Michael Beare and Quim Rabassa
The saying goes that while some think about doing something, others are already doing it and some have already done it. We had the chance to have lunch in Barcelona with Michael Beare, CEO of Finnlough, a luxury resort located in the heart of a forest near the city of Enniskillen in Northern Ireland. To give you an idea, it is almost 2 hours from Belfast and 3 from Dublin.
Michel was one of the first to see the opportunity, back in 2016, to use Skybubbles to develop a new and unique business in a place where the weather and the hours of sunshine in some seasons do not add up positively when it comes to taking decisions in this regard.
Today the complex has 20 Skybubbles, a haute cuisine restaurant, a Spa and a long list of recommendations from guests who not only try but repeat.
When you meet Michael, you realize that you are facing a proactive mind and, above all, an engine for generating ideas, always open to listen, to contribute and to improve, to survive in the business world of this type, I dare say that they are essential qualities to not only maintain a business but to evolve it. Because evolution is the key to moving forward. The alternative is to stop and shrink little by little.
The first question that comes to mind to ask you is, why the Skybubbles?
Intuition. We have a beautiful forest in the heart of Ireland. Building was expensive and meant altering the natural order of it. I discovered the SKB during a fair in Barcelona and after speaking with them, I decided that it was a suitable solution.
And it worked…
It was not easy at first. The climate does not help, the hours of sun in summer are even excessive and in winter it is cold. Of course, we were the only ones who offered something different.
When is the situation reversed?
I was contacted by a professional photographer who offered me an exchange. Come and live the experience of sleeping one night in our SKB in exchange for a photographic report. I thought there was little to lose and perhaps a lot to gain. She came, she was delighted and she did a beautiful report on the SKB. She posted it on her Facebook, she had a lot of followers… And the phone started ringing like she never had.
Exactly, without looking for it, but that’s how it happened. A few weeks later I called Quim to order 6 more skybubbles. We had a waiting list and we clearly saw that he had to bet again.
“A few months later I called Quim to order 6 more SKB, we had a waiting list and we clearly saw that it was time to bet again”
And from there up; What diagnosis does someone like you, with your experience, make of a business like this looking back?
I would divide it into stages, at first you are unique with a different proposal and the public that chooses you is not so demanding. They come to live an adventure mainly and do not attend to the details.
Over time there are two circumstances that must be taken into account; the customer is becoming more and more demanding and the competition is not standing still. Perhaps one thing is interrelated with the other. New proposals appear that, although they are not the same, compete for the same public and if you do not make an effort to differentiate yourself and provide new experiences, it is difficult to maintain margins and not end up fighting for price.
“Over time, the client becomes more and more demanding and the competition does not stand still.”
I listen to you and think about the adoption life cycle of an innovation, the innovators, the early adopter, the early majority, the laggard majority and the skeptics. The way you explain it to me, I see you in early majority. Do you think the same?
Surely, after these years and with 20 Skybubbles, our priority is to continue attracting the public that comes and to continue improving our facilities so that they have the best possible experience.
When you reach this audience, you surely have to segment and make proposals for different audiences with different types of experience.
Exactly, currently apart from including a Spa and a high-end restaurant with a consolidated chef, we are already specifically addressing different targets, because we know and know what they enjoy the most in each case. A senior couple who come to enjoy the environment offered by wild nature without giving up the maximum comfort of our facilities is not the same as couples or friends who come to live an adventure, go on excursions and ultimately enjoy their free time. . The space allows us to differentiate them, they can coexist without getting in each other’s way and we can make specific proposals for both targets.
And, what is the future that you predict for the Skybubbles?
The future always involves continuous improvement, you have to work constantly so that the SKBs are more efficient. Right now it is a product that is not intrusive with the environment and that is very good, but we still have a long way to go in technological improvement so that little by little through external resources they are increasingly more efficient in terms of energy consumption. On the other hand, we have to think about improving the offer in terms of experience, because with more and more competitors offering similar experiences, such as tree houses, domes or glass houses, the SKB become part of an experience but cannot To be uniquely and exclusively “the experience” it is necessary to accompany the environment and offer complementary services to satisfy and surprise an increasingly demanding client.
“The future of the Skybubbles involves continuous improvement, we must constantly work to make the SKB more efficient”
Thank you very much Michael! A pleasure!
Thanks to you!