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Mates rates

What constitutes a mate?

A question that never really needed answering until now. Having never had a job which rains down perks upon my grateful little head I have never really had that ‘Who shall I take as my plus one to this fantastic event?’ problem. Obviously I have needed plus ones, but rarely for anything very interesting. Once I had to find someone to take to the opening of an exhibition but that was more of a case of who I could get to come with me, I was hardly beating offers off with a stick. Now however, I am in the enviable position of having more mates than I know what to do with.

Before I continue I should make the point that I am delighted to have so many people excited for Danny and I, so many people who are really supportive of what we’re doing, the announcement of the name last week has given both of us renewed excitement about this venture.

All that aside I am still faced with the ‘mates rates’ question.

Now we knew it was going to come up and it’s something we’ve discussed a lot – what kind of ‘mates rates’ do we offer, and who do we offer it to? Between Danny and I we have a fair amount of friends, family, friends of family, and work colleagues that could be considered ‘mates'; not to mention the amount of people on Facebook that we are ‘friends’ with.

Yes, there are lots of ‘mates’ but there’s also one other key thing beginning with ‘m’ that should be considered – our MORTGAGE, which is huge; not to mention our MONEY which is ever-decreasing. I’m not going to bore you with the plethora of things that we haven’t budgeted for as they are all so minor that you would laugh, yet it all adds up and if I think about them for too long it usually results in me having a very small panic attack about bankruptcy.

So, here we are, the possibility of us opening at the beginning of April is now no longer a pipe dream, it’s a very necessary reality and guests are what’s needed. Like Churchill in WWII we need you to sign up and be counted – and what better way to entice you in than with a nonchalant “Of course we’ll do mates rates” answer to your question.

Yes, of course we WANT to give discounts to everyone, we want you to come and stay not only to see us, but to also experience everything St Ives and Cornwall has to offer. We want people to fall in love with the place as we did, and we want them to have a fantastic time at Little Leaf, but we just can’t go round promising crazy rates to anyone that once knew us, or once knew members of our family, or once worked with us on a project in 2004.

Nor do we want to feel resentful towards guests by devaluing the service we hope to be providing. Delivering 100% service yet only getting paid for 75% – I know myself well enough to know that that’s not going to go down well. As a chronic people-pleaser desperate for your love and approval I want to give you a giant discount and make you make you smile. As the owner of a guesthouse with a burgeoning overdraft I fear that I will have to do the opposite.

This musing leads me back to the original question “Who is a mate?”, and “What kind of rates should they get?”.

What about a means test? Ask people questions about Danny and I to see who really does know us. Where did we meet? How long have we been together? When did I first start writing this blog? – no cheating now! That should separate the wheat from the chaff, even if it’s somewhat unconventional. Or, how about we ask for something in return… what do they do and what discounts could they offer us? After all, accountants must get asked for free advice all the time, not to mention lawyers and doctors; and I’d be lying if I hadn’t taken advantage of that in the past.

It’s a minefield and you’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. Having worked in sales for nearly 14 years I’m a stickler for standing by prices and not devaluing the product. It’s short term gain vs. long term strategy and as we’re in it for the long haul I know in my heart of hearts that we’ll have to do the right thing, and whatever that might end up being I don’t think much of your chances of getting a huge discount… but do come and stay anyway, you never know you might just think it’s worth it!

Ann Patey says:

Rich’s suggestion sounds really good and makes perfect sense. Win, win! Don’t be too generous with mates rates, you need to cover your costs and make something on top otherwise you will eventually feel resentful. I’d suggest no more than 10% discount unless they are very special mates. When I was in IT I’ve had friends of friends expecting my expertise for nothing, yes zero amount, because they are just downright cheeky, stingy beggars!

Alyson Reay says:

I agree that you shouldn’t be giving mates rates at peak times. I think real mates would want you to make a living out of your new venture and by expecting discounts at times when you could sell the rooms over and over, they are just undermining your offering and your ability to make that living. I agree that an abundance of ‘mates’ could make you feel resentful when you have to put so much effort in to earn a crust. x

Lee Rotbart says:

That’s great Rich. Really good idea… that way when everyone asks for their mates rates I can tell them that they’re only available between ‘x’ and ‘x’… obviously, everyone wants to come in the Summer but that’s their choice :-)

Rich says:

Probably where the option for mates rates comes in is late availability/off peak. After all, an empty room makes for no cashflow at all, so that’s when you maybe can combine the useful turnover of a booking, albeit at a lower rate, with offering something special to a genuine friend or two of long standing who would do the same for you (or has done). It’s the same as a last minute booking discount you’d possible offer anyway – but you give mates first dibs!

Matt says:

I class myself as an acquaintance. Do you do acquaintance rates?