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Case study - St Cuthbert's House

7th November 2017

Categories: NETA - blog

We spoke to Jeff Sutheran, from St Cuthbert’s House which is shortlisted for ‘Bed and Breakfast of the Year’ at this year’s awards. He tells us about their passion for meeting people and the impact of being shortlisted for the North East England Tourism Awards 2017.

St Cuthbert’s House was formally a Presbyterian church and is Grade II listed, how important is that for the business?  

When visitors come and stay somewhere special they don’t just want a comfortable bed and a nice breakfast. Those things are important but they really want an experience that they can go away and tell their friends and family about. There is no doubt that this lovely building plays a part in that because it is a little bit unusual and when people walk in we often hear them say ‘oh wow’. There’s no doubt that the lovely ambience and the sense of history of the building creates a good impression and contributes to the experience. We are fortunate that we’ve got a beautiful building with a very, very interesting history.

You’ve won a whole host of national and regional awards - what do you attribute this to?

We’ve worked very hard to create a special guest experience here, I’d like to think that when judges have come and independently assessed us, including staying over themselves, that they’ve experienced something special. We’ve also got a lot of guests that very kindly say lovely things about their stay at St Cuthbert’s house, so we actively try and build up a body of good customer feedback on different review sites. TripAdvisor is really important in that respect and I think the judges look at all of that and come to their conclusion. We don’t take it for granted and we’re not complacent at all, we’re very, very privileged and humbled to have been judged worthy of several awards.

What would winning a North East England Tourism Award mean to you and your business?

The North East Tourism Awards are really important because they’re the showcase for the whole of the region, not just Northumberland and not even just Northumberland, Newcastle and Gateshead, it’s the whole of the region. When potential guests are deciding to come to the North East and looking for somewhere to stay then we want to be in the frame as their choice of accommodation. We love applying for the awards and being measured against the very best in the whole region and to come out with gold awards as we have done a couple of times now is a real thrill. We’ve only got a very tiny staff here but they are passionate about what we do and it’s such a confidence boost and a feel-good factor for them when we win an award.

We’re up against some really, really fantastic businesses this year so we don’t take anything for granted but we hope that we’ll be judged worthy of the big award. We also say that there are no losers at this stage, to have been shortlisted is absolutely fantastic and even if we don’t win it’s still good for our business to be judged amongst the best in the region.

How has winning Bed and Breakfast of the Year last year impacted your business?

It’s great when the hard work you’re putting in gets recognised with award wins but ultimately our aim is to be full of guests all year round. We want to get the word out that St. Cuthbert’s House is a great place to stay and winning awards contributes to that overall effect. It’s very difficult to say that we’ve had 10 or 100 bookings but we’ve had lots of bookings because guests know that we are one of the best places to stay in the North East and that’s because we’ve won these awards over a few years.

What is the favorite part of your job?

I think my instinctive answer is meeting people. In our industry you’ve really got to enjoy meeting people and certainly for us, we draw energy from talking to other people and sharing time with them. If you didn’t enjoy doing that then your job would be pretty miserable as it’s really lovely to meet people from every walk of life who usually arrive as strangers but leave as friends. In many, many cases people want to share their stories and experiences and by the time they leave they’ve become friends and we look forward to welcoming them back.

 St Cuthbert’s House is shortlisted for Bed and Breakfast of the Year, alongside Mill House B&B, The Old Manse B&B and West Longridge Manor B&B.

Written by Paula Duffy from Newcastle College

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