Background and Requirements
Kingfisher Barn operate a number of exceptional quality self-catering cottages, and bed-and-breakfast accommodation in Abingdon, Oxfordshire. Although they had computer software that allowed them to record details of bookings, it was cumbersome, expensive to operate, and could not be customised to meet their needs. They required a fully managed service, whereby they could manage details of bookings, but also to allow clients to search for availability of the cottages for a given date, as well as to book and pay for the accommodation over the Internet. Since guests make bookings from all around the world, the system needed to accept on-line payments securely, and in multiple foreign currencies.
Additionally, they wanted to be able to advertise availability and accept bookings on behalf of other cottage owners. To this purpose the "Your Cottage" cottage directory and business was created.
As the system would be used by unsophisticated computer users, the system needed to be very simple to install and operate. A web-based solution was agreed to be ideal (as no user installation is required).
Business Net Solutions was chosen to develop the software for both the Your Cottage and Kingfisher Barn web sites thanks to our expertise in developing sophisticated database and eCommerce applications. We also manage dedicated web servers for our clients, provide out-of-hours phone and internet based technical support, and was therefore also chosen to manage and support the information system suport for these two businesses.
An extensive period of requirements gathering, data modelling and functional specification was undertaken to understand exactly how the business would operate. During this phase of the project we prototyped the proposed user interface and published it on the web, so that the client could examine how it worked and suggest improvements that they would like. Our flexible user interface design technologies are easily adaptable, so that once approved the solution was immediately available for use by Kingfisher Barn, and a couple of months later the Your Cottage directory was also launched.
Code was developed for the SQL Server database and C#.Net framework. Online payment engines were developed for both the WorldPay and Protx credit-card payment. Online reports were created, and additional reports and upload functions provided using Microsoft Excel. Additional CRM facilities were developed for emailing newsletters and offers to existing clients.
Business Benefits Realised
Kingfisher Barn report that 21% of their bookings are now from overseas guests, who use the automated online system to accept bookings and payments 24 hours a day. In addition nearly one third of all their business now arrives from their web sites, and "the figure is set to grow sharply". As a result they have achieved an average occupancy is 85% which is far above the industry average.
"I am very pleased with the programming that has been done by your company and I am looking forward to continuing working with you"
- Liz Beaumont, Managing Director, Your Cottage.