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  1. #151
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    BoganInParasite's Avatar
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    Thought I might restart this thread with a mini update and elaborate each point and others a bit more over the coming days and weeks. I'm sure the odd TD member would have wondered how the business was going with COVID impacting the industry. So here goes....

    1. We are going gang-busters...record month after record month. About to host our 200th guest group and have our 700th guest inhouse today. Think this is our 15th month of operation.
    2. COVID shut us down end of March, lost maybe 12,000 baht in business.
    3. We did the COVID health and safety training, got certified by the MoH and reopened on 8 June. Spend about 8,000 baht on COVID related preparations, mainly cleaning and sanitation supplies and signage.
    4. We invested a further 60,000 baht in the business...proper roadside signage, extra mountain bikes, flatscreen televisions in the guestrooms, floor rugs and we standardized crockery between levels 1 and 2 and what we use personally and what we use for the homestay.
    5. We changed our pricing models for our three distribution channels...direct, Booking.com and Agoda and are achieving more than 10% revenue increase per pax per night in our second season. We also use these channels differently and offer different products in each. On the external channels we are now one of the more expensive Pua options, but we are still selling well on them.
    6. We now have a cost tracking system updated daily and can generate accurate monthly financial performance figures when we capture the end of month stock-take. We are quite profitable.
    7. We have promoted our Thai breakfast over the English style breakfast. It is simpler (we get it in from a nearby restaurant as does several other homestays and resorts) and cheaper.
    8. We have very high guest review scores on Booking.com, Agoda and Google (both profiles...sigh!). On Booking we are at 9.8 after 31 reviews, the highest in the Pua area and in the top five for Nan province.
    9. We have an amazing reputation for our customer service, view, food, quality and cleanliness. We get a lot of referral business and quite a few return guests including one that has returned three times.
    10. We are so busy and heavily booked that we have to turn down more than 95% of callers and messages (via LINE and Messenger) for availability in the <2 month window.
    11. We now use our own organically grown tomatoes, chilis, papaya, passionfruits and cucumbers most of the time. Our own made passionfruit jam is popular with many guests asking to buy some. We give them a small jar free.
    12. We sell our own made cookies and mail them to guests.
    13. Our on arrival afternoon teas featuring own made brownies, cream and hot tea/coffee are extremely popular.
    14. Our two Labrador dogs (Thunder and Storm) are popular after being shown on a popular travel blogger YT video earlier in the year. On several occasions the first thing a newly arrived guest wants to do is meet them.
    15. We let some dogs stay as a trial. Worked out okay so far, less problems than infants.

  2. #152
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    I am also in the process of building a micro-resort and your feedback is much appreciated and will be studied!

    Thank you.

  3. #153
    Thailand Expat armstrong's Avatar
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    It makes sense I guess. Nan probably isn't that hot on the international travellers circuit but somewhere you go when you've been here a while. Glad it's going ok!

  4. #154
    ความรู้ลึกลับ HuangLao's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by armstrong View Post
    It makes sense I guess. Nan probably isn't that hot on the international travellers circuit but somewhere you go when you've been here a while. Glad it's going ok!
    Yep...
    Should be admiring BIP/good wife for their business acumen and adjustment practices - especially through these pressing times, where these types of businesses struggle.

    If I recall, they rely on good percentage of Thai guest as well....less dependent on Farang trade - lesser known destinations/outta the way provinces for them.

    These types of businesses are unsure, even in the best of times - so kudos to all that have success!

    Best to you BIP.
    Cheers.


  5. #155
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    We are enthusiastic amateurs LY but happy to help where we think we know what we are doing. The wife is particularly insightful on Thai guest needs and wants.

    Quote Originally Posted by Loy Toy View Post
    I am also in the process of building a micro-resort and your feedback is much appreciated and will be studied!

    Thank you.

  6. #156
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    Thanks armstrong. Yeah the great majority of farang visitors to Nan province are already living in Thailand. It is quite low (but not invisible) on the radar of overseas folks. Of the farang that do visit the majority of them are big-bike folks on a tour of northern Thailand, often with their Thai partners riding pillion during the day and no doubt providing other delights when off the bike. We have some very highly rated rides on our doorstep, notably #1081 and #1256.

    Quote Originally Posted by armstrong View Post
    It makes sense I guess. Nan probably isn't that hot on the international travellers circuit but somewhere you go when you've been here a while. Glad it's going ok!

  7. #157
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    Always good to hear some positive news.

    All the best for the future BIP.

  8. #158
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    Thanks HL. What we are seeing and have since we reopened in early June is Bangkok based Thais absolutely stir crazy from COVID restrictions and very keen to get out and about. Because an overseas jaunt is not an option this year they are travelling in the country. We have also noticed that the type of Thai traveler and their apparent wealth and travel tool familiarity is higher this season than last. So this has allowed us to increase prices on Booking and Agoda while holding to our very modest prices for direct bookers. Our direct bookers on average seem a little less affluent that the third party bookers and in many cases they are unaware of booking tools. They use FB and call or message direct. Our direct sales volume is a little more than through third party sites and this is why we are only up about 10% on per pax per night income despite being considerable more expensive on Booking/Agoda this season. Regards, BiP

    Quote Originally Posted by HuangLao View Post
    Yep...
    Should be admiring BIP/good wife for their business acumen and adjustment practices - especially through these pressing times, where these types of businesses struggle.

    If I recall, they rely on good percentage of Thai guest as well....less dependent on Farang trade - lesser known destinations/outta the way provinces for them.

    These types of businesses are unsure, even in the best of times - so kudos to all that have success!

    Best to you BIP.
    Cheers.


  9. #159
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    Thanks Bogon. Ah, the future. Our grand plan for the future is something like:

    1. Sell current property, lease back for 12-18 months and continue the business.
    2. Buy land in the area and build an even better homestay. Likely to be smaller, more boutique and upmarket.
    3. Move the business and run it for 2-3 seasons in the new location.
    4. Sell the new property and head to Australia.

    We would never sell our business. What makes it unique, special and a success cannot be sold. She will be with me in Australia.

    Regards, BiP.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bogon View Post
    Always good to hear some positive news.

    All the best for the future BIP.

  10. #160
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    Well we unexpectedly hit 200 completed guest stays last night after a walk-in (well drive-in) arrived and asked if we had a room. We did have the small level 1 guestroom available and the wife gave them a great deal. Turns out to be a headmaster and teacher couple from Nakhon Pathom, my wife's birth/home province to the west of Bangkok.

    So in our 15th month of operation we are:

    1. 200 guest group stays.
    2. 707 guests.
    3. 803 revenue guest nights.
    4. 340 revenue room nights.
    5. Getting close to 400k baht total revenue.
    6. Net profits greater than 50% of revenue.

    Not bad for a small three room homestay in an out of way remote province where the great bulk of the work is done by one person. We never dared to even dream we would be so successful.

  11. #161
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoganInParasite View Post
    help to anyone doing it near me Jack meoff
    Sounds good>

  12. #162
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    This is just down the road from us too.


  13. #163
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    OP, appreciate you sharing your business story. It's so good to see small businesses finding success, even during hard times.

    With the brisk business, are you and the wife finding time to get out and enjoy life, or does running the business provide enough joy and satisfaction already?

  14. #164
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    Thanks TT. We do block days for a bit of a rest, maybe three a month, and we are rarely full with all three rooms occupied. In fact as soon as we sell one of the two level 2 premium rooms we block the smaller level 1 room and increase the price on the other premium room. But there is so much demand generally the second premium room sells. Right now we are booked out this month, have only five room nights left in December...we decided yesterday we will block three of these when two of them sell. January is wide open and we have no bookings in February. This time last year we had half a dozen February bookings. What we are seeing is people are booking closer to their intended stay dates this season, and there is a lot of churn caused by cancellations and then new sales. We have three days this and next month that have already had four cycles of booking/cancellations/another booking.

    October-February are hectic and we accept that these occasional days are really the only time off we can get. We also have two Labradors so there is little prospect of travelling together apart from half day trips. The wife is battling an arm RSI (and I've stuffed up a knee ligament) so we may well block a week in mid-January. Outside of that we will relax during our closed period April to mid-June. Unfortunately not exactly a pleasant time in northern Thailand. Regards, BiP

    Quote Originally Posted by TTraveler View Post
    OP, appreciate you sharing your business story. It's so good to see small businesses finding success, even during hard times.

    With the brisk business, are you and the wife finding time to get out and enjoy life, or does running the business provide enough joy and satisfaction already?

  15. #165
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    Another tidbit...we decided not to participate in the government scheme subsidizing domestic tourism. The reasons:

    1. We didn't want to have to open an account at another bank.
    2. We didn't want to be owed money by the government.
    3. Most importantly, this is our hobby. Many folks are trying to make a living running small resorts, homestays, etc. We felt they would be more deserving.

    We had maybe half a dozen inquiries about the scheme, three from folks who had already booked. They didn't cancel. However the folks that had not yet booked didn't book with us.

  16. #166
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    Goodonya- I'm glad it is going well. Out of curiosity BiP, what is your rough mix betwen farang or farang/Thai couples, and Thai? Or overseas turismos for that matter- do you get any of them?

  17. #167
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    Hi Sabang,

    First Season Aug19-Mar20 / Second Season Jun20 to date:
    - Thai single traveller/couples, with parent/s and/or extended family group - 85% / 95%
    - Other Thai non family travel group - 3% / 3%
    - Farang/Thai couple Thailand based with/without kids - 4% / 2%
    - Non Thai non Thailand travel group - 1% (Singapore based Malaysian big-bikers) / 0%
    - Non Thai Thailand based travel group - 4% (farang big bikers) / 0%
    - Non Thai non Thailand couples (predominantly European & one USA) - 3% / 0%

    Regards, BiP

    Quote Originally Posted by sabang View Post
    Goodonya- I'm glad it is going well. Out of curiosity BiP, what is your rough mix betwen farang or farang/Thai couples, and Thai? Or overseas turismos for that matter- do you get any of them?

  18. #168
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    Hi BIP. Thanks for the progress report. Glad you're doing well.

    Do you have the link to the vid made by the vlogger ee: the dogs? Ever since the lockdown, I now watch cat & dog vids!

    Btw, your pics from your Cameron Highlands trip qere very helpful. The BF and I did a similar tour.

  19. #169
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    Hi katie, post #131 in this thread has the story and link. This Thai travel blogger seems to be hot. About a month ago I saw he had posted a new video three hours earlier and it had 12,000 views already. We've had maybe a dozen stays as a result of his video including two other young Thais that are seemingly copying what he does...travel alone on a motorbike with a video camera and drone and make videos.

    Loved the Cameron Highlands as well. Pleased they helped. Regards, BiP

    Quote Originally Posted by katie23 View Post
    Hi BIP. Thanks for the progress report. Glad you're doing well.

    Do you have the link to the vid made by the vlogger ee: the dogs? Ever since the lockdown, I now watch cat & dog vids!

    Btw, your pics from your Cameron Highlands trip qere very helpful. The BF and I did a similar tour.

  20. #170
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoganInParasite View Post
    2. Buy land in the area and build an even better homestay. Likely to be smaller, more boutique and upmarket.
    Are you serious? - smaller? Your current one is 3 rooms htf do you reckon downsizing will help you achieve your goals?

  21. #171
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    ^^I watched the vid. Your place looks lovely and the general area looks peaceful. Beautiful dogs.

    Re: the vid itself, it was very well produced! I didn't understand the language, but I finished it because it was very cinematic. It must've taken him several hours to film & edit. He deserves the 200k+ subscribers (and views) that he has!

    It's a different style from western travel vloggers, wherein they talk to the camera. There's an American guy based in BKK, CB Media, who does motorbike trips around TH. His subscribers & views increased significantly during these covid months. I've watched some of his bike tours - interesting & informative. He states the names & prices of his hotels & food.

    I heard the Thai vlogger mention "homestay" several times, so he must've liked your place. Congrats & wish you more success.

  22. #172
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    We are already achieving our financial goals Iceman. We had two:

    1. Don't make a loss.
    2. Make sufficient net profit to pay for our cost of living 3-4 months a year.

    In our first season we made a six figure net profit that covered our (quite modest) cost of living for 4 months. So far this season we've already managed 3 months and expect it will continue this month, December, January and maybe even February.

    We never intended to live off the profits year round and it is quite impossible with such a small operation, even if we don't use any staff. This season is a bonanza for us due to COVID preventing affluent Thai folks holidaying overseas as they usually would so they are travelling domestically. Won't be the same next season particularly if COVID continues to (apparently) be contained in Thailand and as vaccination becomes more widespread.

    On the product front we give ourselves eight out of ten for the house design functioning as a homestay. We believe we now know what a ten out of ten design looks like. And we want to go smaller because we are finding our current three room/10 guests/bedding configuration is too onerous. We also now have a really good understanding of the Thais who stay with us and can see a way to service both the basic less affluent Thai market and still get some high-end more affluent folks paying for a premium product. What we are looking at is two couples rooms, one with a family extension dormitory. Six beds for eight guests, no futons.

    Regards, BiP

    Quote Originally Posted by Iceman123 View Post
    Are you serious? - smaller? Your current one is 3 rooms htf do you reckon downsizing will help you achieve your goals?

  23. #173
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    Our first investment before we reopened in June was a proper roadside sign. A sign shop in Pua put this together from our design and installed it all for 9,100 baht. The bottom green Room Available sign hangs on a couple of metal hooks. We also have a black No Vacancy sign and a red Closed sign for our out-of-season period. Surprisingly our three walk-ins this year have come when we had the No Vacancy sign up. In each case we did have the small level 1 room available and did the folks a great deal. We don't like to sell that room individually because it is small and with no view, prefer to use it as an overflow room for a larger group on level 2.

    The wife did an online purchase of some solar powered lights and they illuminate one side of the sign and the driveway entrance at night.

    The business name is blanked out to prevent anyone thinking I'm using TD for marketing/sales.

    Starting a Business in Nan Province-inkedimg_7778-1-_li-jpg

  24. #174
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    Do you have to pay a yearly tax for that sign?

  25. #175
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    Yeah. Paid 400 baht for a larger sign hanging on the front fence last year so expecting something around that. Regards, BiP
    Quote Originally Posted by Loy Toy View Post
    Do you have to pay a yearly tax for that sign?

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