May Bank Holiday

Well, I hope you had a lovely May Bank Holiday!  We did and were busy with some lovely guests who left some lovely comments.  The view is how it looked with the sun shining!  The tulips have been great this year too and I have planted several more trees and shrubs arounds the grounds – partly my birthday present as well.

The next one beckons – we have a couple of self-catering cottages still free for the week (from the smaller ones for just a couple!) and some Hotel space but don’t delay and remember – it is Whit Week too so it is going to be busier generally and of course the weather will be great!  Our gardens should be looking super too with the azaleas in full flower by then as well.  We should have our outside entertainment and wedding ceremony pavilion operating by then as well!  So, if you’re in the music trade and would like to come and play one evening on a commissioned basis, we’ll be all ears!  We’ll be a venue for your beat to beat and not far off the beaten track too!

Where Are We?

That may sound a daft question but!  We are the only Trimstone in the world – great for finding us on sat navs!  We are a tiny hamlet on the ‘other side’ of the A361 in the parish of West Down.  West Down is a delightful village and a great, vibrant community with all the things you’d expect of it (aside from a fulltime Post Office).  We are only just over a mile away.  There is also an excellent website and we are listed as one of the amenities of the parish too of course.  See: - http://www.westdown.org.uk/.  I must applaud the webmeister too – he is one of the most capable and efficient web managers I have come across and the sort of person that every organisation would love to have on board!  I am now going to embarrass him by naming him – thank you David.  And oh yes, in the community spirit I do pay for an advertisement on the site as well so I hope other local businesses will feel minded to support the initiative likewise.


Travel Websites and Online Travel Agencies

The disgraceful behaviour some of these perpetrate is becoming clear.  Have a look: - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/04/20/online-travel-agents-spying-on-holidaymakers-to-rip-them-off/.  I have long been angry at the sales’ pattern of so many of them – the primary one being ‘we’ll get you the best deal’ when actually all hosts on the sites have to sign-up to agree not to price things any differently for online agencies as they charge customers for direct bookings!

I have shared already that now the back has been broken of these firms, more and more hotels etc. will be offering you better deals if you book direct with them – as we do.  After all, with commission of up to 23%, we can afford to do that!  However, some of the scams are atrocious as flagged by the House of Lords’ Report and it is high time the Competition and Markets’ Authority really completed its review and started to bark some orders at these immoral players in the field.

And many cottage agencies aren’t much better I regret – did you know that some of the biggest charge the cottage owner up to 28% commission on every booking as well as an annual property registration fee or advertising as well and some even charge their guest a fee for incidentals or for taking the booking as well!  A local one has just sold a major stake in its business for tens of millions and we can see why.  Presently we are not with any direct agency but we do work with some which take a more equitable payment for the introduction of bookings.  Lots of them promise the earth to property owners too but very few deliver the levels of occupancy the glossy brochures suggest are likely…  I hate to think that holiday-makers are being so ripped-off frankly – the prices would be that much cheaper for their holiday if that level of commission was not so rich.  Maybe there is an opening in the market for an equitable player?


Compulsory Tipping and Restaurants

I have always abhorred ‘discretionary’ tipping at restaurants, you know, a 12.5% 0r 10% charge whether or not you wanted to pay it and even though it is ‘discretionary’ theoretically but how many would ever remove it if they weren’t satisfied?  Well, The Business Secretary is proposing for the habit to be banned and long overdue! http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/01/restaurants-to-be-banned-from-adding-discretionary-charge-to-bil/.  I have had it added whether it has been a big group (why charge an extra fee for that when you’re already receiving extra revenue and it’s not as if separate billing was required?) and also one-man-bands where that is taking the mickey really… 

We have never done this at Trimstone and you will tell I would never have been in favour of it.  Put the costs in your prices if you must.  Tipping is not for poor, fair or good service either – it is for better than good service and if the guest feels a special gratuity is appropriate for the exemplary service received.  Thank you, on behalf of the staff, when that happens, naturally!  Yes, it is nice to leave a little something if you have been more than satisfied at your experience but it shouldn’t be obligatory.

On top of that, the law could be changed to force establishments to hand-over the tips to the staff.  I have to say, what do other establishments do…?  Surely they don’t keep the payment for themselves?  We agree that it is a taxable benefit and needs handling appropriately and shared amongst the relevant staff involved but keeping it for the establishment – that is just not on.


Business Breakfast at Trimstone Manor Country House Hotel

Thursdays, 7.15am, we discuss business topics.  Open to all and only £9, please ring 01271 862841 or email.  Those in business or retired are welcome for business themed breakfasts including learning and counselling.  It’s VAT and Tax deductible.  We finish at 9.00am, to ensure your day isn’t interrupted. 
If you exercise fifteen minutes every day by the year end you will feel healthier and fitter. If you invest your time in the Business Breakfast, by the end of the year your business will be stronger too, with improved sales, efficiency and costs saved.  Why not try – but beware, its habit forming!  If you are a Hotel guest, you can attend without extra charge!  I mean, apart from sleeping, what else are you doing at 7.15am on a Thursday!


Our very best wishes


Philip & Helen Milton