You first starting using freetobook in 2013, how does our software help you to run your business?
Prior to freetobook, the reservations side of the business was a manual, paper-based affair and a full-time job for a receptionist. I trialled several software solutions and decided ftb was the best option, with the best feature set and ease of use. It has added several features over the years, with the new diary being a particular highlight. Whilst there are a few things on the system that don’t quite match the way we work, I don’t believe there is a better solution outside of a bespoke software package, especially considering the minimal cost.
We’ve started to use Google Zero and so far, a steady trickle of bookings has appeared. The lack of commission compared to other channels is welcome – it’s early days but if it replaces OTA bookings, it will be a worthwhile option. We are lucky as most of our bookings are direct, with our use of the channel manager and Booking.com limited to last-minute availability. Messaging has also been a welcome addition to the ftb offer and has made it much easier to correspond with our guests and keep it all in one place. I would wholeheartedly recommend freetobook to any other accommodation business.
How has the last year affected your business?
It was an extremely worrying time when lockdown was first announced in March 2020 and the uncertainty was awful for both us and our staff. The financial support from government was important and allowed us and our loyal staff to just about survive the lockdown period. We continued to operate as a takeaway only service during the lockdowns, delivering to all the loyal locals who supported us all the way through.
Thankfully, the majority of guests chose to defer their bookings to 2021 rather than ask for a refund, which helped with cash flow during the time we were prevented from opening.
The restrictions that were in place when we were allowed to re-open in July 2020 were difficult to navigate and the continuing curbs on numbers is still having an impact. It has been, and continues to be, extremely hard work!
We are extremely lucky to be situated in such a popular location and were able to weather the storm. I know other hospitality businesses have not been so fortunate. We feel for everyone in the industry who is still unable to open or can only financially tread water due to the restrictions. Not wanting to get political, but perhaps if there was anyone in government with experience of working in or running hospitality businesses, there would be a more logical set of regulations and more help available!