Playing out from the back

Regular readers will know I like a tortured metaphor so here’s my latest effort to explain a concept I believe in.  

Almost every top flight football team in the world now plays out from the back.  In case you have no interest in the game this simply means that instead of starting a passage of play with the goalkeeper or a defender booting the ball forward, teams now pass their way out of defence to maintain possession as they progress up the pitch. The problem with this is that every now and then even the elite teams will make a mistake with a back pass and gift a goal to the opposition – it’s embarrassing and traumatic but an inevitable cost of the strategy.  When this happens there could be a temptation to change tactics and hoof the ball upfield at every opportunity, you wouldn’t give away silly goals any more but the statistics show that you would score less goals overall and win fewer games.

How interesting would it be to know what happened in the supermarket boardroom the first time somebody came up with the suggestion of self checkout!  ‘Run that by me again – you’re going to let people scan their own shopping and trust them to be honest?’  They were probably laughed out of the room, but eventually trials will have proved that the gains in reduced staffing and customer satisfaction far outweighed any losses.

It’s a long proven thesis that people are far more afraid of loss than they are motivated by gain and this can make for bad business decisions, especially if you are reacting emotionally to something.

This is what can happen with many of the decisions we make with marketing holiday lets – short breaks, large parties of adults, Airbnb, toddlers.  All of these have the potential for a problem but if you want to try and eliminate everything negative you’ll end up losing good bookings and revenue, what we have to do is find the right balance.

When a new owner joins us the question of allowing dogs comes up and they may ask if we’ve ever had any problems.  I can give you a lot of scary stories – we’ve had dogs chew cushions, ornaments, a door and a sofa, plenty of wee on the carpets and worse.  They have attacked neighbours cats, brought mud and sand into the house and howled all day when left alone.  I can guarantee that we are going to see these issues again this year but I can put it into context.  If I had to guess I’d say we have a problem with 1-2% of dog holidays or once every 2-4 years per owner.  This is balanced against perhaps an extra £10,000 a year in rental income for an average property that accepts pets.  Maybe you are willing to pay £30,000 to avoid a dog incident but I know what I’d choose!

There’s some risk in most decisions we make from investment to going on holiday and it’s important to make a sensible decision on the data, not an emotional one.

The exception of course is those terrible queues we are seeing at the airports- far too much risk, best if everybody takes their holiday in the UK this year!

Simon Tolson owner Rumsey of Sandbanks.

Contact Simon on 01202 707357

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