Running a property portfolio comes to us for many reasons, sometimes, it is inherited, some have fought for it and some have built it slowly and steadily. There came a point for me where I lost my reason ‘why?’
I started buying property in my ‘20s in order to, with luck, fund my old age. I was a young person who struggled to see myself in a lifetime employment. Indeed, I didn’t take a permanent job until I was 34 and expecting my son. I was lucky. My properties supplemented my lifestyle and enabled me to have a few of life’s good things. I had a plan to have it paid for by the time I was 60 and was content with my lot. We all have a different story to tell, we all took the opportunity at different times and for different reasons.
Contentment is the enemy of ambition of course. As my family grew I became increasingly unhappy with work and started looking around. It had always been in the back of my mind to go full time into property but I had no real idea what I wanted. More cash of course, I didn’t want to spend years training in a property related field and felt that I had good track record with my single-lets and HMOs. I tried to identify how I wanted my days to look, time for my family (son, husband, ageing mother) and to structure my own time as I saw fit. I had been a teacher so did not want to spend my days sorting out challenging behaviour and gnarly, complex human problems.
A niggling, old ambition to run a B&B came to mind as I watched a friend do the same (middle age!) but I wasn’t interested in laundry, telling stories or cooking eggs. How could I mesh all this together? The idea of serviced accommodation piqued my interest. Perhaps a hands-free hospitality business was a possibility.
Do guests really want a ‘host experience’? Current marketing wisdom tells us that, in order to sell, one has to hit an emotional nerve and bring the customers a story. I studiously avoid the back-story on every packet of crisps that I buy.
My Serviced Accommodation (www.bluestarhouse.com) notably lacks any kind of host experience (I am a landlord, after all). This was a source of great anxiety when I started, both in terms of security and whether the ‘guest experience’ would be adequate. When I travel I try to avoid the ‘chat with the owner’ part as much as possible. I measure my success in (lack of) contact time with guests. If I have done it right, they don’t need to see me. My sales and reviews tell me that it is not missed. Perhaps my plan of a hands-free business is on the horizon after all.