Located only 200m from Bournemouth’s award-winning beaches, Chris and John’s Bed and Breakfast by the Beach is now in its 11th year of business (and aptly named!).
Having spent their respective careers owning and managing a range of 1 to 5 star hotels, they know what it takes to make guests happy and create a relaxed memorable break, and so opened their B&B as a “sort of retirement” for themselves. All their collective experience and expertise has paid off, with the Bed and Breakfast by the Beach enjoying several notable successes – winners of Channel 4’s ‘Four in a Bed’, named “best place to stay in Bournemouth” in the BBC Country File issue 2012, the number 1 Bournemouth B&B on TripAdvisor and have an entry in next year’s Michelin Guide.
Before using freetobook, Chris and John used a manual system for their bookings – while they loved having the opportunity to chat to guests before booking, they found that time was often also wasted as the phone calls invariably become over-long as they answered all the guests pre-holiday questions. Making the move to freetobook has “really changed our lives”. Now that they can receive bookings from their website, their phone number has a pre-recorded message directing potential guests to book via their website, or if not possible then leave a message and they’ll get back to you. Using freetobook has really freed up their time and even let them have a “holiday at home, which we couldn’t have done before”.
They also love having their terms and conditions available online at booking, and the different language options as a lot of their guests visit from Holland and Germany.
The vast majority of Chris and John’s guests book direct, which saves them from paying significant commission. Very few of their guests stay only one night, as most come to the area to visit relatives or for a beach break. Even better, around 80% of their bookings are return guests – at the time of this interview 3 of the current guests had stayed before. Clearly, they’re doing something right!
For Chris, attention to detail is crucial; “everything is spotless, people feel that they get value for money – we live up to what they’re expecting”. Another key element of their success is their menu – the Bed and Breakfast by the Beach offers 12 a la carte items for breakfast (“it’s our thing”), and every day a new homemade cake is baked for their guests to enjoy – both are raved about in their TripAdvisor reviews!
Though open year-round, in the near future Chris and John are looking to reduce their opening times to 3 weeks a month, to take some trips and have a bit more time for themselves. In the past this wouldn’t have been possible, as they had to be around to answer the phone to take their bookings. Now they have the opportunity to be more flexible with their opening hours and their own holidays, because with freetobook their business can “run itself”.