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Views from the hammock: July 2017

A long, long time ago, we were given a hammock as a present. After it had languished in a cupboard for a few years, we finally decided on a spot to hang it. That was about four years ago. And the amazing thing was, it was a big success from the moment go. Children, with their friends or siblings, and adults, were seen lounging in it. One child described the hammock as ‘the best thing about the holiday’ and could she have one at home as well? It is wonderful to see that a small thing like that can have such an enormous impact on someone’s appreciation of a place.

Anyway, this year our hammock needed replacing so we acquired a new one. It is blue with brightly coloured stripes. The material feels really soft and comfortable. Lying in it the other day, I contemplated life against the backdrop of the beautiful view I had of the canopy above.

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Most guests see us out and about doing physical work, especially in this time of year. (On that note: We are glad to say that the ride-on mower has now been repaired and already put to good use.) What most of you do not see is all the work that goes on in the ‘back office’. Marketing is one of these things and undoubtedly one of the most important ones.

Where in the past it was mainly a case of deciding in which publication we would advertise, nowadays it is often trying to make an educated guess which ways of digital marketing will work. The speed of developments in the online world mean that we sometimes need external expert help to run – say – a Facebook campaign or tweak the website. A lot of this kind of work can feel quite surreal, and its influence very hard to grasp or predict.

A big challenge for small, independent operators such as ourselves is also how to deal with the big booking companies. We have always maintained our independence and have never taken bookings via intermediairies that insist on a commission. Not only does this shortchange us, but – more importantly – it also means our guests are charged more than is necessary. And it loosens the connection between us and our guests. For us, our guests are not numbers. We have a connection with them and try to build rapport from the moment they enquire, then book and finally stay.

We sometimes do advertise online with bigger companies but we have found that in the end they always get greedy. A case in point is OwnersDirect, a company that used to be exactly that: a channel for direct contact between guests and owners/operators. Last year, it was taken over by HomeAway, a large American conglomerate, which is now disabling all direct contact with our guests and requires that bookings are processed through their system – at a hefty fee. As a result we have decided to leave them.

How times have changed. Our predecessors, John and Barbara Lloyd, ran Rosemoor from the middle of the 1970s, for about twenty five years. They recalled the time when they did not dare leave the house after their advert appeared in a Sunday paper, in case they missed a phone call and thus a potential booking. The upside of all modern communication is at least a bit more freedom from the ‘physical office’: you could even run your office from a hammock.

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Rosemoor Country Cottages and Nature Reserve
Walwyn's Castle, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, South West Wales, UK SA62 3ED

Telephone: +44 (0)1437 781326