Husband and wife team, Dawn and Phil Anderson, first opened their three-room B&B www.andersonbnb.com in August 2013 following an extensive year-long renovation. The historic, Arts and Crafts style limestone property dates back to 1910. "We gutted the place!" remarks Dawn. "We were keen to restore and renovate this lovely old property. We'd fixed up a couple of other places and knew the older couple who were selling up to move into a retirement home".
"We'd looked at a number of options but running a B&B allowed me to retire from my job as a university grant writer and administrator at the age of 55. My husband, also retired from university life, is the charming one … he cooks and gardens while I look after the bookings, marketing and cleaning.
The property's close proximity to Kansas State University (just two blocks away) and historic location is a huge draw for attracting academics, prospective students and faculty, and alumni year-round. "We have had visiting professors from Costa Rica, UK, Italy and Saudi Arabia, as well as from all over the U.S. The month of August has been particularly busy as parents from all-over, from Botswana to China to the UK bring their children to the university for the first time."
"I sing the praises of freetobook all the time. It truly does everything you need. For the first six months I was working from a spreadsheet but I knew online booking was a must as we built up the business. Now we use freetobook as our online room booking software and also as a channel manager for booking.com and Expedia. These OTA's account for around 30 percent of the room bookings overall, bringing in more of our international guests. The iCal software also allows us to integrate our room inventory with AirBnB. Having the one, centralised diary across all of these platforms is amazing."
"On the marketing side of the business we are finding that having a strong online presence with SEO is key for properties like ours. Also making sure guests use TripAdvisor is so important. We use the freetobook TripAdvisor Review Express to ensure these are seamlessly and instantly promoted onto their site."
"In the future I would like to work with my fellow B&B owners in Manhattan, Kansas to create a group website like those in the UK and the Netherlands. The freetobook Get Together option looks very attractive."