David Black, owner/manager of the Headland View B&B in Torbay, had clocked up extensive experience working in the hospitality industry in a major corporate hotel chain heading up Sales and Marketing before he answered an urgent call to help organise a restructure at the iconic Imperial Hotel. The turnaround was dramatic and resulted in the hotel being bestowed with the first 5* rating in the country. That particular project has long since been and gone and what was to be a month-long stay in the gorgeous English Riviera is now more than five years ago.
Finding a suitable property as a holiday let was initially the focus for David’s new business venture but his viewing of the six bedroomed B&B Headland View changed that. This magnificent Victorian building still has many of its original features from 1876 and panoramic, unobstructed sea views across the World Heritage coast of Lyme Bay. Furthermore, the Headland View holds the prestigious Gold Four Star AA Rating (2018) and another AA Breakfast Award (2018).
David has been working with freetobook only for the last couple of months, encouraged by other B&B in the area to switch over. “I inherited the previous booking system when I bought the property. Freetobook’s customer support team are fantastic, I confess to not being the most ‘techy’ person in the world but every time I have called, the longest I have had to wait is 4 rings, (hotel training, you always count!). I don't receive an automated press 1 for, then 6 to reach and on so on. They have been able to help sort out any queries or help me out right there and then. I’m never put on hold or redirected. That level is knowledge is very impressive. My previous channel manager, would take an afternoon to reach an online chat agent, who would appear to be assisting a number of issues at once, going by the amount of time I would have to wait for each typed question. Online chats would take from 30-60 minutes on average. I also make sure I watch the How To videos. I can start, stop, rewind and play these at my side as I make the changes to my account, so it all works very well.”
“There is a clear tourist season for guest stays in the Babbacombe area which tails off at the beginning of November and then ramps up again in March. After my first year of ‘open all year round” I took the decision to close during those quieter months. It gives me a chance to fresh up, redecorate and maintain the property in November and December. I then open up for Christmas and by January and February the advance bookings for Spring and Summer have really taken off.”
“I have such lovely repeat guests, including a German couple who have been visiting every year for quite some time and another couple, new to the B&B, who have been back to stay four times already this year.”
David employs a couple of young students to help him out during those busy peak season months but as it turns out catering for a ‘full house’ of guests in this large property has produced a great side benefit. As his Fitbit can verify, he surpasses his daily target of 10K steps before the end of the breakfast shift and without even going outside his front door!