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 travellers 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.

“We offer excellent support for our customers with completely transparent listing fees, which in turn helps holidaymakers save money. No booking fees or commission means money that may have otherwise been diverted to a global corporation stays in the holidaymaker’s pocket and can be spent on holiday instead.

“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.

Sarah added: “Our business model is lean and technology-led. We work as a two-person team and use local and rural businesses for additional services. Our website and supporting systems are developed in-house. Our unique approach is that the website is easy to use, the cottage owners get results and our pricing strategy makes it affordable and encourages guests to take ‘staycations’ here in the UK.”

The Rural Business Awards recognises the hard work and dedication of businesses and business owners who are supporting the rural economy. The Rural Business Awards South East will be held on 23rd October at Denbies Wine Estate in Surrey.

Winners from each category will then be entered into the national final which will be held in February 2019.

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Editors Notes:

Photo: Sarah and Steve Jarvis at work in Meopham

For more information contact Steve and Sarah Jarvis on 01474 816660.

Find out more about the Rural Business Awards here: https://www.ruralbusinessawards.co.uk/south-east/
For the first time in the history of the awards, the Rural Business Awards now have regional heats before the grand final in February 2019.

Find out more about Independent Cottages: https://www.independentcottages.co.uk
Their website currently lists around 1,700 properties across the UK.
The aim is to make UK self-catering holidays more affordable.