Where do our guests hail from?
We talk and write endlessly about our cottages, we ooh and ah over photos of dogs and birds and snow and rather a lot recently about dear old Boots (who’s plodding along nicely for the moment, thank you). I suddenly thought that it’s about time we turn to by far the most vital subject of all, people.
For people like John and me who have worked and loved being with people all our lives we couldn’t be doing something we enjoyed more than the life we lead now. What could be better than welcoming guests here, who have chosen to stay, came with eager anticipation and are loving every moment.
And we have met some such interesting people who have enriched our own lives, for which we are very gratefully aware. We do our best not to intrude, and as you who have stayed here will know, we take our cue from you. If you like to chat and pass the time of day, we like to too! Discretion is the word and we’d never pass on anything personal so if you were hoping for juicy stories I should stop reading now.
This will instead be facts and figures about you/our guests rather than ‘Hello’ type anecdotes so, more boringly, I will try to think of the main questions we so often get asked…
Where do your guests come from? We’re often asked that. The answer is: from all over the United Kingdom, with the majority from England. For some reason – probably because we don’t market ourselves there effectively – we have very few guests from the continent; we have had some lovely guests, but not in significant number, from Australia, Tasmania, Malta, Dubai… This map shows where our guests came from last year. The greens are meant but fail to vary in colour to signify the percentages, the darker meaning the greater number. The picture varies from year to year and most years we have more visitors from both Scotland and Cornwall.
What we are noticing quite strikingly is the increase in very local guests who appreciate the convenience and economy of keeping travel costs and time at the minimum whilst finding here a complete contrast from their corner of Sheffield, Nottingham, Chesterfield or Derby. This is especially helpful for those who may have left their youngish children with grandparents, or indeed be concerned not to be too far from their own elderly parents.
However, we always seem to have a lot of guests from East Anglia and the South East and most of all from London/greater London. These guests are almost always amazed at how quickly they can get here – maybe it’s that north of Watford anxiety, amazingly dispelled… However, anyone using the M1 or M40 can have a problem if there are hold ups so we can’t promise as some do assure us that you’ll invariably get up in 21/2 hours!
How do people know about you? Personal recommendations, returning guests and then it is the internet, these days: Google searches, Alastair Sawday, TripAdvisor, Premier Cottages… unless, occasionally we are lucky enough to be picked out by a journalist and that has a great influence. We are still being contacted by people who read about us in the Guardian five years ago!
What kind of person comes to stay at Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns? Well, not anyone that wants the bright lights, that’s for sure. It’s anyone/everyone else who seeks the very opposite, no matter what age or stage in life they’re at, anyone who wants to stay somewhere restful and relaxing that feels right for them.
Many either love the Peak District or have never been here and are anxious to try somewhere new. Most like to walk, dog owners appreciate Tom’s Barn where they and their dogs feel completely at home. Finally, some of our guests come for a specific reason, to meet up with friends, attend events like the Chatsworth Horse Trials in May or Buxton Festival in July. And lots of you just like coming back to somewhere that feels like a second home. One lovely couple stayed three time last year!
And soon we have a couple returning to celebrate their Silver Wedding: their present to each other is to revisit all the places where they have been particularly happy during their first 25 years of marriage. That maybe says it all.