A quaint lifestyle change for the owners of Greyfriars Motel, NZ

After 20 years of working in sustainability, accounting and marketing, Ian and Michelle were searching for a lifestyle change. In January of 2020 they left their jobs and bought Greyfriars Motel. Two business professionals who had never worked in the accommodation industry before, took on a property and are enjoying every minute of it. With an interesting story to tell, we interviewed Ian and Michelle to hear about the comfort and peace they have found in making a lifestyle change to the hospitality industry.  

The inspiration for change: why Ian & Michelle joined the hospitality industry

“We were looking for a lifestyle change. We wanted to get away from the big city and live in a nice, quiet town. We considered owning a motel or cafe, and decided on a motel. We were both new to the hospitality industry, but it was about finding something that we could apply our existing skills to. “The hospitality industry seemed like a great choice. We love to travel ourselves, and look forward to heading overseas once it is safe to do so.”

– Ian & Michelle, owners of Greyfriars Motel

Both Ian and Michelle had a wealth of business experience with skills which have been very helpful in running Greyfriars. Ian was a communications and marketing expert, and Michelle an accounting and sustainability management expert. So the couple left Auckland and the corporate life, to regroup in a quaint, hospitality life in Greytown, Wairarapa, New Zealand.  

Positivity & calm on a daily basis: a relaxing new lifestyle for the owners of Greyfriars Motel

The owners tell Preno that while they were new to the industry, they weren’t new to business. It was about switching lifestyles to something more hospitable and less cut-throat. A place to apply their skills but relax at the same time. “We are very hands on, and we like it this way. We moved here to work and live – to run the business together, and to enjoy it. But we’ve decided to run the business, and not let it run us. We understand that for many, the accommodation industry is stressful, but for us, we find it relaxing. We’re now our own bosses, so we don’t have to stress about things like we did before.”

– Ian & Michelle, owners of Greyfriars Motel


An incredible business revival: a 35% increase in occupancy

In less than 1 year, and amidst a global pandemic, the new owners of Greyfriars have made amazing improvements to their motel. Located in the lovely winery region of Wairarapa, the owners have been very fortunate with domestic travellers. But more than this, their accounting, job sharing and marketing skills have seen them make effective business decisions.

“In July 2020, we increased occupancy from 34% to 69% (when comparing to July 2019)”

“As we’re located in Wairarapa, we welcome a lot of wedding groups and guests. We’re also a part of a lovely village with a great marketing team. So in addition to my marketing experience, we also take part in village marketing promotions, such as a mid-winter Christmas earlier this year.”

– Ian & Michelle, owners of Greyfriars Motel


Wise words from the owners: “Don’t stress over what you can’t control”

Making the move to Wairarapa and taking ownership of Greyfriars in January of this year, this lifestyle change was only fresh when covid-19 hit New Zealand just 6 weeks later. It was, of course, unexpected, but Ian and Michelle chose to respond with calm and composure. The new owners “took it in their stride” – taking action to make adjustments to their business model, and doing their best not to feel disheartened. “When covid-19 hit, we took it in our stride. We negotiated with the building owners to reduce the rent, but mostly we chose to take the downtime to relax. In the early stages, we had already put in place financial planning ahead of winter, so this helped us with the impacts of covid. Other than this, we knew the situation was out of our control, so we took it as the perfect time to settle into our new home (Greyfriars) and take a break.”

– Ian & Michelle, owners of Greyfriars Motel


Welcoming regulars: a wealth of returning guests for the owners of Greyfriars Motel

Like many of our customers, the large and sudden change in the hospitality industry was disheartening in many respects. But what we’re constantly recognising here at Preno is our customers’ resilient response. For the owners of Greyfrairs, business expertise and domestic travel have been key players in their success. Kiwis are travelling domestically and Greyfriars continues welcoming returning guests.

An impressive approach to business & an inspiring attitude to change

In just one short year, Ian and Michelle have retired from the corporate city life, shifted to a new home and tackled a new business, all amongst a global pandemic. Not to mention, having done it all with a calm and proactive attitude.  

Pleased to provide some support, while Greyfriars excels in the New Zealand accommodation market

“Preno is so easy to use, it relieves some stress of running a business. When we chose Preno, we could tell it was user-intuitive and set up in a way that it was meant to be used. We’ve come across many databases and systems where you need a degree in computer science to understand. But with Preno, everything is very common sense. It’s also cloud-based which is really helpful.”

– Ian & Michelle, owners of Greyfriars Motel



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