you run a guesthouse. In this subject you will cover topics like non-verbal communication and listening skills.

Introduction to Guest House Management teaches you about things like doing market research, what it takes to start a guesthouse, and how to analyse your research results.

Proficiency Certificate in Guest House Management

Our intermediate course in Guest House Management is the Proficiency Certificate in Guest House Management. This eight-month course consists of five subjects, namely:

  • Introduction to Business English
  • Face-to-Face Communication
  • Introduction to Guest House Management
  • Customer Care in the Guest House
  • First Aid Concepts

Apart from everything covered in our Short Course Certificate, you will also learn about Customer Care in the Guest House and First Aid concepts.

Customer Care in the Guest House teaches you how to handle reservations and any guest enquiries, welcoming customers, and food services. First Aid Concepts teaches you what to do in case of an emergency. This covers things like first-aid procedures and basic human anatomy.

These skills are important in making sure that your guests have a pleasant and safe experience while staying at your guesthouse.

Comprehensive Certificate in Guest House Management

The Comprehensive Certificate in Guest House Management is the most advanced course in Guest House Management that we offer at Skills Academy. It is a 12-month course with seven subjects. In this course, you will study:

  • Introduction to Business English
  • Face-to-Face Communication
  • Introduction to Guest House Management
  • Customer Care in the Guest House
  • First Aid Concepts
  • The Business of Guest House Management
  • Starting and Owning your Guest House

The Business of Guest House Management teaches you everything from setting up a business plan and licences and permits, to Safety in the guest house. This subject teaches you the legal and logistical side of owning a guest house.

As the name suggests, Starting and Owning your Guest House teaches you everything you need to know about starting a guest house. You will learn about things like Planning and building, The layout of your guest house, The guest areas, The exterior of your guest house, and Service areas. You will also study topics like General management, The marketing function, The administrative function, The financial function, and much more.

I Want to Register. Now What?

If you dream of owning your own guesthouse but want to make sure you’re properly prepared, call us today. You can call us toll-free on 0800 39 00 27 or you can fill in the form and one of our consultants will call you back. Our staff are highly-trained and will be able to answer any questions you might have. They can also help you to register. Don’t delay! Let us help you on your way to starting this amazing career.

Written By: Clifford Ekron
Last Updated: June 21, 2019

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