18th June 2009

Existing B&B reservation tools aren't fulfilling their promise to help owners run their business better because they're too expensive, difficult to set up, and neglect the way it actually feels to use them, according to Cheltenham-based software providers GuestList.

Booking software doesn't work

"Tools for managing bookings and guests should make life easier for B&B owners, but they often do the opposite," says Ben Jeffery, customer manager at GuestList. "Customers get cluttered screens, features they don't need, and complicated processes that take longer than they should. So instead of reducing stress, B&B software actually makes owners feel frustrated and not in control."

This may be a result of how software is typically produced. "Developers prefer a simple 'to do list' of requirements," explains Jeffery. "They don't naturally think about the actual experience of people trying to use their systems, and it takes a concerted effort to turn this around and make things easier for customers."

Over-complicated software is also created by valuing the number of features over the quality of the experience. "Sales people like features because they suggest value for money," Jeffery states. "The problem is that most B&B owners will never use many of these features. And actually, software isn't about how many features you have, it's about making your life easier."

There is another way

A new kind of product called 'software as a service' lets customers pay a regular fee to access an online system through a standard web browser like Internet Explorer.

According to providers like GuestList, this new approach to software puts the personal experience first because customers have to repeatedly choose to pay for it. "When you have customers paying a monthly fee, you have to give them a great experience every time, and you have to keep making it better," says Jeffery. "Otherwise you'll just stop getting paid."

Web-based software is easier to use because it works in a familiar way. Customers already know how it works because they're used to clicking on links and completing forms when they use the internet.

"B&B owners deserve a solution that helps them run their business and enjoy life," says Jeffery. "Tools like GuestList make the routine tasks easier, so owners can concentrate on the real job of looking after their property and their guests."

About the company. GuestList is a free bookings tool for B&Bs, small hotels, holiday rentals and campsites, based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

Contact. Ben or Simon on 01242 244620 or