While 2020 is probably going down in history as our worst year ever, we’ve had bad years before. A few years after Sandra Antrobus started buying her collection of Tuishuise, the interest rate soared up to 28 %. Though many tough years followed, it gives us the confidence, even though there does not seem an end to COVID, to believe that this too, will pass!
What have we been doing?
We are COVID ready and Open! We’ve been lucky to be open the entire time (albeit with less than 5% occupancy) for Essential Services and now Business Travel. We’ve been inventive in making sure that our guests still have a great experience, feel safe and enjoy our beautiful food – now served in their houses rather than in our amazing dining-rooms.
Financially, just like everyone, we’ve scrutinised every cent coming in and going out. We’ve applied for grants and funding wherever we could. UIFTERS has proved invaluable, but now we have to find seriously creative ways to get by without it. We’re still waiting to hear what will happen with our Hospitality Insurance, which has been an epic and laborious trail of never-ending documents and forever shifting requirement. Let’s hold thumbs we get something! We have just got the excellent and welcome news that we have received the Tourism SMME Relief Fund Grant. Thank you so much to the Department of Tourism. You will never know how much this means to us.
Marketing, as always, is a key business driver. With the “new normal” thankfully, the reliable Internet has helped so much. We’ve participated in many Webinars, Zoom Marketing Training Sessions as well as presented on some digital Marketing Workshops on Zoom. A highlight for us was our selection to feature on Margi Explores. We also participated in the Virtual Business Exhibition, thanks to ECPTA.
We’ve used the time to try and optimise our business by improving accommodation and enhancing the guest experience. Five main projects and initiatives have emerged:
Training has become a necessity and driving force, and we are seriously looking at ways to fund and start a FET college in Cradock, focusing on Hospitality and Entrepreneurial Training. We’re looking at our staff complement, trying to find new ways of working for everyone. We’re working on how we can maximise our staff expertise and train them in the art of multi-tasking and working across departments.
Two other exciting projects in the pipeline are starting our Community Bakery and Brewery. Equipment is in place for both projects, and we now just need to open the businesses. The Bakery will be privately run, with a strong Community Training arm. We will train ten youth in the art of baking per semester. The Brewery will also be privately run, along similar lines.
We’re formally becoming the home-base for the Travelling Karoo Artist, Annari. She will have an art gallery and give art lessons from Die Tuishuise & Victoria Manor.
Finally, we are working on an exciting interlinking garden project that we think will enhance our guests’ experience.
We are ready and can’t wait to welcome guests to Die Tuishuise & Victoria Manor very soon!