Setting up and marketing your B&B

Online help is available for those thinking of establishing their own guesthouses.

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Liesel Coetzer, daughter of well-known Cookhouse dairy farmer Gerdie Landman, currently runs the successful Mariner Guesthouse in Simon’s Town. Liesel, who did a postgraduate course in marketing and advertising, had a corporate job when she discovered that there was a need for a guesthouse in her area. She considered establishing one, thinking that it would afford her the time and flexibility she needed to raise a young family.

She then came across the UCT Getsmarter Guesthouse management course. Taking the 10-week online course changed her life. Liesel quit her corporate job to channel her energies into the new business. The course covers many aspects that a fledgling guesthouse owner is unlikely to think of. These include legal aspects such as zoning licences, appointing staff and UIF considerations.

Virtual classroom
Having done an online marketing course through UCT myself, I can agree with Liesel when she says that she never expected an Internet course to be so interactive. Amongst many topics, the guesthouse course covers the tourism industry, planning, finance, legal requirements and customer service. It also has two modules dealing with marketing a guesthouse and website planning. In addition, there is a forum where questions can be asked and answered online, which is almost like being in a classroom.

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Worth every cent
“Whether you do a short course to equip yourself with a new skill, or just do it for enjoyment, it’s worth every cent,” says Marike Colyn, who also did the course. “You’ll get the opportunity to learn more than you ever bargained on, in your own time and with the support of a team of experts to guide you every step of the way.”

At your fingertips
One of the modules in the UCT course is marketing. This has always been one of the most crucial yet challenging aspects of running a guesthouse. If this puts you off right from the start, remember that you have instant access to one of the most powerful marketing tools ever: social media.