Alistair Malins, Founder and CEO of Luxury Cottages tells us about the beautifully restored country houses and luxury lodges with hot tubs.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Alistair Malins: We’re all good here at LC. Health and wellbeing are paramount at the moment, and we’re happy to report no major concerns.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Luxury Cottages.
Alistair Malins: I founded Luxury Cottages in 2020 from my kitchen table as I wanted to improve the quality of customer service in the industry. When the pandemic hit and lockdown started, the importance of customer service was heightened as so many people had to move or cancel their holidays. We could see the frustration firsthand, and many guests and property owners were dissatisfied with slow response times and a lack of understanding of the situation. We’ve thrived on our reputation for quality customer service and have an excellent Trustpilot rating. Check out our reviews.
How does Luxury Cottages innovate?
Alistair Malins: We’re a relatively small company in an industry dominated by large private-equity-backed companies. As a result, we’re quick to innovate and have been able to be flexible throughout the pandemic. Our size means we can be really creative with our marketing efforts and super responsive to new market trends. It also means we have personal contact with all of our owners and guests, so they aren’t left waiting on automated call centers for an answer.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Alistair Malins: Lockdown has been difficult, but due to our size, we’ve been able to navigate through it and keep the ship steady. We’re backed by our founders, employees, and owners, so we are proud to have such supportive stakeholders in our business. Although trading has been difficult, we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel and are currently doubling sales month-on-month.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Alistair Malins: Our most difficult choice was when to hire to ensure we were still able to grow during the pandemic. We’ve learned a lot about the importance of good staff during the lockdown and about their flexibility and resilience. Our employees are our lifeblood, and we’re proud of their efforts over the last year.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Alistair Malins: Customer service is the cornerstone of our business, and our Guest Services team is super-responsive. In fact, all employees take an active role in customer service, including me as the founder of the business. We use tools like Slack and Monday.com to ensure everyone is kept up to date with progress.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Alistair Malins: As we are a digital business with no fixed office premises, we didn’t receive any grants, nor did we furlough any employees during the lockdown. In fact, we hired employees to help grow the business during the lockdown.
Your final thoughts?
Alistair Malins: I grew up holidaying in the UK and am sure that 2021 will provide a great opportunity for people to explore the British Isles as a fantastic destination year-round. If you’re interested in finding out more, we’d be delighted to help match you with one of our spectacular holiday properties across the UK. Find out more at luxurycottages.com.