As the owners of Sandcastle Cottage in Crail, and Craigwell Cottage in Edinburgh, we’ve been running a family holiday home business for 20 years now, since we had our first lets in Crail back in 1992. Over the years, I’ve seen the way we attract our potential guests change from the early experience of posting photocopied leaflets out in response to phone calls via the “Tourist Board Brochure” to the paperless electronic ways of the present day.
In this time, we’ve experimented with many different ways of achieving bookings – from typed cards in the Newsagents’ window, to the latest “all singing, all dancing” websites which promise the earth and then don’t deliver any bookings at all. They don’t get our renewal a second time round! We’ve stuck with VisitScotland over the years since we first advertised with the old Kingdom of Fife Tourist Board. Mainly due to the fact that we do like to have an independent grading system in place for our properties, but also because we do believe that it is worthwhile to have a national agency promoting the idea of visiting our country from abroad.
When we decided to have our website for Sandcastle Cottage re-written a couple of years ago, we selected Torchlight Digital designs to create a WordPress site for us so that I could integrate the idea of blogging for business into our own website. At the time, we were searching for an on-line booking system which would deliver the ability to display accurate availability, cutting out a step in the process of accepting a booking.
For this part of our business process we selected the Scottish-based company, FreetoBook, having met Ian and Craig Stewart at various travel trade events, and particularly the Technology for Travel events run by the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (ETAG).
I was motivated to write this blog post today having received one of FreetoBook’s update emails this morning. When you find a company easy to deal with and efficient in their communication, you should say so!
This morning’s email was regarding the change to on-line booking via VisitScotland, for which it is necessary to have your own external booking site now. This is where choosing FreetoBook as a booking partner has come into its own. The email they sent this morning promised that I would be able to integrate their site into my VisitScotland booking offering in about 3 minutes. I can confirm that it took no more than this, including testing to see that it worked! Good job, Ian and Craig! Thank you.
Having followed the easy instructions, the only slight difficulty I had was in locating the field which needed to be updated on the VisitScotland extranet. It was easy when I discovered the drop-down menu where it was hiding (select Edit Details from your Extranet menu, then the “expand details” link on the Edit Product page, just under your property name to the left side of the grey box).
Once I’d saved the new booking details link, I went over to the VisitScotland.com site to check how this would appear to a potential guest. An availability search for self-catering properties in The Kingdom of Fife, narrowed down by “Crail” and “Sandcastle Cottage” displayed this:
Clicking on the link to Book gives the following warning message, then the proper link to the on-line booking page appears. Job done!