New Cornwall Hospitality Leaders Network programme lead Vicky Goldby talks about her own entrepreneurial success and why businesses in Cornwall have such potential.
Please tell us a little bit about you and your hospitality background?
I studied catering and hospitality management at university and following that joined the world’s leading catering and support service company where I spent ten years working on a huge variety of projects – from standardising back of house job roles and recruitment processes, to mergers, IT hardware deployments and software development. Latterly, I was responsible for mobilising new contacts across all business sectors.
Having left that behind and moved to Cornwall, my husband and I took over Benallack Barn – a beautiful stone farm complex dating partly from 1600, nestling in a largely untouched valley near the historic village of Grampound in mid-Cornwall.
We have two self-catering cottages that are set around a central courtyard. Named for their use when Benallack was a working dairy farm, the Dairy and the Bullpen each sleep two people and can be booked by the week or for short breaks all year round.
My biggest learning, and what I always try and remember to do, is to put myself in our guests shoes. Have they travelled a long way, arriving late at night (I’ll leave some breakfast pastries or more detailed directions for travelling in the dark) or are they coming to walk the coast path (I’ll leave a collection of maps). I’m conscious too that for our guests it’s often about experiencing Cornwall and not just a place to stay so we’re always on hand to share the best things about staying with us in Cornwall.
What do you think makes Cornwall so unique?
Cornwall is a very unique place, which I’ve really only appreciated since we moved here in 2014. It’s steeped in myth and legend – from beasts and sunken lands to “piskies”, which makes it feel very magical. Each part of Cornwall is very different. There’s Bodmin Moor, The Roseland and West Penwith – each completely different, but all within 60 miles of each other and ideal for exploring the whole county whilst on holiday.
We hear a lot about Cornwall being independent, which is easy to understand when you consider that it has only been part of Great Britain for just over 200 years. Cornwall feels different – life is slower, people are unassuming, have time to talk, tell a story and are welcoming. The region has more than its fair share of art societies, excellent restaurants, farm shops, gastro pubs, pop up tea rooms and beautiful gardens. With over 300 beaches and 258 miles of coast path, it has something for everyone.
What do you see as the major challenges facing Cornish hospitality businesses?
The hospitality industry in Cornwall is facing several challenges. Recruiting and retaining great team members, increased costs and customer expectations will not be unique to Cornwall. However, when you add in highly seasonal demand and the potential impact of Brexit, staying ahead of the game is going to be even tougher. Hospitality businesses which are flexible and can quickly adapt will thrive in this uncertainty.
How have you gone about looking to improve your company?
I’m conscious that I am a customer too and am always on the look out for the little things that make my experiences as a customer special. I then take these and implement them in my business. Running a small operation can be isolating, and it’s difficult to access specialist knowledge and support that is cost effective, so I grab every opportunity I can to take time out of our business and think about it objectively – gathering advice from experts, especially in the areas digital, customer experience and industry research/insights.
What do you think could have the biggest transformation effect for the region?
For me it would be creating all year-round demand and building “destination” hospitality businesses.
What excites you most about joining the Be the Business team?
I’m really enthused about being in a position where I can help Cornish businesses be the best possible version of themselves.
Get in touch with Vicky through firstname.lastname@example.org