About Your Cottage
The 'About' section of a website is always where Lucie and I look first to find out about the people we want to do business with. We hope that it gives you a better picture of us, the people behind this website.
I received my BSc in 1988 from Leeds University and continued with research until 1992. I then worked with adults with special needs and developed Kingfisher Barn Ltd to provide art facilities for children and adults with special needs. The Kingfisher Barn changed from accommodation for large groups to self-catering and B&B for families in 1999 and continues to run as a successful site today.
In summer 2008 I moved into my new house that has taken nearly three years to build. I love it and thank my husband David for doing such a wonderful job and my girls for being so patient. To build a house from scratch has always been my dream and I can truly say that it is now so lovely and I can't wait to spend more time in the garden.
'My life is balanced between work and family. I enjoy my family life, animals, learning to ski (7 years of trying!), walking the dogs and my garden. I also enjoy greatly learning about the technical aspects of the business. I do feel that if we can share the information and help each other, we can all benefit and prosper. I really believe that the work should be fun.' Liz
I was born in the Czech Republic and moved to the UK in 2000 taking a gap year from university to improve my English, 10th years on, I am still here and there is still much to learn! I also completed my Psychology degree with The Open University in November 2008.
In summer 2008 I purchased a fabulous property in France. It was a dream come true, a courtyard of barns and a cottage in its own grounds with fruit trees and vines, just perfect. I will spend my holidays and long weekends with Keith my partner and Lucky our dog (who now has a passport) renovating the barns and bringing the garden back to life.
'My areas of interest at work are - dealing with the business owners and helping them to make the most of their listing. I am responsible for all the site changes and updates. Outside work I enjoy spending time with family and friends, strolling along the beach, meeting and talking to people, travelling and weekends away.' Lucie
The story so far in Liz's words...
'In year 2000 the bookings at Kingfisher Barn were done by a paper bookings form being sent in the post with a cheque. We had our own website which was mainly used as the source of information about our accommodation for guests and future guests. Year later we started to take credit card payment using the Streamline system. This was mainly for people paying at reception and business stays. In September 2001 we purchased a computerised booking system. It took us 6 months to get used using it! We realised that the booking system we had purchased and were using was not good enough and decided to purchase a more comprehensive system that could do VAT invoices. Again it took time to get used to and it did meet our needs better, but we found that it had too many functions and many we did not ever use.
In August 2004 we were ready to redesign our website and wanted to be able to take online bookings. We contacted the booking system people we were using and they said they were unable to do this but were considering it in the future. In September 2004 we took a very big decision to develop our own website that would have the online booking facility which would talk direct to the bookings system and availability calendar.
Six months later the system was up and running and we went live with our new KingfisherBarn.com website. We have since tested and refined this system over the last 12 months and are very pleased indeed. Immediately we saw that people were happy to use the online booking system that we were offering. We immediately, the same day, received our first booking online! Being located just outside Oxford, we had many overseas visitors and it's been very valuable to them to book their accommodation and receive their booking confirmation with clear directions how to find us. The bookings were coming in from all over the world…Australia, Canada, Cyprus Germany...
Then we thought if it worked so well for us, surely the other cottage and B&B owners could benefit by being able to accept the online bookings through this system. We took the decision to develop the system further so that it could be offered to other small accommodation owners who were looking to get more web presence…that's how Your-Cottage.co.uk was born.
In July 2005 we posted the Your-Cottage.co.uk website onto the internet. We have been testing the search facilities and the systems and developed and enhanced functions (which will always be an ongoing part of the business). We placed the site at the top of the search engines and looked at generating visiting traffics. We set targets and were able to meet them with new accommodation owners joining the site.
Then not a lot happened due to the commitment of being mum of two lovely girls and building my own home. The business was at the point when it needed more time and the decision had to be made to either continue with the website or just knock it on a head and leave it. With a great encouragement from the cottage owners and my own family I decided to allocate proper resources and time to it.
It was then that I was joined by my colleague Lucie. We tested and developed the site further and then divided the site to allow for better marketing, into specific Your-Cottage.co.uk and Your-BandB.co.uk.
In September 2006 we embarked our journey to make the sites the best and the most helpful that there is.
Our first job was to find and set up an office. We managed to find a little office, after few hours of driving all over Hampshire and Surrey. With no furniture and chairs to sit on first few days, we started our journey together. We spent lot of time researching and learning about the internet, design, marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, linking and are ready now to move the project forward to produce an excellent resources for cottage and B&B owners as well as holiday makers and their families.
The first year saw 500 properties join and it was very encouraging to hear the feed back from the different owners. From this first year it also became apparent that although many owners could see the advantages of having the online booking facility they also were reluctant to keep the calendars up to date. The unfortunate outcome of this was that we saw bookings going through the system only to be contacted by owners saying that those weeks were not available. We also saw that some owners thought that there was an advantage to putting up the calendar but not completing the process and so they looked like they were fully booked for the whole year and this meant that the customers and future guests were not contacting them. So back to the drawing board and we decided to remove the online booking facility and just run the site in a very simple way.
This has now proved to work very well and hundreds of owners are enjoying the additional calls and direct enquiries from guests. We can also monitor the number of enquiries that are looking at your page, asking for your phone number or emailing you so we can make sure that all owners get increased enquiries, after all, that is why we are here.
" Not only was it easy to use but it worked. Very soon (4 days) after joining we were receiving additional phone calls and extra bookings "
Audrey Probert, Scotland
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