Today, we interview Laura Neilson of Raithwaite Estate, Whitby! Read on to see what she has to say.
Raithwaite Estate wears many hats. Can you explain all of the services you provide for guests?
We offer a huge range of products and services at Raithwaite Estate, I have listed them all for ease, but I would be more than happy to elaborate where required.
We have accommodation as follows:
- Two hotels totalling 72 bedrooms
- Eight luxury self-catering cottages ranging in size from 1 bedroom to 3 bedrooms
- A stunning 6-bedroom Lake House
Raithwaite offers pet-friendly properties and rooms. We also have rooms and cottages suitable for families and groups. We are licensed to hold wedding ceremonies and have an outdoor wedding gazebo within our gardens. We can accommodate wedding celebrations for up to 130 guests.
There are a variety of rooms here which are great for conferences, but one of our biggest selling points is our location and our grounds, in which we can hold amazing team building and outdoor pursuits events. Within our grounds, we maintain our own orienteering course, as well as so many amazing walks around the properties. We have even had groups do stand-up paddle boarding on our lake.
In terms of food and drink, we have two restaurants, two bars, and a lovely conservatory overlooking the gardens. We serve light bites, afternoon tea and evening meals all week.
All of our food outlets are open to both residents and non-residents of the hotel. We can even offer private chef services to guests, along with providing hampers, picnics and room service.
Our spa is the only one of its kind in Whitby. It has floor to ceiling glass windows which look out onto the grounds and stream. It has a jacuzzi, steam room, sauna, heated pool, relaxation room, small gym, and four treatment rooms.
The treatments on offer range from shoulder massages to champagne and truffle facials. Our current product of choice is Temple Spa.
What would you say is Raithwaite’s Unique Selling Point?
I think our USP is the level of service and the overall product we offer as a Whitby hotel. We recently won an award based on our great guest reviews! We are also very lucky, of course, to have such amazing surroundings, being as close as we are to the beach and the North York Moors.
What is your role there?
I am the Marketing Manager and I have been here for two and half years. I started as a Marketing Assistant and have been lucky enough to progress during my time at the company.
It’s a great place to work. One of the things I love most about my job is the team here. Raithwaite is a big Estate, but there really is a great sense of friendship and respect amongst us all.
How much do you rely on the online travel agents?
A proportion of our accommodation business does come from OTAs such as Booking.com. Our marketing and sales focus is always to encourage direct booking.
Your website is fantastic. Who designed it?
Our website was actually built by a long-serving supplier of our Management company, Inn-intelligence. We worked with them very closely during the development. The imagery and content are now maintained in house by myself.
Which booking engine do you use?
We currently use SynXis and have previously used Site Minder.
How much time and effort do you invest in email marketing?
We have a large database as well as a separate loyalty scheme database, so I do spend a fair bit of time and effort on email marketing. There is so much to talk about here at the Estate I am always kept busy.
I think it is really important to be consistent with your emails and always cover a broad range of interesting topics. There is a fine line between gaining good coverage with your emails and annoying people by sending so many, so ensuring you have that balance right is important.
Your social media presence is great. Do you do it in-house, or outsource it?
I do all of the social media myself. Again, there is so much to work with here, the grounds are so beautiful it really makes the task enjoyable. Our Facebook page in particular works really well as a lead generator as well as an awareness tool, so it’s something I invest quite a lot of time in.
What are the benefits of spending time and money on social media, in your opinion?
Social media is a great way to showcase your hotel and raise awareness of a particular product or offer. This is an audience that has chosen to follow you, so they want to see and know more about your business.
Paid advertising is also great, it can be as broad or as targeted as you need it to be. Our marketing strategy this year has involved a lot more paid Facebook advertising.
How important is TripAdvisor to your business?
Trip Advisor is important to us and can be a great place for customers to understand more about your business from a guest’s perspective. The opinion of others can sometimes be more valuable than how you advertise your business.
However, people who read Trip Advisor reviews must consider that the review is the opinion of just one person, and some reviews need to be taken with a pinch of salt!
I think it is important as a hotel owner/manager to read and respond to your reviews. Trip Advisor when monitored correctly can be a useful tool to highlight trends. If a trend is negative, once properly rectified it can actually have a positive impact on your business.
Finally, I also think it’s a great motivational platform for employees to see that their hard work is paying off.
How does your customer loyalty program work?
Our Raithwaite loyalty programme is designed to encourage direct bookings. We reward those that use the scheme with things such as complimentary wine, complimentary upgrades, exclusive discounts, etc.
What are the plans for Raithwaite moving forward?
There is a bright future ahead for Raithwaite. Watch this space!
Thank you very much for taking the time out to answer our questions. Finally, where can we follow Raithwrate Estate online?
The best place would be our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Raithwaite/.