The online entrepreneur who is taking the holiday industry by storm
Crowned Gwynedd Business Person of the Year earlier in 2013, Gwion Llwyd launched Dioni Holiday Cottages, an online letting agency for premier self-catering properties, three years ago with just his own property and those of a handful of friends and family. Now with 62 premier cottages under his belt all set in stunning locations around Snowdonia, Dioni attracts more than 5,000 visitors a year to what he calls ‘the best little corner of the world’, even from as far afield as Russia and Iceland.
Secret weapon 1: social media
Such rapid growth has not happened by chance and Gwion recognises two significant factors that have helped advance the business. He says: “For us it has been about marketing our cottages through the effective use of social media, for example on YouTube using the latest technology to create walk through videos for each property and backing that up by making sure we never miss a telephone call into the business.
Secret weapon 2: telephone answering
“While online booking is an easy option for many, there are always customers who prefer the more personal touch on the phone and we know that 80% of our callers are specifically wanting to make a booking. My wife Louise runs a B&B on site at our family farm and I am busy here and there, so we can’t always get to the phone. We made the decision in February 2012 to use telephone answering specialists Moneypenny to take overflow calls for us so we know we are never missing a call and I can respond to all enquiries or messages in a far more efficient and time-effective way than before.”
With beautiful stone farmhouses, stunning conversions and even glamping opportunities available, Dioni is set to grow and grow. One of their latest acquisitions in Dolgellau is Hywel Sele Lodge, a property bursting with history. Hywel Sele famously attempted to assassinate his rebellious cousin Owain Glyndwr during a hunting expedition. Glyndwr, wary of his royalist relative was protected from Hywel’s deadly arrow by the chain mail he wore hidden under his tunic. Glyndwr turned to slay his cousin, later hiding his body in a hollow oak tree on the Nanau deer park where the lodge still stands.
Gwion adds: “We are fortunate to attract many repeat customers who appreciate the efforts we make to look after people and build good relationships. Doing good business is not about who can shout loudest anymore, it’s about communicating well and giving excellent customer service. It’s also about accepting sometimes that you can’t always do everything yourself and that there are business solutions out there that can make a huge difference.”
Gwion and Louise of Dioni Holiday Cottages rely on Laurie, their Moneypenny PA, to look after calls they can’t get to; from booking enquiries to lost keys and directions, Laurie works just as if she’s based in their office, ensuring every customer receives the very best customer service.
Tell me more about telephone answering.