Meldrum House’s ‘Time to Shine’ – Jordan Charles takes us through his opening plans

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Meldrum House Country Hotel is a little oasis in the heart of Aberdeenshire. 240-acres to roam around in, hills to walk up, beaches to coast along. It’s an idyllic spot and one that is benefitting from its surroundings when people choose where to stay post-lockdown.

When we got the initial news of a potential reopening date of the 15th July, we already had the strategies in place with the opening offers we would want to have out in the public domain. This included one called The Great Escape which has proved extremely popular since launch. We’ve waived room charges for now, giving people the flexibility of where to dine and promoted it from £139 for 2 people including a dinner allowance and full Scottish breakfast.

On June 12th we went out on social media to tell people our plans to re-open on the July 15th. Our social media platforms are a strong tool for us and we got an amazing reaction. Within the first week, we had 177 bookings, of which 46% were for our Great Escape package. This proved there was an domestic appetite out there, despite the fact that for now, the 5-mile restriction remains.

Since then, we have launched our ‘Time To Shine’ video, showcasing to everyone the measures we are putting into place at the hotel but also that the personality we are famed for, hasn’t disappeared. Our staff are getting re-trained for the latest hygiene and sanitisation protocols and I don’t want them hiding behind mask coverings or wearing gloves unless necessary. We’ve installed sanitisation points, new signage and perspex screens at places like Reception and our Pro Shop to ensure people are welcomed to Meldrum House as they have always been.

We’ve also seen a lift in Staycation bookings. It’s proved to be our second most popular package where we did an offer to stay 3 nights for the price of 2. 25% of our overall bookings chose this package and shows that whilst people can’t go abroad this year, that may well take a UK holiday.

Naturally, we’re watching every move that the Scottish Government makes and then working with it as best as we can. As the the 5-mile rule is now getting lifted, we hope we will see a further surge in bookings. We are using digital marketing to push the message out there as well as PR to get coverage in the press about our plans and what we have lined up.

We’re the only hotel in Aberdeenshire to have an award-winning golf course that wraps around the manor house and expands out into the estate. The fact that it’s in Golf World’s top 100 Scottish golf courses helps us to promote it for residential stays. It’s a private members’ course which is open to the guests and we’ve lined up packages to promote it. One of the beauties of having the golf course is promoting mental health and wellbeing for people who want to get out and about and play a sport. We have had a small percentage that have booked our Golfer’s Getaway package but have also seen an increase in membership of our club.

We continue to work with Visit Aberdeenshire on pushing the north-east as a destination. We’ve got plenty to shout about. The area around the hotel is really stunning. We’ve got Bennachie on our doorstep and plenty of cycle tracks, walks, beaches and some of the most renowned links course in the world.

Next on the agenda will be our dining bookings. It was great to hear that the First Minister has announced that the 2 metre guidelines may move to 1 metre for the hospitality industry. We have seen a real appetite for lunch and dinner as well as Afternoon Teas. Helped by the fact we have 2 dining options, we have currently fused the two menus together, choosing the most popular dishes from both restaurants to get us up and running. This will also support the social distancing guidance within our kitchens. We have huge plans for something we are working on that will be unique for dining in the area. We’ll let Hotel Scotland be one of the first to know when we roll it out.

Our plan going forward is that we are working on a new website which will launch later in the year. That will form a major part of our marketing strategy. Not only to promote the hotel but to get direct bookings and track conversions.

Whilst this is all a moveable feast at the moment and goodness knows what will happen in the short term (thank goodness Christmas is still more than 5 months away) we feel confident that bookings will continue to grow. I think it will all be about consumer confidence, going above and beyond with our hygiene protocols but also ensuring that people still enjoy their time with us. Leave their worries at our gates and simply come to Meldrum for the hospitality we are famed for.

by Jordan Charles, General Manager

www.meldrumhouse.com

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