It was only two years ago that Nick Bonney decided it was time to chase his own dreams and launched his travel business, No Vacancy Guide. As an award-winning creative director, author and travel addict, Nick spent nearly 15 years working in advertising agencies, focusing largely on global travel accounts.
His ambition to become a small business owner was awakened, when Nick saw there was a need to create a solution for travellers who wanted to find better accommodation experiences around the world – and hoteliers who wanted to provide them.
We caught up with Nick to find about more about life as a small business owner and entrepreneur.
Tell us a little bit more about your business
No Vacancy Guide is for anyone looking for the ultimate places to stay and visit around the world. It’s a curated selection of the hottest hotels, motels, resorts, lodges and guest houses that provide an exceptional guest experience – before arrival, during their stay and after they leave.
It all started in Japan, when I was asked by some friends to brand and market a ski lodge they had recently purchased. We took it from a run down abandoned building to the number one result on TripAdvisor in their area. So I thought, how could we do this for other small accommodation businesses at a global scale?
What was one of the biggest hurdles you faced when you first started?
One of the biggest hurdles was defining our unique selling proposition and standing out in a highly competitive industry. We had to set ourselves apart and really understand what our key value propositions were – more direct bookings for hoteliers and inspiration and value for guests looking for the world’s hottest accommodation businesses. Our hotel partners have been incredibly supportive but it does take time to earn their trust.
So what does set your business apart from the competition?
We help hotelier’s around the world achieve ’no vacancy’ with a variety of tools, education and direct booking system.
For guests, we offer a curated list of the coolest places to stay and experience. When they are ready to book, we offer the best value by avoiding third party commission fees and keeping the best packages for booking directly. We are adding to the list daily, but there’s a long road ahead of us.
What do you enjoy about running your own business?
The freedom and the amazing people I’ve had the opportunity to meet. We have developed a really great culture with a team of exceptional talent and passionate people.
You decided early on to use QuickBooks to manage your business finances. Why?
Easy. There’s no way I could build a globally-focused business without an accounting solution I can take anywhere in the world. QuickBooks has the best app, which allows me to keep track of my expenses when I’m on the road. It feels like QuickBooks has my back even when I’m not in the country.
What feature/s of QuickBooks Online do you use the most?
For me personally, it’s expenses. I have a lot of travel expenses and I used to lose all of my receipts. My finance team hated me for it. Now, the books are balanced every month and everyone is happy.
Why did you turn to a digital account software solution?
I had to have something I could use anywhere in the world. I don’t always have my laptop with me, so being able to check my phone for an account information or quickly dive into my analytics when I’m with a client is very important.
It’s tough starting your own business. What advice would you give fellow entrepreneurs hoping to start their own venture in 2019?
Focus on solving your customer problems first and foremost. If you do this right, everything else will fit into place. Drive, commitment and passion are all very important but if you don’t love what you are doing and have a lot of fun along way, then do something different. Also, don’t forget what’s really important in life – family, friends and a sunset beer.