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Case study: The Waters Inn

Scott Bicknell and his wife Brenda first fell in love with their ten bedroomed motel, The Water's Inn, on their many trips back and forth to their vacation property near Gaylord, Michigan.

"We had in fact tried to buy it once before back in 1995 after a devastating fire but missed out. In 2004 we were finally successful! We ran all of the room bookings with a paper diary for around six years before we looked around to find an internet booking engine. We have now been using freetobook for about five years now and it's been a game changer for a small business like ours.

"Freetobook is very intuitive and simple to use plus there was such a smooth transition over to using it. Around 25 percent of our bookings are made online which saves our managing partner Bob Homes a significant amount of time on the telephone. Since the freetobook system is cloud-based we are completely mobile using just an iPad and iPhone. We can take a booking truly anytime, anywhere, even while shopping in Walmart!

"In the winters The Water's Inn is popular with the younger, snowmobiling crowd, they are staying with us for two to three nights and we use Facebook to help promote this. In the summer months, our guests are heading here to enjoy the many lakes and golf courses in the area.  Many of our customers are repeat guests and with the freetobook online booking system they can search availability and book a specific room. My wife Brenda has designed each of the themed rooms.

"There is the challenge of filling the rooms during the 'shoulder' months, we may look to use an OTA for this. We are also doing some digital advertising utilizing Waze, this is a Google app that combines social media and location.  It's a bit controversial here in the US as it also highlights where the speed cameras are!

"We like our guests to feel at home so we offer motel amenities but with more of a B&B feel and service. As we are just out of town we consider ourselves to be 'the peaceful alternative' as our rooms look out onto rolling hills. Our property is located on the old Route 27 which means those travelling on this older highway are staying off the Interstate roads.  Generally speaking we are talking about the 60s and 70s crowd so they are not particularly in a hurry to get anywhere fast and enjoying the journey."

For more information, visit: http://www.thewatersinn.com

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