Travel and Tourism
"It was just a fun thing to do," recalls Yvonne Halling of opening her bed and breakfast, Les Molyneaux, in the Champagne region of France. "It started as a hobby." Yvonne's husband Jiles was frequently traveling for work, and Yvonne stayed busy by welcoming international guests into their renovated 19th-century former grape-farmer's house.
Yvonne was not actively marketing the business. "We just used to wait for people to knock on the door or the tourist office to phone," she says. In a way, it was a dream come true: turning a personal passion into a business without the pressure of having to rely on the profits it generated.
But when Jiles lost his job, things took a turn. The Hallings rented out Les Molyneaux to long-term tenants and returned to their native United Kingdom. They made ends meet by hosting champagne events in the U.K. Then came the economic downturn of 2008, which hit them even harder. The Hallings had to make a change—or risk losing everything.
"It was time to turn Yvonne's hobby into a profitable business.
The Hallings decided to return to France and re-open Les Molyneaux as a full-fledged bed and breakfast.
Yvonne soon discovered that the daily demands of serving guests and maintaining the property made it very difficult to focus on marketing and selling the business.
"I was doing [follow-up] some of the time, but couldn't keep up with all of it all of the time," says Yvonne. "Guests missed out on opportunities, and I missed out on increased revenue."
By 2010, Yvonne reports, "I reached the limit of what I could do and needed a system to take care of the details, add value to incoming guests and offer upsells." She had heard of Infusionsoft, but assumed that Les Molyneaux was too small to to get any use from sales and marketing automation software. She was also concerned that an automated system would be "too clinical, less personal, and more robotic"—the very opposite of what a bed and breakfast should be.
After attending an Infusionsoft webinar, however, the light bulb went on. Yvonne decided to take the plunge: "I knew this was the software I needed to reach my dream of owning and running a six-figure bed-and breakfast with just four rooms," she says. "I thought, ‘I can see how Infusionsoft would work in my business.' So I invested."
"Today, says Yvonne, "I love my life." Through hard work powered by sales and marketing automation, Les Molyneaux now holds the title of number one spot in the Champagne region on TripAdvisor.
Les Molyneaux uses social media, online forums, search engine optimization (SEO), and its website to attract guests, capturing their interests using an Infusionsoft web form with a free giveaway. Yvonne has established a content-driven upsell process using follow-up emails, which she targets based on how long guests stay; with no advertising budget, she also relies on a quarterly newsletter, weekly blogs and syndicated videos.
Yvonne's concerns about losing her personal touch through automation have disappeared. As soon as guests book their rooms, Infusionsoft automatically sends them a video personally thanking them for their business. "That's really powerful," says Yvonne. "It allows you to build a deep emotional connection with your customers."
The conversation doesn't end once guests have checked out, either. With Infusionsoft, Yvonne can run campaigns to generate repeat business. For example, she keeps a calendar of events in the Champagne region and invites previous visitors to come for a repeat stay during those times.
It's a far cry from the days of running the business as a hobby, and struggling to convert it to a profit-generating machine. Les Molyneaux has received Certificates of Excellence for three consecutive years. "All as a result of guests' reviews solicited by Infusionsoft!" Yvonne notes.
Yvonne has been so successful with Infusionsoft that she has launched a second business mentoring other bed and breakfast owners. "I like showing [them] how to dramatically increase their revenue while keeping guests happy and informed," says Yvonne. "Infusionsoft is my secret weapon, which I gladly share with my own clients."