Category Archives: News

Young couple standing at hotel corridor upon arrival, looking for room, holding suitcases

Historic houses and cultural cities: why tourists love the UK

Inbound and domestic tourism is on the up in the UK. More people are visiting from overseas and more residents are choosing a staycation over a trip abroad.

According to VisitBritain, 2017 set a record for inbound tourism with 39.2 million visits, and British residents took 47.2 million holiday trips in the UK last year.

So what’s attracting overseas visitors and what’s keeping us Brits here? Is it the beautiful landscapes, the quintessential British pub or our cultural cities?

Here’s some interesting facts which may or may not surprise you from VisitBritain:

1) Visitors love our historic properties, such as houses, palaces, mills, monuments and boats. Visits to these attractions were up by 8%.

2) The British Museum was the most visited ‘free’ attraction for the 10th consecutive year with nearly six million visitors.

3) The Tower of London topped the list as the most visited ‘paid for’ attraction for the ninth year running with 2.8 million visitors. Chester Zoo came second with 1.9 million visitors and 1.58 million people walked around the famous prehistoric monument and cultural heritage attraction, Stonehenge, last year.

4) More people are getting closer to nature visiting farm attractions. Visitor numbers to these family friendly locations are up by 5%.

5) More Brits are taking short breaks of 1-3 nights which accounts for two-thirds of English holidays and is worth £19 billion to the economy. But, according to the stats, we’re visiting our friends and relatives less.

6) 14.2 million overnight business trips were taken last year in England. That’s the same as the year before.

7) Overseas tourists are spending on average £625 per visit. That’s up from £599 from the previous year.

8) Last year nearly two-in-five inbound visits to the UK were for a holiday (39%), whilst a quarter (22%) were for business.

9) The top three countries visiting the UK are France, the USA and Germany.

10) Last year 76% of visitors reached the UK by air. The rest travelled by ferry or the Channel Tunnel.

11)  Interestingly, visitors who fly tend to spend more when they get here.

12) Tourism is worth £106 billion annually to England.

With beautiful beaches, cultural cities and historic houses, the UK has so much to offer both overseas and resident holiday makers. What’s on your doorstep that could be enticing more visitors to stay with you?

Stewart Hindley has been helping B&Bs and boutique hotels to secure the right hospitality finance package for their business for more than 13 years. If you’d like to discuss your hospitality finance requirements, give us a call today on 01488 393046.

 

hungryjobs

Hungry Jobs – Specialists in the Hospitality Sector

What can HungryJobs do for you?

HungryJobs is a UK based job board which specialises in the hospitality industry. With so many job boards and recruitment websites nowadays, it can be hard to know where to post jobs in order to fulfil your recruitment needs. HungryJobs stands out in a saturated market for the following reasons:

  1.  Low cost job adverts. With adverts costing just £20 they are extremely cost effective and also offer discounts when purchasing several adverts at once.
  2. Screening questions. You have the option to set several screening questions meaning you should only receive applications from candidates most suited to the role.
  1. CV builder. Candidates have the option to build their own CVs if they do not already have one. Employers will therefore receive a detailed overview of a candidate’s previous experience.
  1. Social media presence. HungryJobs is active on Facebook and Instagram and often share job adverts on these platforms meaning your advert reaches a larger audience.
  1. Translation of job adverts. HungryJobs is happy to arrange for the translation of job adverts where required and can be contacted directly about this via their website.

Finally, the design of the HungryJobs website stands out as a modern platform which will attract candidates to apply for your positions. Visit the website today at www.hungryjobs.com and see for yourself.

Recommended books for B&B owners

Guest Blog: Prepare Your B&B for a Quick Sale

Selling any business in a rush is never an optimum choice. But if you need to sell your B&B quickly, it could perhaps be that you, or someone close to you, has suffered an illness which makes it impossible to manage the regular commitment the hospitality business demands.

Or you might have experienced unexpected changes which will impact your business prospects.

It isn’t always possible to sell a business quickly, but this is what you should do to prepare for a quick sale and give yourself the best possible chance of securing the deal you want:

Initial preparation

If at all possible, you should continue to accept bookings as normal.

When an owner is in your position and looking to sell, there is a great temptation to scale back your trading – perhaps turning down one-night stays or opening just for the high-season summer months.

This is understandable, given your circumstances, but any evidence of a decline in your trading may make selling even more difficult.

Any prospective buyer looking for finance will find lenders reluctant to commit once they note the downturn in historical profits. Another reason for trying to commit to ‘business as usual’ is that continuing to gather positive online reviews is the best way to ensure you still get to sell for a good price.

Looking at your preparation in broader terms, there would normally be a three-year preparatory period to achieve comprehensive results. But if time is short, you must at least have your financial records in good order and presenting a true picture of your trading over the last three years (or more).

Would-be purchasers will take a close interest in your business records, as will any due diligence team. So, you should be ready to answer a whole raft of probing questions about:

  • Peak business periods
  • Off-season arrangements
  • The profile of typical guest categories
  • Repeat bookings
  • Your cancellation policy
  • Your main local rivals

and much more.

In particular, you will be asked to explain the pattern of trading peaks and troughs that your P&L will reveal.

So, be very sure you can give accurate and relevant explanations of all your trading data.

When responding to seller-side queries, your absolute honesty about all business matters will do much to create an atmosphere of trust and confidence. In fact, experts agree that the truthfulness of your approach is considerably more important than the quality of the information you disclose.

You can also show an interested buyer that you are really ready for a quick sale by preparing a comprehensive handover package detailing all the important information about running your business.

This will help your buyer to conceptualise the ownership tasks, and also reassures everyone that you don’t intend to just disappear into the night!

Valuation and advertising

Your valuation is best completed by professionals who understand the hospitality market.

This ensures your premises will be assessed and valued using the customary methods for your sector. And, your valuers will also be able to highlight all the desirable features of your business which truly support the valuation figure they propose.

Many business brokers will be able to advertise your business for a quick sale and will also be able to discuss how to maximise your selling price. This is especially important, given that you will need good advice on how much you should be prepared to compromise on your final selling price in order to generate genuine interest in a quick sale.

And if you feel sufficiently knowledgeable about your business, are thoroughly prepared, and are confident enough to handle matters for yourself, then you could also advertise your business on BusinessesForSale.com.

Due diligence

At this stage, your seller’s professional team will scrutinise your business in great detail to test whether the sale valuation reflects the true value of your business.

This is where your careful preparation will begin to pay off. You should also respond to any requests for further information as soon as possible, otherwise this can create delays and perhaps cause a buyer to lose interest.

Finding a buyer will reward all your intensive preparation. But do check that any prospective purchaser wanting to buy your business has the necessary finance in place, because this could otherwise cause a significant delay in closing the deal.

And once the contracts have been signed, you can get down to enjoying your future life beyond the B&B.

By Jo Thornley, Head of Brand and Partnerships at Dynamis. Joining in 2005 to co-ordinate PR and communications and produce editorial across all business brands. She earned her spurs managing the communications strategy and now creates and develops partnerships between BusinessesForSale.com, FranchiseSales.com and PropertySales.com and likeminded companies.

 

instagram-social-media-use

Should you be marketing your B&B using social media?

Marketing your B&B using social media can be a double-edged sword. Whilst it can do wonders for your business, if you’re not making the right impression, then social media could damage your business irreparably.

What is social media?

Social media isn’t just Facebook and Twitter, although these are the most established platforms. There are all sorts of other social media platforms that you can use to promote your business. Social media is any method in which you and your potential customers can interact online.

It could be Facebook, but it could also be Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat or one of a multitude of others.

The pros of using social media when marketing your B&B

  • You can reach out to new potential visitors.
  • You can connect to local events, and those attending them, by joining in with topical conversations.
  • It’s a free way to promote your business.
  • It’s visual, so you can get creative with the key selling points of your B&B.

Cook a mean full English? Show them. By getting their mouth watering, your posts will have more of an impact.

  • It’s very fashionable at the moment.
  • It’s versatile. Whether you want to invest some money in paid promotion, promote things to past visitors only, or reach out to a whole new market, social media has the structure in place to do it.

The cons of using social media when marketing your B&B

  • Once you start, you have to keep going. It’s a sustained approach that’s going to win you business.
  • You could spend a lot of time not making any gains unless you have a strategy and stick to it.
  • You may need to develop a thick skin. Comments and feedback aren’t always kind, but most of the time, even the painful ones can be useful feedback. Dealing with these negative comments in an adult and courteous manner, will go a long way to setting you back on the right track.
  • You need to be IT literate, or know someone who is that doesn’t mind helping out, if you are going to use social media.

So, if you want to use social media, it can be a very valuable tool, if you use it the right way. It’s worth investing in a short training course to get up to speed with how to use social media if you’re new to it. Then you can read our blog for hints on how to get the most from using social media to market your B&B.

Stewart Hindley & Partners are specialists in securing hospitality finance to enable you to own the B&B or boutique hotel that you’ve been dreaming of. However, we’re in it for the long run so, here in our blog, we also post articles about how to make your B&B a successful and sustainable business.

To speak to one of our advisors about your hospitality finance requirements give us a call on 01488 393040.

 

alcohol-licence

How to secure an alcohol licence for hotels – key questions hotel owners ask

If you own a B&B or a hotel, then it may be worthwhile offering your guests the chance to buy alcohol. If you intend to sell alcohol, or to offer it on a permanent basis in your premises, then you’ll need to apply for an alcohol licence for hotels.

However, unless you’ve done this before, it can be a bit of a minefield.

Here are some of the key questions asked by hotel owners considering selling alcohol:

Does everyone need a licence if they plan to supply alcohol?

If you are a business or organisation wishing to sell or supply alcohol on a permanent basis, you’ll need to apply for a premises alcohol licence for hotels.

Even if you are hosting a wedding or a party and want to sell or supply alcohol for a one-off event, you’ll still need a licence.

How do you apply for a licence?

You’ll need to complete an application form and send that, together with the fee, to your local council. You can find the right licence for your event using the government’s licence finder here.

How much does an alcohol licence cost?

Alcohol licence fees are set by the Licensing Act 2003. The costs are tiered based on the amount of alcohol you expect to sell or supply, and your primary business purpose. At the time of writing, the lowest level starts at £100 for a new application, and £70 for renewal, increasing to total fees of thousands for new licences at premises primarily designed to sell alcohol.

Does someone on site need to be licensed too?

Yes, you’ll need at least one person to be  a Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) and they’ll need to hold a personal licence. A personal licence requires a separate application by an individual who must be 18 years or over, and hold an accredited qualification. The full list of permitted qualifications can be found here.

Can I choose where to buy my alcohol?

Once you’ve secured your personal licence and an alcohol licence for premises, you’ll need to buy the alcohol. This should be purchased from a registered wholesaler. If you buy alcohol from someone who isn’t licensed you risk a fine, or worse, imprisonment.

What does a designated premises supervisor do?

A DPS is responsible for the day to day running of the business. They don’t need to be on site at all times, but they will be the first point of contact for the police and local government. Therefore, they will require a sound understanding of the potential social impact of alcohol sales and consumption.

Can there be more than one DPS?

There’s no need to have more than one Designated Premises Supervisor in your hotel or B&B, but the good news is, that if you do have more than one hotel or B&B, the DPS can be the appointed representative for all premises.

Of course, not all premises have the space for a bar area, or even a reception area where drinks can be served. If you’d like to raise finance to give your business that extra option, contact our hospitality finance specialists on 01488 393040.

 

torquay-harbour

Why Torquay B&B is a popular option among tourists

If you’re thinking about setting up a B&B, the area you choose is an important part of the decision making process. It’s no wonder Torquay is such as popular place for B&Bs and boutique hotels.

Nicknamed the English Riviera, Torquay has cliffs to clamber over, a seafront to stroll down, beaches to bask on and a marina to mooch around.

In fact, as far as an area for a boutique hotel or a B&B goes, Torquay, whilst pricey to initially invest, is a popular hot spot for tourists.

The region even boasts its very own ‘Seaside Award’ too … with its very own sand sculptor to carve the logo for the award in the sand!

As if it’s not enough to have all this to hand, there’s even an organisation that promotes the area to tourists. Their website www.englishriviera.co.uk is a great place for potential visitors to find out about all of the events and activities that take place in Torquay during the tourism season, as well as out of season too.

These are the sorts of things that make particular regions appealing to those looking to set up their own B&B.

Finding a B&B or hospitality business where there is already a large draw for visitors to come to the area, is always a good plan. And it’s certainly one of the things that appealed to Elaine and Lee who bought Blenheim House, their B&B business,  in January 2017.

In the last 18 months, their business has gone from strength to strength with guests returning regularly for their own dose of the English Riviera.

Just some of the events and attractions that draw in the 1.45 million staying visitors and the additional 3.8 million day visitors each year, include:

  • Visiting the beautiful beaches
  • Babbacombe model railway
  • Dinosaur world
  • The Air Show
  • Paignton Zoo
  • And endless eateries and restaurants that range from family-friendly fish and chips to a Michelin-starred dining experience.

So, if you fancy a visit to Torquay, either to scope out the potential for an English Riviera B&B, or to look for somewhere that you’ll feel right at home, we’d highly recommend Blenheim House. To find out more about what it’s like to run a B&B in a tourist haven like Torquay, you can check out our blog.

The Stewart Hindley Partnership are specialists in securing hospitality finance to enable you to set up your own B&B or boutique hotel. So once you’ve found an area you’re interested in settling in, give us a call on 01488 393040 and speak to one of our advisors about your hospitality finance requirements.

Guest Blog: 10 Tips for Buying a Pub

Buying a pub is a daunting task but, if you’ve always dreamed of doing it, there’s things you can keep in mind that will make the process a lot easier.

Here are 10 tips for buying a pub!

  1. Make sure it’s the right time.

Running a pub is a very demanding role and buying one will take even more effort in order to make it is successful. You need to make sure that you are buying when you are able to put the time in.

  1. You should have experience in the industry.

There is far more to a pub than pulling pints and working in one is the best way to find out what that is. Working in a pub will also give you an idea of whether this is the life you want and a job that you will love doing once you have bought it.

  1. Think carefully about whether you will buy freehold, leasehold or a tenancy.

Depending on what you go with will play a huge role in how much financing you’re able to get. There will also be differing amounts of responsibility and financial risks.

Ultimately, what you choose will depend on your experience and access to funds.

  1. Your pub needs to stand out.

The pub industry is very competitive, and it is difficult for independent businesses to stay afloat. You will have to have a clear idea of what will get your pub to stand out and draw customers so that you can make it a success.

  1. Pick the right location.

As with many businesses, the location of your pub will make a huge difference when your doors are open, and you need customers.

The type of pub that you run will also be dependent on where you are. Is it in the middle of a busy city and reliant on changing trends or is it a rural pub with a quieter and slower feel?

  1. Your target market needs to be well defined.

This relates to the previous two tips. Depending on your location, your target audience will be different and depending on your target audience, the way you make it stand out will change.

To make your business stand out, though, you will need to know who you want visiting your establishment. Trying to appeal to too large of an audience is a sure way to end up appealing to no one.

  1. It should not be an emotional purchase.

A pub gives a lot of us a good dose of nostalgia and there are very few people who have never thought of buying a pub after a few drinks at their local, but this kind of purchase needs to be completely void of emotions.

If you are going to make a profit and run a successful pub, you will need to make the purchase from an objective place. Do your research, write a business plan and talk to other people before you make the leap.

  1. Do thorough due diligence.

Know what business it is that you’re buying and what it is that you’re getting into. Make sure you’re aware of pre-existing contracts and legal troubles as well as what kind of agreements there are with the current employees.

This is also the time where you will be able to determine what the business is worth so that you don’t end up paying too much.

  1. Get advice from the professionals.

This process is a complicated one, especially if you haven’t bought a business before. Finding the right professionals to help you through can save you a lot of time and hassle.

Whoever you choose, though, should have specific experience in the sale and purchasing of pubs and make sure that they have good references.

  1. Make sure it lines up with your long-term goals.

This is the most important point. Buying a pub is a big commitment and it shouldn’t be done without a lot of thought as to how it will fit into your long-term goals.

The right planning and vision will be a large part of your business venture becoming successful.

It is a mammoth task to buy a pub and get it running successfully but, if you plan carefully, remain focused, and do as much research as possible, there is every chance that your new business can become everyone’s favourite local.

By Anthea Taylor, Assistant Editor at Dynamis and writes for all titles in the Dynamis stable including BusinessesForSale.com, FranchiseSales.com and PropertySales.com as well as other industry publications.

 

 

local-events

6 ways you can use local events to promote your B&B

Organised local events can often bring large numbers of tourists and visitors to your area, and there are many ways you can make the most of this opportunity to secure bookings for your B&B or boutique hotel.

Here are 6 ways you can work with event organisers to use these local events to leverage bookings:

  1. Offer a discount to event-goers

By offering event-goers a discount in return for a shout-out on their social media page or an advertising opportunity at their event, you’ll not only get your B&B or boutique hotel in front of more potential customers, you’ll also improve awareness, so those returning the following year are more likely to find you and book a room.

  1. Swap links

Approach the event organisers about swapping links. By linking to an event organiser’s site and promoting the event to your guests, the event organiser is likely to increase the potential visitors to the event, but you (and they) will also get a kudos kick from search engines that often use the number of links as an indicator of a quality site. And you? Well, you’re more likely to get more site visitors from the event site too. Definitely a win/win situation.

  1. Be active on social media

Like the event’s page or join the group. When people ask for advice on local places to eat, stay or visit, offer up helpful local suggestions.

  1. Ask the organisers to include a promotional flyer in any welcome packs, or even better, in their registration packs. If it’s a sporting event, the recipient may be looking for somewhere to stay. It makes the organisers look helpful and increases the number of people who know about your business.
  1. If you’re techie, set up a page about the event and how your B&B or boutique hotel is perfectly placed for visitors to the event. Link back to the event, making sure you use the event’s name in the page title and headers to secure the best chances of being found by those hoping to visit the event.
  1. Promote the event to your guests.

In the six months or more preceding the event, make sure your guests receive a flyer about the event. You might manage to get a repeat booking faster than you thought.

The Stewart Hindley Partnership are specialists in securing hospitality finance to enable you to own the B and B or boutique hotel that you’ve been dreaming of. However, we’re in it for the long run so, here in our blog, we also post articles about how to make your B&B a successful and sustainable business.

To speak to one of our advisors about your hospitality finance requirements give us a call on 01488 393040.

 

B&B-Business-Advice

Are you risking your B&B business?

Trading as a B&B on a residential mortgage can leave you open to the risk that your loan will be called in by the bank. Whilst this often happens towards the end of a loan period, it can happen at any point.

Suddenly, you find yourself with 3 options:

  1. Find a lot of money to pay back the full amount on your mortgage.
  2. Find a new mortgage, pronto.
  3. Sell your home and business, quickly.

Option 1 is a pretty difficult thing to do. Option 3 can also be undesirable as, if the market isn’t right, you could end up losing out big time on your capital, and struggle to afford a new place to live.

Option 2 is your best bet, but even this isn’t without its problems.

The challenges of finding a new hospitality mortgage

If your mortgage has been called in, you may want to look for a new hospitality loan or mortgage. The trouble is, unlike residential mortgages, a hospitality mortgage is usually based on your revenue, not on your capital. This can leave you out in the cold if you only let rooms intermittently or only trade to suit your lifestyle

The other challenge comes with the fact that many B&B businesses are owned by couples later in their working life, as a way to combine income with lifestyle. Or, if your mortgage is 20 years into a 25 year term, it’s likely that you’ll be approaching the age of retirement. This poses another problem. Financial institutions can be reluctant to grant a long-term loan to B&B owners in their 60s, instead offering shorter terms.

This typically leaves a shortfall between the capital raised and the value needed to avoid selling your home.

How professional help can enable you to secure the loan you need

There are ways to overcome these challenges and increase your chances of securing a hospitality loan, without having to compromise.

At Stewart Hindley, we help hundreds of B&B owners find hospitality loans for their business every year.

We work with a network of lenders to lend to B&B owners and hotel proprietors, and we know what they are looking for, so we can use this experience to help B&B owners like you. We’ll work with you to put the structures and plans in place that maximise your chance of securing the loans you need to continue your dream, without losing your home and business.

To speak to one of our advisors about your hospitality finance requirements or some B&B advice give us a call on 01488 393040.

Blenheim House B&B

The real story of a day in the life of a B&B owner

Elaine and Lee own a beautiful B&B a short walk from Torquay seafront. They welcome guests from around the world to use their home as a base from which to enjoy spectacular coastal walks and visit popular tourist sites, such as the model village and the national park.

Elaine and Lee moved to Blenheim House in January 2017, in pursuit of a new life.

We helped Elaine and Lee to find the right hospitality finance for their business and, 18 months on, Elaine and Lee are enjoying being B&B hosts so much that they have decided to convert more of their living quarters to guest accommodation.

We asked Elaine what being a B&B owner is really all about and what advice she would give to wannabe B&B hosts.

What made you decide to set up a B&B?

I was working over 50 hours a week and my husband was also working long hours. We were tired of the daily grind.

We knew it was time to make a change, but we didn’t know how, so we set out to buy a house in the south with an annex. We thought this would bring in some money whilst we decided how we wanted to pursue our individual careers.

However, whilst looking for a house with an annex, we fell in love with Blenheim House and decided, that instead of going for a house with an annex, we’d try out the B&B life.

When we told family and friends about our plans to set up a B&B, we received mixed responses. Some people were really positive but lots of people warned us that it would be a lot of hard work and that the commitment to guests would mean we would be really restricted as to what we can do.

What has been the biggest challenge when you set up a B&B?

Thanks to Stewart Hindley, the financing and purchasing side of things was fairly straightforward. Carol and her team found us a great B&B mortgage and we have a lovely bank manager who still pops in for a cuppa from time to time.

So, for us, the biggest challenge was juggling the needs of our three children, our youngest of whom is 18, with pursuing our B & B dream in a new part of the country.

What does a day in the life of a B&B owner look like?

We tend to get up at 6.45am, and from the moment we get out of bed, we don’t tend to stop until the middle of the afternoon.

We get breakfast on and serve our guests a full English breakfast, cereals and toast between 8.30 and 9.30am.

Guests are supposed to check out between ten and half past, but often they’ll sit and chat with us, so sometimes they don’t check out until midday, but that’s ok with us. We enjoy getting to know our guests and understand that our guests are on holiday. We don’t want them to feel rushed or pressured. Often our guests liken staying with us to visiting close family, which is exactly how we want them to feel.

Once guests have checked out, we whizz around turning around the rooms for the next occupants. This usually takes myself and Lee around just over half an hour in each room. I’ll change the linen and towels whilst Lee cleans the room thoroughly, but he’s so particular about the cleaning it can take us longer.

We then wait to welcome our new guests.

We welcome our guests with a tray of fresh tea and coffee, biscuits and cakes. They can choose to have their welcome tray in their room or outside, whilst soaking up the sunshine in comfortable chairs on the decking area.

Sometimes guests don’t arrive until the evening, but that’s ok as once our jobs are done, we sit on the decking and soak up the holiday ambience that comes with being so close to Torquay seafront. Sometimes we might make the four minute walk down to the beach when we have some spare time.

What’s the best thing about running a B&B?

The best thing about running a B&B is meeting new guests.

We have guests that have stayed with us from Germany, Australia, France and Italy. We have a guest book brimming with positive reviews in all sorts of languages. We’re just finishing a new dining room area where we will have a scratch map on the wall for guests to scratch off where they are from, which will be fun.

We do what we can to ensure all our guests have an enjoyable stay and experience the very best of the area.

We give them our personal mobile numbers so they can contact us at any time if they have any questions and we’ve even been known to give guests a lift on occasion to help them ensure they get where they need to be, on time and in a relaxed state.

This approach seems to be popular with our guests, some of whom have been back 3 or 4 times in the last 18 months. Now, when they visit, it’s just like having extended family to stay.

What advice would you give to someone looking to set up a B&B?

We’d say just go for it – don’t worry about negative comments or the hard work. Make the lifestyle work for you.  Owning a B&B is fun. You meet some of the most amazing people. I just wish we’d done it ten years earlier.

If you’re dreaming of the B&B lifestyle and need hospitality finance to help turn your dream into a reality, give us a call on 01488 393040.

We can help you pull all these supporting documents together to get you over those initial hurdles and secure the finance you need to set up a B&B business.