We are Michel and Asja, a Belgian couple who run a traditional chambre d’hote – or bed and breakfast – in the heart of Burgundy, France. La Maison de Souhey is a five bedroom, fully renovated, luxury farmhouse that sits on a 16-hectare site. Although it exists in a haven of tranquillity, there are still plenty of activities available. If guests want an adventure, they can have one.
After running a successful software company in Belgium, we wanted a place where Michel could share his passions – including flying, equestrianism and gastronomy – with others. This fit perfectly with Asja’s passion for travelling, and her career change made it possible to care for our guests while working remotely in language education and international communications.
Set up for success
We bought the property in 2018 and spent two years fully renovating it. Just when we were ready to launch, Coronavirus (COVID-19) hit. So, in a sense, La Maison de Souhey is only really in its second year.
Yet it’s already been a success. One of the first things we did, even before setting up our own website, was to partner with Booking.com. It was very easy. You upload your property pictures, put in your descriptions, and bookings start to come in immediately. It’s like jumping on a moving train - everything is already in motion. You find that all of the marketing is done for you, and guests begin to arrive.
By partnering with Booking.com it means we get to concentrate on our core business, not on the marketing side. Everything is so well set up: you welcome your guests, get good reviews – and from there things just snowball.
Global visibility and exposure
We’ve always felt that Booking.com was the best in the business - that’s why we partnered with them, the choice was obvious. It’s also why when we travel, it’s our platform of choice. It’s just so easy to use.
Nowadays when we go away, we tend to go to places where they are doing the same as us. We want to see how other hosts do things. It’s always interesting to learn what we could do better. It’s inspiring. Everywhere we go, we learn. In cooking, in this business, in everything.
We like to say that “we’re not visiting the world, but the world is visiting us.” We’ve had guests from across the globe – from Australia, North America, Japan and throughout Europe – and we love seeing them interact, mix together and eat together.
A bed and breakfast is different from a hotel. We would say it’s more relaxed. The secret of our success lies in our authenticity. We can be ourselves and so can our guests. We see the people who come to stay with us as guests, not customers. We love meeting people from everywhere. Booking.com really helps with that visibility and exposure and helps give us a global presence.
Booking.com boosts our occupancy throughout the year
We’re situated in a very pretty area of Burgundy and guests are drawn here by the beauty and peace. The movie Chocolat was filmed in nearby Flavigny-sur-Ozerain – almost in our back garden. But while people who come to stay are attracted by the food and activities and the tranquillity, we’re also well positioned for those driving down to the south of France and Spain from northern Europe.
As such, we have people on the road who will make last-minute bookings with us when they need a rest. We can say that almost 100% of these bookings come from Booking.com. Without a doubt, Booking.com makes up the biggest share of our bookings across all platforms, accounting for 30-40%. Only yesterday we had just two of our five rooms booked out. And today? We’re fully booked. That’s thanks to Booking.com.
To be honest, we prefer it if guests can stay for longer to get the full experience – but these overnight stays are still very good for us and our occupancy rate. Plus, many guests who stay for just one night like the place so much that they make the effort to come back and stay for longer.
Launching the Loft de Souhey
In May of this year, we launched the Loft de Souhey. This luxurious loft overlooks the pool and features two double bedrooms, arcade games, a home cinema and a private terrace.
It’s not yet rivalling Maison de Souhey in terms of reviews because it’s so new, but we’re confident that it will be a success. We’re very happy with our 9.4 rating (considered ‘superb’) on Booking.com, and our partnership has helped us get such great reviews.
As with any partnership, there is always room for improvement – both sides have to work on making things better all of the time. Overall, though, the partnership has been a happy and very successful one. Booking.com accounts for our largest share of guests and has helped get us where we are today. If other property owners want to partner with Booking.com, and welcome guests from all over the world, we say they should go for it.
- La Maison de Souhey began to get bookings immediately after partnering with Booking.com
- Partnering with Booking.com allows them to focus on their core business as the marketing is taken care of for them
- Booking.com’s global presence has helped La Maison de Souhey reach travellers from around the world
- Almost 100% of their last-minute guests come through Booking.com, helping to fill otherwise empty rooms