Meet the Team: Katie Airey

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There are lots of different people doing lots of different things at Sally's Cottages. Meet the wonderful members of our team and learn what part they play in helping you enjoy your dream Lake District holiday!

Katie Airey from Sally's CottagesName: Katie Airey

Job title: Accommodation Manager

Age: 36

Where are you from? Keswick

Where do you live now? Keswick

How long have you done this job? I’ve been at Sally’s Cottages for two-and-a-half years.

Take us through a typical day: I’m often in the office first thing for a meeting with our Managed Service team to discuss our work, plan ahead and to share ideas. We recently expanded to five following a new appointment, which we’re all thrilled about!

After that, it varies between being office-based or viewing properties and meeting people. A large part of the work is overseeing the maintenance and cleaning of almost 180 cottages. This includes working with a fantastic variety of individuals who work freelance cleaning cottages – looking after them, making sure everyone is happy and that everyone is doing the jobs that best suit them. We also have a growing collection of reliable tradespeople that we regularly use when maintenance needs to be carried out.

This is very much a role where the Managed Service and the Customer Services team work together to make sure we’re carrying out a thorough and efficient service, both for the owners of a property and also to ensure that visitors arrive at a lovely clean cottage where everything works well and where, if anything breaks, it is sorted out as quickly as possible.

I also meet owners of new cottages that are just coming on with us, as well as catching up with owners of existing cottages. It’s very much about supporting the owners and also making sure each property meets visitor expectations.

When someone is interested in joining the Sally’s Cottages portfolio, our New Cottages team is responsible for the first phase of the process. Then it’s over to me or one of my colleagues to view the property and meet the owner. We tend to carry out two or three visits to make sure everything is set up to a good standard and that the cottage is ready to receive visitors. After that, it will be added to our regular rota for routine inspections.

Exercise classes run by Katie AireyAt the end of a day’s work, I usually end up throwing on my trainers and dashing off to run an exercise session. I do five different ones: step classes, Metafit, which is a high-intensity session, Bokwa, which is a dance-based fitness class, core strength and flexibility classes, and kettlebells.

I then head home to my husband Graham, nine-year-old daughter Claudia and our dog Eski. At weekends I aim to spend as much time as possible with them and to enjoy lovely family outings. We’ve also recently acquired a pony called Joy and we have a great time with her!

Katie and husband, GrahamWhat do you like most about the job? Meeting people and getting to look around so many amazing properties in a stunning part of the world. I absolutely love my job!

What do you like least? Inspecting properties on cold, rainy days - very early in the job I made the mistake of doing this in high heels. After trying to open a few farm gates in those, learnt my lesson and my trusty wellies now go everywhere with me!

Why did you want to do this job? I wanted to join a successful, thriving business where success is recognised. My family used to have Open All Hours convenience store in Keswick and we won lots of industry awards so it was important that I moved on to a fresh, innovative company with a similar success story. I felt that remaining small and independent was key and Sally’s Cottages was the perfect fit – plus I heard they paid well!  

What jobs have you done previously? On leaving university I worked in banking, then I was involved in managing our family businesses. I set up my own business, Inspiring Fitness, seven years ago, teaching exercise classes and personal training for adults and children, which included working in local schools. I initially worked freelance for Sally’s Cottages, doing a bit of social media support and then answering enquiries, before I was taken on in my current role.

What qualifications or experience do you need? At university I studied visitor attractions management – however, I think a lot of it is down to the right personality and having the right life skills. You need a desire to help and inspire others, great people skills, the ability to think outside the box, and to be an effective communicator and empathetic to people’s needs. And you need bucket loads of energy and motivation!

Any advice for people wanting to get into your profession? Try to gain experience of leading others and encouraging and motivating them to keep standards high. Get to know your area and your target audience if you are to meet expectations. It’s also beneficial if you keep up-to-date with trends in both the holiday market and interior design – something I put into use the other day when I found myself re-upholstering furniture!

Katie with daughter, Claudia