Great customer feedback

It’s summer in Scotland: cue rain, midges and an icy north wind. We may not be experiencing much of a warm glow from the weather, but we can at least bask in the great feedback we’ve been receiving from our users as we work tirelessly to make freetobook the very best online booking system for independent accommodation providers in the UK. Bruce from the Folly Farm Cottage told us, “I would recommend the system to other B&B owners and would say that the support has been first class,” while Sheena and Ian Fowkes of Greystones Guest Accommodation said, “It has really given us back some very precious time!” and Linda Johnson from the Southcroft Hotel in Eastbourne reported that, “I received two bookings almost immediately I went live.” [See more Testimonials here.]  Such consistently positive reactions make all the difference to us: they keep our energy levels up, stimulate new ideas and embolden us in our vision for freetobook. So thank you to all those customers who have taken the time to let us know how much they value the system. We couldn’t do it without you.

Email templates made easy

It’s great to get bookings, but it’s even better to add value to those bookings by developing an ongoing relationship with customers – apart from anything else, they’re more likely to book again if you do. Thanking them for booking, asking them if they have any particular requirements, sharing tips about local attractions and activities… it all makes them feel special. On the other hand, it all involves a lot of typing too!

New functionality from freetobook makes life a lot simpler for you, enabling you to create a series of pro forma emails that you can then use to keep in touch with your customers in all sorts of different ways. It also enables you to add links to your Facebook and Twitter pages. You can even give customers a link to your property on Tripadvisor, so they can post a review of it. Here’s how you do it:

Log in to freetobook. On the main page, select the “Email” tab then, in the orange bar beneath the tabs, select the sub-tab called “Templates”.  You’ll see two dialogue boxes titled “Step 1” and “Step 2”. In the first box, give the email a title to remember it by (as it says on the page, your customers will not see this.). In the second box, type the actual content. You can view a draft version first by clicking “Preview.” Once you’re happy with the content, hit “Save.”

The title of the email you have just created will now appear at the bottom of the page, in the blue box, under the heading “Your Content Templates.” If it’s the email you’re most likely to send to customers, you can set it as “Default” by clicking the little button to the right of it.  You can also edit or delete it using the “pencil” and “x” icons respectively under the heading “Actions.”

You might also want to personalise the email by adding a unique signature to it. Click on “Signature” at the top left of the page. Two new dialogue boxes will now appear, also called “Step 1” and “Step 2”. There will also be a third section, entitled, “Step 3: Add in any extras or links.”

In the first box, give the signature a title (again, your customer will not see this; it’s just for your reference.) In the second box, type the actual signature. Under the third heading – “Step 3” – choose the booking widget you want to display on the email and add any links you wish to Facebook/Twitter/Tripadvisor.

As before, you can preview all this then save it and it’ll appear in the blue box, where it can be set as default, edited or deleted, as you wish.

Now, go to the “Diary” tab at the top of the page. Click on one of your bookings. A new window will open, showing the booking details. Click on the “Email” button. On the new page that appears, go to the drop-down menu to the right of “Email Content” and choose the email you have created. Do the same at the drop-down menu next to “Signature.” In the third box, the “Book Now” button should appear, alongside any links you’ve chosen to add. If it all looks right, click “Send Email.”

Online booking from your Facebook page

A few years ago, the question you most likely heard when you told someone you owned a B&B or guest house was, “Yes, but do you have a website?” These days, it’s more likely to be, “Yes, but do you have a Facebook page?” A larger and larger number of people are finding quality UK accommodation through recommendations on social networking sites. A new piece of easy-to-install software from Freetobook enables you to put a booking button straight onto your Facebook page, opening up a whole new source of bookings to you.

View our “How To” video below, along with text descriptions. To see how it looks on our Facebook page: facebook online booking click here

First, if you haven’t already done so, you’ll need to sign up with Facebook – a quick and simple process. Next, log into Freetobook and click on the tab entitled “Widget” near the top of your homepage. Then click the button marked “View Code” on the right hand side and select the last of the three codes that appear. Go to the menu at the very top of the page, click on “Edit” then select “Copy.”

Now, you need to shorten the code you’ve just copied. Go to: http://bit.ly/. Past the code into the empty dialogue box and press “Shorten.” Once you’ve shortened the code, go back up to “Edit” and select “Copy” again.

At this point, you’ll have to open some kind of text editor, like Word, Notepad or WordPad. Paste the shortened URL into it. Keep it open because you’ll need it later.

Log into Facebook. Go to the “Edit Page” button and click on it. On the new page that appears, cross to the left hand menu and click on “Apps”. Then type the phrase “Tradable Bits” into the empty dialogue box that appears at the top and click “Search”.

You will now be taken to the “Tradable Bits” homepage. Click button titled “Install the App” near the top of the page. On the next page that appears, under the heading “facebook.com”, click “+Add Tabs.” A series of tabs appear below. Go to the tab marked “Welcome” and click “Install.”

On the next page that appears, go to the first dialogue box – the one titled “Text (max 60 chrs)” – and type the following into it: “Click below to book online.” Then, immediately below, click “Choose File”. In the window that pops up, choose your booking button (in .jpg format.)

You’ll now need that shortened URL that you pasted into your text editor earlier. Copy it from there and paste it into the dialogue box titled, “Top image URL.” Then click “Save changes”. After a few seconds, your booking button should appear on the screen. Once it has done so, click on the “Add to Facebook” button. On the next page, click “Add Welcome Tab for Pages.” This will take you back to your main Facebook page.

On your main Facebook page, click “Welcome” on the left-hand side list then click the “Edit Page” button. On the next page, go to “Apps” (again on the left-hand side). A list of the “Added Apps” will appear. Go to the one titled “Welcome Tab for Pages” and select “Edit settings.” A pop-up will appear, entitled “Edit Welcome Tab for Pages Setting.” In the dialogue box, type “Book Online” then click “Save”, followed by “Okay”. Then click on “View Page” to return to your main Facebook page.

Go back to the left-hand side and click “Book Online.” Within a few seconds your booking button should appear, with a rubric above it which says, “Click below to book online.” Click on the icon and you will be taken through to your Freetobook booking page.

And that’s it! Now, anyone who visits you on Facebook will be able to book your property online…