My perfect guesthouse
In The beginning on Monday, July 19th, 2010
Everyone’s an expert! Or so it seems.
Everybody we speak to about this project knows exactly what they’d cook for breakfast, how the rooms would be decorated, what time they’d have breakfast, what they’d offer people in the way of extras, how they’d market, and whether they would be dog friendly or not.
My sister pointed out that it was like being pregnant and discussing names for the soon-to-be-born baby, everyone has an opinion about what you should call / not call your unborn child, and this isn’t that much different. In the end her and her husband just clammed up, and I suspect that’s what we might have to do.
The thing is, everyone LOVES a B&B and like the government campaign for teaching, everyone remembers a good one. Yet ask people what they remember and I can almost guarantee they won’t say:
“I was having a miserable time until I came down to breakfast, and there were two sausages, not the expected one, on my plate in the morning; after that, they could do not wrong”.
Very few people (in my humble, non-experienced opinion) will base their love of a place on one or two details: Yet I do believe they will remember the feel of a place when they walked in the door, they will remember if the proprietors were helpful and friendly, they will remember if they had a good night’s sleep, and they will remember if the view took their breath away when they looked out of the bedroom window.
I’m slowly realising, after the third heated debate about the breakfast menu, that the most important thing about this guesthouse is that it resembles us. The best possible version of ‘us’, but ‘us’ nonetheless. That way, while other people’s ideas are welcomed (really – they are), they are not going to inform what we do more than we will.
If we choose not to be dog friendly then we will not attract dog owners, but we will attract those that don’t like dogs. If we choose to allow kids under 12 then we will attract families, while losing DINKYs, and so on.
Ultimately, the guests are the most important people in this equation and as we have no experience of them yet, we have to do what we would love, what we are proud to offer / cook / decorate… and then tweak as per guest feedback.
I have no doubt that we will get it wrong on occasion, but isn’t that part and parcel of a new venture? After all Edison invented hundreds of light bulbs that didn’t work before he found one that did, and wasn’t that process of elimination equally valuable?
Not that I’m saying we want thousands of guests to have a horrible experience until we come across the winning formula, we don’t. What I am saying, however, is that we will create our perfect guesthouse and while it might not be what you would do, or you, or even you… it will still be just right.