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EnglishBadger

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Hi All, we know this as probably been asked and answered a million times before but we plan to buy a gite complex with three gites in Charante and run it for a living. We know it will be hard work and we will just make a living but that is all we want so we can get out of our mega stress jobs in the uk. Some might say we could be jumping into the pan from the fire (Is that the right saying????) but a change is just as good sometimes. We know how we will be furnishing the gites and what prices to charge (we have done endless hours of research) and how and where to advertise etc. Our question is simply do people think we could get 10 weeks per gite sold so we can make our break even margin?

We hope we dont offend people by asking this question for the million and first time and we thank anyone in advance for and good/bad news/advice.

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Its a start up project. The gites are readyish to go though. Our thinking is that it will be the third year before it really takes off. are we correct?

I know we are newbies etc but we have done lots of research etc and the gites will be of a high standard, look nice and have all mod cons.

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You can in general guarantee the six weeks school holidays, After that its a lottery. You may book more you may not.

Because its a start up complex you may well find that it takes a while to get up and running and get in some repeat bookings etc.

You are cetainly going for a good area because of the extra sunshine etc.

I wish you good luck. We did the same to get out of the rat race etc but for some reason are stuggling for bookings at the moment where other years we have not.!

 

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Thebiga wrote

"You can in general guarantee the six weeks school holidays, After that its a lottery".

 

I agree, the number of bookings per year certainly can be a bit of a lottery.

You could look at various Gite websites and see how many others are doing the same thing in your area.

I think the Charente (16) & Charente Maritime (17) are already well served and there is a lot of competition out there.

Whatever you decide,

Bonne chance et bon courage

[:)]

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Sounds optimistic to me for a start-up, you are talking about 30 weeks in all.  You don't say how many people the gites are for, ours are 2 person gites and we get a very different booking profile than places with a pool catering for the family market.  The other thing is the amount of gites in your area offering the same facilities as you.  Why would someone go to your gites and not the one down the road?  You have to think about your unique selling points.

In your calcs don't forget that you will have to register as a business if this is your main income, so there are those dreaded cotisations to pay as well.

BTW you jump from the frying pan into the fire.   Anyway good luck with your venture! 

Suzy

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The other consideration should be is that people tend to prefer private gites and the trend is towards privacy.  People also do not like sharing the swimming pool.  Are you gites all connected or sharing the same viciniy, it is something you should consider.  Also contact the owners of other gite complexes within the region and they will be able to tell you exactly how it is.

Deby

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Many thanks for all your answers. Yes it does scare us if we fail etc and yes we know that the stress of our current jobs will be almost the same on change over days but all in all we will do what we can to achieve what we need to make our life in France a decent one.

I hope when we move to France, that maybe we can meet some of you nice people for drinks. . . . .

 

See you soon.........

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Just my 2 cents worth.  Try contacting the local tourist office and see what your area is missing - then see if you can provide.  Here we are oversubscribed with large gites with pools, but badly lack small places for couples with decent standard of furnishing and kitchens.  Someone I know bought a small one bed-roomed cottage and made it really nice and they get about 25 weeks a year in it.  Don't know what is lacking in your area but the local tourist board may be able to help from the demands that they have.
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I would tend to agree with Cerise, the market is a saturated one, especially in the Charente and Charente Maritime. But that does not mean you cannot be a success.

We had plans to have at least 3 gites, or a complex, but in the end we had to settle for one gite, however, it has been very popular averaging 26 weeks per year. Mind you, it does not provide enough income to live on.

The main reason for our success is that the gite is big enough for a small family of two adults and 3 children, yet also ideal for couples, so bear that in mind. Also, one gite and one pool is a very popular option, although that may not be feasable in your case.

Also, do not cut corners on fixtures and fittings, there are still loads of gites out there with tatty secondhand furniture wondering why they are not getting many bookings

We are now in our 4th season.

Good luck.

 

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I think you are being quite conservative/realistic hoping for 10 weeks a year.  With a concerted multi-lingual marketing effort and delightfully photogenic gites, (with obviously appropriate pricing) you could find yourself closer to 20 weeks and after a few years touching 30 (the repeat bookers boosting your strike rate).  I got 22 weeks in my first year with one gite (have subsequently bought 2 more and the trend has continued.)

I think you have had good sound advice here.  One other point I would add - if it's not too late - is to consider your exit strategy i.e. how you will sell your business or disperse your real estate assets when you have had enough.   Gite "complexes" will be much harder to sell than 4 seperate properties (your house + 3 gites) and by having seperate gites you can choose to sell them piecemeal should you wish to "downsize" too.

The very best of luck.

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Very true - I don't know the charente market or weather patterns.  There are many parameters one has to take into account.

It is more than just a question of setting your prices right.  Charente is wonderful and sunny ... but perhaps for not so long as Nice.

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[quote user="Deby"]

The other consideration should be is that people tend to prefer private gites and the trend is towards privacy.  People also do not like sharing the swimming pool.  Are you gites all connected or sharing the same viciniy, it is something you should consider.  Also contact the owners of other gite complexes within the region and they will be able to tell you exactly how it is.

Deby

[/quote]

Not sure - My 3 gites are fully booked from Easter to mid Sept and they all share facilites. There is still a market if you have nice, well located gites with plenty to do for children. Some people even prefer sharing, believe it or not [:)]

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One other very important factor you need to take into consideration is the deteriorating economy, especially in France and the UK.

Over the past few years most consumers having been going through a credit binge driven by loose government fiscal policy and now the chicken is coming home to roost as they say.

Add to the equation of tightening credit, the weakening of the £, escalating oil prices and rising unemployment and you have the makings of a difficult period for business in general.

Most analysts expect low cost air fares to increase dramatacilly in 2009 as by this Autumn their fuel hedge arrangements will have expired. For example, Easyjet have hedged their fuel costs until September at $75 a barrel, compared to current market of $105.

As they say in financial services "Past performance is no guarantee of future gains"

Bon chance.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I would think very carefully about yourselves before taking the plunge. From a reverse perspective, I'm very glad to have just got out of the Gite business after many years, in my time the market has gone from demand massively outweighing supply, to quite the reverse. It gets worse each year and as more people start to struggle and discount it will only get worse. 

Furthermore, in my experience the key to running gites(with the exception of very large houses) is ultimately repeat business and the key to repeat business is a very simple concept. People tend to rebook for people not places. In other words it will be down to you to make people come back, your enthusiasm will make this happen or not.

However, in many years observing people come and go in this business, I have never seen anyone last more than 10 years with a gite complex, most 'burn out' after about 5. They simply get fed up with constantly sharing their lives with other people, being asked the same questions over and over and recanting the same anecdotes, really it happens.

I still remember nearly 20 years ago, my last week in the office, while doing the morning routine, post and messages etc., winding colleagues up along the lines of: 'next month my morning routine will be cleaning the pool'.  It's amazing how quickly cleaning the pool becomes a drag, The grass is always greener.

.

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