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  1. #51
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    BoganInParasite's Avatar
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    Further to the above post the wife also mentioned to the calling channel we were unhappy with our position in the search lists. We'd seen us as low as 17th. She blurted out we were at number 9. Anyway, before we applied the slightly better pricing for them we noticed we had been elevated to number 2 on the search list with only a sponsored business above us.

    It was very very clear the caller was totally unprepared to be able to deal with someone who had an array of relevant facts in front of them. It wasn't a lot of information but it was telling.

  2. #52
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    ^^ If selling booze, you could also offer around 3 basic cocktails for the ladies (and gents).

    By stocking a gin, rum and vodka, you can produce Mai Tai, Long Island and a Mojito, with the added bonus of also being able to sell gin/tonic, vodka/orange or rum/cokes.

    Better mark-ups than beer.
    Black diamonds? I shit 'em.

  3. #53
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    According to the wife the license is for beer only. There was Thai writing on the back of it which the wife read and said beer only. We had no idea there were apparently different levels/types of alcohol licenses and in the absence of any specific discussion we have been supplied with the basic one it would appear. (Soft drink sales already covered in the homestay license as is just about any other business activity related to the homestay, except alcohol sales.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Bogon View Post
    ^^ If selling booze, you could also offer around 3 basic cocktails for the ladies (and gents).

    By stocking a gin, rum and vodka, you can produce Mai Tai, Long Island and a Mojito, with the added bonus of also being able to sell gin/tonic, vodka/orange or rum/cokes.

    Better mark-ups than beer.

  4. #54
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    ^ Never knew that.

    All the best with the business.

  5. #55
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    Time for a bit of an update. It has been a good last week. Bookings continue to come in and the we've had two very successful last minute stays. And I mean last minute. On the very day we moved all of the distribution channels to same day booking we got a booking come through at 5:10pm with the three guests arriving at 6:30pm. Then yesterday we got a good quality (high price) booking for five guests come through for last night. They turned out to be five senior aged Thai muslims from a southern province. Two men and three women. Clearly pork and alcohol were off the agenda (as was the Labrador dog who was confined to outside) and we worked well with them to put together a breakfast this morning they raved about, and our homestay in general. They said they would provide a rating for is in the distribution channel they used to book. As they left this morning one of the ladies offered her business card. This lady had already told the wife she would be coming back with kids and grand-kids in tow. To say that this lady was 'connected' based on her employer and title on the business card is an understatement.

    We also had our first no-show. Was supposed to be be hotel collect so thought we'd done our baht until we read the booking details more carefully. Guest lodged credit card details with the channel so will be charged and we'll get our pound of flesh.

    We are now at 46 revenue nights against a six month season goal of 60. We'll get there. But revenue is 20% lower reflecting our initial discounting. We'll still achieve the 60,000 baht goal but on a higher revenue night count. Three of the distribution channels provide good quality revenue and market/competitor management information and they are saying room nights booked in Pua this month are 7-11% lower than last year.

    There continues to me a wide disparity in the performance of our distribution channels. Essentially we use five.
    - Direct...supported by our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter sites. To be honest the work that goes into Direct is not reflected in the bookings, only 15% but as you would expect at the highest revenue per night. But will persist and likely add a website with booking capability for next season.
    - EX...a major world-wide operator, a disappointment, only 9% of bookings and at the lowest revenue per night. Tend to issue condescending and conflicting emails. No visibility of general marketing in social media and other online platforms, don't think it is happening. Have given it slightly preferential pricing through end of November and if performance doesn't pick up we'll drop them.
    - AB...4% of bookings...each room is a separate listing and priced without breakfast to align with how this channel is generally used world-wide. Going to persist with them because are low maintenance and bookings without breakfast are less hassle.
    - AG...35% of bookings...quite a bit of social media and online marketing but very poor system and generally brain-dead support personnel. (Asian based but not Thailand.) We are pricing per person for the whole property, not persons within rooms. We are using them to chase larger groups of up to nine guests and only offer the Asian or light breakfast. We get a lot of emails and calls from Thai folks using AG asking us about this and that but less than 20% translate into bookings...I introduced the Thai wife to the term 'tire-kickers'.
    - BC...part of the AG group...37% of bookings. World-wide coverage, amazing social media and online coverage, solid systems and as yet have not had to use their support personnel. BC and EX are the only channels we offer all of the breakfasts including the English style breakfast. This week we worked out that AG use the inventory portion of the BC system to know how many rooms and guests we can handle if already partially sold out on a day.

    Finally got around to doing something about signage in the house in the last few days. Got these printed and laminated at the photo/framing shop we frequent in Pua. All up 625 baht.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  6. #56
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    Only been four days since the last update but worthy of one.

    We've just completed four fully booked nights with all three rooms occupied each night, two nights at eight guests. All single night stays so the wife has been really busy making up rooms and cleaning. She is fatigued so last night we closed one room for today and this morning we closed another. So we've got one room available today for any last minute booking that can handle up to three guests and it is priced it higher than usual. If nothing comes in then we and Thunder the Labrador will be swimming at Sila Phet waterfall tomorrow morning rather than preparing breakfasts and checking folks out.

    We are now at 62 revenue nights (completed and booked) with October heavily booked and November and December starting to get more booking activity. Forecast revenue (net of the commissions to the distribution channels) is 52,000 baht. Our current thinking is we'll complete our first six month season at 90-100 revenue nights and 80-90,000 baht. Our goals were 60 and 60,000 so feeling happy.

    But what is making us even happier is the reaction of our guests. Not only are they full of praise when they are here but those that choose to leave a review in the booking distribution channel they used are reflecting that praise there as well. Our first two reviews were on Agoda, both 10 out of 10. Then yesterday we were notified by Booking.com of two more reviews, again, both 10 out of 10. Just waiting for these latest reviews to have the wife's response approved before they are published. Can only imagine the disappointment we will experience the first time we don't score a perfect 10.

    Finally for today the wife has been periodically messaging a Thai gent about a big bike group of ten visiting for a night in November. We are keen to promote ourselves as biker friendly and want to host a group this first season. The gent had done his research and knows of our bike wash, BBQ, BBQ packs and different breakfasts so hopefully it is just not 'tire-kicking'. For a group of ten like this we'll block the rooms on the departure day for an extended clean-up. If they have been drinking our beer the margins on that and the BBQ packs will partially offset the loss of revenue for the departure day but if we get it cleaned up early enough we could unblock the room/s and try for some last minute bookings.

  7. #57
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    Keep up the good work.

    Hard work though...

  8. #58
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    Thanks Bettyboo...BTW, the wife just secured the big biker group and with a bank transfer already done for more than 50% of the price. Seems they are serious. Regards, -BiP
    Quote Originally Posted by Bettyboo View Post
    Keep up the good work.

    Hard work though...

  9. #59
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    Really happy to read that things are working out at Chez BiP.

    I'm assuming you're mostly doing this for a sense of satisfaction and to keep the Missus happy, but there's nothing more pleasing in business than seeing someone put their best efforts into something and it succeeds. Even better if all expectations are exceeded.

  10. #60
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    Thanks Headworx. There is a number of reasons we are doing it...the challenge to make something special, keep me from going insane from boredom, give the wife some business sense (she was a nurse, not a business women) and to provide some supplementary income. We don't need the income, we're not rich but we live quite frugally and are happy doing so. Our 'hi-so' days are over, we enjoyed them but have no desire to return to it.

    Could we make a living out of it, possibly, but no earlier than year three. Would need to achieve at least 500,000 baht revenue and given that 80% of the business up here seems to happen in a 3.5 month period commencing early October, means would need to be getting about 1,800 baht per room revenue night. At the moment we are at 830 baht but next season I see no problem getting to 1,200. There is a number of seemingly comparable businesses at that rate but there is also a small number at 1,800 and some even regularly above 2,000. And they regularly sell out.

    I think we would be happy at the 1,500 baht mark, and doing 10-15 revenue nights per week in the short high season. This would suggest a turnover of around 375,000 baht per annum with about 65% of that being profit. BTW, not sure I've mentioned it previously but we've decided to trade year round for at least the first 30 months. Regards, -BiP


    Quote Originally Posted by Headworx View Post
    Really happy to read that things are working out at Chez BiP.

    I'm assuming you're mostly doing this for a sense of satisfaction and to keep the Missus happy, but there's nothing more pleasing in business than seeing someone put their best efforts into something and it succeeds. Even better if all expectations are exceeded.

  11. #61
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    No guests last night so no breakfasts to prepare/serve or rooms to prepare. So happiness and sanity restored swimming at the Sila-Phet waterfall this morning. Not sure if Thunder the Labrador or the wife enjoy it more. BTW, Thunder is getting a companion tomorrow, a six week old black female Labrador from Chiang Mai, will be called Storm.

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  12. #62
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    ^Who of the two is on the leash?

    A rescue team stand-by down the stream?

  13. #63
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    This is the safer of the two swimming spots so we left him off the leash here Klondyke. But I stand downstream on the weir top to make sure he doesn't venture over the edge and to intercept the stick we throw on the random occasions he decides not to retrieve it. BTW, my ribs are still quite sore but I'm detecting slow improvement. Regards, -BiP
    Quote Originally Posted by Klondyke View Post
    ^Who of the two is on the leash?

    A rescue team stand-by down the stream?

  14. #64
    'ello 'ello 'ello Luigi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Klondyke View Post
    Who of the two is on the leash?
    If you want to know which of the two loves you more, lock them both in the boot of the car for two hours, and see who's happier to see you when you open it.

  15. #65
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    Has to be an easier way. Quite sure they would both kill me.
    Quote Originally Posted by Luigi View Post
    If you want to know which of the two loves you more, lock them both in the boot of the car for two hours, and see who's happier to see you when you open it.

  16. #66
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    BiP
    I must say I am impressed, one by the meticulous way you go about the planning and execution of that plan, seems to be working but as I tend to be a lazy prick I usually fly by the seat of my pants.

    What I really want to see though is a picture of you in your maids uniform when you are helping your missus clean and make up the rooms.

    Good luck.

  17. #67
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    Can offer a pic in French Maid or Thai nurse outfit ootai, two particular favourites of the wife.

    Since there is no way on earth we could make this a viable business structured so that I can have a work permit, I don't have one and cannot legally do anything operational in it. The closest I can get is as an advisor to the wife, it is her business and after we discuss items, she decides and she actions them. Right from cleaning, to cooking, to managing our own and the third party distributor systems, and to hosting. She is amazing. It is a fact that 90% of the business design came from me and my experiences with maybe over 2,500 hotel room nights over the years but the bulk of that design was done in the many months leading up to our opening in August.

    Updates...

    Still waiting for the Booking.com 10 out of 10 reviews to become visible. We want to spruke them (and the Agoda two) in marketing on our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages...a bit frustrating. We received an amazing Facebook review and recommendation from one of our guests from last week. We were able to share that immediately and are getting quite a bit of interest.

    But the most interesting bit of news is that it appears we have someone using one of the distribution channels to make and later cancel phantom bookings. Woke yesterday morning to two multi-guest bookings being cancelled...six revenue nights and and 5,000 baht gone like that. Something twigged with us (and before I headed off to Chiang Mai yesterday to pick up a black Labrador pup) we did some investigating. Both bookings made in the same late hour on the 10th. Both cancelled in the same late hour five days later. Both bookings were made by someone who was a new user to the distribution channel. But the clincher was that the person engaged in online chat with my wife, one in inquiry mode before the booking and the other after the booking. We found commonalities in the questions and the wife says the language used suggested it was the same person. (I don't speak Thai let alone read it so have to accept her judgement on this.)

    Then last night when I got back from Chiang Mai late we get an inquiry then a booking in the same hour as the first two bookings and cancellations. Two nights late this month for eight guests. Before we could even high-five each other a question comes through from the booker and guess what, it is the same as a question asked in one of the two previous bookings. The wife responds, something we don't think they were expecting to happen immediately. They then say they made a mistake and wanted to book the end of December. She says we don't have availability then (and we don't) and offers alternate dates in the second half of December. Booking immediately cancelled.

    We are waiting for the chat help to open on the channel and will be reporting these bookings. We suspect a local rival business owner is doing it but have absolutely no idea of who it may be. If they are not behind a quality VPN then the channel may be able to determine if the booking came from the same source and if that source is also a channel customer provider.

    This morning we also investigated three other multi-guest bookings for December through the same channel and our assessment is that they appeared to be different in several ways to the phantom bookings, so hopefully are legit.

    Interesting times....



    Quote Originally Posted by ootai View Post
    BiP
    I must say I am impressed, one by the meticulous way you go about the planning and execution of that plan, seems to be working but as I tend to be a lazy prick I usually fly by the seat of my pants.

    What I really want to see though is a picture of you in your maids uniform when you are helping your missus clean and make up the rooms.

    Good luck.

  18. #68
    lom
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoganInParasite View Post
    Since there is no way on earth we could make this a viable business structured so that I can have a work permit, I don't have one and cannot legally do anything operational in it. The closest I can get is as an advisor to the wife, it is her business and after we discuss items, she decides and she actions them.
    Have you checked with Labour Ministry if you can get a WP for helping wife in a family (wife/husband) owned business without the need to employ x Thai persons?
    I think I've seen such possibility but it was many years ago so I don't remember the details.
    May the bridges I burn light my way

  19. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by lom View Post
    Have you checked with Labour Ministry if you can get a WP for helping wife in a family (wife/husband) owned business without the need to employ x Thai persons?
    I think I've seen such possibility but it was many years ago so I don't remember the details.
    If it was possible I guess that hundred thousands foreigners would manage to get it...

  20. #70
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    Hi lom, no I didn't. I did many hours of online searching going well beyond the usual ThaiVisa and Siam Legal stuff and was unable to find any information on an easy path. Everything seemed to get back to a partnership or company with the wife with registered capital of 1-2 million baht. Both come with setup costs and ongoing monthly reporting/maintenance costs. And still need to hire an additional two Thais (and not sham employees) and it would appear I would still be restricted in some things I could do. All in all quite depressing so instead we decided to focus on establishing efficient processes and limiting our revenue nights. We've now pretty much established that three back to back nights with most rooms occupied is the limit. Then we block a day. If the two upstairs rooms get booked then we also block the small downstairs room.

    The bulk of our guests opt for the Asian breakfast so we've outsourced that to the local restaurant opened several months back and just 80 meters down the road. It is also supplying a small resort opposite us but a bit back from the road behind some teak and fruit tree plantations. We try to find out guests breakfast preferences before they arrive but often we have to wait until they arrive. If it is Asian we call the order in and take our containers down to them. Then next day we either collect the breakfast or it is delivered. Our larger groups come via Agoda so we only offer Asian or the light breakfast through that channel.

    Quote Originally Posted by lom View Post
    Have you checked with Labour Ministry if you can get a WP for helping wife in a family (wife/husband) owned business without the need to employ x Thai persons?
    I think I've seen such possibility but it was many years ago so I don't remember the details.

  21. #71
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    Yesterday was a bad day. Started well enough with a party of five departing and having really enjoyed themselves and praising our homestay. Then got two more bookings during the morning. The wife got the place ready by 1:00pm since we had two parties arriving, a five for one night and two for two nights. Then at 2:00pm we lose power. PEA initially saying it was province wide but as it turned out later it was only Pua district. Lasted four and a half hours all the while PEA issuing periodic updates it will be fixed soon.

    The party of two checked in about 2:30pm and by 5:00pm said they wanted to go to Nan instead. Very hard to argue with that. We managed to contact the party of five before they arrived and they said they would still come in case the power returned. When they arrived just after 6:00pm still no power so they asked to cancel as well. Obviously we agreed. So we lost four revenue nights, more than 4,000 baht and potentially exposed ourselves to poor reviews. But what impacted us more was we realized we should have been better prepared for it. Although we had the house wiring adapted to handle a generator we made a conscious decision to not buy one yet since apart from the usual end of the dry season storms that often knock out power (and never for long), it has been very stable. We've got emergency lighting in the common areas of both levels. We've got torches in all the rooms. All good. BUT, we didn't have buckets we could fill with water so the toilets could be used and guests have water to wash and clean themselves. A simple thing, but we'd overlooked it.

    Anyway, you live and learn. We're already actioning a bunch of things now we have thought more about it and will likely get a generator to run the whole house including the upstairs air-cons. Have a vague recollection I'm about to be 15-25,000 baht worse off.

    The wife did a few calls this morning. None of the resorts or homestays she called in our local area have generators. When I was in Pua yesterday around 3:30pm the two local supermarkets, all banks and most shops had closed.

  22. #72
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    What a difference a day makes. Yesterday we got four quality bookings taking us up to 70 revenue nights and nearly 60,000 baht. This despite the cancellation of nearly 20 revenue nights and 15,000 baht of missed revenue, plus the Friday no power fiasco. Speaking of cancellations, we got some interesting news from Agoda on our cancellations and then another one seemingly consistent with a pattern we've detected. More on that in coming days.

    We had a Thai party of seven overnight that have just left. They loved the place, enjoyed the breakfast, but more importantly drank enough beer to tip our total beer profits over the cost of the alcohol sales license. Only took two and a bit weeks.

    We've blocked all of the rooms today for a day off since we got an invite to a birthday party this afternoon.

    A couple of weeks ago we decided to stay open year round for the first thirty months. But in doing so we also decided to make sure that any bookings we took for mid-February to the start of the rainy season were appropriate. We are marketing the natural landscape up here heavily and people are noticing. One night last week I woke to the wife sitting up in bed messaging someone. Asked what she was doing. Her response was to say trying to convince a potential guest not to book us. Apparently the person had messaged the wife about wanting to see the mountains, the green fields and waterfalls. But she wanted to come mid-April. Clearly a very poor time if that is what you really want to enjoy. So what we will be doing is to discourage tourism bookings in the inappropriate period. We'll even highlight it on our various social media sites. If you want to stay with us for an event, a wedding, a birthday, etc, fine but we really don't want folks to come up here and be disappointed in the hot, dry, less green and smoky skies period.

  23. #73
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    Yeah, I'd close and be off for a well earned holiday over that period, myself.

    Which might be one of the reasons you're doing a lot better than I probably would be at this.

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