Like a lot of first time hoteliers Pauline Hillerby and Garry Rawlinson experienced plenty of uncertainty when they opened Hotel 119 in Darlington, UK. “We were new to hospitality”, admits Garry, “and weren’t sure if we were doing things correctly.”
Their 20-room hotel was receiving bookings through Booking.com, their own website, as well as from people calling them directly. Pauline, who runs the business side of things, would keep track of bookings using a combination of a whiteboard and a paper diary, which she had to cross-reference after every phone call, email or walk-in reservation.
Not only was this time-consuming, but it also led to errors and overbookings – something that Pauline found frustrating. “I had issues linking up my private bookings with the ones from Booking.com, so that nobody was overlapping,” she says.
A number of OTAs were getting in touch to put Hotel 119 on their sites, but because Pauline and Garry’s whiteboard system relied entirely on manual work, they had to turn them down – along with the extra revenue they might have brought in. “We’d get confused and it would become a nightmare,” Pauline says.
They were looking for ways to work more efficiently, and found a digital diary tool designed for smaller properties. By embracing this technology, they’ve been able to organise their bookings much more effectively. “It’s easy, you can see all the bookings together,” says Pauline. “Now it’s a lot more streamlined.” Garry adds: “With this system, you know exactly where you are.” Plus, the mobile app lets Pauline manage bookings from wherever she is.
The improvement in organisation has had plenty of other benefits for their property – and the people who stay there. “It frees up our time for our guests,” Pauline says.
By dedicating more time to looking after their guests, Hotel 119’s review score has improved. “Our reviews are really good, they all say our customer service and friendliness are exceptional – and that’s what we want. It brings people back,” Pauline says with a smile. Garry and Pauline are delighted with the way they’ve improved their business.
“Because it’s so streamlined, it gives us more opportunity to devote time not just to customer service, but also to our own website”, says Garry. “It’s increased our clients and our revenue […] and it opens up a whole new chapter in hotel management for us.”