Caraferme: The campsite boosting bookings through lockdown
"The desire to try the adventure in tourism was circling in our heads, we imagined a bed and breakfast, but without really having a clear idea of where or how" remembers Nicolas. The idea finally came to life when the forty-something living in Paris, barista in a bar during the week, founded Caraferme with his husband, Sébastien, a trained florist. Nestled a stone's throw away from the Perche, the farmhouse includes the couple's house, a swimming pool, along with a selection of animals including sheep, guinea pigs, goats and donkeys. For almost a year now, the couple have also installed two renovated caravans from the 1970s.
The idea of Caraferme was born in the summer of 2019, after a week's vacation in a van with locals in the Basque Country. In September 2019, the project took shape around two ideas: gamping (a contraction of camping and garden) on part of their garden, and the two guest caravans. The couple were happy with what they had to offer, but were unsure of how to expand the reach of their offering. "We weren't very connected with digital tools," smiles Nicolas.
The epidemic and lockdown that hit the world in the spring of 2020 gave them time to fine-tune the installation. But when the lockdown loomed, it was about being ready and making yourself known. A friend directed them to the Google Digital Workshops in Montpellier, for online training. “The fact that it's free allowed us to go for it,” says Nicolas, “we learned to use Google tools, and in particular Google My Business, to boost our online traffic. "And from there, 500 views in the first week quickly turned to 1000" adds Sébastien. Thanks to this boost, Caraferme ran at full speed during the summer. This accelerated digital transition allowed them to be more accessible - appearing on Google Maps. But the two entrepreneurs were not going to stop there, with plans already for the next season, which should open around next April. "We really like unusual accommodation, and we would like to install a yurt" announces Nicolas. "We value this friendly and family side ... We want to stay small and keep the original spirit and soul of our original campsite."