Located in one of the most remote parts of the UK, Tregullas Farm has to be creative with how it captures the interest of potential customers. However, thinking differently helped lure some of the thousands of people who visit Britain’s most southerly point to its tearoom.
Rona Amiss and her family weren’t exactly hospitality experts when they decided to open a tearoom on their working farm. They wanted to diversify revenue streams and were confident there was an opportunity to take advantage of the 250,000-odd walkers who came through their National Trust-owned farm set in The Lizard, a designated “national character area”.
Knowing that visitors to Cornwall will more than likely have an interest in nature and the flora and fauna that occupy it, Rona made informative signs that were placed on her farm’s gates and fences.
“We have clipboards describing the crops or animals that are in the field with at least one interesting fact,” she said. “This all helps to engage the customer and starts a conversation in the tearoom, making each customer’s visit unique.”
Making only £1 from each passing walker would be transformative for the business, but Rona is careful to ensure the information and trivia shown around the farm are not pushing the tearoom too heavily – just a healthy nudge that it’s there if refreshments are needed.
“We ere looking for a point of difference, leveraging our unique selling point to engage with people before they’d even entered the tearoom.”
She believes there is a “thirst for knowledge” when it comes to farming, but it’s an industry which has always had a hard time engaging.
On top of the tearoom efforts, all staff are knowledgeable about the area the farm is located in and how it’s run – one was even trained to deliver farm visits. “This is great fun and brings people back to our fairly new tearoom,” Rona explained.
Her desire to try new things and experiment is rooted in her career choice. “You have to do what you feel works and what you’re happy with,” she explained. “With farming you wouldn’t do it if you followed the rules of business – we’ve always done it because we wanted to.”
Rona hopes the tearoom can be the stimulus to start offering a wider variety of hospitality-type services. They’ve accepted their first wedding booking, which will take place in their beautiful Victorian-era courtyard and a farmhouse building.
Her children, some of whom are now at university age, are returning to the farm with new skills and ideas of how things can be changed up. This youthful vigour, a key advantage family firms have, is now driving innovation and supporting Rona and her husband in trying new things.
She may have her hands busy with baby lambs and school visits, but Rona is a great example of a hospitality business owner leveraging what she already has to work with and unafraid to test and learn as she goes.