Impala x Carefree: How Impala helps overworked carers to catch a break
The past two years have been hard for all of us – but they’ve been particularly hard for our carers. That’s why, for the past ten months, we’ve been putting our technology to work with the British charity Carefree to provide free hotel stays to unpaid carers.
In less busy periods, hotels often have unused rooms. Giving these away comes at nominal cost to a hotel – but for a carer, it can be life-changing. 80% of the UK’s carers are unpaid and almost half have had no time off in the past five years. What Carefree offers carers is more valuable than vouchers or things: it’s the gift of time. Not just time for themselves, but time to spend with their loved ones, who often feel the burden of care just as much.
Carefree’s CEO and CTO, Charlotte Newman and Joey Ceunen, reached out to Toby Urff at Impala after realising that we offer a way to connect with hotels with minimal tech integration.
How Impala benefits small businesses and hotels
Signing up hotels normally comes at a huge cost: Carefree would have needed to hire people to call hotels, make agreements, and find availability. But with Impala, getting started was much easier. With just one junior engineer, Carefree were able to build an integration comparable to some of the world’s biggest travel agents.
We make it easy on the hotel side too. Usually, hotels would have to sign a formal contract and send new partners all sorts of information: descriptions of the room and amenities, rate plans and photographs - not to mention making sure the tech is in place to provide live availability. But we’ve built tools that automate this process - if hotels want to work with Carefree, they just have to say yes and we take care of the rest.
We make it easy for hotels to define how many rooms they want to donate and when. Impala ensures properties only receive bookings when rooms are available, avoiding dates that are likely to be fully booked.
“It’s got to be seamless. It’s easy to see Carefree as a great proposition from an HQ perspective but we needed to make sure it wouldn’t create any logistical nightmares for General Managers on the ground” shared Thomas Greenall, CEO of Bespoke Hotels.
The gift of time
Carer Don enjoys a seaside walk during his trip to Cornwall
Faster, more efficient hotel partnerships
Eleanor Hasler, one of our Senior Product Managers, explains that making things easy for hotels greatly influenced Carefree’s decision to work with Impala. She says: “To them, it was incredibly important for the hotel’s experience to be as delightful as possible, given that it’s a big ask to say, ‘Can you give us stuff for free?’. When a hotel is giving something away for free, every small annoyance or additional operational work makes the likelihood of them dropping off exponentially higher.”
Carefree initially sent Impala a list of 30 hotels they’d like to work with. “We said we’d have them ready to go in 48 hours, and they laughed and made jokes about how ludicrous that would be,” says Hasler. “But when we started onboarding hotels, their reaction changed to, ‘Oh my God – you’re actually doing it.’” Toby Urff agrees: “They couldn’t believe it at first.”
A tech partner that’s on your side
This revelation was a game-changer for Carefree, who suddenly found their horizons widening. Startup charities can’t promise millions in revenue, so are often ignored by the bigger tech players. But with Impala, they have a partner who will learn with them and scale with them.
The Impala x Carefree collaboration kicked off with a pilot project in May. We covered the cost of the first 60 bookings; hotels received the full rate, and Carefree were able to test their carer booking hub. Initially, they weren’t sure whether they would find enough carers to book in that week – but in the end, they processed all 60 bookings in one day.
With the official launch of the partnership in late October, thousands of carers have already been offered a break. Carefree aims to make 3 million 2-night stays available every year – and with Impala, they know that they’ve got a partner they can count on at every step.