“Learn from the hindsight of others”. BrookAve on Future, his story and on perfect guest
Please welcome BrookAve (joined the Partner Community 1 year 4 months ago) who was kind to answer a few questions on how he started the hospitality business, what it means to be a host, who is his perfect guest, and what he thinks about the industry in 2021.
Please tell us a few words about how you started to run a property. What were you doing before? Why did you decide to start this business?
It was around September 2019 I was getting fed up of the long- term rent a room, I was doing for years. Things had been at times difficult to deal with long term Renters not following house rules etc. So someone said why don’t you have a look at OTAs as a management tool to do shorter Room Letting. With my IT background of 20 years, once I had seen a few videos and some of the FAQs, the penny dropped very quickly on the immense potential this service could provide. Reduce admin tasks by automating with features of the Extranet. To being able to afford a weekly cleaner and other services.
What was the biggest challenge when you started? Were there any details of hosting that you hadn’t anticipated that you learned quickly?
Initially, it was the amount of info to absorb. Looking at what others were doing, both good and bad, learning from their mistakes. Seeing the Partner Hub, Partners vent about issues perceived and misconceived. Hindsight is great but even better to learn from the hindsight of others.
When different cultures of guests came and had mixed opinions on the condition of the house. I quickly started evolving the auto Message Templates, and wording to cover off on more details, and prioritise the order of the displayed info. In order to demystify, and make sure there were no gaps from guest’s perspective. Especially setting and managing the guests expectations, so that things like clean is clean and not have mixed review feedback comments with different ideas as to what clean means.
When did you have this feeling: “I did it, my business is doing great!”? How many months (years?) did it take?
I think I felt that in my third or fourth month, when I was streamlining my processes and procedures again and again, and had a steady flow of bookings. You do not always want guest after guest on a nightly basis, so tweaking restrictions seemed to be just right by third month.
Were there any memorable, unexpected, or amusing moments since you became a partner that taught you something about being a host?
Yes, there were times when I had to bite my tongue, and just smile and say ‘ look I get why your partner did that thing, some would consider it questionable, but let’s not have it happen again’. One time when it was an age-related condition. I smiled and said ‘don’t worry about it we can just clean it up, it’s no big deal’.
By then I had realised there were products I had not considered and discovered an amazon service called Subscribe and Save, and streamlined cleaning products and spare bedclothes, to be delivered and stocked.
What was your perfect guest? If you haven’t met them yet, will you please describe what a perfect guest looks like?
My perfect guest a few times, was someone who:
- Read the Reservation Message details, on How To find us, House Rules, How To gain entry, Which Room was for them.
- Just got on with things, go to work, or went traveling. Not at home during the day.
- Asked questions and told me if something needed my attention, instead of saying nothing and then complaining when back home in the Feedback comments.
- Was personable to others staying short and long term.
I see you are active in the Partner Community. What do you like most about it?
It is both a simple yet functional layout. While nothing is 100% perfect, there is plenty of room for development growth.
What would you like to change in the Partner Community to make it better?
There are a few pet peeves with the UX.UI. I have previous brought up I feel are basic features missing, like the Section Tabs not having a header & footer for |< << >> >| sometimes referred to as page navigation or breadcrumbs.
I feel there could be better prioritisation of issues reported as to full fill a resolution.
This past year was hard for everyone, especially partners. But did you manage to get something positive out of this tough year? Were you able to tackle any projects that you had previously put off or that you think will help prepare you for a 2021 recovery? How did you spend time you would have otherwise devoted to your business?
Yeah, I think we were all hit hard unexpectedly, due to the mixed governing decrees bey country etc., and when things started to lockdown and slowdown. Then trying to decide, well if I do x,y,z, I could actually still host. I implemented my own COVID-19 protocols, and was able to switch back to Monthly renting a room as needed. Had one Guest switch from Monthly to a year agreement, which is great. I tried to invest in the outside front and back garden areas, and implement an eating area in the back garden with a bench table. Hopefully, in better weather organise some BBQs.
What do you think the travel industry will look like in 2021? What trends do you see in the coming year?
2021 for Travel Industry I think will be very mixed due to where you are based. Of course, then the big part of this will be the Airlines ramping up again, and offering deals for later in the year. The vaccine rollout priority plans, will not get to those under 70 until later in the year, so could be looking like summertime or Q3 before the numbers of non-working travelers surge again. Initial Travellers to Dublin, Ireland come Jan will be workers returning home or consultants resume work.
What would you like to wish to your fellow partners?
I would wish for Partners to get the support they need from both local civil services, and government PPP payments, to invest in all these businesses to keep the lights on. So that when the return to traveling normalises back to what we previously had is will be easier to achieve. Of course, I suspect for the next 2 -3 years, there will be a very new normal. Such as workers wanting to book workplace friendly rooms or apartments. Where they are contracted locally but need to remotely work. Having reliable broadband service is a must.