Have you ever thought about how easy it would be for a guest to simply click a reply button to get in touch with you ? In the freetobook labs we have 🙂
Today’s guests expect so much and easy communication is now a given, looking for emails to reply to just isn’t good enough anymore. That’s essentially why we have upgraded the freetobook email system.
With the new smart messaging upgrade (which replaces emails) you can:
Send guests automated messages as soon as they book or a set number of days before arrival or after stay.
You can add gorgeous images to show off and boost your brand
Increases your read and reply rate because its so easy to use.
Quickly spot any failed messages and fix them instantly.
Works with all bookings including OTA fake email addresses.
Conversation thread keeps your chat together.
Smart messaging is getting even better. In the next few weeks we will be adding “guest actions” where guests can interact with their booking through their smart message.
You can send them a guest action and they will be able to change it, the first one will be “arrival time” – guests will be able to click to re-confirm their arrival time and it will change automatically in their booking, no need for you to do any more work.
Smart messaging will keep getting better, just let us know what you want it to do for you. There are so many ideas just a taster includes Stripe payments from smart messages, branding for the messaging page so guests connect with your brand setting the scene for their stay.
We asked you to prioritise these 7 Pledges, to re-order them according to your needs and your ambitions. That was no easy task… as many of you said, but that forced focus is what every good business requires if it is to improve.
So here’s how it unfolded, drum roll please…
Maximise direct bookings above all other bookings (35% of
This is music to our ears, we created freetobook to enable direct bookings on websites. We wanted to build a booking engine so any accommodation anywhere in world could get an account, set up and take direct bookings in under an hour – for free. That was case in January 2011 and it’s still very much the case now, indeed that’s why we called it “Freetobook”. But there is so much more to do and we’re working on it. (some free direct booking images for you)
Continually develop, upgrade and improve functionality
came second (with 26% of the vote)
We are here 21 years down the line simply because we’ve
always believed we can do it better, we must do it better. Our “creative” drive demands that we look for
solutions to difficult problems. We also enjoy that process, it’s terribly
rewarding. This means that we don’t accept and settle in a comfort zone but
continually look around appraising the changes to your environment.
Listen, care about, support and advise your business
This is the “easy” bit for us, as a family business we find
it a very natural function yet we value the importance of it. Our support team
have an amazing record only because they care. We are not here to serve
ourselves so it’s important that we listen and feel confident to advise when
required. Having the commercial freedom
(of a family business) means we don’t compromise in our service and advice we
Keep learning to be the best booking system possible (9%)
We will. Aiming to do your best is always a great place to
start and we are fortunate to work with 1000s of customers who believe the
same. Over the 21 years we’ve seen a lot of changes so we’ve had to keep
learning new things. We have always
looked for and admired great technology.
Protect you, keep things optional for you and not tying
you in (altogether got 13%)
Our independence is a choice, just like yours. We have seen
enough stuff that does not impress us to know that we must always be clear,
open and genuine in what we do and what we offer.
Protecting independence results in more money staying local
and being re-invested locally in businesses. We live in times where technology
is enabling money to move across oceans far far away from where it was
generated and without any chance of businesses or governments being rewarded
for their investments.
So where do we go
The great news is that we are already working on some new
technology to help increase direct booking, this includes better measurement
and analysis of the current situation. Other developments will become clearer
next year and we trust we can count on your support to get them moving. There is much work to do!
Thank you again for voting and for your many appended
comments. As usual there were masses of amazingly supportive ones, as well as
some great suggestions.
Here’s a small selection of what people said against the
“We know you are the best out there, you have been amazing for us. Helpful and progressive.”
“All of the above are highly important. Thank you for giving them focus.”
“… really excellent customer service, feel like I’m contacting someone in my own company!”
“Would love it if freetobook was more mobile friendly or had a full App.”
“Good to see an honest and ethical organisation.”
“Still love freetobook and even more so since I joined stripe.”
“Thanks so much for your amazing service you have revolutionised the way we do business…”
“More reports, like annual and monthly.”
“Get the OTAs out of the booking loop as the charges are criminal.”
When you are looking to stand out in your guests mind then get messaging. Smart Messaging will take your communication with guests to the next level, making messages and stays memorable.
Freetobook Smart Messaging is your work horse taking the hassle and bore out of email communications. It replaces the old email system with a simple and intuitive interface that your guests can engage with, whilst making your administrative work quicker and simpler.
First up: you can set automated messages to go out before and after the guests stay. No need to worry about sending critical information.
Add images: spice up your message with gorgeous images that show off and boost your brand.
Communicate: a smart message thread is available to the guest making replies so easy and your interaction so natural.
Emojis: it’s brilliant when guests start sending emojis, it means you have connected in a fun and friendly way.
Spot any fails: you’ll see a failed message immediately so you can fix the email address that notifies your guest of a new message.
All channels: you can Smart Message all of your bookings as long as they have an email address (even to the fake emails from the OTAs).
Freetobook customers can setup Smart Messaging in matter of seconds in the “PLUS”tab. For properties not yet using freetobook, why not signup today and enjoy all the marvelous solutions we provide for accommodation owners worldwide.
The Smart messaging system is getting massive investment from us, there are already over twenty new features waiting to be implemented. These include “guest actions” where the guest can change their arrival time or other interactions with their booking.
We really believe the freetobook messenger will help you communicate better and save time… so we will continue to make it even better.
In the 21 years since our birth in 1998 we’ve learnt a thing or two about making, managing and servicing accommodation bookings but the one thing we often get asked is:
… “what makes freetobook different ?”
It is a tough question (if you really care about it) and after this long in business we had better have a good answer! In a perverse kind of way it’s actually taken 21 years to really find out who and what we are.
Some soul searching and chat in the office led us to seven key points that we would love to share with you as “pledges”. We believe what makes us a great company to work with is that we genuinely (and always) pledge to:
listen, care about, support and advise you whilst building things to the highest standards both morally and technically
continually develop, upgrade and improve for your business
build booking technology that maximises direct bookings above all other bookings
protect you from powerful corporations that seek to manipulate and plunder your revenue
be the best booking system possible, to study and learn from other booking systems
never prevent you from leaving (by tie-in contract or any obstruction), instead we’ll learn why you left and improve to get you back
continue to make all paid services optional, clearly priced and listed publicly on our website, ensuring we advise honestly and openly as to their value and use to your business
Note: the order of these pledges are as they came to us, we’ll shortly be asking our customers which are the most important to them then re-order accordingly.
These aren’t some corporate bull, in fact they have always been guiding us we just haven’t really thought much about it. They are part of our DNA, developed from those that work with us and for us, those that support us to grow and all those that used to work with us, they are our history and our future.
The significant success of freetobook in business provides us with the luxury to always put your interests first with fierce independence and a long term outlook typical of family values that no corporate can afford. That’s what makes freetobook different.
Because we know that in the current financial climate getting extra online sales is more important than anything else (and because we know that everyone likes something for free!), we’ve created a free e-book, titled “How to BOOST your online bookings,” written by freetobook’s directors, Iain & Craig Stewart.