Life has come 'full circle' for British couple Liz Truckle and husband Paul. The couple first met in Austria 30 years ago, so when the opportunity to buy a property over there came up just three years ago, they took the plunge. Leaving family, friends and careers behind, they embarked on a brand new life adventure – running their first B&B business Landhaus Lilly. And they are clearly doing something right, having scooped the top spot in TripAdvisor's 2015 Top 25 B&Bs for Austria as well as ranking No 1 B&B in their village of Obertraun on Lake Hallstatt.
"...we use freetobook as our online room booking software and channel manager for Booking.com and Airbnb..."
Their 5 bedroomed property, located 75 minutes drive from Salzburg, is in the lake district area of Austria, just 5 kilometres from the UNESCO World Heritage site of Hallstatt. Guests have been arriving from all over the globe, with surprising numbers of Chinese and Korean visitors. "It's really interesting that not that many in the UK are familiar with this picturesque village of Hallstatt, which is home to the oldest salt mine in the world. But for the Asian tourist market, they have three places they want to stay when in Austria; Vienna, Salzburg and Hallstatt. UK guests and visitors from other English-speaking countries come to our area for sightseeing, cycling, hiking and swimming - often inspired by the scenery in the film The Sound of Music! They can also experience a variety of Christmas Markets in our region, together with skiing in the winter months."
"When we bought this really old building we had to embark on an eight-month, full-on renovation which we were trying to oversee from the UK, travelling back and forth to check the progress of the 10 strong team of workers. As the first guests arrived I was still putting room numbers onto the bedroom doors!" Liz recalls.
Before relocating to Austria, husband Paul had spent over 25 years as a police officer while Liz's varied career path included being PA to a Chief Executive and had even included a stint as an air hostess. "When working in the conference and events industry I travelled extensively staying in luxury hotels. This has helped to shape the overall experience I want to provide for our guests."
The first three months of opening were hectic with over 200 guests from over 30 countries visiting the newly opened B&B. "Our website had been professionally designed but we only had an online enquiry and room reservation form. Now we use freetobook as our online room booking software and channel manager for Booking.com and Airbnb."
" I can't believe it took me so long to make the decision to install the freetobook system. Fortunately the freetobook team were there for some 'hand holding' - answering queries and reassuring me that it really was quite straightforward! The software is so simple for me to use and the centralised diary means I can actually go on holiday or take a day off and relax, without having the stress and worry of a double booking. We also have one, simple online overview when a booking enquiry arrives. The promo codes that freetobook now offer are also a great idea to encourage guests to book directly with us, and give an incentive to returning guests."
Hosting yoga retreats is a new direction for the B&B but one that successfully taps into Liz's 18 years' experience of teaching yoga. "The big worry on leaving the UK was missing out on my practise and my students but I regularly return to lead yoga workshops. Now yoga students can also join us here for our October yoga retreat - to relax in a peaceful, natural setting and experience all that the area has to offer. Other breaks, including Meditation and Nordic walking, are also being planned …