Hospitality Engineering

I got asked if I wanted to do the Safety Engineering on a Scottish Space Centre yesterday.


I kid you not! 


A guy I worked with 20 years ago in my first job in Aberdeen first contacted me 2 years ago about it on LinkedIn. 

Before I did my masters in Safety Engineering I worked as hard hat and boots safety in shipyards on the Tyne and offshore. 

It was character building stuff. 

Wandering round these huge vast heavy engineering yards, with both cranes and men who seemed a 100 foot tall. 

I’m just off 6 foot, but by a 100 foot I mean in stature.

Men who I looked up to.

And learned from.

Anyway the space centre offer got me thinking of how I now use the technical and people skills I learned in heavy industry and engineering and apply it to my current profession. 

Hospitality and property management.

I used to have to analyse the harmful (I guess there are no good ones!) effects of accidental oil and gas releases by calculating jet fire lengths and explosion over-pressures.

Then work out what we, the project team, needed to do to make this risk from the predicted fires and explosion acceptable.

How ‘thick and strong’ does the blast wall need to be? How close can the living quarters be to the process area? 

How close to the risk tolerability criteria are we? 

Will the authorities allow us to keep operating if we add this to the platform?

You know, that type of thing.

And then in a meeting full of engineers, platform operators and senior managers you had to answer critical questions at the drop of a hat. 

Decisions which could cost lives or cost millions in project costs if you got it wrong. 

Or your job.

Now that’s pressure.

And to help make these decisions, sometimes you use fancy computer packages. 

And other times you use judgement. 

Engineering judgement. 

That’s it! 

Once you’ve been doing it for a while you get ‘a feel’ for what the answer should look like.
And often your good judgement senses that a computer analysis doesn’t look ‘right’ and is giving the wrong answer! 

Intuition I think they call it. 

Then the hard bit; write a fancy looking report to back up what you say and get a dozen signatures of a senior rank to check your spelling. 

I still need that now, haha. 

So, now when a property owner contacts me about their property. 

And asks if we would be interested in running it as serviced accommodation. 

And when I see photos of it.

Or walk into it for the first time. 

After now having 5 years experience of serviced accommodation. 

And knowing what my perfect clients are and what they need. 

I instinctively know if it will work or not. 

Hmmmm.

The house layout is a bit weird….

But with a tweak here, and swap this with that, that layout should work. 

In fact, no. 

It will. 

I’ve always been a bit of an optimist.

And will the figures stack up?

Well, they expect ‘x’ in rent. 

It will cost me ‘y’ to maintain it for them, an agent would change them ‘z’ for doing very little. 

So I’ll offer them x – y – z.

And add on a, b, & c for taxes, utilities, insurance, etc to the ‘rent’ to get the expenses or costs.

And I know we’ll get so much a night for so many nights a month. 

My ‘ins’ will be so much more than my ‘outs’.

And that figure is enough of a prize to go for it. 

To take the time, trouble and effort to set it up and run it.

YES! The figures will stack up.

And the best bit?

No report to write haha! Just get the paint brush out, get some nice beds and furnishings in and get it ready for guests! 

I do have a simple spreadsheet (I have many) for this but it really is that simple.

Others make this simple decision into some form of back magic (and rip newbess off by charging them mentor fees to let them into their secret world of big boy sums) but it is really just…

You guessed it. 

Judgement. 

But ‘oh no’.

The pandemic, 

The restrictions. 

Who will fill them?

We don’t have it easy as 2 year ago.

The bookings don’t just come to you any more.

YOU (well I) have to go looking for folk to fill our places.

Well after having to speak to every man and his dog (and yes we are dog friendly…at all our places), literally sometimes, I have a decent knack of striking up a relationship with (prospective) clients and keeping them very long term.

Because we look after our guests well and service their needs (that is the serviced bit of serviced accommodation) 

Have you ever tried to get 1000+ pensive hairy arsed welders (and every other trade) to get onto a vessel where you’re conducting a new type of radiography to test a weld in your early 20s.

Or to persuade the purse holders of a 300 million pounds kitty why they need to chip into their slush fund for yet more steelwork because the current blast wall design isn’t string enough. 

Compared to that, making sure your clients have enough beds for their workforce, that there are enough sockets in the right place, that the broadband is the fastest you can get in the area, making sure the beds are comfy like Goldilocks and most importantly making sure that the price is right is an absolute ‘caker’.

Good engineering and good hospitality is just providing good value. 

And speaking of value there’s no need for fancy software to determine what OUR nightly rate is. 
Many use software to manage all aspects of running serviced accommodation. 

They put their trust into software to determine THEIR nightly rate! 

A computer that doesn’t know THEIR area like they do and doesn’t know the quality of their competitors places like they do (from guests that have left there and come to stay with us!)

Well guess what we use?

Judgement. 

I like to still call it engineering judgement! 

Serviced Accommodation Engineering Judgement!  

What have people paid in the past?

What do similar properties charge?

Oh I forgot, there are no properties as nice as ours so similar ones are hard to find haha. 

And sales. 

After I left engineering, when I was trying to suss out what I wanted to do next with my life few different people said to me, you should go into sales. 

Those words sent shudders down my spine. 

The thought of pressure to sell, commission always scared the hell out of me.

Then marketing. 

Since lockdown I’ve tried hard to market our places. 

Totally winging it. 

Never read a book. 

Just try to get some ideas. 

Do what seems sensible. 

Go to the right places, speak to the right people.

And this brings us to where we are now. 

Fully booked in South Shields! 

And thats WITHOUT leisure guests.

And Aberdeen is looking up. 

OUR places are in high demand. 

So we are looking for more places to look after. 

So that we can service the needs of our clients. 

And give them nice places to stay.

So if you know any landlords/property owners, in South Tyneside particularly, we would love to hear from them. 

We offer a guaranteed (no voids), hassle free (no tenant issues) long term (2-3 years hopefully leading to 10+ years) agreement where we’ll look after your place like its ours. 

So if this sounds good to you please get in touch; we are actively looking for our next serviced accommodation place in the area.

And as for the space centre…

Well there are times when we need to say no. 

Well, I should say get the support from an old engineering friend. 

So….watch this SPACE for that one! (did you see what I did there? ;))

Have a great Thursday folks. 


And finally, does anyone know a good beer garden in South Shields? We’re down for a work trip very very soon and after all this work I think some play is in order!

Yay. 

Colin

Mouth of the Tyne, South Shields, Tyne & Wear. Photo Credit: Ready Steady Shoot.

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