Firsty, let me introduce myself. I’m Peter Watson and the founder and owner of Smart Stay. Thanks very much for dropping by!
From an early age, I’d always wanted to run my own business. As a keen sportsman, my own chain of sports stores was always the dream. However, after leaving Richmond-upon-Thames College, having gained a Diploma in Business, reality dawned and I needed to get a permanent job. I decided to enter the University of Life, rather than any other ‘official University. I’d been offered a job as a Golf Club Manager (being a keen golfer) and little did I realise it at the time, but this turned out to be my first job in the Leisure and Hospitality sector. It was during this time, that I began to hone and develop my customer service skills and learnt that no business is anything without satisfied customers.
After a few years, my dream of owning my own chain of sports stores, which had never quite fully gone away, began niggling away at me again and so I decided I needed to gain the experience necessary. Leaving a well paid managerial post of a job I loved, to take a job on the shop floor of The UK’s premier Sports Store (Lillywhites of Piccadilly) had to be one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. The aim was to learn the trade from the ground up and then utilise this experience in my own venture. However, swift progression happened and enjoying the environment, I, once again, set aside, the ‘dream’. Bigger and better opportunities began to present themselves and led to me taking on Senior Management, National & Head Office roles with retailers such as Blacks Leisure, Cotton Traders and Sainsbury’s plc. At the same time, I decided that a University education would stand me in good stead and enrolled at Thames Valley University to study part time for my Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development qualifications. A couple of years later I graduated with my Chartered Membership status which I retain to this day.
Having experienced redundancy in 2001, I decided that my future needed to lie in my own hands and after many years in corporate life, I knew the time was right to eventually strike out and set up that business I had long dreamed of. However, the retail landscape had changed beyond all recognition and I had long since realised that my own chain of sports stores was not the dream to pursue anymore. I’d left it way too late and a certain Mike Ashley had already set up Sports Direct. The odds were too heavily stacked against me!
And so, I explored a number of other ideas that had been fermenting for some time. Having been responsible for a National Recruitment programme for Sainsbury’s, I had also had responsibility for sourcing accommodation for 100’s of Managers that needed to temporarily relocate to London. This had drawn my attention towards the wider world of global mobility and serviced accommodation and so I decided to look into these industries further. At a time where the industry was going through lots of M&A activity, I felt strongly that there was still space in the industry for a boutique service led company providing home finding and relocation services to both individuals and corporates in equal measure. This led me (with my wife), to set up our very own Property Sourcing and Relocation Support Services company. 15 years later this business still trades successfully across the UK and globally. A key service we have offered over that time has been to source and provide temporary serviced accommodation to clients relocating all over the world. So having learnt what works and what doesn’t / what’s good and what’s not, this led me to start up Smart Stay in 2011, having identified a need in Hull for the provision of great quality serviced accommodation.
From the outset, it was my intention to make Smart Stay the best-serviced apartment operator in Hull and we set out to do things the right way! Along the way, we have established ourselves as an active member of The Association of Serviced Apartment Operators, leading us to be the only company in Hull to have achieved the accolade of being a fully inspected and quality marque accredited operator, which we have held for the last 3 years.
Outside of work, I’m a busy family man, acting as the taxi driver to my sports mad kids! I’m also a keen walker and runner and one day, hope to get back out regularly on to the golf course. A perfect day would be a crisp, sunny autumnal day spent at the beach with my family, taking in the fresh sea breeze. For me, there is just something totally soothing about the sea that I find good for the soul. Balancing the demands of a busy family life and running a business can be challenging but is ultimately very rewarding. If at the end of the week, I see happy guests and a happy family, I know I’m doing something right!
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch, a warm welcome awaits you.