For Lucy Brodie, running a B&B was inspired by a deep connection to her late grandparents' property, an authentic 15th century red brick and timber farmhouse with a Georgian-fronted red brick house set in over four hundred acres.
This working farm is situated in the heart of rural England, on the Herefordshire and Worcestershire county border. "Its such a beautiful place to live and we have so much space, it just seemed like a good idea to share it. We feel so lucky that we are doing something that we love and our daily commute to work is just a walk downstairs."
Juggling a full-time marketing job with a weekday commute to Oxford, Lucy first opened up Huntlands Farm B&B to guests in April 2011 with just one bedroom and only at weekends. Four years on and now with five guest bedrooms, the B&B is a thriving full-time business for Lucy and her partner Stephen. Their extensive property is also home to a happy menagerie including Walter the donkey and Gordon the mini Shetland pony alongside 6 pigs, 3 geese, 24 chickens, 10 cats and 3 dogs.
"We've been using freetbook's booking engine since October 2011 and over the last couple of years as a channel manager with connections to Late Rooms, Booking.com and TripAdvisor. We have more than doubled our occupancy rate as a result, from 16% in 2013 to 42.5% last year. Here we are in April and we are at 41% occupancy to date."
"We never have to worry about double booking either as the diary automatically updates across all the channels. A B&B close to us will often call us up to help out when they have double-booked. I keep telling them to sign up for freetobook!"
"We have also been using freetobook's credit card payment system. It's brilliant and has taken away all of the hassle for managing deposits. No-one has a cheque book anymore so now I can send over an email payment link to FabPay, get confirmation the second its processed and in our bank account and the booking is automatically entered into our freetobook diary. It's a seamless process."
Lucy also offers weekend 'taster' re-upholstery classes, operated out of a little studio on the property. "I've studied and practiced furniture re-upholstery for years and the idea of teaching beginners workshops came about as an idea as to fill in the quieter months of October through to February. These have proved to be hugely popular."
As you might expect, enjoying a 'farmcation' is very attractive for families so from time to time younger guests have kept Lucy and Stephen on their toes with pressing dilemmas ranging from locked bathroom door keys being 'dropped' down the sanitary systems to emergency tooth fairy visits.
What does the future hold? "Our next focus is glamping! I have just obtained a 1962 showman's caravan which I'm hoping to rent out."