How A Dog Hotel-Owner Is Making It Work After Losing 2/3 Of Her Customers

Bustle UK has switched up its regular money series How I Made It Work, to better reflect the uncertain financial times caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of women who’ve achieved financial stability discussing the lessons they’ve learnt, each piece focuses on a woman who has had her financial situation transformed by the coronavirus outbreak in the UK. They’ll share what their new normal looks like and how (if at all) they’re making it work.

This time, HIMIW hears from Rebecca Linnell, owner of The Country Dog Hotel in Somerset, which offers canine friends a place to stay when their owners go on holiday. During lockdown Linnell was unable to accept business and now, with people going on fewer holidays or opting to travel within the U.K. and take their dogs with them, she had to shut down a recently opened new location and lost £10,000 in the process. However, she is hoping a new doggy spa service will help keep the hotel going.

Age: 39

Location: Somerset

Occupation: Owner of a hotel for dogs

What was your working life like before the coronavirus outbreak?

Very busy every day and always fully booked with our dog guests.

How has the coronavirus outbreak changed your working life?

It has changed it a lot. We have had to adapt and pivot our business to reflect the new regulations and the decrease in bookings.

We will be using Facebook and Instagram a lot in the next few months to introduce our new service and reach as many people as possible and a new market of people who may have not used the hotel but would like to use our spa facility. Communication, community, and being able to connect are going to be the most important part for our new service and our business in the coming months.

How has the coronavirus outbreak changed your financial situation?

It has had a massive impact. For example, this weekend we had 15 dogs booked in and now we have five. Even if people are travelling it is now generally within the UK and they are taking their dogs with them. We have had to close our hotel in Windsor (which we only opened in March) and we lost £10,000 doing this alone.

Has the government made financial support available to people in your industry or situation?

Yes, they have but [the money offered] hasn’t been close to what we have lost.

Do you feel government measures have been sufficient for people in your industry or situation?

Financially, no.

How are you managing any changes in your financial or professional circumstances?

We are using our own savings and we are pivoting the business and opening a dog spa as people still need to have their dogs washed, for example, even if they are not going away.

We are exploding back onto Instagram and we will be making sure we connect with as many new people as possible. Social media will be invaluable to us especially as we are launching our new service in the middle of a pandemic. It’s either sink or swim and we are pivoting to adapt to a new world as best we can. Our whole team are now excited and we are all motivated and positive and willing to learn new skills to adapt. We are not going to sink, we are going to swim (literally in the spa with the dogs!)

What would help you feel more secure financially during the coronavirus outbreak?

More clarity from the government and more financial support.

How do you feel the coronavirus outbreak will affect your working life more long term?

Yes, we will be a lot more cautious.

Do you think your experiences during the coronavirus outbreak will change your approach to your business?

We need to diversify and offer a range of services and not just the hotel.

Do you think your experiences during the coronavirus outbreak will have an impact on your relationship with money?

It has made us a lot tighter and question every spend.

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