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Googly eyes and other issues

June 11th, 2020

“Right… you have to re-think the way your business operates from the bottom up; you have some time, maybe 3 weeks, maybe 6. It might be temporary… it might not. It may be that you have to work to 2m social distancing… it might be 1m. You will probably be able to open on 4th July, maybe not… maybe later; maybe some businesses will be able to open and that might be you but it might not: Either way make sure you are a fully trained social media expert, understand the contactless guest experience and can spot COVID-19 symptoms from at least 10 paces.”

The above ‘quote’ sourced from a variety of email newsletters (I receive roughly 10/day), BBC News, Hospitality UK, MP Facebook pages, YouTube videos, forums, et al.

Nice to have some clarity

That seems manageable, right?! I mean, it only took us 5 years to get to where we are now so fair enough that it should take us around 3 weeks to pivot and offer a very different service.

Oh.. and don’t forget it has to be marketed, staff trained, websites altered and rewritten, booking systems changed around, rooms re-named, pricing structure reconfigured, risk assessments undertaken, PPE bought and signage created.

Good job we’ve been making such good money for the past few months. Oh, wait…

Moaning over (temporarily)

It’s good to write it down, get it off my chest. After all, we are in this with a LOT of other businesses, both local and otherwise. Everyone is struggling with new guidance, conditions of opening, uncertainty and financial limits. You all have my sympathy.

We may even be luckier than most, after all we’re a small business with a titchy yet effective team so we can agree things quickly, budget quickly, adapt quickly and work together towards a common goal which, at the moment, is to get Cohort open in as risk-free an environment as possible.

So where do we start?

All very well saying start at the beginning but actually where is that? I had absolutely no idea where it was on Monday but four days in we are actually getting somewhere.

As an aside: I find it supremely annoying when inspirational quotes and cliches are actually relevant, however I will grudgingly admit that every journey does indeed start with the first step; a step which must be taken despite my tendency to predict how it ends and decide I’m far too tired to walk today.

Reconfiguring the hostel

My eyes have been going googly staring at the computer screen for hours on end and while I genuinely love our booking system (Cloudbeds – let’s give them a plug!) there’s nothing fun about altering everything within it in a very, very tiny font.

My favourite part of the day is Dan bringing me a cup of tea after a solid 4 hours… my least favourite part is when I ask what he thinks:

  • ‘What’s that?’
  • ‘Why have you done it that way?’
  • ‘That won’t work’
  • ‘We should change the price on that’
  • ‘People won’t understand what you’ve written online – can we just change the wording?’
  • ‘No, not just on that page’
  • ‘Well, I don’t not like it.’

So yes, we may be small and adaptable but there is no getting away from the fact we are also husband and wife with a very different take on things. That is undoubtedly one of our strengths in the long term but it can make the short term quite prickly; on top of which (and I suspect like all married couples) the relationship has had its challenging moments in lockdown.

Moving on…

However that was yesterday and today, instead of 54 beds we have nine rooms for between 1 and 6 people (pat on the back for us).

While both Dan and I find it hugely frustrating that we can’t provide the social experience the hostel is named after [‘cohort’ means a gang of people having a shared experience] we can at least still provide comfortable, affordable and safe accommodation in the centre of St Ives from 4th July* and that, after all, is what we do.

* see above quote

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