Ever wondered why self-catering is so called? Have you been to a holiday cottage and someone has pre-lit the fire and made sure there’s milk in the fridge? Do you expect a personal welcome at the hotel door and not the holiday let? Why not?
We’ve been asking ourselves all these questions and more since we set up Bloom Stays just over a year ago. Obviously we love holiday letting, we’re mad about houses and want to make sure our guests are happy but is that enough and if it’s not, then what’s changed?
We’ve had a good look around the self-catering, staycation, holiday letting scene in the UK and having worked in it for many years, we know a fair bit too, which is why we’re excited to share a new initiative with you that we hope helps us raise the bar for self-catering holiday goers everywhere.
In short, we’re starting a conversation about hospitality. Who gets it right – and wrong? Why aren’t expectations as high for self-catering holidays as they are for hotels? They have a ‘Front of House’ and so could we, what would that look like?
The UK holiday market, already transforming before the pandemic struck in 2020, has been on fast-forward this past year. Sure, for now, foreign travel is muted, throwing the spotlight further onto the domestic scene, but that aside, the UK holiday scene is undergoing a sea-change and not only at the seaside.
Coastal resorts long maligned, are being rejuvenated; rural farm stays have had a sustainable, eco-friendly make over. Health & activity breaks are mainstream family holidays now demanding specialised, new, levels of service from bike repair to wild swimming experts, surfing sessions and wilderness trekking. We’re exhausted just thinking about it.
Against this exciting, too-many-options to choose from backdrop, self-catering breaks are holding their own. Convenient, situated in all the major tourist hot spots and with many houses genuinely special places to stay, self-catering houses can’t lose. They’re flexible, family- friendly places to stay that many people re- book year after year. So what’s wrong?
We still think there’s room to expect a bit more from holiday letting. The digital revolution has truly taken hold and whilst we can now spend hours scrolling endless photographs and sea views, our beef is with the ‘drag and drop’ approach and we’re not talking about anything you can achieve with a mouse here. We’re referring to holiday companies who drag in the customers, only to leave them – alone – at their properties once they’ve paid in full.
We’re done with ‘keys left under the mat’ welcome; well-thumbed but three years out of date, plastic wrapped ‘packs’ of information on the coffee table; sad, saggy sofas. We want owners – and guests – to expect more. We’d like warm welcomes, helpful, practical advice to be available on the end of a phone or email and a speedy respect for holiday makers’ time. We’d also like a drop of honesty about the property. Is it really suitable for young children? How steep are the stairs?
Going further, even if you’re not greeted in person at a holiday let, what about a home cooked cake on the table? Or could your online
supermarket delivery food be away in the fridge? How would that feel after a long journey with small, bored children or for that matter, tall, bored teenagers?
For the next few weeks via our Instagram live channel we’ll be offering up our thoughts on what a ‘front of house’ service could look like for holiday lets. We’re going to talk to other businesses who are brilliant at service and see what their ‘front of house’ looks like and what we can take from their experience. Along the way we’ll be sharing ideas and tips about hosting your friends and family at home and talking about what makes a brilliant welcome.
It starts with two words… ‘Bring yourself’.