August 16 2018 @ 17:31 by Chloe Holmes
Holiday cottage owners, Lynn and Pete Clarke, have capitalised on business support opportunities available within Northumberland to turn their holiday dream into a successful business reality.
Lynn Clarke, owner of Leaholme Cottage in Newton-by-the-Sea, first fell in love with the property after originally staying there over a decade ago.
Lynn explained, “We knew it was such a great family home as we had holidayed there ourselves. There are four good sized bedrooms and you’re only a couple of minutes away from three different beaches. As soon as I saw the house was on the market, I knew we had to buy it. I had always intended for it to be our holiday home but it didn’t take long before it developed into a full-time business.”
Since purchasing and renovating Leaholme Cottage, Lynn and Pete have since added a further two properties to their holiday let portfolio, both apartments in Alnwick.
“Our business had grown so quickly, we needed to make sure we were marketing ourselves effectively and making the most of every opportunity, so we searched for available business support in the local area.”
After signing up to the Business Northumberland programme, Lynn has worked closely with Business Growth Adviser, Chris Dawson, who has supported Lynn in the development of a funding application for a grant from NBSL and helped her to identify suitable events in the local area where she could promote her businesses and widen her network.
“We developed a brand-new website and worked alongside a web designer and a professional photographer to make sure we were able to create exactly what we wanted. It was important to us that we could showcase the property as well as making sure that we had the functionality to take direct bookings.”
“We had previously relied on a booking agent to keep the level of bookings consistent but thanks to a culmination of all the support we have received, all our bookings are now managed by us. When you consider the cost of using a booking agent for three properties, this has been a significant saving for us.”
Lynn has gone on to use her positive experience as a catalyst to share her knowledge with other local businesses and is now a fundamental part of a support group of other local holiday cottage owners to provide a platform to communicate regularly about all aspects of business.
“It’s important that small businesses collaborate and there is a wealth of expertise and experience between the owners and we are keen to share practice and work together. We are always looking for new ways to champion Northumberland. The support we have received has been invaluable to us and we hope other businesses make the most of this opportunity.”
The Business Northumberland programme is a support programme delivered by a team of experts, who provide businesses with 1-2-1 support, to help them to understand their growth needs and implement an action plan to achieve their growth aspirations. To find out more, head to; https://www.businessnorthumberland.co.uk
Business Northumberland is match funded by the England European Regional Development Fund and Arch, so there is no cost to eligible businesses.
The £1.3m funding secured for Business Northumberland includes Arch’s own funds and match funding of £698,599 received from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.