There is nothing like a global pandemic to throw a spanner into your life plans, but Hamish Haslop, the owner of Real Estate down under, is not afraid to pivot in his professional life.
Principal of Real Estate Down Hamish Haslop wears many hats is not afraid of taking on new challenges. For over twenty years, Hamish and his family have lived and worked on the Cape operating Mungumby Lodge, a ten cabin B&B lodge surrounded by World Heritage rainforest and the famous Reef & Rainforest coast.
Hamish has always enjoyed learning and the company of people, so in 1996 he and his wife founded their marketing company Pacific Downunder. With years of experience working in business, Hamish understands how difficult it can be to position your business in a fast-moving environment.
When the pandemic hit, it did not miss Mungumby Lodge, and Hamish will forever remember the date, March 23 in 2020, when he had to rethink his whole business model.
“Our business imploded. When you had 120 soldiers out on the Mulligan Highway and 25 police in a big tent, controlling who was coming in and out. Basically, we wrote off a quarter of a million dollars of business in a matter of weeks, and as much as that hurt, we looked around and saw that others were being more affected than us.
“We owned our property and were not up against the wall with the bank, so we took the opportunity to grab the JobKeeper and keep as many staff as we needed,” he said.
Hamish was quick to see what was in demand from the local market. More outdoor dining and self-catering would be popular, and he could integrate this into the B&B. Allowing him more time to grow his real estate business.
We were previously 80% reliant on international tourists, and we had an excellent distribution strategy where we went into the overseas market. In the past, we proactively worked with tour operators because being a small boutique lodge, we focused on the small owner-operators dealing directly with their clients, and that’s been successful for us but of course, with border closed up until now, we had to rethink.”
Hamish realised that if he were to focus and expand his real estate business, the lodge would have to operate differently.
“Eventually, we had to about-face and changed what we were doing, so we turned the lodge back into a B&B. We now operate by appointment only, and we now offer self-catering facilities, and our guests can enjoy sitting around a fireplace and doing a grill.
“Last year, we got so busy I had a phone hooked to my neck as I made beds all morning to help out and make sure our staff were not becoming burnt out and then in the afternoon, I’d do my real estate business.
Hamish admits it was a shock at the start, and there were moments of unbelief, but he strongly reinforces the importance of seeing a challenge as a way to grow and diversify.
“I have to be very honest; we did lick our paws for quite some time to get over what was going on, but when we looked around at the world and saw what other people were going through, it hit me. Here we lived in paradise with all the birds singing and nature carrying on as though nothing was happening.
“At the end of the day, you can’t just drop the ball because things have changed. You must adapt with the times.”