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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

As 2016 draws to an end it is time for us to say a very big thank you to all those who came to stay with us in 2016 and to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. This year has been a very interesting one for us with lots of things happening. We have had our usual amount of highs and lows I think but we are both still really enjoying the job that we do and we are always very grateful that the guests who come and stay with us help make this job what it is.

We would like to say a particular thank you to all of you who have taken the time to write us a review. We are very lucky to have amassed such an amazing collection of reviews on all the various platforms and we are very grateful for all of your kind comments and scores.

We will be doing our usual winter development work over the next 3 months which will hopefully make us even better for next year so look out for the Newsletters with news and photos of the work we get done.

Finally look out on Facebook, Twitter and these blog posts for news about important changes to our prices next year. As we continue to try to offer the very best value to guests who book direct there will be some changes that we hope will help you save money when you book with us.

Thanks again everyone and have a great Christmas!!

 

Jason & Melanie xx

2016 – Brexit v Direct Bookings

This summer has largely been dominated by the Brexit vote and the various predictions of boom or bust that the media have put out as a consequence. According to the national press, hotels and guest houses have been enjoying a financial bonanza with visitor numbers from overseas up and UK nationals choosing to holiday at home – so how have we faired in the aftermath of this momentous national decision?

Our summer figures, if anything, have been slightly down this year, but this may well be down to the experimental change in tactics that we employed. Our ambition, as many of you will know by now, has been to work hard to increase the number of guests who book direct and so reduce our reliance on Online Travel Agencies (OTA’s). Our online booking system, which runs through our website, is created by a fantastic company called FreetoBook, but as good as they are we still have to drive traffic to our website in order for people to book there.

The experiment we tried was to give our system a slight advantage by not giving any rooms to any OTA’s for July and August until the end of May. As a consequence our takings in July & August were down by 12%. When we look at the figures more in-depth and examine where our bookings came from we saw a big change which gives us a little confidence going forward. In July & August 2015 24.5% of our bookings were through OTA’s. This figure was significantly reduced this July & August to 17.8%. By contrast bookings through our website went from 12.7% in 2015 to 18.9% this July & August and they therefore exceeded the OTA’s for the first time ever.

The reduction in OTA bookings meant that we paid significantly less in commission fees this year than last but even with that we still returned lower figures than in previous years.  By leaving it late to put our room allocation on to the OTA’s we obviously did not give ourselves enough exposure and the experiment has shown us quite clearly that as much progress as we think we are making we are still heavily reliant on OTA’s to fill our rooms.

The challenge remaining for us therefore, as a small B&B, is how to get the message out there to potential new customers that booking direct will save them money without breaking the rules set by the OTA’s as to what we can and can’t do. It may be that because of the advertising budgets and powers of the OTA’s that we have to accept that they are the best way to find new customers and that our job is to do such a good job in looking after them and in talking to them that the next time they visit they will book direct. By continuing to build up the numbers of guests who re-visit us year after year (and sometimes several times a year) and by continuing to engage with our guests through mediums such as Facebook, Twitter and our Newsletter we hope that we will continue to see the numbers of guests who book direct increase.

For others in our industry this summer may have been all about Brexit and its affects, but for us the bigger challenge has been connecting with our guests and building relationships that we hope will see them not just returning to us but returning direct to us. Full analysis of all of our figures over the past 3 years shows that we are making progress towards achieving that aim but there is still a long way to go and a lot of work for us to do.

New Online Booking System

This month has seen the introduction of our new online booking system. The new system allows us much greater control over our prices and allows us to offer guests who book direct with us the very best prices possible. In our quest to reduce the amount of commission fees we pay to third party agents such as LateRoom and Booking.Com the new system, driven by FreetoBook, allows us to offer guests a 10% discount on all bookings made through our website. In addition it has allowed us to add a new “Online Booking” Tab onto our Facebook page so that visitors to Facebook can also take advantage of these preferential rates and discounts. So confident are we in our ability to convince potential guests to book direct we have already pulled off the LateRooms site and have reduced the amount of availability we offer to Booking.Com. What this now means is that guests who book direct not only have the full range of availability to choose from but also the best prices possible. Our job now is to make everyone aware of how they can take advantage of this new system and that is where the hard work will come in. Throughout this year we will be continuing to tell all of our guests about the advantages of booking direct and we will couple this with an intensive campaign on social media to get the message across. If you are reading this then you are already in the right place and are just a few clicks away from booking a room for the lowest price possible. The new booking system is quick and easy to use. You do not need to pay a deposit and you will not be asked for your credit/debit card details. The system is easy and 100% secure. Once you have booked you will receive an automatic confirmation e.mail followed by a more personal welcome e.mail from ourselves. If there are any questions or queries that you then have or if you would like any assistance prior to your stay then just call us or e.mail us and we will do everything we can to help. We are proud of the service that we offer and we believe good service starts from the moment you book so why not book direct – you know it makes sense!

 

SPECIAL OFFER

Take advantage of our Multi-Night discount – 10% of all bookings of more than 1 night.

Remember this offer is only available to guests booking direct!!

Booking direct has never been easier. Help us to pass on our commission savings to you our guests – book direct!

If you have already booked with us through another online agency and would like to take advantage of our 10% multi-night offer then please e-mail us direct at info@thefairmile.co.uk and we will guide you through the process. If done more than 48hrs before arrival date then the process is simple and free. Instead of paying the commission fees we would love to give you the discount instead!!

Five Years On

June 19th 2009 seems such a long time ago now but it was on that day that we took our first steps into the B&B world here in Lytham St Annes. Just a few months earlier we had fled Kenya in the middle of the night and had spent the intervening time looking for a suitable business to run in the UK. When we first visited The Fairmile we were struck by what a nice atmosphere the building had. We had looked round quite a few B&B’s and small hotels and none of them had this warm feel about them and we knew straight away that we had found a place that we could live.

Looking back now over the past five years it is incredible to think how fast time has gone and how different The Fairmile is now to back then. We would like to feel that it has retained its warmth but that we have added many of the modern touches that guests demand in a 21st Century seaside B&B.

We started with upgrading the fabric of the building and our first two jobs were completely overhauling the electrical systems and putting on a new roof. Following this we double insulated the loft and, to assist us in making the building more energy efficient, we started a programme of replacing all of the double glazing. Alongside these big infrastructure projects we set about fitting new en-suites into the rooms. Every bathroom is now tiled, rather than carpeted. and all rooms now have thermostatically controlled showers so we don’t hear any screaming anymore when someone is having a shower that fluctuates between ice and scalding! To further assist the performance of the showers and to increase our energy efficiency we installed a new heating system and re-located the water pump so that it became more efficient. In addition to new shower rooms we have replaced almost all of the beds with new beds and mattresses. We hope to gradually phase out the pine and replace it with something a bit more modern and the new brown leather beds are a good start. Last winter saw us replace the front door and front awnings and we also began the process of re-carpeting every room. The re-carpeting will continue throughout this year and should all be complete by next Spring. Alongside these physical improvements we have also created a website and then in our third year we re-created it with what you see today. We have also, on several occasions, extended the Breakfast Menu, each time making the available options more extensive. We have also entered the world of social media and have quite a good presence on both Facebook and Twitter. The introduction of Freddy, our Facebook Bear, is as close as I hope to get to a mid-life crisis but he has been a great addition and he continues to put a smile on many guests’ faces. We have big plans for Freddy going forward and feel that he can get out a bit more and help promote the area more than he does at present.

As you can see the past five years have seen us achieve quite a bit and we are very pleased with the progress we have made. As with everything nowadays we are judged largely on our reviews and we have been very lucky to have received a lot of very nice comments on all of the review sites. This year we were awarded a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor and we were told by VisitBritain that we are very much in line to receive a Silver Award on our next inspection. To all of those who have helped us to build up those reviews we would like to say a very big thank you. Our reviews have given us quite a lot to smile about over the last five years and thankfully only a few tears have been shed at a few not so nice comments.

As with all jobs it is the people who you work with who help make the job what it is and we have been very lucky to have been able to meet such wonderful people over the past five years. We say it quite often but it really is true when we say that it doesn’t feel like we work and that is largely down to getting the chance to meet so many new and interesting people almost every day of the year that keeps a smile on our faces and keeps us motivated and engaged.

We guess that anyone reading this blog will have been part of the above journey in some way. If you have not yet liked us on Facebook or followed us on Twitter then what are you waiting for! If you have a glass in your hand then please raise it now – “Thank you for the last five years and here is to what is to come in the next…”

Cheers.

Jason & Melanie

Exciting times ahead

February is always an interesting month for us here at The Fairmile. It is the month that bridges winter with spring; a time for us to reflect on the work we have done over the winter and a time when we begin to wonder what the year ahead has in store for us. In this post I thought it would be interesting to summarise these thoughts so that everyone could see where we are at and where we think we are heading as we come to the end of our first five years in charge of The Fairmile.

Winter Development

Those of you who follow us on Facebook and Twitter will no doubt have seen the photographs we have posted of some of the upgrades that we have done over the past two months. Room 5 is no longer a Family Room – the bunk beds have been removed and a new carpet and new vanity unit with modern sink and tiling have helped create a nice sized double room. Creating a Standard Double Room on the first floor was important to us as we felt that it would be easier for guests who find stairs difficult to access this room. Room 3 is now our only Family Room and this room has had a full makeover with new leather beds, new carpet, new furniture and new vanity units. We have also installed a new shower in the en-suite. This room is still not quite finished we don’t feel and we will revisit it as the year progresses but it is certainly massively improved from where it was and we know that our guests will love it. Rooms 6 & 7 have been re-carpeted giving them a fresh feel. As well as doing work on cosmetic improvements we have also continued our investment into the energy efficiency of our building. We have already had a new roof, a new heating system and several new double glazed windows fitted in the past couple of years and this winter we have added a new front door and new double glazed windows in Rooms 2 & 3. Finally we have replaced the tired awnings at the front with some newly designed, very bright new ones which we hope make the front of the building a bit more appealable. Oh yes we have just finished expanding the Honesty Bar which now offers an even bigger range of drinks and snacks for guests to enjoy.

2014 Season

2014 promises to be an exciting year and whatever happens it is going to be an important year for us. For us personally June 19th will see us complete five years in charge – where the time has gone I do not know! For the first time since arriving our pricing policy will be changing and we hope that our guests will support us in this. For some time we have been trying to change the way that guests book with us and we have been trying to get away from using third party booking agencies such as Booking.Com and LateRooms. The commission fees that these agencies charge us are high and the amounts that we pay these companies we feel limits the developments we can make. Following a decision by LateRooms to increase their commission fees we decided that we would no longer offer rooms to LateRooms through the main season; a decision that we would hope other hotels, guest houses and bed and breakfasts would take also. From 1st March our new prices will be as follows-:

Single Room £30pn
Double/Twin Rooms £60pn
Superior Double Room £75pn
Family Room £80pn
 

In an attempt to encourage guests to book direct with ourselves, either by e.mail or by telephone, we will be offering a 10% discount for all stays of more than one night. If guests would prefer to still book online rather than by phone or e.mail then they can still do so via our own website and if they choose to book this way then they will be entitled to choose a free bottle of wine from our bar – (free wine offer does not include Single Room bookings). At the moment we cannot offer discounts to guests who book via our website due to the limitations of the booking system that we currently use but we will be exploring other options at the end of this year in an attempt to redress this situation.

As part of our Anniversary year we hope to link up with a local charity and amongst other things I hope to compete in a local triathlon to help raise money. I have already started training for this and I can confirm that it is painful ! I am hoping that our two sons, Josh & Sam, will be joining me on this challenge and of course our very own Facebook Bear, Freddy!

Outside of The Fairmile 2014 looks set to be an exciting year also. There are a lot of events happening locally and great shows taking place in Blackpool including the much talked about ” Mama Mia”  which we hope will encourage more people than ever to visit this beautiful part of England. Guests can keep up with all of the events and shows via our website by clicking onto our “What’s On” page.

Apologies that this post has been a little longer than usual but I hope that you have found it interesting. I hope that everyone will continue to follow our progress either by visiting the blogs on our website or through Twitter and Facebook. We would like to thank all of our guests for their custom and their kind comments and we very much hope that we see you all back here at The Fairmile at some point this year.

 

Jason & Melanie

4th Anniversary

We are celebrating our 4th Anniversary this week having taken over The Fairmile on the 19th June 2009! Looking back over the past 4 years it is surprising how much progress we have made and how far down the road towards where we want to be we are. A lot of the work that we have done has of course been invisible to regular guests. Things like the new roof, loft insulation, new electrics and new central heating system have all absorbed large amounts of money and have undoubtedly helped to preserve the long term future of the building but they haven’t necessarily contributed to our guest experience. Arguably the biggest change that has improved the quality of our guests’ stay has been the new en-suite bathrooms that we have installed. This winter coming will see the final bathrooms fitted into Rooms 3 & 5 which will make a big difference in those rooms and give us a nice sense of achievement that they are all completed. This winter will also see us purchase the final new beds in Rooms 1,2 & 3 which will mean that every room will be able to benefit from both the look and the comfort of a new leather bed.

We have been lucky to have had the support of some very talented people along the way over the past 4 years and we thank them all heartily. Special thanks go to our website designer, Spencer Warhurst at Creation Factor, for his patience in putting up with our mad ideas and for creating us our original site and then being happy 3 years later to tear it all up and start again! Thanks also goes to Roy Halliwell of HydroGas Services for his hard work installing our bathrooms – not one of those installations was straight forward but his ability to problem solve was fantastic and we learnt a lot from each one. Our final thanks of course goes to our fabulous guests without whom we most certainly would not be here today. Every guest who has stayed here is now part of the history of this great building; we feel very honoured to have been able to look after such lovely people on a regular basis and we value all of the comments that they have made over the last 4 years. We have always tried hard to make good service the cornerstone of what we do here at The Fairmile and we hope this is what we have managed to achieve. The evidence that we are on the right road came just a few weeks ago with the award by Booking.Com for outstanding guest reviews which we were very proud to receive.

Thank you to everyone for your kind words of support and encouragement and we very much look forward to welcoming both new and old guests back to The Fairmile in the very near future!

Jason & Melanie

P.S. We almost forgot to mention Freddy – our Facebook bear. It was his birthday on 12th May this year and he has fully enjoyed all of his adventures with our guests. At this very moment he is in a car on his way to Southampton where he will be boarding a cruise liner for a week cruising the Norwegian Fjords! Thanks to regular guests Alan and Lesley for taking him with you – his first foreign holiday!!

Easter Tidings

Easter comes early this year and whereas last year guests were enjoying lovely weather and spending time on the beach this year it will be a case of keeping warm! Fortunately there are still lots of things to enjoy locally. Here is just a sample of things to do this Bank Holiday weekend-:

Main Attraction

    Sandcastle Waterpark – Always a great favourite whatever the weather – remember to book online for discount prices and fast-track entry.

    Pleasure Beach with Nickleodeon Land – A great family day out – again book online to save money

    Blackpool Tower – Lots of work been done on the Tower in recent years with the new 4D cinema at the top and the Tower Dungeons. Don’t forget the Tower Circus with Mooky the Clown and of course the world famous Tower Ballroom.

    Madame Tussauds – Another attraction that has been revamped in recent years.

    Blackpool Zoo – Blackpool’s Number One attraction is great for people of all ages.

    Events

      Mind, Body & Spirit Fair – Lowther Pavilion Sat 30th and Sun 31st

      Alice in Wonderland (Ballet)- Grand Theatre Sun 31st

      Blackpool Junior Dance Festival – Empress Ballroom 1st – 7th April

      Roy Chubby Brown – Grand Theatre – Sat 30th

      Joe Longthorne – VIVA – Sun 31st

      Funny Girls Summer Spectacular – Funny Girls – March – November

      Legends – Sands Venue – Fri 29th – Sun 31st

      Paradise on the Pier – North Pier Sun 31st

      The Wizard of Oz – North Pier Sat 30th & Sun 31st

      Easter Family Fun Day – Lytham Hall Sun 31st

      That should be enough to start with!!

      Don’t forget that this year you can now buy a Resort Pass. This ticket cost £77.50 and will get you entrance into 9 premier Blackpool attractions – if you are visiting for a few days then this is definitely worth buying as it could save you more than £55!

      Whatever you are doing this weekend we hope that you have a great time. If you are not able to make it up to Blackpool and Lytham St Annes this Easter then don’t despair – there are fabulous events on all of the time; just check out the “What’s On” guide on our website.

      Happy Easter!!

New Website

Welcome to our new website – we hope that you like what we have done. With the start of a new season it is nice to be able to showcase what we have to offer through a website that is modern and fresh looking. With the new website comes new additions and we hope that you find the calendar on the “What’s On” page useful. The blog is also new and hopefully it will provide interesting and informative reading.

In addition to the new website we will be maintaining the work we started last year on our Facebook page – if you haven’t discovered us yet then please search for “The Fairmile” or copy and paste the following url into your browser http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Fairmile-Lytham-St-Annes/209262805761626?fref=ts

To keep up-to-date with all of our Facebook activity then please Like us.

We also have a Twitter feed which is another good way of following what we are doing – @TheFairmile

We hope that you enjoy the work that we are doing here at The Fairmile and we look forward to another busy year where we welcome back many previous guests and hopefully get to meet many new ones.

Jason & Melanie