Building A Unique Stay For Your Guests

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The podcast discusses the importance of creating a unique experience for short-term rental guests. Sarah Orchard shares her journey of building a one-of-a-kind treehouse inspired by their travels. Despite limited construction experience, they enlisted professionals to create a compliant and modern treehouse designed for romantic getaways with stunning views of nature.

Sarah advises hosts to research their target market and prioritize guest satisfaction to stand out in the rental market.

Visit Hudnall's Hideout at to see an example of a unique stay that embodies these principles.

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Timestamps (audio)



[00:00:00] Liam: One thing we always want to try and do as short-term rental hosts is build a unique experience, which is very sought after by guests, and that's what today's subject is gonna be about, is building a unique stay. Some of the challenges that can come along with that. And to help us with that, we've got an excellent special guest who has got a vast experience who's.

[00:00:20] Over here in the UK and has got something very special. So in a moment, we're gonna be welcome along that guest. But if this is your first time listening to this PO podcast, this is the Boostly podcast, and it helps hosts with the tools, the tactics, the training, and the confidence, so you can go out there and get more direct bookings.

[00:00:36] And this is the mini-series where we go behind a host's journey. We get their experience, they get to share some of the uh, tools, the tactics that they use within their business. And, um, to help us with that today, we've got Sarah Orchard, who is from the Huddles, hideout. Now, this is special.

[00:00:55] This is a, the only a-frame, uh, tree house, uh, that I know of in the UK. And, um, perhaps Sarah, just lets me know if there are any others in a moment, but let's welcome her along and let's dive into her business and how building this unique stay has, has, uh, I guess, changed her life. Um, so welcome along Sarah.

[00:01:15] Sarah: Hi.

[00:01:15] Thanks for having me.

Sarah’s Introduction

[00:01:17] Liam: So, Sarah, before we get started, I know I've given you a bit of a, um, a bit of an introduction there, but can you let us know, uh, more about your business, more about your journey, and give yourself an introduction? Um,

[00:01:28] Sarah: I will indeed. Uh, my name is, as you said, Sarah Orchard. I'm the co-owner of the Hubs Hideout.

[00:01:33] I actually run the business with my husband's aide, and I'm also, as you said, a bestselling author and the book Al Hosts, and I'm the creator of Get fully, which helps fellow hosts with their marketing and moving from being invisible to visible and, uh, fully put with more direct bookings.

[00:01:51] Um, we opened the Hideout in February 2020. Which was, uh, an interesting time because we got shut down five weeks later. So it's been a bit of a journey to, um, be sitting here today, sort of three d three years later, uh, from when we opened, uh, the actual business. But it took us over five years to, sort of fulfil our dream and, and create high doubt.

[00:02:14] So it's, it's been a, it's been quite a long journey.

Where did the idea come from?

[00:02:17] Liam: Where did the idea come from? How did this happen? Um, Yeah, take it away. Yeah.

[00:02:23] Sarah: Why build a tree house? Yes, exactly. Not the easy, easiest of things to build. Um, I think a lot of our friends thought we'd slightly lost the plot. Uh, we went travelling in 2004.

[00:02:33] We left our corporate jobs. We both had sort of traditional corporate jobs. I've worked in marketing since I, well, 30 years now, so, We'd been doing the very traditional sort of careers. Um, we decided to go travelling. Uh, we went around the world. It took six and a half months and we stayed in some amazing backpacking places, particularly in New Zealand, Australia.

[00:02:54] And our first tree house. We stayed in, in Salt Spring Island, which is just off the coast of Vancouver. And we decided when we came back from travelling that we were probably gonna emigrate to New Zealand. So, And set up a backpackers. We loved the sort of quirky accommodation, people using sort of, you know, raw materials, recycling, repurposing things we didn't know about an industry that was now called glamping.

[00:03:20] Um, obviously we were just backpacking, but, um, It inspired us. We, thought about immigrating and then we sort of had a bit of a reality check. New Zealand is, a long way away. Um, and we had family in the UK and we thought, well, we probably wouldn't see very many people very often, so we started looking for somewhere to create.

[00:03:41] Something different, um, in the UK. So we did a lot of research. We went to things like the glamping show, farm innovation. We went and visited other, um, people running tree houses, cuz at that point we did want to create a tree house. So we went and talked to some other owners, sort of learned from their pitfalls, things that they'd made, mistakes, things that they wished they'd known at the beginning.

[00:04:02] Um, and then we started looking for, uh, somewhere to move to. Because we were living in Guilford, which is quite a large town, not far from London. Um, didn't have much of a back garden. Not big enough to build a tree house in, so we were gonna have to move and relocate. So, it took us five years to.

[00:04:22] It took us about two and a half years to search for the actual house. And in the end, we had a little bit of help from a TV show called on the B B C called Escape to the Country. Um, and we bought house number three that they showed us. And, um, as they say, the rest is history.

Did you have any experience?

[00:04:37] Liam: Did you have any experience with construction, building, tree houses, or anything like that?

[00:04:41] Or is this you've, you've come to this fresh?

[00:04:45] Sarah: No, we are not, we're not even very good DIYers actually, and dup uppers. So, um, it was a bit of an ambitious, uh, we did work with a professional company to help us, both an architect and also with other industry experts and the Treehouse builder.

[00:05:00] Um, the tree house weighs 55 tons, um, and we had about a hundred tons worth of materials to get down to the site. So it's not something that, um, Probably most amateur builders would be able to have a go at. And also it has to comply with all of the modern UK building regulations for mm-hmm.

[00:05:18] For a new build house. So it's quite a complex structure to, to put together and it's got full utilities in terms of, you know, under-floor heating, you know, lighting. Um, it's a very cosy sort of on, on the grid rather than off-grid space. So it's, um, definitely not an easy build.

[00:05:37] Liam: So how many people does it sleep?

[00:05:39] And, uh, who do you tend to host in the, in the property?

[00:05:43] Sarah: It sleeps two. It's a very romantic space. It is designed for couples. We don't accept children, um, or dogs. Um, dogs mainly from a safety point of view. And also with children. It's got, you know, it's got a mezzanine bedroom. Um, it's four meters off the ground.

[00:05:58] So it's, it's not ideal for sort of families, but it's very much a, a sort of romantic space. And when we designed it, we designed it to try and get people as close as possible to sort of nature suit. Hence one of the reasons for an A-frame, we wanted a big glass front, to the structure. Um, and we deliberately put the bedroom right up on the mezzanine close to the glass so that people are surrounded by the tree canopy.

[00:06:25] They have a bird feeder, but they can sit and watch the B birds feeding outside the bedroom. Um, we haven't put things like curtains up. So that they wake to the sort of sunrise and, and can see nature sort of all around them. So it's, it is, they've got an outdoor bar, they've got a sauna, they've got a private lookout bar, um, to take in the views from our location cuz we're on the top of a hilltop.

[00:06:47] Um, so it's very much, uh, Designed with a sort of special occasion and, uh, romantic, stay in mind.

What has been the biggest challenge?

[00:06:55] Liam: What would you say has been, the biggest challenge and something that, um, that you'd like other people to know if they were looking to undertake this sort of, uh, venture?

[00:07:06] Sarah: Oh, where do I start? There are so many things.

[00:07:09] I think there's, do your research. You need to understand sort of who your ideal guests are. I'm a marketer, so I came at it very much from a marketing point of view in terms of thinking about who we wanted to attract. Building the experience around it. I think often hosts fall in love with a property or maybe like they're renovating something and you become very, we all do it.

[00:07:33] We become very obsessed with the actual build process and the renovation process and getting it sort of ready for our first guests. And we often don't think about it. Who do we want to attract? Mm-hmm. And engineering the experience for them. There's, there are things in the high deck that are, you wouldn't put into a normal house, but you would have curtains, you know, if you were living in that permanently, you wouldn't want to wake up to the sunrise every morning at sort of, you know, four 30 in the UK in the summer.

[00:07:58] Um, But people are on holiday and they are, you know, we, we are giving them that immersive experience. So we very much have, have done things differently to how you would do it if you were sort of, you know, designing your own home. But people often just feel that they've built it and they will come.

[00:08:16] Um, and the market definitely, there's a lot more supply in there. There's a lot more saturation, so, It is harder, for hosts and the short-term rentals to, you know, to get those direct bookings without having to rely, on the agents and the OTAs. Um, so I think if you start with the end experience in mind and design you.

[00:08:38] The total experience and your property and your short-term rental around it. Mm-hmm. It'll be successful having a blast. Gonna get it on the Boostly podcast. Bruce Lee led Bruce Lee because it's so hard on the tees. Loose leaf, making up those rhymes. Don't write it, just do it loosely.