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Have you REALLY looked at your web site?
Of all the bed & breakfasts I have stayed at, the ones that I've found most enjoyable are those that treat their guests as they would like to be treated. They regularly spend the night in each guest room to make sure it is comfortable. They continue to grow and change-up their menu to keep guests happy and to stimulate their own joy. Bedding, paint, and decor are regularly maintained and updated to be pleasing to the senses.
If you were to stay at an inn and return to the same room ten years later would you expect to see the same linens, towels and to eat the same breakfast? Of course not! Even historic properties could not expect to get by without updating and renewing their decor. Otherwise, what was at one time fresh and relaxing becomes dated and shabby.
The point is, even if your web site was professionally designed five or ten years ago, it also needs to be updated in order to remain engaging.
(1) Take a good and honest look at your web site through the eyes of a guest.
(2) Don't allow yourself to be prejudiced by how much you spent on the site, or how successful you believe it is.
(3) Though valuable, take guest compliments on your website with a grain of salt. People have a tendency to tell you what you want to hear. In addition, those visitor's who didn't like your web site are the same people who didn't book your rooms.
(4) Be objective - Start from the home page and work your way to making a reservation. Was it an easy process? Were your prices and policies clear? Your site should be vibrant, appealing and show you customers your property.
|10 years ago||Now|
|Opening Page||Clipart, Graphics & Company Logos||Eye popping image of your accommodations, text and keywords that improve search engine rankings.|
|Layout Flow||Large navigation buttons; no direct flow from guest rooms to reservations.||Home Page > Guest Rooms > Reservations; Area Information; Contact|
|Photos||Small images; large frames; no image tags; amateur photography||Several Large images; no frames; flash slide shows; image tags, professional photography|
|Contact||Email link, phone numbers||Online reservation forms; Real-time availability calendars/booking; prominent phone numbers on every page|
|B&B Web Design||Wallpaper backgrounds; Angels and other clipart; pencil drawings of B&B; flashing type and large fonts; designed with FrontPage (No longer available on most web servers as it is being phased out and does not comply with web standards.)||Showcasing property with clear and colorful images, easy flow to get from home page to reservation; uses HTML web standards and cascading style sheets to ensure your web site downloads quickly and looks the same in all browsers.|
|Guests||New to the internet; willing to wait to hear back from you; willing to call for reservations||Clients are Internet pros; they expect fast response to inquiries; they want innkeepers to answer the phone and/or reply to them within a few hours at most.|
The bottom line is all innkeepers must make the decision to either stay ahead of the curve and be proactive in promoting their web site, or wait until they are no longer getting reservations from their web site.
Choosing the latter choice may seem the course of wisdom but it is fraught with danger. It takes time and effort to build traffic to a web site. If you have had a website online for more than five years you enjoy certain advantages. The most beneficial being the fact that your domain may be "grandfathered" into major search engines and directories that now cost hundreds of dollars per year to list with.
Believe me, I understand it is difficult to justify spending money on anything during these tough times, but your web site IS the most affordable way to promote your business now. Ensuring you are showcasing your accommodations to their best advantage will also help you to be poised for when the economy begins to recover from its current downturn.
If you would like a FREE consultation please contact us through our web site or by calling us at 1.888.201.9743. I promise to always be honest. Even if it is not what you want to hear. I am not about selling anyone things they don't need. My business is built on the relationship I have with my clients and the community. If I were to take advantage of my clients or b&bs wanting advice my reputation would be damaged. Being a "wanna be" innkeeper, I truly enjoy seeing your businesses grow and flourish.