how to become an amateur hosteller ?
November 16, 2008 10:30 AM   Subscribe

I need an advice on a business proposal I want to do to my mother.

My mother has inherited a flour mill. It was my grandfather's business and she didn't want the building to turn into a wreck after my grandfather had given up milling. So she invested a fair amount of money to turn each level of the building in an autonomous flat (I've put some pictures here). What happens now is that my grandfather is gone and my mother has a tremendous amount of money to give to the bank each month. So she really needs to rent out each level. The mill is located in a small village, in the south of France, which hasn't many assets apart from the fact that it's a real quiet place, a rural one. The three flats had been rented for a few months, but someone moved out, and then someone moved out again. So there's only one person inside the building right now.

I would like to tell to my mother to put some furniture in one of the flats to be able to rent it per week or even for a few days to travelers and people eager to taste a little quietness.

Do you think that it's a good idea ? I would like to promote such a place on English speaking sites to attract people seeking a fFrench rural spot. Is it worth a try ? How would you manage that ?
posted by nicolin to Work & Money (7 answers total)
Nicolin - Could you indicate where in S. France please.
Assuming you go ahead and if it's within 60km of Cannes this publication might be of use.
posted by adamvasco at 11:24 AM on November 16, 2008

Best answer: It's quite easy to advertise something like that.

are the three major websites (that we use). brings in the most business by far and the least.

Once the furniture is in and you have the licenses (if you want to bother with that part), it's just a matter of keeping the beds filled. It would be a lot of work ensuring the previous guest is out by checkout time and the place is cleaned up for the next person, but if you live nearby you'll manage fine.

It's really a lot of fun when everything runs smoothly.
posted by comiddle at 11:30 AM on November 16, 2008

Response by poster: Sorry for the numerous mistakes in my post. The small village is near Albi (I don't know how to insert a google map here... but the map in my profile points to Albi).
posted by nicolin at 1:29 PM on November 16, 2008

My parents have a place in San Francisco they make available for rent seven months of the year. They used to advertise short-term rental on craigslist in major cities, give information to deans of the faculty at nearby universities (in case visiting professors needed a place to stay), and take out local craigslist ads targeting local people who want to have visiting friends and relatives stay under a different roof.

Those tactics worked pretty well -- but their current arrangement is even better. They rent the place to people connected with one organization that regularly has people coming to town for weeks at a time. If you can think of something like that in your area it can save a lot of effort, especially if there is a single coordinator for you to communicate with.

A friend with a spare apartment in S.F. has signed up with a vacation-rentals company -- they do all the advertising, booking, payment, and housekeeping. He takes in less money, but it's hassle-free.
posted by wryly at 1:45 PM on November 16, 2008

Running a short term rental is not a business plan, it is a business. It takes a lot of work to attract customers. Once they come, it takes a lot of work to keep customers satisfied. And there is a lot of wear and tear on short term rentals that needs to be kept up, because short term renters don't want to see or deal with wear and tear.

You planning to provide linen services? Where will they be washed? Who will change them? Or you're not planning to do so? Will you expect your guests to bring linen to fit your beds? Soap? Toilet paper? Light bulbs? Theft? People who trash the place? Premises liability for accidents or crimes, or people who would falsely claim them? Hotel licenses and taxes?

The place you linked is all done in white, which means it'll need to be repainted after every guest. I get the feeling you haven't put much thought into this.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:58 PM on November 16, 2008

I see ads for this sort of furnished holiday accommodation Spectator's classifieds quite a bit.

Not all of the properties listed are chateaux (despite the apparent aspirations of Spectator readers).

I don't see why your moulin wouldn't be attractive to English families looking for a rural idyll.

Could you avoid some of the cost of furnishing by using old (in good shape) furniture already in the family?

But yes... you will have decide which things like light bulbs, changing linen, toilet paper, etc you will bear and which will be the responsibility of the short-term tenant.

And you'd definitely need to be on call to help if the toilet blocks or the oven doesn't light or any of the thousand and one things that go wrong in a holiday place.

Also, if you go ahead with it, maybe think about putting those pics on a stand alone website with some info about the town (explaining why they should stay near Albi, not somewhere else?) and a way to get in touch with you?

Oh! And do some research about what other people are charging for similar digs, and work out if that will actually cover your maman's repayments. Or if the costs of setting everything up will actually be *more* expensive.
posted by t0astie at 4:09 PM on November 16, 2008

I see from wikipedia that Albi is not only the home of the Toulouse Lautrec Museum but a Lycee specialising in music; as well as being twinned with Girona in Spain and Palo Alto.
Talk to the curator of the Museum; they will often have researchers / students who come for a short study period and who do not want to live in hotels. Similarily contact the chamber of commerce of the twin cities agreements. This is why they have twinning; to promote activity between them.
You will have to work out how to service your rental apartments and what laws you have to comply with.
Attracting clientelle will then be as good as your imagination at advertising your town and why people should come and stay there. Good luck.
posted by adamvasco at 2:03 AM on November 17, 2008

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