Unwelcome Guests

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, I ran a website called Haunted Britain and Ireland. It was the first of its kind. I had worked in the tourist industry at the same time as being interested in ghost stories and the idea of this website was to compile a list of haunted places that readers could actually visit.

I had worked on producing a magazine in about 1995 when I lived in Wales, that actually never came out called Haunted Places. We realised that we could charge the owners of so-called haunted hotels and take a booking fee. It worked for a while.

The growth of the Internet allowed us to take that idea from the printed page to the world wide web. I compiled a list of hotels, and latterly castles, that people could visit and I wanted a good spread across the UK and Ireland. In many cases the stories we had of the ghosts were traditional – someone had seen something at one point in the past. In other cases, the information was fresher and I actually met and interviewed staff who had experiences, or was put in touch with previous guests who’d “seen things”.

I encouraged people to send me their experiences and, while that didn’t happen for every hotel, it did for some. Particularly the places we returned to for our ghost tours. I even made a living out of going round haunted castles and spending midnight in cellars and graveyards.

Over time, things changed and my enthusiasm waned. The last tour I did was in 2003 and there is a great write up by Kriss Stephens here:

http://www.fab4musicfestival.com/ghostours/tr03.htm

I got another job but continued doing some ghost stuff more local to me. One thing I noticed was that the owners of the hotels, if they succeeded in getting better kinds of guests, didn’t want the ghost hunters. Ghost hunters wanted to traipse all over their hotels, down into the cellars, up on the tower roof and go all sorts of places guests aren’t supposed to go. It’s much easier to get normal guests who stick within the bounds of civilised behaviour. Hotel owners are in the business to make a living, and one unfortunate side effect of our publicity was that crazy people would just rock up at all hours and expect to be allowed into the place to sit up all night with ouija boards all completely free, gratis and without paying a penny. That meant that many of my previous contacts no longer returned my phone calls. I exaggerate, but the loony fringes of the ghost hunting fraternity, are often unwelcome guests.

That’s a life lesson for you.

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