Niching Down: How Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe

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In this podcast, Liam interviews Andy Easton, the successful short-term rental host of Beach Retreats in Cornwall, UK. They discuss the importance of niching down, managing 250 beachside properties, and the joy of adding unique places to their portfolio.

The conversation emphasizes the value of direct bookings and the challenges in measuring marketing ROI, especially with influencers. Andy shares their diverse marketing strategy, including channels like pay-per-click, influencers, newsletters, Instagram, and TikTok experimentation.

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Timestamps (audio)



[00:00:00] Liam: Hey, everybody. Today on the Boostly podcast, we are talking about niching down and how your vibe attracts your tribe. And we're going to do that with a successful and interesting short-term rental host. We're going to ask questions about his hospitality business, uh, extract all the stuff that he's doing well that you can put into your short term.

[00:00:19] Uh, rental as you listen to it. And today we've got Andy Easton. He's coming from the UK down in Cornwall. His business is called Beach Retreats, and you can check them out at And we're going to dive into what that business is all about, as I'm sure you'll understand what niche he's going for straight away, but yeah, welcome along, Andy.

[00:00:39] Andy: Hi, Liam. It's a pleasure to be here.

[00:00:41] Liam: It's a pleasure to have you here. So start by introducing, uh, yourself and, uh, you know, what you find most enjoyable about hosting.

[00:00:50] Andy: Sure, sure. So I'm the MD for, uh, Beach Treats down here in Cornwall, and we have about 250 properties that we look after, all privately owned, and we work on a commission basis.

[00:01:02] And what do I like about the hospitality? It's bringing the new properties on. Some great new areas, secret beaches, stunning properties, great interiors, and meeting new owners and educating them about the sector.

[00:01:16] Liam: What kind of model do you use? How many units? And uh, what kind of guests do you tend to host the most?

What kind of model do you use?

[00:01:23] Andy: Sure, sure. So we've been around about 14, 15 years now. We are part of the Watergate Bay Hotel Group. So if you've been down in North Cornwall, you might know Watergate Bay between Newquay and Padstow. And we've, we've kind of grown from that hotel DNA, looking after guests and offering great guest experiences on the beach.

[00:01:45] So we, we now look after 250, 255 properties that we've got in the portfolio now. All united by, uh, that, that, that characteristic of being within walking distance of a beach, having good local amenities or the beach cafe, good restaurants, and the water sports, and you know, and contemporary interiors. As well.

[00:02:08] So the, you know, the modern kitchens and newly built properties resonate with our guests.

[00:02:15] Liam: You mentioned before, and I know we mentioned this just off of air beforehand, but I asked, are all of your properties near the beach? I mean, it sounds like an obvious question, but you know, you said they're all within walking distance of the beach, which is so important.

[00:02:29] And this is what brings us back to, you know, the vibe attracts the tribe. If people know what a business does. And, um, there was a great video recently by a chap called Daniel Priestley, who says that when you're doing an elevator pitch, people like to put you into some sort of box. So, instantly, I now know that, um, you know, beach retreat.

[00:02:49] Co. UK is, hey, I can walk to the beach, so I know if I want that kind of, the feel of, hey, I can walk and there's, there's a, there's a beach close by there are activities than I know where to go. And, um, yeah, that's, that's cool. So where do you market your, um, your properties at the moment? Oh,

[00:03:07] Andy: everyone books direct.

[00:03:09] I think it's kind of something we're proud of. We have a few properties where the audience has asked for this. on Airbnb, and that's fine. We'll do that for them, but it's book-direct. So the marketing is a really kind of broad mix of channels. I come back to the, uh, the guest journey when they're booking a self-catering holiday in Cornwall.

[00:03:31] It's a very kind of planned, quite traditional market. It's that once-a-year holiday with the family, uh, when they're coming down to mark a special occasion, uh, To, uh, go to an event. So the journey from, right, I'm going to book a holiday to arriving is very, uh, can be very kind of drawn out. It's a few months of looking around the internet and, uh, actually picking out the areas and the type of property and the dates are all kind of coming together.

[00:04:01] So, uh, the marketing tends to be based on that demographic and their interests, the walkers, the people who like to do yoga on the beach, the people who like to get in the water, and it's just kind of like dripping some nice content. To them, uh, at different points where when they're ready is the book, each retreats the three, which the name, you know, the, that they think of.

[00:04:23] So that's kind of, it's nice Instagram shots of the sunset. It's, uh, might be an event that's happening down here or, uh, that, that, that course so pass, which is, uh, just. reopened, that, uh, is that driver for wanting to book a holiday. So when, so if you look at the, the marketing and where our bookings come from, it's, it's very much a mix of a bit of pay per click, a lot of influencer stares and, uh, reaching out to journalists.

[00:04:54] But then it's a, our newsletter, Instagram account has been effective over the past few years. And now we're playing with Tik TOK and seeing how that learning from what, how that contributes to that journey, but it's very much a suite of tools that generate that one booking.

How much work does direct booking take?

[00:05:09] Liam: How much work do direct bookings take?

[00:05:13] And I said, well, it depends on your business, but for you, how much work do direct bookings take? Is it, is it more, is it, what would you say? And is it all worth it doing all this?

[00:05:26] Andy: Yes, it just, especially when you commit to managing your brand on a social media channel, it's not something that you can back away from.

[00:05:34] And quite often, it's difficult to see that direct return on the investment, I think, with these channels. Especially with influencer marketing is a great one in that we've had some really kind of, uh, interesting guests stay with us, quite well-known people in their families come down and you'll see this spike in the traffic and all of a sudden you'll get a few phone calls.

[00:05:59] But you might get awareness 000 followers of a really good Cornish influencer. But they don't all translate into bookings there and then. So it's actually kind of if you imagine that we do that in November, the influencer comes out of season, so we've got availability, it's quite easy to arrange, and that, the people who see that influencer, Might book a holiday in January for next, next July, I guess, or it might book and get there this weekend.

[00:06:29] There's everyone in between that, that you're reaching out to. So it's very difficult to measure, uh, uh, return on investment in that respect. But our approach would be that, uh, we know who our customers are. Uh, we, we know where they live, uh, what age they are, what they like to do. And via the newsletter and social media throughout the year.

[00:06:52] Thank you. And it's not all book now messages. It's very much just, uh, look at this, I hear some dolphins that, uh, came, came through the bay today. And, you know, a few drawing shots always kind of work in terms of engagement. Everyone likes to see a beach from the air.

How did you find out who your demographic was?

[00:07:09] Liam: You mentioned, first of all, you know who your demographic is.

[00:07:13] How did you find out who your demographic is? And for people listening going, do you know what? I don't know who my demographic is. How did you find out your demographic? What? Uh, are there any tips that you can share about that? Well,

[00:07:24] Andy: we used, uh, we, we, yeah, use Facebook. It's quite a good insight into who's looking at your site, and who's engaging with your site.

[00:07:32] I mean, we've got 50, 000 plus followers on Facebook. It's quite a really good body of, uh, a body of, uh, customers to look at. And, but we, we, we did a guest survey about three, four years ago, and it was an incentive to win an iPad. The questions were, you know, very much just geared towards, uh, understanding who our guests are and spending a bit of time thinking about the questions and what you want to get out of that survey before you rushed into it helped us.

[00:08:02] Mm-Hmm. . So we, we asked questions, uh, about what they like to do, uh, and, you know, uh, whether I like to go, it just, it wasn't kind of, it was quite specific to questions that we wanted to answer on activities and, uh. when they like to travel. I think the really interesting one is, uh, the people who, you know, he comes out of Cornwall in July and August.

[00:08:25] It's a very different experience to coming down in September, uh, as are most UK staycation destinations I would imagine. So yeah, we, we, we did a simple survey for the price of an iPad. We got some really good insights into, uh, into who our guests are and what they like to do.

[00:08:44] Liam: Having a blast. Gonna get it on the Boostly podcast.

[00:08:47] Bruce Lee. Let Bruce Lee 'cause it's so hard on the tees. Loosely. I looked up those rhymes. Don't write it, just do it loosely.