From therapy in Cheltenham to hospitality in the Forest of Dean, one of the best things about my blog is that I keep finding fabulous places right on my doorstep where Customer Service is still definitely a top priority and here is one of them!
Today I’m chatting to Chris Light of Blaisdon House B & B, Blaisdon
Hi Chris, please tell me all about Blaisdon House and its history
It was Christmas 2014. We had the whole family staying over and we were really enjoying having some quality time when I made the decision to sell our very successful small hotel. A few months previous my next door neighbour died very suddenly, she was in her early fifties, it was a shock having been friends for over 20 years. It really made me think about life and actually wanting one after 4 years of working seven days a week and fourteen hours a day.
I can remembering sitting on the floor next to the Christmas trees and playing with my young nephews when I said to Sue ” as soon as the estate agents reopen in the New Year, I’m going down there and putting the hotel on the market,” she said OK. And that is exactly what I did. And the first person who came to see it, bought it. His name was Peter De Savary, owner of Land’s End and many other large hotels around the world. Quite an eccentric chap who drove a different Rolls Royce every time he came to visit!
Following the sale we packed our car with all of our clothes, as we had left everything in the hotel and headed over to France for the two most chilled out weeks of our lives, on our return we completed on the sale of Blaisdon House.
It was a run down large old vicarage painted bright pink, with rotten windows, dodgy wiring and with a kitchen from 1976! An incredible 9 months later we were finished and opened our doors to our first guests! It was very slow to start but as the spring came it picked up and we then had a busy summer. The next year we doubled our occupancy! However its very seasonal here, and we’ll probably just run from March to November in the future as we have just bought a local pub!
Any good customer service tips?
Be happy, be helpful, if you see a customer without a smile give them one of yours! Ok that might sound a bit cheesy but actually to me that’s hospitality in a nut shell, it’s quite a simple thing really.
Being hoteliers we understand the importance of a GOOD welcome, and you quickly learn the different types of people that come though the door. Some are very chatty and you are chatty back, some are private and want minimum fuss and so you give them space, some are stressed as the sat nav took them to a completely different place and some are just dying for the toilet!!!
How would you rate the quality of customer service you deliver and why?
Naturally we take great pride in our good customer service and this is evident in the feedback we get on Tripadvisor, Booking.com and the occasional thank you letter that comes through the post.
A young Portuguese gentleman stayed with us a few weeks back for a local job interview. His room was booked by his mother over the phone and said she chose us as we came across as really nice people on our reviews!
Last year we had an award for “The most friendly B&B of the year” from the AA.
How do you deal with any complaints?
Fortunately complaints have been very rare for us. Putting plans in place and setting up your business and your staff to minimise mistakes is essential. You must never lie to a customer about anything to get out of a situation. People will have a lot more respect for you if you tell them how the situation happened. Also if they find out you have lied…. You get the odd person occasionally who you try very hard to please and they will throw it back in your face. If you have set up your business properly then dealing with these issues becomes a lot easier.
How do you encourage customer loyalty?
Customer loyalty is key to any hotelier! The returning guest is the key to growth and stability. Some weekends in our breakfast room, all the guests are returning customers. We achieve this in a number of ways:
Offering the greatest product in the best environment you possibly can so they want to come back
Taking the time to get to know your guests if they allow, and sharing mutual interests and develop a good customer bond
After the good bye, keeping in touch using social media like Facebook and Twitter. In fact this is an ever growing thing and must not be ignored. Also its free advertising in a world that is increasingly hungry to take your cash for advertising you.
Why should people choose you as a company?
I think our AA rating of 5 star Gold is a good place to start! Also we are not in the realms of super expensive. Our room prices are bewteen £80 and £110 a night, we get told quite a lot that we are too cheap!
We have great reviews on Booking.com and Tripadvisor that can back us up as a good product.
Where can people find you?
We have our website and we are also on Booking.com, Tripadvisor and Expedia. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.
A BIG thank you to Chris and his wife Sue for chatting to me about Blaisdon House and all it has to offer. It really is a home from home and although only just around the corner for me, I can’t wait to book my first visit! I’m also very much looking forward to the opening of Chris and Sue’s new gastro pub in Westbury on Severn! Cin cin! 🙂
Blaisdon House B&B
The Lyon Inn
Westbury on Severn
Sunnyside Holiday Cottage
Forest of Dean
Telephone 01452 830437