What’s in a Name?

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As we look at properties that might fit our goals for a B&B and our primary residence, I know that once we decide, we are also going to have to decide on a name for the place. We don’t want potential guests to refer to us as “that B&B down near the college.” A couple of the houses we’re looking at are already on the historic register and have “names” – one was an original homestead here, which is saying something, so we wouldn’t want to mess with that. But most of our choices don’t have a name – yet.

How does one decide what to name their B&B??

In order to research this problem, I do what I always do – I google it.

Here are some suggestions from an article called “How to Name Your Bed & Breakfast” – it was the first hit on google.

  1. Make a fairly long list of potential names before settling on one.
  2. Ask some friends whose opinions you trust to give honest input.
  3. Consider using your inn’s location in the name. But be careful — names like Inn by the Sea are overused.
  4. If your inn has a special history, consider working that into the name.
  5. Think about alternative meanings. For example, “Harry” sounds like “hairy” and might not always be particularly inviting.
  6. 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
  7. 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.
  8. Think about how it will look in a logo. Long names can be hard to use on brochures and business cards.
  9. 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.
  10. Don’t forget that someday you’ll 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.
  11. Think alphabetically. Some B&B directories list inns in alphabetical order. Apple House Bed and Breakfast scores better here than Yellow Frog Inn.
  12. 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.

These are all great ideas, and it appears I have some significant work ahead of me on this topic of naming our B&B. There’s a lot of pressure in getting this right. As an author, I know that there’s a lot of work that goes into titling a book. I suspect the process is similar. We may need help from some of our friends. I want to communicate a sense of history, of place, but most importantly of hospitality and peace. Feel free to contribute to our “long list of potential names”!

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