Keswick-based lettings business Sally’s Cottages generated more than £180,000 worth of holiday bookings from its Facebook page – with the help of superfast broadband.
The firm’s online marketing campaign has proved so successful that it recently won two top national accolades at this year’s Social Travel Britain Awards for use of social media.
Founder Sally Fielding told how the business had generated the record number of online bookings for last year, after using social media and online marketing skills to attract a loyal following of more than 181,000 fans to their company Facebook page. But she added that the firm’s success online would have been impossible to achieve without access to high-speed broadband.
The mum of three said: “If we didn’t have the superfast connection we wouldn’t really have much of a business – it is absolutely critical. It’s reassuring knowing that you’ve got that reliability. When pretty much everything you do is online like our business you can’t afford to have the dead time when no one can get online because the internet has gone down. If we were to lose our broadband connection – we would be stuffed. That doesn’t happen with a high-speed connection.”
Sally explained how their online social media campaigns have contributed to the company’s rapid growth. She said: “We answer all the comments that come in to our Facebook page so we’re online for about four to five hours every day – talking to people via Facebook and other social media. That interaction is very important in helping generate new bookings. When people decide to plan a break they remember us because we’ve built up that relationship with them online. You definitely need a superfast connection to do that properly.”
Sally, signed up to superfast when it first arrived in Keswick in June, 2014, which now has 12 fibre cabinets serving more 3,600 homes and businesses thanks to the Connecting Cumbria programme. Higher speeds allow her business to compete in the modern digital age in other ways including being able to create an online showcase for the hundreds of properties that the business manages.
She said: “With more people having access to faster broadband, their expectations have changed. We are constantly updating what is on the site and superfast broadband helps drastically cut down the time it takes to do all that. With standard broadband everything we do – uploading photos, videos and interacting with people online – would take three to four times as long.”
“In the future we’re looking to move into video and having Google map style views inside the properties – to make the site more interactive. It’s the natural next step and something we can do with all the extra bandwidth we have now.”
Superfast broadband also plays an important role behind the scenes – helping to support the vast digital database needed to manage the running of Sally’s Cottages growing property portfolio. Sally explained: “We store all sorts of details in the cloud so we can quickly download it and access it from anywhere, which is really handy if there’s an emergency. For example, if a customer reported a leak we can quickly go online and find out where the stop cock for that particular cottage is, even if we’re out of the office at the time.”
David Southward, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet member responsible for economic development, said: “Tourism is the life blood of the Lake District and, as the example of Sally’s Cottages shows, high-speed broadband is helping those businesses in tourism find a real competitive edge in this growing digital world.”
Mike Blackburn, BT North West regional director, added: “Cumbria is far more dependent on tourism than most other parts of the UK. In 2014 visitors brought in £2.44 billion to the region’s economy and the number of people in tourism jobs is around 20 per cent of the county’s total employment. Superfast broadband helps those businesses involved in tourism to meet the demands of their customers and improve their own productivity.
“There is no quick and easy way to get superfast broadband to rural areas. It involves challenges above and beyond those you would encounter in a more urban environment, but we are making solid progress. Together with our commercial programme, the Openreach fibre broadband network already reaches nearly 220,000 homes and businesses in Cumbria - and our army of engineers is rolling the network out even further.”
When an area has gone ‘live’ for fibre, people need to contact their service provider to upgrade as it doesn’t happen automatically. Because the network is ‘open’, they have a choice of fibre broadband providers, with around 70 now operating in the UK. More than 3,600 homes and business can now access fibre in Keswick
Notes to Editors:
http://www.sallyscottages.co.uk/ About Connecting Cumbria
Phone; 017687 80571
Since October 2013, the Connecting Cumbria project – a partnership between Cumbria County Council and BT - has enabled more than 500 fibre broadband cabinets, with more being switched on every day. More than 118,000 households and businesses now have access to fibre as a result of the project.
The Connecting Cumbria Programme’s ambition will, by a combination of commercial investment and gap funding, enable access to Next Generation Access (NGA) broadband to 93 per cent of Cumbrian homes and businesses when added to the private sector’s commercial rollout.And Connecting Cumbria is providing two thirds of its rollout with speeds of more than 50 mbps.
There is, in addition, a commitment that all Cumbrian properties will have access to speeds of at least 2Mbps by some means by the end of the programme. This includes working with some of Cumbria’s remotest communities to extend the fibre network through innovative community projects in the hardest to reach areas.
Connecting Cumbria will ensure maximum coverage is achieved from available resources, demonstrating maximum value for money. Cumbria County Council has a continuing commitment to expand NGA broadband services and make NGA broadband service available to additional areas across Cumbria as funding becomes available.
The project is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the ERDF Programme, which is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/erdf-programmes-progress-and-achievements
Superfast Britain is a Government programme of investment in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race. The portfolio is comprised of three elements:
For further information: https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk
BT’s purpose is to use the power of communications to make a better world. It is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed-mobile products and services.With effect from 1 April 2016, the group has been reorganised and the customer-facing lines of business are now: Global Services, Business and Public Sector, Consumer, EE, Wholesale and Ventures, and Openreach.
For the year ended 31 March 2016, BT Group’s reported revenue was £19,042m with reported profit before taxation of £3,029m.
British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.
For more information, visit www.btplc.com