International Women’s Day 2019 – Part 1

On the 8th March 2019, across the globe individuals and companies are celebrating International Women’s Day. It’s a day to recognise and celebrate women’s contributions to business and society, and presents an opportunity to discuss gender equality around the world.

At freetobook we’re immensely proud of all of our staff and customers, and we would like to celebrate International Women’s Day by introducing you to a few of the brilliant women we work with on a daily basis.

Part 1 – Women Bossing the B&B Business

 

Jane Herman, retired B&B owner 

Beechgrove Bed and Breakfast

Leaving school at 16 for a career in retailing, Jane has had a long career in developing service excellence. After a break to have her family, Jane worked as Training and Branch Manager for several brands (such as Country Casuals and Jaeger), and training became her favourite part of the job, whether that was introducing new management to the high company standards or empowering her own staff.

Believing strongly in life-long-learning, Jane qualified to teach further and adult education and gained a post-grad Diploma of Business Studies in her forties, later also qualifying in keyboard and computer skills.

Her years of training others to provide high quality service paid off in spades when she opened Beechgrove B&B in 2007. After 11 years of brilliant guest reviews, beautiful breakfasts and a cracking business facebook page, Jane has recently decided to close Beechgrove and enjoy her well-earned retirement.  We caught up to hear about the challenges and highlights of running her own business.

What were some of the challenges of running your own business?

In my late 50s learning book keeping, tax laws and social media skills! Big challenges. But the biggest challenge for me was bringing in guests. With my daughters help I built my own website and did a lot of successful marketing locally.

Your B&B business owning highlights:

Meeting interesting and delightful people from around the world, and sharing my home and experience with them to give them great memories! Expanding my skill base successfully, I love learning and particularly learning to value domestic skills, an unfashionable subject, and showcasing them successfully. Being valued personally has been lovely – freetobook and TripAdvisor reviews have been a great source of pride!

Do you have any advice for women aspiring to be B&B owners?

Set the standards you would want for yourself in accommodation. Steal ideas wherever you go to ensure best practice. Have a particular eye for detail – is the plug in the right place to be used properly, is the lighting good, do you put guests’ needs first?

On International Women’s Day, what message would you like to send to young women thinking about their careers?

Whether you’re a potato picker or a company director, be the best you can be and value yourself and your work. Aim to continuously improve standards and aim high to stretch yourself – whether you believe you will fail or succeed, you will be right!

 

Amanda Dunn, B&B owner 

Manor Farm-MK

Amanda spent much of her childhood on a farm, where she developed a passion for the countryside, ultimately graduating from agricultural college. After a period working and travelling in Europe, she settled in Bedfordshire to develop a grain storage and processing operation, where she “achieved more in those few years than I ever thought possible”.

 

After 4 years, she left to farm with her husband – taking on 600 acres! It was a memorable time for Amanda, but sadly they had to leave farming with heavy hearts in 2000. For the next 3 years Amanda concentrated on a freelance career writing for an agricultural journal and bringing up their young family.

In 2003, they purchased an old pit pony home with outbuildings and 40+ acres. They converted the buildings and have been there ever since, currently running four small businesses from the site including their B&B, Manor Farm-MK. When setting up the B&B Amanda did her research – she realised that there was a strong market in Milton Keynes for business guests, and so designed the B&B and business model around catering to executive guests. It’s been a huge success, with fabulous reviews on TripAdvisor and high guest-return rate.

Have you always wanted to have your own business?

I love running my own business, with a farmer as a father, being “your own boss” was all I ever really knew growing up! I couldn’t wait to get started.

What are some of the challenges of running your own B&B?

It’s offered plenty of different challenges – adapting to the market, adjusting and tweaking the business to ensure it not only works efficiently as a standalone operation but also effectively around the other enterprises on site, staying ahead of the game so there is always a “USP” that draws the business guest into the property – and then keeps them there!  Identifying ways that one can add value to the guest, yet maintain a close eye on costs incurred by the business.

Your B&B business owning highlights:

Highlights have been seeing a business grow, ideas develop and success achieved.  When I read a review from, or speak with, a visiting executive who comments on how our service makes a difference to his/her working life I feel that I have achieved something.

Do you have any advice for women aspiring to be B&B owners?

Be true to yourself, know where your strengths are and work those to the max, but be conscious of your weaknesses and adapt your business where you can to accommodate those.  Apply the highest attention to detail that you can affordably do.  Maintain a close eye on every penny spent – even the cost of bin liners should not be overlooked.  Go that extra mile as much as you possibly can and try not to take negative reviews personally, treat them as a positive.

 

Read Part 2 – Inspiring Women Behind the Scenes at freetobook

Stripe card payments – fast, secure, easy

Stripe: online payments made easier, faster and more secure. Freetobook’s integration with Stripe makes payments possible at the click of a button, keeping things simple for you – and your customer. 

 

Thousands of freetobook customers use Stripe as their credit card payment system – this is one bandwagon you want to hop on!

 

Top 5 reasons to use Stripe for card payments:

1. Quick and easy to setup

Just head over to the PAY tab in your freetobook account to get started!

2. Low Cost

In Europe, Stripe charges 1.4% for European cards (2.9% for International cards) and a mere 20p transaction fee!

3. No monthly charges 

Stripe charge per transaction, a simple pay-as-you-go system so you’re not out of pocket!

4. Secure 

PCI compliance fitted as standard, no lengthy forms to complete

5. 92% approval rating

Thousands of freetobook customers using Stripe love it! We introduced Stripe in 2015 and have since had overwhelmingly positive feedback about the service. In fact, we are so sure it will be good for your business that we offer a 30 day money back guarantee on the freetobook integration charge.

 

 

Still not convinced that Stripe will work for your business? Take a look at what your fellow freetobookers are saying…. A staggering 92% of freetobook Stripe users are very happy with the service! Check out some of their feedback below:

“Absolutely love it (Stripe). It has changed my life. It is so easy, great when people cancel, works fantastic… Much less admin for me. It’s a win, win all the way”

Holly Tree Cottage

“Love it – all automatic, and you know if cards securing reservations are valid cards, you can also charge guest stays using the system. Well done freetobook! It so easy to set up and maintain even older users like me have mastered it simply like all freetobook products we use…”

Avlon House B&B

“It has reduced our costs and offers peace of mind.”

The Cardinal’s Hat

 

We’re positive that you’ll love using Stripe for your accommodation payments! But just in case, we offer a full refund within 30 days of paying your subscription. Freetobook charges an annual integration fee of £89 for providing you with this great payment functionality, which can be accessed quickly and easily through your freetobook account.

So what are you waiting for?! Join thousands of freetobook users and improve the speed and ease of your payments today by adding freetobook Stripe integration! Click the PAY tab when logged in to your freetobook account.