An innovative online business has beaten hundreds of competitors to be shortlisted for a prestigious national award.
Independentcottages.co.uk, based in Meopham, Kent, has been nominated for Best Rural Tourism Business in the South East, organised by the Rural Business Awards.
Founded in 2006 by husband and wife team Steve and Sarah Jarvis, Independent Cottages competes with global brands such as AirBnB, TripAdvisor and HomeAway (formerly OwnersDirect). Independent Cottages plugs a gap in the market by allowing bookings to be made directly between the holiday maker and the holiday home owner.
What sets it apart as an innovative rural business is that it does not charge booking fees, saving travelers on average £100 per holiday; nor does it charge commission, giving owners a clear pricing strategy.
Sarah said: “We are delighted to receive this nomination for the South East region. The standard of the applications is always very high, so to make it to the shortlist out of hundreds of entries is an incredible achievement, particularly as the business is run by just the two of us.
When asked what helps make their business unique, Steve explained: “We have a huge passion for the UK and we’re cottage owners ourselves, so we channel this into our business. We provide support to our customers and deliver a website that allows holiday home owners to promote their property independently.
“Our five-star reviews from our customers are testament to our commitment to our business.”
The couple, who currently have around 1,700 listings on their popular website, which range from glamping experiences to stately homes, said their main aim is to continue to deliver excellent customer service while keeping ‘staycations’ affordable.
Steve said: “We will certainly be entering more awards, especially with the FSB. We’ve been members for about ten years now. In fact we were runners up in 2012 for the FSB Streamline awards, so we will certainly be looking to enter the FSB Awards 2019!”
The Rural Business Awards recognises the hard work and dedication of businesses and business owners who are supporting the rural economy. Winners from each category will then be entered into the national final which will be held in February 2019.