Brand New Startup: Transforming A Vacation Discovery into a Business

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In this Boostly podcast episode, hosts Liam introduces Katie Buckley and Sally Ford, directors of Petal Barley Stays. The duo, accidental entrants into hospitality, share their journey operating luxury cottages in Yorkshire.

Emphasizing proactive communication and trust-building, they recount a guest scam incident that turned into a loyal customer. Despite managing hosting alongside full-time jobs, Katie and Sally express dedication, often working evenings and weekends. They dream of making hosting their full-time occupation.

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[00:00:00] Liam: Welcome back to the Boostly podcast. This is the podcast that gives hosts the tools, the tactics, the training, and most importantly, the confidence. So you can go out there and get more direct bookends. Today we're going behind another successful and interesting host on the behind-the-host mini series on the Boostly podcast.

[00:00:15] This is the series where we interview a. short-term rental host. We're going to find out what tools they use, and their story, and we're going to get inspiration from them about stuff that you can apply to your hospitality business and some lessons. So, uh, I'm looking forward, to this one today. We have got a great pair of girls on and so, uh, welcome along Katie Buckley and Sally Ford.

[00:00:38] Both directors of Petal Barley Stays or Petal Barley Developments and we're going to get to know their business today. So thank you for joining me and welcome along. Why don't we start by introducing where in the world you host, where you're based at the moment and anything else you'd like to share?

[00:00:56] And if we start with yourself, Katie.

A bit about Katy and Sally

[00:00:58] Katy: Hi there. Yeah, we have two luxury cottages on the east coast of Yorkshire. We are based in Huddersfield ourselves. And we are quite new to this in terms of hospitality. And we both work full-time in other industries, and we have turned our hand at this quite by accident, haven't we?

[00:01:22] Sally. saw our first property when she was on holiday in Flamborough. Um, and we, the rest is history, isn't it? You know, we kind of, we, we, we never imagined that we'd go into hospitality. We kind of wanted to invest in bricks and mortar, um, but didn't quite know. We haven't quite imagined it any further than that.

[00:01:47] Um, and then as we saw a cottage on the coast, we kind of thought, actually this would be okay as a holiday. Let, and then as I said, we so well, yeah.

Inspiration behind

[00:01:56] Liam: Sally, when you saw this, this property, you were on holiday, I take it then? Then? Yes. And is that, is that what gave you the idea and the inspiration behind this?

[00:02:03] Sally: Absolutely. Um, the, where it is, it's situated. We walk past every day. Uh, it was up for sale. Uh, I was with the parents and they, well, in fact, they said, Oh, look, have a look at this. We booked an appointment and had a look. And as soon as we walked in, we fell in love. I rang Katie and I said, it's beautiful. She said, Put an, put an offering.

[00:02:27] So straight away, she hadn't even seen it, had you?

[00:02:29] Katy: Just trusted that Sal would kind of know what, what we wanted. It had an

[00:02:34] Sally: ambience about it and it was like a house that we kept giving. It just went on and on and on and we just saw the potential. It was a mess. We rose to the

[00:02:45] Katy: challenge. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:02:47] Sally: Well, Wavecrest is Wavecrest now.

[00:02:49] It's our baby.

[00:02:51] Katy: I've just got to add to that as well. Our parents have been instrumental in supporting us in this venture, haven't they? Absolutely. Without them, we couldn't have done it yet. Yeah. Both my dad and Sal's dad have spent a lot of their weekends and their spare time, you know, they're actually at our cottage in Saltburn now.

[00:03:10] Oh, nice. Well, we're here.

[00:03:12] Liam: The help from family is just so important, especially when you get started.

[00:03:18] Katy: Pivotal in helping us. And, you know, both our dads are skilled in terms of trades. So we've, we've, we've saved money on tradesmen. Um, and yeah, we can't, we can't thank them enough for the time and energy they've put into our business.

[00:03:32] And not forgetting my mom, she's

[00:03:34] Sally: They are cooking, cleaning, sorting the bedding out. You name it, she's doing it, writing a little

[00:03:40] Katy: list for us, what we need to do next.

How far into the hospitality journey

[00:03:44] Liam: How far into your hospitality journey are you? How many years?

[00:03:48] Katy: Uh, just over two. Two years. It was just after lockdown, wasn't it? It was when we were first allowed out, just after lockdown.

[00:03:55] You'd gone away. Yeah. Um, it was December. We bought it on December 20. Yes, we launched it on June 21. So we spent six months renovating, um, the cottage and it's an old 1920s fisherman's cottage. So it's got all the old, um, beams in, it's got the old window hatch for where they brought in the nets. It's a listed, it's a listed window.

[00:04:20] So, you know, in terms of character, I think, I think one of our Models, when, when you, when you sent us our email, we're talking about model, I think it's characterful cottages, isn't it? So we, we didn't, we looked at the general kind of house, didn't we? Um, and, it just didn't feel right for us. We want, we want to have characterful cottages.

[00:04:41] The one we just bought at Saltburn is the 1800s. It's an old cottage, you know, that we've, we've fully renovated and made a fabulous space, but still kept that unique old touch.

Why do guests come and stay?

[00:04:53] Liam: What would you say is the reason that guests come and stay at your properties? What amenities are attracting them? And what have you discovered in the two years you've been doing hospitality?

[00:05:03] There have been some surprising things that you didn't know at the start of this journey.

[00:05:09] Katy: Well,

[00:05:09] Sally: I mean, I would say first and foremost, before we even get into the property is how we befriend our guests. Uh, we are there for them. We answer any questions. We're interactive with them. Communication is massive.

[00:05:26] So. Before they've even arrived, they know who we are. So they're very, very comfortable to contact us if they need anything. Um, and then I suppose when they get in the property because we've befriended them, we've been chatting with them. The first thing that when they walk through the door, they contact us.

[00:05:43] We get an email, we get a text, they ring us and they say, wow. And we get that quite a lot, don't we? Which is so lovely, that's the best part of

[00:05:52] Katy: it. The land and they just, yeah, wow, the cottage

[00:05:56] Sally: is amazing. And then they say that the pictures don't do it justice, so hearing that is like

[00:06:01] Katy: Yeah, we think our photos are pretty good, and we know that that's important because we, of course, we've had a professional photo shoot, we haven't yet at Saltburn, it's coming on Sunday.

[00:06:09] Okay. When we, um, when we go back to Saltburn at the weekend, the photographer is going to come. So by next week, we should have our full catalogue of photographs on the website for Saltburn, which is equally as impressive as Wavecrest. Um, but one of the things is people, people are already messaging us about photographs for Saltburn because they've stayed at Wavecrest and they're trusting that it's going to be fabulous.

[00:06:32] We've even had bookings at Saltburn without any photographs. Because I guess they trust in us that it's going to be as fabulous as their stay at Wavecrest. I think on the back of that, we talked about trust has been a pivotal thing, um, as a business. And I'll tell you a time about when a guest, I must have spent about three hours on the phone with a potential guest who had been scammed out of a holiday at a local holiday destination called Tattersall Lakes.

[00:07:00] And I think there's lots of scammers selling holidays that. don't exist. And they'd arrived at, um, with the family, two, two adults, two children, the car packed up full of, um, the holiday gear and arrived there and there was no holiday and they paid full, the full amount. And it took me ages to kind of direct it to the company's house, direct to our website, direct to, you know, all the things that kind of showed us as being legitimate hosts.

[00:07:24] And now she's working for us. He's a travel agent. She's So she's selling our holidays. So that just goes to show how, you know, that her putting that trust in us and now she's, she's, you know, working for us. And actually, she's stayed at both cottages. Yeah, she's been the first guest at our second cottage.

[00:07:43] Yeah, so that trust is massive. It means a lot.

How do you manage around a full-time job?

[00:07:47] Liam: How do you manage to do what you need to do around the full-time job? Because I know as hosts we're busy people in general.

[00:07:54] Sally: I've no idea. We do. Yes, so I work as an insurance broker. That is insurance brokers. And so I'm in sales. Mm-Hmm. Um, and yeah, full-time job then I'm a full-time mom.

[00:08:10] And you know, you've obviously, we run a house and Yeah. Yeah. Uh, yes. It's, it's tough. Um, but we, we, we make time, don't we? We are all passionate about this. We are passionate. We work together. We do it in evenings, um, oh, weekends. Weekends, et cetera. And yeah, we aim to eventually. this be our full-time job one day.

[00:08:31] Katy: Um, yeah, that's

[00:08:33] Sally: our dream. It can't come soon enough, but for now, um, yeah, we, yeah.

[00:08:39] Katy: Yeah. I think we don't mind putting in that time because we know that ultimately we're going to benefit from that, you know. It, it we, we take, yeah, we, we, we give that time because we know that ultimately we're gonna benefit eventually for being able to do it full time.

[00:08:54] That's, that's kind of our aim. Having a blast. Gonna get it on the Bruce Lee podcast. Bruce Lee. Let Bruce Lee 'cause it's so hard on the tea's loose leaf. I looked up those rhymes. Don't write it. Just do we Loosely.