A Senior Business Development Manager at attractions and ticketing specialist DoSomethingDifferent.com has used her time on furlough and lockdown to launch a property rental business through Airbnb.
Having worked at Do Something Different for nine years, Lucy Paterson was put on furlough in November.
It was while she was working for the NHS and pregnant with her third child that Lucy and her husband John decided the time was right to renovate their large garage – a former cowshed – and turn it into a one-bed luxury holiday let, complete with hot tub.
Within 48 hours of uploading a video of the property’s transformation to Facebook last week, she received 11 confirmed bookings with July almost booked out.
Based in Woodcote Green just outside Bromsgrove, Lucy describes the one-bedroom, open plan property as a ‘barn-style luxury suite’ with Jacuzzi hot tub.
She said it was seeing the huge growth in demand for staycations that prompted her to launch her new venture.
“I absolutely wanted to tap into the staycation market. I’ve been running my mum’s Airbnb property – Mireystock House in the Forest of Dean – for the last seven years, so I know how it works. We’ve now got 100% 5-star reviews on Trip Advisor.
“As a BDM for Do Something Different, I keep an eye on the trade, and when everyone was asking when brochures for 2022/23 were coming out, I could see it [the demand for staycations] coming. People are dubious about travelling abroad, but we know there’s a market for this. When I heard people saying ‘you can’t even book a staycation’, I knew it was a great time to launch. The market is so strong now.
“The staycation craze is not going to last forever, but I wanted to strike while the iron was hot and this way I’ve got something for the future.”
Lucy said she and her husband John borrowed money to pay for a builder to renovate The Cowshed, which welcomed its first guests this weekend – a couple whose holiday abroad had been cancelled.
“A good chunk of the bookings are from people who live in London and want to get away for the weekend.
“I had a booking recently from a junior doctor in London, I’ve also had two mini-moon bookings, where people take a few days’ holiday in the UK immediately after their wedding.
“Mini-moons were around before COVID, and now because people can’t go abroad they still want some time away to relax and reflect on their big day before deciding when and where to take their main honeymoon.
“The property has a luxury suite feel to it, so my target market will be romantic couples’ weekends.”
Lucy welcomed bookings from travel agents and said any independent agents who wanted to sell The Cowshed and Mireystock House could call her and get a net rate in order for them to mark up their price.
“With Airbnb I’m not signing into an exclusivity agreement, so there’s nothing stopping agents selling the properties if they think it would suit their customers. They can check the availability on Airbnb then just book direct with me to get a net rate.”
Prices at The Cowshed start from £150 a night, on a self-catering basis.
Lucy said she would return to Do Something Different.com as soon as furlough was finished, and the Cowshed was a side line for now.
“My first and foremost love is Do Something Different and I’ll be going back to work for them as soon as furlough ends.