Corinna Rae is the Creative Director & Proprietor of Burleigh Court Cotswolds.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
I started my career in branding and creative agency, before studying International Human Rights Law and Economic Development where I went on to lead a number of International NGOs.
In 2019 my husband and I decided we wanted to work for ourselves, and with our love for hospitality, the idea to create our ideal boutique hotel felt like the ideal fit. We love hospitality, so we want to find a property and transform it with our design, management, and travel experience.
Burleigh Court was acquired as a struggling business, but we saw great potential for to be the perfect Cotswolds boutique hideaway. We then embarked on four years of constant renovation, innovation and business strategy to create the flourishing business we enjoy today.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
I just love visiting places. I love being hosted and getting together with friends over food, sharing experiences and truly connecting with them. Hospitality is a wonderful industry which energises me – whether I’m enjoying it, or welcoming guests to Burleigh Court. Previously I helped a friend of mine set up a boutique hotel in South Africa, which was a real oasis from everyday life, and I wanted to replicate the same idea in the Cotswolds. We are still a work in progress, but we are definitely getting there.
How did you achieve awareness? We had to start from scratch – and build our marketing channels from the ground up. We had no database, no use social media channels and we wanted to work to develop a strong reputation. We kept it simple, focused on the basics and steadily built the marketing channels. This included a new website with online booking engine, we pursued local marketing as well as national marketing using targeted social media advertising, website optimisation and PR services.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow? We put together a compelling business plan to get part financing. The growth was generated through a rigorous revenue management strategy, with constant updating of the property – we focused on upgrading guest experience, and our efforts resulted in the award of a fourth star last year.
What are the key successes? Steady year-on-year growth despite COVID. We are thrilled to enjoy high levels of guest satisfaction, and consequentially receive outstanding reviews. We have also worked hard to create a warm and welcoming team.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these? Lock Down was the real challenge, as we had just started the business the year before. So, we innovated and opened a local pop-up shop in our car park for people to buy groceries as well as takeaway meals. This helped us to make contact with locals and establish ourselves within the local community. We were also able to use the time for extensive renovations.
What are your plans now/for the future? The plan now is to establish Burleigh Court as a go to place for true relaxation where everyone eats well, sleeps well, and feels well. We want to look at sustainably investing in the expansion of our kitchen garden and as well as continue to grow our local produce sourcing. We’re also building a catalogue of curated experiences for guests to enjoy, these function as additional revenue streams, and include everything from women’s well-being workshops, to introductions to kitchen gardening and foraging. We are also looking to expand our in-room treatment offerings, and we would like to eventually build a small on-site spa.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey? The beauty with entrepreneurship is that you work for yourself and can follow your instincts and your intuition to develop the products that you are truly passionate about. I find entrepreneurial self-determination very liberating and empowering. Yes, there are risks but with good due diligence these can be mitigated. Let nothing hold you back. The sky is the limit. Reach high.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
Keep it simple.
Do your research.
Trust your intuition.
Don’t be afraid to go against the tide and do used disruptive ways to generate revenue.
Don’t fear change – innovate.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why? All the great pioneers, male and female, who allowed themselves to feel compelled to step out and make a difference or simply followed their heart. There are too many to name here but you will know them by their fruit. Rosa Luxembourg, Nelson Mandela, Florence Nightingale, Greta Thunberg… George Washington, Aung San Suu Kyi (don’t judge as you have not walked in her shoes), Dietrich Bonhoeffer… the list is long and always inspirational.
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes? “Geht nicht gib’s nicht” which is German for “all things are possible” My Dad (well, in all fairness, I think Jesus said it first 😉
What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?
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