The BP Effect series is brought to you by attorneys Reich & Binstock and Seeger Weiss LLP, which are helping businesses in Panama City Beach recover losses sustained directly and indirectly from the Deep Water Horizon oil spill. They can help your business too,
We’ve talked about how this summer’s oil spill scare effected large-scale marinas, restaurants, property management companies and retail, but today, we’re going to take it a notch and talk about how this mess effected a home-owner. The Balmy Oasis Cottage is a small beach cottage that owner Pat Guin rents out on her own. She and her husband bought it as an investment and rely on rental revenue to make payments and cover costs of ownership. This summer was tremendously painful for their “business”, but with pockets of “blessings”, they made it. Here’s her story.
“98% of our guests have loved it,” guessed Pat, “We’ve received Thank You notes, thanking us for letting them rent our cottage.” They have a loyal and appreciative customer. Many of their guests return year after year to relive memories. They even had a couple that married on the beach in 2009 that stayed in it, and immediately reserved the cottage for their honeymoon for summer of 2010 – which they kept on faith, but were scared of the oil.
Pat describes their cottage as “not a rental unit”, but rather, “it’s our home – we have our favorite books, fully stocked kitchen, beach towels, personal stuff, you know, stuff you’d want when you’re on a beach vacation.” They want their guests to feel like they are at home.
At the end of the spring season, they were booked almost solid for their entire summer season. Numbers, overall, were pacing to be better than ever (consistent with most everyone on the beach), but when news of the oil spill broke, inquiries stopped and booked reservations began dropping like flies. “People were scared to spend their annual vacation money on a risk that oil would ruin their vacation,” Pat said. They just couldn’t take a chance.
Normally, the Guin’s stay booked solid all summer long, but this year, between Memorial Day to Labor Day, they had 45 days that were completely vacant and empty.
They offered clean beach guarantees, allowed guests to pay when they got here after inspecting the beach, dropped rates, allowed people to rent fewer than a week at a time – it was all they could do to get the business they were able to salvage. Summer 2010 was down an estimated 70% over summer 2009.
When you’re renting a small beach cottage on your own, every booking counts. Every satisfied customer, every reservation inquiry is future business. This summer was a wash for the Guins, 45 days of un-rented time during their peak season was debilitating, but they still have next summer to look forward to.
To learn more about the Balmy Oasis Cottage, visit their website.