We shine the spotlight on Bookings For You, specialising in holidays in the Italian Lakes, Florence, Tuscany, Umbria, Lazio & Sardinia.

Bookings For You is a website offering holiday villas and apartments to rent all over Italy, with over 300 properties to rent across several regions, including the Italian Lakes, Tuscany, Umbria, Puglia and Le Marche. The company intentionally cater for all budgets, group sizes and tastes and prides itself on a very personal and high level of customer service. Founder, Jo Mackay tells us more...

What was the inspiration for the site?

The site was launched after a two week holiday in Italy. At the time, I was on maternity leave and was conscious that my existing employer was probably not able to provide the flexibility I was looking for in terms of working hours. After the most wonderful fortnight in the Italian Lakes, I developed a real passion for all things Italian but felt that, at that time, there was a gap in the market for self-catering properties and for companies who provided good advice and good local knowledge of the area. Italy is such a wonderful country but I found that the Italians just didn’t sell themselves and we found it almost impossible to find out about what to see and do in the area during our holiday there. As a result, I wanted to be able to provide holidaymakers with not just great accommodation but also the extra advice and information needed for them to really make the most of their stay in this beautiful country.

When did you launch the site?

We launched the site back in May 2011.

What are your greatest challenges?

As a mother of two, the greatest challenge has been managing to successfully juggle work and family life. I also find that, as a small company, we constantly strive to appear bigger than we are. And yet, our real point of difference that sets us apart from the competition is the personal level of service. It’s a massive challenge to retain this personal service level as the company grows but one we’re managing to do!!

What's your background?

After studying History at Edinburgh University, I joined Procter & Gamble as part of their Sales and Marketing team. I spent eight years working for the company, mostly based out of their Head Office in Weybridge, Surrey. During that time, I worked on a number of global brands including their laundry, haircare and feminine hygiene businesses. Family has always been really important to me and I always hoped to have children; I knew that I wanted to spend as much time at home with them as possible. Working for a large global company didn’t provide the flexibility to juggle home and work life as I wanted to and so, after being inspired by a holiday in Italian and developing a passion for all things Italian, I looked to set up a business that would provide me with the challenges and enjoyment of working whilst allowing me to spend the time I wanted with my family.

Who do you admire in business?

I had the pleasure of hearing Annabel Karmel speak last year and what she said really hit a chord with me. I admired her story, her approach to business and humility. As corny as it sounds, I also massively admire my husband’s business acumen. Whilst he is in a completely different area of business to me, I admire the way in which he approaches his work and do enormously appreciate his advice when I need a sounding board for Bookings For You. I hope that I have managed to make him feel proud of my achievements running the business.

Please recommend a website that helps you promote or run your business

The key thing for us as a business is to be able to respond to guests quickly. Therefore, I couldn’t do without my website provider and booking system app which enables me to liaise with guests on their bookings quickly and easily even when out of the office.

What is the best piece of business advice you've been given?

I am a firm believer that hard work will reap its rewards. Running your own business will require long hours and dedication but the rewards you get in return far exceed the sense of achievement I ever got from working from a big multi-national.

What is your motto?

Sorry, but I don’t think I have a motto! However, if it helps, I like to have a positive attitude to life, and definitely look on the bright side of things.

Where do you see the business going from here?

We have always wanted to offer a broad range of Italian destinations for people to choose from and still have some work to do to offer a wider range of choice in some of our smaller holiday destinations such as the Amalfi Coast and Sardinia. However, we also hope to expand into France in the next two to three years. We have so many customers that choose to re-book with us again and again, but we recognise that not everyone wants to keep visiting the same country. The world is a big place after all so

Where did you hear about The GWG Awards?

I have always been aware of The Good Web Guide and admire what the site stands for, seeking out the best of what is online. My frustration when booking the holiday in Italy that led to the creation of Bookings For You was the lack of good online information so any business whose aim is to highlight those sites who provide outstanding information or who provides superb levels of service gets a big thumbs up from me.

August 2016