Book direct message from Cornish B&B as Kickstart Scheme funds new website

By Polraen Country House - 27th April 2021

Polraen Country House, a family run hotel Bed and Breakfast near Looe, has launched a brand new mobile friendly website funded by a successful grant application from the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Kickstart Grant Scheme – which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). 

Owners Gill and Martin Bridges, applied for the grant to support its recovery from the covid 19 lockdown periods which severely impacted turnover. The country house hotel B&B in the Looe Valley is due to re open on May 17, now with the benefit of a new mobile friendly website specifically designed to encourage visitors to book direct.

The new website has been designed to convert online lookers into bookers and keep the holiday spend of armchair browsers in the pockets of Cornish trousers! Polraen’s owners, Gill and Martin Bridges,  said: “Based on last summer’s experience, we knew that the huge demand for Cornwall meant we could expect to fill rooms by focussing on direct sales.  Many visitors booking via online travel agents (OTA) are shocked to learn that 15% or more of their holiday accommodation spend is taken by the global giants in commission. Visitors would far rather their money was staying local.” Through special offers, Polraen is providing better value to consumers booking direct rather than losing 15% in commission to online travel agents. Last year, they sold a much higher share of occupancy for longer stays to direct customers without paying high commission rates which severely impact on profitability.

Gill Bridges said: “We were thrilled to qualify for this grant via our involvement with the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Growth Hub as our old website could not compete effectively in the online arena. Having lost so much of last season in lockdown, we couldn’t afford the investment ourselves but the grant came along at a perfect time, benefitting not only Polraen but also our web designer – Liskeard based Mind’s Eye Design.”

The website was designed by Chris Halls of Mind’s Eye Design - a small agency based in Liskeard, which has benefitted from the ERDF by virtue of passing on the benefit of a grant funded project to employ the services of another local business . He said: “Working closely with Gill at Polraen, we have brought out the unique selling points of this historic property, showcasing its charm and the services that make Polraen so much more than a B&B. Not only is the website easy for Gill to manage and update but we are very confident it will achieve greater conversions in terms of visitor bookings and enquiries due to everything being designed specifically to make booking direct, simpler and quicker.”

The new website means the business can build upon its direct marketing strategy with the goal of improving profitability. Gill Bridges added: “In a year when hospitality has really taken a beating from the pandemic, if we all focus on more direct sales, we keep more profits in the pocket of local businesses. For too long, the OTAs have been draining a disproportionate amount of the revenue Cornwall earns from its tourism industry.  Now more than ever, we need to keep profits in the pockets of small independent businesses and circulating within the Cornish economy.”

The new website for Polraen Country House showcases the unique appeal of this former historic coaching inn with onsite parking in the Looe Valley. It highlights not only its 5 bed and breakfast rooms but also its licensed facilities with an extensive garden promoting Polraen as a local venue for small weddings and bespoke functions.

The Kickstart scheme is managed by Cornwall Development Company and delivered through the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Growth Hub. Operations Director Stu Anderson said “The grants were made available to help businesses access specialist professional advice or to purchase new equipment or technology to support their COVID recovery.  By developing a new website to maximise their profitability, Polraen has placed itself in a great position to take full advantage of what we hope will be a successful season for our tourism sector.”

In a year when hospitality has really taken a beating from the pandemic, if we all focus on more direct sales, we keep more profits in the pocket of local businesses.

Gill Bridges, Owner
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