Optus My Business Awards 2016 winners Maggie van Santen and Becki Shaver, of HideAway Haven, share how they use personal touches to add value for their customers.
Located about 420 kilometres away from Perth is Albany, and hidden among the trees is HideAway Haven, a three-room, five-star guest retreat that took out Hospitality Business of the Year at the Optus My Business Awards 2016.
Maggie (pictured below, left) and Becki (pictured below, right) are life partners and co-owners of HideAway Haven, who decided to get into business after experiencing bed and breakfasts across the world while on holiday 11 years ago.
“We went on a trip around the world, and we stayed in lots of B&Bs all through Europe,” says Maggie.
“When we came back … we thought, ‘Well, we have that same kind of passion for where we live, and we do live in a beautiful spot’, and we wanted to share that with people, so we decided, why not open a B&B?
The business itself is located five metres above the ground, and Maggie and Becki live together a further three metres above the guest accommodation, meaning the business has literally became a part of their life.
“The both of us had external employment when we first started, but we really wanted to be in a position where we could live together and work together and operate a successful business together,” Maggie says.
“As HideAway Haven grew and became more and more successful, we were both able to give up our external employment and focus completely on owning and operating HideAway Haven.”
A lot of what the couple do is in fact to better the business, even outside of business hours. For example, a part of the HideAway Haven experience involves them cooking for guests. On a trip the pair took to Italy, they had cooking lessons and added what they learned to HideAway Haven’s experience by offering Italian meals.
This helps them to relive their holiday memories, while simultaneously adding value for their customers.
“We offer that to our guests as an alternative to having to go out and find a restaurant at the end of the day: they can come here and we'll cook for them,” says Maggie.
Getting in touch with nature
Australia is known for its varied wildlife, and there is no Australian animal more iconic than the kangaroo. It is also an animal that Maggie is very familiar with.
“One of my passions, and Becki supports it, is wildlife caring, and I'm now a registered wildlife carer, and we look after joeys,” says Maggie.
“We take them in, we look after them and we raise them until they're old enough to be returned to the wild.”
Taking care of joeys has slowly been integrated into HideAway Haven’s business plan.
“We also use the opportunity to selectively introduce and educate our guests to our native wildlife in Australia as well,” says Becki.
If Maggie and Becki believe a guest is respectful, they will give them the opportunity to see these marsupials up close, but guests getting to meet the joeys is a privilege, not a right, Becki explains.
“Because joeys [are] in care, their health and wellbeing is ... a priority over photo ops for guests, so we have to be really careful with exposing them to guests that are just looking for a novelty,” she says.
For Maggie and Becki, running HideAway Haven has for the most part been a two-woman job, so winning Hospitality Business of the Year at the Optus My Business Awards 2016 was a recognition of all of their efforts.
“We felt very honoured to be recognised by, especially the business industry, and it's just a confirmation of our hard work and all our efforts,” says Becki.
“It's an encouragement of what we do, that we know what we're doing really well.”
Becki believes that winning the award has helped HideAway Haven stand out from other businesses, giving guests the confidence that “they're choosing a place of high recognition”.
Maggie agrees, saying that it shows that all aspects of HideAway Haven are performing well.
“The other thing it also does is it just shows in all areas of our business, such as HR management, marketing [and] business planning, that we're on track and that we are doing the right thing,” Maggie says.
Even if they hadn't won, just compiling the award entry submission helped HideAway Haven improve by giving them a reason to evaluate their operations according to the selection criteria.
“Overall, we look at all the factors for our business and we continue to make improvements, all the way round to taking guest feedback and trying to implement changes that will add value, and stay on trend as well,” explains Becki.
Business name: HideAway Haven
Industry: Hospitality, retreat
Location: Albany, WA
Customer base: Australian and overseas guests