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  1. #1
    Thailand Expat
    BoganInParasite's Avatar
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    Starting a Business in Nan Province

    Many TD members may be familiar with my home construction and landscaping threads...

    https://teakdoor.com/construction-in-...-province.html

    https://teakdoor.com/farming-and-gard...-province.html


    This new thread is about establishing and running a business in Nan province; a homestay. As with the other two threads I'm intending for it to be about information sharing. Explaining what we did, or are planning, or changing, and equally, soaking up the advice and wisdom of others. We are already open so the establishing portion of the thread will be about how we went about it, and why we made the choices we did.

    The thread will not be about me marketing the business. In fact, this first post will be the only one where I give the business name and promote an offer. (Cleared with a site admin.)

    Our business is called Pua Tranquil Vista Homestay. Should you have an interest then search Facebook for our page of that name. Both myself and my wife have thoroughly enjoyed blogging and the interactions on TD and believe we benefited from time to time from information and wisdom shared by members. We'd like to give something back. We are offering a 50% discount off our Standard Rate to TD members for stays of up to three days during our first season that ends 2 February 2020. Contact us direct via the email address in the Facebook page and mention you are a TD member. You do not need to prove you are a member and I don't particularly want or need to know your TD username. If you Like the Facebook page you will get notified of subsequent updates.

    So that's it, business name never to be mentioned again. Nothing more on offers in this thread.

    Over the coming days I'll post more about why we decided to open a homestay and how that decision influenced the design of our home.
    Last edited by BoganInParasite; 06-08-2019 at 06:14 PM.

  2. #2
    Days Work Done! Norton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoganInParasite View Post
    Over the coming days I'll post more about why we decided to open a homestay and how that decision influenced the design of our home.
    Well done. Looking forward to seeing the process and paperwork needed to get your business license.

  3. #3
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    BIP: haven't you considered to join airbnb?

  4. #4
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    Good Luck with it!

  5. #5
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    We've got the small room on Airbnb and taking some bookings. Airbnb is a little cumbersome when you have three rooms you want to be able to sell separately. The other option with Airbnb was to go 'whole house' and offer as a bundle three bedrooms, with four beds, sleeps up seven pax. We didn't feel that that type of booking would come along very often so have opted to dabble with a single room atm.

    We're also on Booking.com and Expedia for all rooms and thinking about Agoda. We're currently not using a channel manager service so there is a risk of selling the same room/date through different channels. (Now when we get notice of a booking we manually block that room/date in the other channels.)

    Third party distribution is a necessary evil at this point. Ultimately we'd like to establish a client base and reputation such that we only do direct bookings and save the third party commissions. But realistically that will take a minimum of 2-3 years, perhaps never. Regards, -BiP
    Quote Originally Posted by Klondyke View Post
    BIP: haven't you considered to join airbnb?

  6. #6
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    Good thread ! You will use airbnb also because your rooms will be empty most of the time.
    Nowadays people are looking for homestay with farm or any other nature activity, what do you propose ?

    I cannot find any information ?

    https://www.facebook.com/PuaTranquilVistaHomestay/

    https://www.booking.com/hotel/th/pua...tay.en-gb.html

  7. #7
    ความรู้ลึกลับ HuangLao's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Norton View Post
    Well done. Looking forward to seeing the process and paperwork needed to get your business license.
    Yep.
    Those who go through the motions and procedures in a proper manner.
    Best to them!!

  8. #8
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    Hi JAL, thanks for the comment. I'm probably going to ramble on a bit to address what I think is your key point.

    Our objective is to provide a superior accommodation and breakfast experience in northern Nan province. We would like to become the first choice of folks who have already stayed with us and are returning to the area, and others who know of our reputation. Get to our homestay to relax in comfort, take in the mountain and valley view, get a good rest and start tomorrow with the best breakfast in Pua. We're offering rest, comfort, great breakfast and an ideal touring base location. We're not interested in providing farmstay or resort activities. There is at least one farmstay in the area and many small resorts so folks who want that can find it.

    Our location is such that we are an ideal base for folks self-touring the northern part of the province in cars or motor bikes. A particular focus for us (and we are marketing to them) is the small private (as opposed to organized and led) big bike groups. Nirvana for us would be to tap into the 2-3 bikes group with a partner as pillion also riding market. We've implemented a number of biker friendly elements to make a worthwhile offering to them.

    If I step back and say why do tourists come to Nan city and northern Nan province I come up with:
    - Historical temples in Nan
    - Several commercialized temple locations, two in/near Nan, one near Tha Wang Pha and another close to us near Pua
    - Three water falls
    - Several national parks, notably the Doi Phu Kha NP
    - Bo Kluea ancient salt pit
    - Clean air, green lushness of the river valleys and high rainforest covered mountains that are also cloud shrouded for much of the wet/cool seasons
    - Driving/riding on generally good and rarely busy roads taking in and enjoying the scenery (there are lists on the internet that rank Nan province in the top ten worldwide for bike bike touring roads)
    - Rafting
    - Sunrises in cool or cold temps in the October-January period
    - Enjoy the Laotian influenced local culture and food (northern food also big)
    - There are also some key events including long boats racing at Tha Wang Pha and Nan, several cultural festivals in Nan and (I'm not joking) a beetle wrestling festival at Pua. There is also an annual mountain running event close to us in October that we are booked solid.

    Our investigations have led us to conclude that people have already decided to come to the area and are just looking for accommodation by the time they may encounter our FB page or us or other establishments in one or more of the numerous third party booking sites. We intend to make a degree of effort on our FB page to promote those physical attractions and events we believe we validly support. However there is already a really good Nan province website put together by a Pua based expat and when he returns from a trip I intend to see how we can leverage that site in our FB page. I've can only speak of experience with Booking.com to date but I found that site to be very limiting in being able to highlight relevant local tourist attractions and no ability at all to highlight events. I suspect Airbnb, Expedia and Agoda (if we list there) will be similar.

    It's getting late. Regards, -BiP

    Quote Originally Posted by JournalistsAreLiars View Post
    Good thread ! You will use airbnb also because your rooms will be empty most of the time.
    Nowadays people are looking for homestay with farm or any other nature activity, what do you propose ?

    I cannot find any information ?

    https://www.facebook.com/PuaTranquilVistaHomestay/

    https://www.booking.com/hotel/th/pua...tay.en-gb.html

  9. #9
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    We have our first paying customers with us today. Two middle aged Thai ladies. They will be joined by two further lady friends tomorrow and stay Friday night as well. I'm chuffed to be able to report they are blown away by our place. They say they have never seen anything like it in Thailand. In fact one of them is already planning to return and asking about why our season closes 2 February 2020, she wants to come in February. So far so good but need for the wife to deliver a good breakfast tomorrow. Her nerves will settle when she does. They asked for the breakfast to be served on the level 2 balcony. Being small and flexible we said it would be no trouble at all.

  10. #10
    Days Work Done! Norton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoganInParasite View Post
    Being small and flexible we said it would be no trouble at all.
    ไม่มีปัญหา

    Followed by panic.

  11. #11
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    May I suggest that you add your company name to Google Maps. It is reasonably easy to do.

  12. #12
    I'm not in jail Jack meoff's Avatar
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    Good thread and best of luck BIP
    What taxes and insurance will you have to pay on homestay income and how is that process done?
    Do you need hygiene certification for serving food?

  13. #13
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    First paid stay update.

    Still going really well. Last evening they asked the wife is instead of the extra two lady friends joining them in their room whether they could use the other large room on level 2. We are doing a 40% discount to the Standard Rate this month and after considering what they had already paid, the difference was 340 baht. I suggested to wife go for 200, she decided 300 baht. (It's the wife's business and operationally she decides and runs it.) They were more than happy with that so we blocked off the other room in the third party booking sites.

    This morning the wife nailed breakfast. Amazing job. But I am observing that our servings are too large for Thais. We saw the same when some of the wife's friends stayed a few weeks back. The ingredients direct cost for our standard English breakfast is 180 baht. I'm thinking for Thai and perhaps other Asian guests we might get this down to 140-150 baht. Plus the wife is keen to introduce some congee based breakfasts which I'm thinking should have an ingredients cost of well under 100 baht. She is going to practice them this coming week and we might make the introduction of them a marketing focus for next month.

    Now the interesting bit. The wife did multiple trips to level 2 this morning delivering the breakfast courses. She came back from one and said they wanted to pay us an extra because they are so impressed and we are charging so little for it. (Even at a 40% discount this month we are covering our costs. But making a profit this first season is not a priority anyway.) We agreed to instead ask if they could post reviews on our FB page and Google and TripAdvisor once we are properly listed on them. The wife comes back ten minutes later and said they had already transferred the extra baht.
    Last edited by BoganInParasite; 09-08-2019 at 04:48 PM.

  14. #14
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    Ah Barty, you have no idea of that can of worms for us. I'm going to stay reasonably polite because we still want to have a Google My Business listing and be correctly listed on Google Maps. We completed the listing requirements in late May and got to the point the system said a postcard had been mailed to our physical address with a verification code. Said it may take up to four weeks. We were a bit alarmed because more than half the mail we know has been posted to us never gets delivered, particularly if addressed in English. Anyway six weeks later no postcard so after a bit of investigation we find an email address to communicate on. This leads to a call from Google in Thailand and here is where it falls down. They didn't want to list us because we had not yet opened. Our pointing out their online help said they would list up to 90 days before opening fell on deaf ears. So we decided to play the long game, open, and then try again. We'll initiate that soon. If you look at our location on Google Maps closely enough you will find a business called Pua Homestay. Hitting streetview on it displays the old house that was on the property up until about a year ago. We've no idea who created that listing; maybe it is a placeholder created from our My Business application but we just don't know.

    Anyway, while we're talking about online maps let me also tell you about Apple Maps. Apple responded really quickly to our request to add the homestay. Unfortunately a week after it was listed we decided to change 'View' in the business name to 'Vista' since we found at least three other accommodation businesses in the area have both 'Pua' and 'View' in the name. Since then all our attempts to change the name, get the correct address shown, add our contact details have not been acted on. Every attempt we've made to find another way to contact Apple has failed. All roads lead to the mechanism that is seemingly now being ignored.

    And finally on online maps...both Google and Apple incorrectly show our road as #1256 which is actually another local road connecting Pua and Bo Kluea. Our road is signed #1371, the mileposts are #1371 and even the local sub-district office confirms it is #1371. Once we get our listings sorted out we may well try to get that fixed as well. Thankfully our property address does not reference the road number.

    Quote Originally Posted by Barty View Post
    May I suggest that you add your company name to Google Maps. It is reasonably easy to do.

  15. #15
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    In terms of local and government approvals we started with the village head. Always a good idea to keep him informed upfront and onside. Ours was quite happy with the idea and wished us well. (If we decide to take on help next season we'll contact him first. Village heads seem to have a never ending supply of family wanting some baht.)

    Our next stop was the local sub-district office. They said they had no involvement in business licensing but we would have to pay two charges. One was for signage and was based largely on the size of the sign. Turns out it will be something like 400 baht one-time and 200 baht annually. Not long after we installed the sign the wife let the office know and a few days later a gent pulled up on a motorbike, got off and measured the sign. The other charge is essentially a room tax, but it is not calculated on actual revenue. Instead it is something like average room price, times number of rooms, times six weeks, multiplied by some other factor I've forgotten. My calculation at the time was that it would be 7,500-9,000 per annum for us. But not due until 2020.

    Next stop was the Pua office of the Thailand government. The wife was in there for an hour, filled out a simple application form and provided copies of the chanote, house book and her ID. Was told there would be an inspection in about three weeks. Two weeks later we got a call and shortly after a senior local guy and three other officials arrived. They were in the house for about an hour, took a lot of photos and requested we install a fire extinguisher in the level 2 living room and security cameras trained on the front entrance and back sliding door. (We have done so but they've never come back to verify.) As they left the wife was told the license would take three weeks to issue. Two weeks later she got a call and we went up to the office and collected the business license. No fees at all. It was easy.

    Quote Originally Posted by HuangLao View Post
    Yep.
    Those who go through the motions and procedures in a proper manner.
    Best to them!!

  16. #16
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    The wife handled the insurance since it had to be done in Thai language. My understanding is that it combines the typical home/contents policy with a simple service business cover. My only essential point to her was there needed to be solid public liability coverage. I've no idea of the company nor premium.

    Not sure we will ever pay a revenue/income tax. First thing to know the business is in the wife's name, as is the property. This season (till end January 2020) we're aiming to achieve at least 60 revenue nights and if we do so then likely the revenue will be 55-62,000 baht. Direct cost of goods/service would be 50% of that, indirect including non-cash items about another 70%. In other words a paper loss this year but still cashflow positive. In any case well below personal tax thresh-hold.

    If we had 100% occupancy in a six month season and managed to generate all sales at out Standard Rate our total revenue is only 625,000 baht. Direct costs will stay around 50% and indirect cash items about another 25%. Not going to pay any tax on the residual.

    I think next season we'll target 120-150 revenue nights at just under the Standard Rate and the following year 180-220 nights at an increased Standard Rate. We're not in this to make a cash flow loss, but equally we're not doing it to generate an income we can live off.

    We're not aware of the need for any hygiene certification however we have been told there are inspections and the hygiene is something they check. I'd describe myself as something of a paranoid zealot when it comes to cleanliness and food hygiene and the wife being an ex-nurse is pretty focused on it as well. I'm aware of the basics for food prep and storage in an Australian business and we conform easily since what we are doing is so much lesser in scale and simpler.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jack meoff View Post
    Good thread and best of luck BIP
    What taxes and insurance will you have to pay on homestay income and how is that process done?
    Do you need hygiene certification for serving food?
    Last edited by BoganInParasite; 09-08-2019 at 01:12 PM.

  17. #17
    I'm not in jail Jack meoff's Avatar
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    Thanks for the detailed reply BIP, very interesting and will be a help to any others doing it.

  18. #18
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    Don't want to offer too much help to anyone doing it near me Jack meoff. Regards, -BiP
    Quote Originally Posted by Jack meoff View Post
    Thanks for the detailed reply BIP, very interesting and will be a help to any others doing it.

  19. #19
    ความรู้ลึกลับ HuangLao's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack meoff View Post
    Do you need hygiene certification for serving food?

    Can't imagine the clusterfucked chaos that might stir on if they were to universally enforce such benevolent policies.

  20. #20
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    First paid stay completed.

    Our first paying group left this morning. A group of four Thai ladies, two stayed two nights and two stayed just last night.

    They again requested breakfast be served on the level 2 balcony and we did so. In addition one asked for a Thai style congee breakfast and the wife managed to put together a really good one despite not having prepared one for close to six years. Thankfully the request was made last evening so the wife was able to prep it together with the English breakfast prep. We again got compliments on the breakfast (the potato cakes got a special mention) and the overall homestay. They once again said they had never seen anything like it in Thailand. The only change they suggested was a security latch on the inside of the guestroom door. The doors are already lockable but they felt that a physical latch would give guests a greater sense of security, particularly if there was another guest party in the other rooms. We'll get that done this coming week.

    Overall this was a very successful first paying guest visit. We know we met and exceeded their expectations and they validated that we have put together something a significant cut above what is generally found in a homestay in northern Thailand. They wanted group photos taken this morning including with my wife and Thunder, the resident chocolate Labrador pup. They are happy for a photo to be posted to the FB page and said they will post comments there. At least two said they will return.

    And we got a four figure tip.

    We've got quite a few bookings for October but it is sparse till then. Going to do the Agoda sign-up today and also look at promoting the FB page with a paid targeted marketing campaign over the next ten days.

  21. #21
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    https://www.bangkokpost.com/business...00-thai-hotels

    I have seen the "Nida" signs on a few hotels in Nan city. The article above mentions budget a few times so no idea if its a good fit, the hotels I saw the sign at looked nice. Anyhow may be something to look into. I agree that Facebook seems to be one of the best ways to get peoples interest, especially the Thais.

  22. #22
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    BiP - you paying attention to the ongoing TM30 saga - for if/when you have non-Thai guests?

  23. #23
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    Yes. We requested a login for the accommodation reporting system a couple of weeks ago. Think the wife filled in a simple online form and submitted scanned business license and Thai ID. There was an immediate acknowledgement came back to the nominated email address and next day another email arrived with user name and password. I was personally amazed by the responsiveness, it would seem they have their act together on this system. We (well, the wife) will use the system from a laptop. Regards, -BiP
    Quote Originally Posted by nidhogg View Post
    BiP - you paying attention to the ongoing TM30 saga - for if/when you have non-Thai guests?

  24. #24
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    Thanks marcus. I've not heard of NIDA Rooms. Looking at that article and some others I found I didn't find any reference to homestays. Also I think they may well focus towards the lower end of the accommodation spectrum. We are pitching a higher end product although for this and at least next season we will likely need to price against the lower end. I'm not sure how there are going in Thailand. They've never tweeted on their Thai Twitter account opened in 2016, last Thai video on the Youtube channel is a year old and when I clicked on different corporate site links one bombed out and the other went to a GoDaddy page. What they seem to do may well have been new to Thailand in 2016 but is commonplace now, but I must admit I thought I knew them all, at least to the level on name recognition. Regards, -BiP
    Quote Originally Posted by marcusb View Post
    https://www.bangkokpost.com/business...00-thai-hotels

    I have seen the "Nida" signs on a few hotels in Nan city. The article above mentions budget a few times so no idea if its a good fit, the hotels I saw the sign at looked nice. Anyhow may be something to look into. I agree that Facebook seems to be one of the best ways to get peoples interest, especially the Thais.

  25. #25
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    Customer rating: ***** (like in Amazon store)

    Customer review:

    My wife and myself can confirm the excellence of BIP's homestay - dropping by last weekend, were pampered better than in Hilton. Perfectly furnished, all details were thought on.

    Quiet surrounding, wonderful view on the mountains on the horizon.

    Surely recommending...

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