Words of Wisdom from Coed-Y-Glyn Log Cabins
Little Hotelier’s B&B superstar blog series aims to interview successful small accommodation providers in different regions of the world, picking their brains for insights gains in running their unique properties.
Their latest superstar is Coed-Y-Glyn Log Cabins, a set of stylish, luxury log cabins nestled in the serene surroundings on the banks of River Dee in Glyndyfrdwy near Llangollen.
Amidst the natural beauty, guests can partake in fantastic activities including archery, canoeing and rafting, or relax in the hot tub and enjoy holistic therapies and treatment in the comfort of the lodge.
We were fortunate enough to have a chat with Tommy Davies, the Owner-Operator who grew up on the farmland on which the cabins sit. Watching it go from concept to reality is one of his proudest achievements.
So, tell us about your property. Why does it make you so proud?
I’d say because it has a real personal touch, especially the newest lodge. It’s totally custom-designed by myself. Every aspect to it has been carefully thought about.
I’m so proud of the business because I put a lot of effort into it. I didn’t buy an existing business, it was just a field when I started, and I see people enjoying themselves when they have a great time and making good memories, it’s brilliant.
It’s nice that I grew up here and I made a facility where other people can enjoy themselves in the same area. After all that effort, I have something to show for it, and I just want to share it. It’s such a nice area and I only realised when I went away for university, so I love being able to share the experience with other people.
Who do you feel is your ideal guest?
Here, there are no nightclubs, and there’s one pub, so it’s not a place to come to party but a place you come to relax. It’s for people who enjoy wildlife, the outdoors.
Also, the ideal guest is someone who appreciates and likes that it’s a small business, not a massive chain. They know it’s an independent, personal family business and they respect that.
I know all about this area, and I go out of my way for my guests. For example, I’ll go to the shop to fetch milk for someone – or shampoo if they haven’t got a car – and they appreciate that.
How do you target your ideal guests and attract them to your property?
I use the Facebook page, and we went from 3,000 to 6,000 likes. I make sure that we advertise to our target market – that’s those aged 25 and over, in Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester – so we have bookings coming in from there.
The Google search engine is also a dark art that I haven’t quite mastered yet.
What do you do to encourage more direct online bookings?
When people give me a call, I offer them a 5% discount to book direct. It’s better for me and the customer, and it’s the difference between profit and not profit in a way. That promo code is important to encourage direct bookings.
We also work on repeat guests. Initially we collected all of our guests’ contact details, printed address stickers on envelopes and sent everyone a voucher. Then, I discovered MailChimp, so I do it electronically.
What tactics have you found helpful for increasing revenue?
One of things I found most effective for increasing revenue is offering Extras. For example, I send an email saying “How about booking massage or archery?” and then people are excited about coming. It’s really great for up selling packages and extras.
Especially on a property like ours, we up sell the essentials when you arrive, because the nearest shop is 5 or 6 miles away, and we ask them if they want a hamper with breakfast food and such to get settled.
Also, the romantic package is really popular.
Do you have any tips for other small accommodation providers on how to stand out from the crowd, especially in terms of competing with large hotels?
Think of it this way: your shop window is what attracts guests – so it’s all of the marketing you do to make your shop attractive. Your shop door is what gets them in, so it’s your property’s booking engine. Then, all of the good stuff in your shop is your product itself – the experience you offer. Those are the 3 things you need to be successful.
So my advice to other self-catering accommodation providers is to know your customer, try to get into their minds, and think of how would you go about doing it.
For example, if we were in the middle of a city, we’d have to compete with everyone – we’d have to be on the largest online travel agencies.
But because we’re so specialised and we’re the only accommodation provider in the area, they’d only find us if they were looking for us, and they’re not gonna stumble across us, so we know to optimise for ‘log cabin wales’ on Google. Location doesn’t matter because the world wide web is worldwide, on the internet everyone sees it.
In the middle of city would be ‘self catering manchester’ and the OTAs and will be ranked first, so you’ve got to be on there to get the name out.
Do you have any partnerships (local and global) that help you raise awareness of your cabins?
Operators of tour and activities – like kayaking, canoeing, and rafting. They wear my uniform and I get paid a commission. Other cabin sites say you can do activities but they just give you a link to the website.
With me, you can book through me, it takes me one phone call and it’s all booked for you. Guests pay pay me, I add it to booking as an Extra and I earn commission out of it for my time – and it works backwards as well when they refer my cabins.
It’s working well with this model, especially as the government is pushing the ‘year of adventure’ so there are many activities on hand. At our cabins you can simply take in views wildlife or go rock climbing and ziplining.