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Orchard Farm News

2013 in a Nutshell: Happy 2014 to You All!

It’s fashionable, and tempting, to review the previous year as one faces the as yet empty pages of the next, although ‘empty pages’, as one looks at next year’s bookings, is hardly the right expression. We have 40 holidays booked already for 2014, 1/3 of the year is already spoken for.

Disregarding all world events and looking inwards rather than out, at our two holiday cottages, our website was hacked, we had the courtyard and drive resurfaced, Douglas’s Barn boiler blew up and was replaced and we bought an iPad for each barn.

We started using our own SagePay ‘virtual terminal’ for taking payments, which is very easy to use, and very secure. We don’t actually see the card details – they are all crossed out apart from that last 4 digits and the security code is never stored. And on the same tack, we have also achieved PCI DSS (the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliance which is an indication that we do all we can to keep our payment system secure.

We had two annual Quality in Tourism inspections – one on February and one in December! Do look at the report, for the recent December 2013 inspection, if you are interested.

Our stats for the year provide some intriguing fun: stats, as one knows, can be made to prove more or less what one wants – actual bookings can be up, but the length of stay may be shorter, or the opposite. 2013 was definitely ‘down’ on 2012, with an occupancy rate of 88% for the year compared with 2012′s 95% (it was 97% the previous year…). 88% is still pretty good, by any standard.

Our 26% repeat visit percentage is also down on last year’s, but actual repeat visit ‘bed nights’ is up, at 34%, so the loyal guests are returning for longer.

Our new website is getting nearer completion; now it all is waiting for me to ‘populate’ it with words. Most of the copy will be exactly what we had before, but better arranged so there is not so much showing at once and the pages don’t look so crowded.

Our new video is here! Our son, Nick, and two colleagues filmed it for us one weekend in September. We had withdrawn Douglas’s Barn from availability but Tom’s Barn was already booked when the date was chosen. However, the lovely guests in Tom’s Barn were so generous and accommodating, going for a long walk so that the crew could film inside, and making a brief appearance with their dog at the end – thank you most sincerely, Will, Claire and Basil.

We are delighted with the video, which is a short, up to date ‘filmic’ (is there such a word?) brochure. My only problem is the ghastly sound of the voice over. I hope I don’t usually sound like that…

I have just skimmed through the year and will probably soon realise there are numerous absolutely crucial Tom’s & Douglas’s Barn 2013 landmarks missing. It wasn’t all plain sailing – the Douglas’s Barn boiler crisis affected two sets of guests, and serious snow drifts in March meant Parwich was cut off from the rest of the world for a day – the first time for ages – when our anxious plea for Bonios for an elderly and ailing dog guest in Tom’s Barn led to an embarrassment of supplies from generous Parwich households, so all was well…

As always, Tom’s Barn and Douglas’s Barn continue to give us great pleasure, and we feel our lives are greatly enriched by the contact with all our guests; for some happy reason our barns do seem to attract the most interesting and delightful people.


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