Q&A with Qi An, owner of Motel Schmotel
Describe a typical day at Motel Schmotel.
A typical day starts with the preparation of breakfast. We have high reputation for our breakfast and it takes an hour or so, before a full english breakfast can be served. Because we ask guests to pre-order their breakfasts the day before, we know exactly what to cook. Thus we do not waste food. Between 8am and 10am is breakfast-serving time. We have a breakfast room, but quite a lot guests want to be served breakfast in bed, which is a unique feature of our B&B. After breakfast, we start cleaning. Guests’ latest check-out time is 11am, and earliest check-in time is 2pm.
During these three hours the house is quiet, while housekeepers are busy. All rooms have to be ready by 2pm. In a busy season, we have 2 housekeepers to speed up. From 2pm to 6pm we welcome the new arrivals. On guests’ arrival, we explain how to pre-order breakfast. For guests arriving late than 6pm, we give them an access code for them to check in by themselves. We also leave a note explaining how to pre-order breakfast. During these working hours, we deal with bookings whenever we receive them.
How do you manage, and stay on top of, the day-to-day running of the business?
At the time without Hotelogix, our brilliant cloud-based full property management system, we had to manage availability manually. Hence we spent quite a lot of time dealing with bookings. We also made a lot of errors, because sometimes the brain cannot work faster than the booking coming in. We hate cancellations, not because of loss of sales, but waste of our time. When we started using Hotelogix, we found things become much easier. We are planning to open more channels now, as in the past it wasn’t possible to manage more than two channels. We are also going to put more offers online, as in the past we could just show the flat daily rate.
What’s the interior design of the property?
It is modern and clean, and because it is relatively small the base tone is always white.
What’s your favourite part of the job?
When I make an improvement to a facility, I am waiting for returning guests to pick it up. If they say they like the improvement, I am pleased for a long time.
What advice would you give to someone who is looking to run a B&B?
Running a B&B in Brighton is not difficult, because everyone likes Brighton. B&B’s are always full in summer season. There are also a lot of events throughout the year. B&B’s can easily be full, no matter how bad their reputation. The real challenge and competition is in winter – low season. To stand out from the competition, the B&B must have some unique features that guests like.
Where do you see Motel Schmotel in five years’ time?
We are refurbishing another B&B now. When finished, we will start upgrading Motel Schmotel to a new level. We will implement some intelligent hotel control systems, such as smart phone check-in and smart phone guest room control – lights, curtain, heating, etc. And if possible, I want a centralised control system integrated with Hotelogix. I want guests to stay in Motel Schmotel once and never forget it, because it’s so modern and unique.