Insightful Experiences From A Boostly Veteran

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In this Boostly podcast episode, host Liam welcomes Ged Gurney from Mersey Beach short stays, a UK short-term rental owner. Ged shares his accidental entry into serviced accommodation in 2019, transforming a dilapidated property into a Beatles-themed hotel. Facing challenges in finding the right market, 

Ged emphasizes the risks of overreliance on major OTAs based on past experiences. Ged's diverse entrepreneurial background includes marketing and a successful vending business that faced setbacks due to dependency on a single account. He highlights the importance of proper business structure. Despite personal setbacks, including bankruptcy, Ged's resilience and adaptability shine through.

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Timestamps (audio)



[00:00:00] Liam: Welcome to the Boostly podcast. This is the podcast that gives hosts the tools, the tactics, the training, and the confidence. So you can go out there and get more direct bookings. Uh, today we are going behind the host with another successful and interesting short-term rental. owner. Uh, we focusing on the UK here today, and I'm excited.

[00:00:20] Um, Jed, who we've got on today has been in Boostly's world for quite a while. And, um, I'm pleased to get his story, find out about how he got into hospitality, what he's doing now, what he's excited about and, uh, things that you'll be able to pick up and learn from his experience as well. So let me introduce Ged Gurney from Mersey Beach short stays and, um, yeah, welcome along Jed.

[00:00:42] Thanks for, for being here.

[00:00:44] Ged: Thanks, Liam. Thanks for having us. Yeah, enjoy the show. I watch it often. As I said, I've been in this market for a long time, so it interests me tremendously. You know, I think every day is a school day in this game.

A bit about Ged and the business

[00:00:57] Liam: If you can give an introduction to yourself and where your business is based in the world, what sort of business it is, how many units and how long you've been hosting, that would be awesome.

[00:01:08] Ged: Okay, super. Well, I should guess from the accent. Um, I'm a Scouser. Um, I'm regarded as a plastic Scouser because we live two and a half miles away from Liverpool. city centre, but, um, we're in a small peninsula called the Willow, and it's a, it's a beautiful part of the world. Um, it was almost an island, um, and, um, we've got a huge Beatles and Merseybeats culture, um, which, which is going on, which is the theme for my, uh, service accommodation.

[00:01:47] When I did my market research many years ago, um, I did a lot of background, um, um, marketing to why people visit. Liverpool and it's just unbelievable worldwide. People love to come and experience the Beatles phenomenon. So, I tailored my marketing, on the back of that.

How long have you been hosting?

[00:02:15] Liam: How long have you been hosting them?

[00:02:17] Jed's

[00:02:18] Ged: we've been hosting since. Well, we prepared the company in 2018. We started in 2019, um, purely by accident. Um, huge property that, uh, uh, renovated that was, uh, dilapidated and owned by a dog breeder. It was a blight on the, um, on the environment and all the neighbours hated it. Um, So I had a lot of experience in renovating properties.

[00:02:47] Um, I got mentored by my dad from, from 13. So I was quite used to going into a place and seeing how it, how it can be. And this particular property, uh, there was always a hotel in this, uh, a small terrace that I'd, I'd been in, uh, many years ago. So I already knew the footprint of this property. Um, and I knew what this dilapidated property could be like.

[00:03:14] Um, so that was. Pretty much a, um, a bit of a, a blueprint that I had in, in my mind, no one else could see it. They thought I was crazy. Um, but, um, but we, we, we transformed this, this property into a beautiful hotel. Um, it's, it's, it's a stunning place.

How long have you been hosting

[00:03:37] Liam: What would you say has been the biggest challenge? Was that the biggest challenge of, uh, starting your hospitality business?

[00:03:43] Was the conversion or has it been more in the operations and the running?

[00:03:48] Ged: Wow, that's a massive question though. There's lots of challenges, you know, um, The biggest, the biggest challenge was finding a market for this particular property, because I believe every property has got a purpose. Um, and when you've got a big 12-room Victorian property, a traditional family just can't, you can't.

[00:04:14] It's too big. So you've got the choice of splitting up into four flats and you've got HMO or whatever. When we first did this property, I used to live there. We foster a lot of children. We have had them for less than 20 years. So it was a big foster home. Um, so we knew how it functioned, we knew that it had loads of space and, um, it, we knew it had a purpose for a massive huge family and particularly for what, what we did.

[00:04:44] But we outgrew it and we had to move somewhere else to do it because we'd completed everything. Um, and, and, and we, we did just put it out for a normal AST for, it was supposed to be a professional family, but, um, they destroyed the place from top to bottom. That's how I got involved in serviced accommodation because I did look for different options.

[00:05:05] Um, and corporate let seemed, seemed, um, like the only option for, for, for this sort of, um, property. So, that's how I got involved in it. I have, I have had other businesses over the last five years, uh, in hospitality, um, in, in Liverpool. Um,

Before the business

[00:05:27] Liam: that was gonna be my question is what, what did you do before this, um, serviced accommodation, short-term rental business?

[00:05:33] Ged: Well, uh, I started in marketing many years ago. Um, NN network marketing environmental products, and, and that, that, that took me down, um, quite a few different paths to a marketing company, um, when, um, when Britain had to. Change all the legislation for European, um, compliance. Look for little portals of opportunity where, um, uh, the UK government had to change the, the law to meet lots of different, um, um, sectors, environments.

[00:06:11] employment, lots of, lots of little portals. So we created lots of little companies and sold those concepts off to different companies. That was successful. But it meant that we did lots of research in different sectors. Um, and we got involved in the, um, in the, in the hospitality industry in Liverpool, Manchester, um, um, and we were servicing the hotels, um, restaurants and the company just got so, so big.

[00:06:50] Um, and we had like five or six companies all, all service in the same customer base. Um, but, um, one of the companies was a vending company, um, and, um, you weren't allowed to give out paracetamols anymore in the workplace, for example. But if they were vented, they were self-administered. And so a lot of commercial companies were interested in that because it saved having nurses on site who could administer.

[00:07:21] So we had a lot of huge, huge multinational accounts that we, we, we, we. We saved a, uh, we solved a problem. Yeah. A, a big problem. Um, um, uh, we, we rolled it out, but we got too big. We got too big and we got too complacent, with one huge account. Mm-Hmm. Which leads me to why, um, I'm so anti, uh, a lot of the big OTAs.

[00:07:48] It's dangerous putting all your eggs in one basket because, you know, once they're starting to control you and control your company, you're in dangerous waters. Uh, and this happened to us. Um, but as a knock-on effect, it pulled all the companies down. We thought they were all structured properly and safe, but there was one little gap.

[00:08:10] Um, and that was in my marketing company. Cause it was a partnership with a Saatchi and Saatchi marketing executive. Um, but the partnership was not protected by limited company status. A lot of the liabilities, they, they, they, they landed on us. Um, which is important when, you're setting your business out to make sure it's structured properly and you're, you're, you're safe.

[00:08:35] Um, but as a consequence, um, I went bankrupt and, um, we lost, uh, we lost the business and lost, lost the house when it's a rented accommodation for seven years. And, and, and do you know what Liam, I've never been so more, uh, inspired and felt powerful because I was a little bit burnt out, to be honest with you.

[00:08:57] So many, many, many, many years. Um, so we got to the point where I took a little bit of time off, and started cleaning the beaches up locally. Uh, locals thought I was, um, I was on some sort of, um, order. Um, but I didn't, I was just doing it because I wanted to, and I was able to regain my time. I spent a lot of time with my family.

[00:09:24] Um, and, um, but as a, you know, as a compulsive workaholic and an entrepreneur, um, I got back up and running and created a couple of other companies. I was an ice sculptor, um, and an ice merchant, again, serving the same customer base. They were all. Known customers to me, they're quite easy for me to, to, I do find it quite easy to make money.

[00:09:51] I always have done. Uh, but that's 'cause I've always been self-employed. Mm-Hmm. Uh, and when you're self-employed, you have to, you have to go and create your work. Create your market. Having a blast. Gonna get it on the Lee Podcast, Bruce Lee. Let Bruce Lee 'cause it's so hard on the tea's loose leaf, making up those rhymes.

[00:10:10] Don't write it, just do it loosely.