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Having taken its first bookings in August 2018, Bonnie Jones, Director at Compass Quay has created a holiday lettings agency with a difference. Part holiday-maker’s best friend (the kind who knows all the best restaurants to go to), part concierge and part industry innovator, she’s turning the traditional model of holiday lettings on its head to give property owners and visitors the most exceptional experiences. Here’s how…
I worked in residential lettings for 20 years and was living and working in Bristol when I met my other half. He was from the South Hams, and as our relationship progressed I was travelling a lot between Bristol and Bantham.
When I lost my mum a couple of years ago, I decided to make the leap of faith to come and be down here full time. I had always wanted to set up my own business, and as I had grown to know and love the area I developed a real passion for wanting to share it with other people and make sure they had the best possible time when they came here.
I had wanted to go into the holiday side of things for a while, and as my other half has a moorings company in the Scoble Basin, we thought what a lovely thing it would be to do to tie it all together. So there’s a moorings side to the business, a boat maintenance side (which is for both holidaymakers and locals), holiday lettings and property maintenance. That’s the four points of the compass in Compass Quay.
The idea was to do something really individual and bespoke in an industry dominated by big companies. Ultimately we want to be a really welcoming, knowledgeable, helpful resource for visitors and property owners.
I worked in residential lettings in Bristol and I am a qualified interior designer, so I have always had a passion for houses and gardens. I also really love working with people, being out there and being a part of the community. So it’s been important to me that all our cleaners and contractors are local, and that we find ways to feed back into the community. As a result I have an amazing group of people around me.
When guests first get in touch they speak to me, and when they arrive I will turn up, check them in and make sure everything’s ok. A lot of companies don’t have directors speaking to guests, but I think that’s important. I’m really hands on, so if a cleaner can’t make it one day then I will do that, if a guest has a problem or any feedback I will take care of it and if they have a question I’m around to answer it. For me, it’s about being available to guests so they know they’re being looked after. I want people to feel like they’re part of a family; that they can give me a ring and ask what events are going on, where to go for dinner, or where they can go if they need a chiropractor or something. I want it to be like renting from a friend.
We’re also really involved in the community, which I think is important so that guests discover the best experiences, but also so that we’re promoting other local companies. I am an agent for the Salcombe Gin School, we do beach cleans - we’re involved. The moorings side of the business is really sets us apart. Lots of people visiting the area have boats, but it isn’t always easy to get a mooring. We have capacity to hold around 30 vessels in the Scoble Basin (a 10 minute boat journey from Whitestand in Salcombe), with availability from 1st April to 31st October. What we’re offering is a complete holiday experience rather than just somewhere to rest your head.
I think it’s the attention to detail and realising that there’s someone they can contact for all those little things, especially if they’ve never been here before. We’ve all had experiences where we’ve been somewhere and had a lovely time but suddenly realise on the last night that there’s this amazing restaurant we should have gone to that no one told us about. That’s what I am here for - to make sure you really have the best time and get that insider knowledge. It’s the personal approach. If I can help with something, I will.
As a result, every holidaymaker who’s booked with us so far has given us amazing reviews, which makes me so happy. It’s great for people who visit and it’s also great for holiday home owners because people keep coming back.
We also have a really forward thinking approach to the industry. I think the market is changing in holiday letting. People are coming for more short stays and don’t always want to book for a full week. So if we can change the market to make it easier for people, then we want to do that too.
Part of my ethos as well is to keep people working throughout the year. A lot of the big holiday letting agencies only provide work for local people in the peak season, but people have to pay their bills in the winter too. So I am creating opportunities to keep people involved all year round. For example, I’ve got pop up events happening like a Strictly Come Dancing night.
I also want to continue to extend the offering we give to holidaymakers. So we are looking to facilitate things like private chefs who can go to the property and cook for you, or Salcombe Gin Butlers to make cocktails. If you want to do something special or maybe you have a special occasion, we can go the extra mile for you.
Overall, I want to put the area on the map for anyone who hasn’t discovered it. We’re so lucky to live in this amazing part of the world, and I want to share it with people who treat it respectfully and help them to love it as much as we do.
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