Traditional Westcountry holiday firms invest in the future
The owners of a 100-year-old Westcountry hotel have described how a combination of history and technology are helping them to drive their business.
The Whitsand Bay Hotel has stood at Portwrinkle, on the South East Cornwall coast near Torpoint, since 1910 after being moved stone by stone from Torpoint where it was originally built by the 3rd Baron Graves.
For the last nine years, the 32-room hotel has been run by the Phillips family who have invested heavily in refurbishing the Grade II listed building.
"You can never rest on your laurels, you have always got to try news things to develop the business," John Phillips, one of the family, said.
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"We are always looking at ways of how we can improve, whether that is the fabric of the building, the service we give our loyal customers and how we attract people who have never been here before.
"The Internet and social media are very important to us, because we don't advertise, to get our message out there.
"We have just redesigned our website, send out regular newsletters via email, and are on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
"We are trying to attract a young clientele, young families, to come and stay with us and the Internet is a very big part of trying to reach them."
Crealy, near Exeter, has close on 500,000 visitors a year but was down 3% on footfall during 2012 while sales fell some 10%. It is making huge investment in its Internet site, marketing and advertising alongside new attractions.
General manager Josh Haywood said: "We are just about to launch our brand new website in the next few weeks and we have invested £100,000 in that.
"I think communications are more important than ever and that's why we keep people informed and have taken to Facebook and Twitter.
"People, especially now, are looking for value for money and they are doing their research online before they leave home – what their accommodation, food and fuels costs are going to be.
"So we are looking at freezing our annual membership and keeping our food prices on hold, even if we have to reduce our margins, to keep our guests happy. It is a fine balancing act to get it all right.
"Hopefully this time next year, we'll be sitting here saying what a great year 2013 was. We'd be very unlucky to have another year with the weather like last year."