Has anyone tried to put together their website before their inn was complete?

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I'm trying to get our website up, though our inn is still under construction.

I want to have a page about our rooms with a room description and a picture (in the future, of the room, of course). 

What have others done for a room pictures if you don't have a room?  I was thinking of taking a closeup of a made up bed (pillow meets the coverlet).  Other thoughts?

seashanty's picture
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 i also love the idea of a blog button ... 'see our progress' ... linked right there on the website.  

lots of people love that and even will email with suggestions, so funny!  

as in ... '' the coffee colored walls in the breakfast room are nice, but i think you should go with seafoam.  i used this in my dining room and can send you a paint swatch. ''  

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Almost all of the innkeepers that I know who had start-up B&Bs put up a website well in advance of opening their property.  They updated their progress and marketed from the get-go.

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seashanty's picture
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Cafe Mae

I did exactly what you are saying.

We were renovating an old run down place and I could not show the actual rooms ... also, we did not yet have our permit and license and I was terrified that I'd take reservations for the coming season and would have to cancel everyone!

(But, it all worked out.) I convinced the state inspector to take it on faith that the dishwasher and oven/stove would be in place before we opened.  (Instead of the gaping holes he saw)

For room pictures, I made up one bed at a time (MINE) with the linens I had planned to use and I put a tray on one, an overturned book on another.  Chairs for another. I used these pictures and explained where the rooms were located and what they had and then out the window shots. 

I actually used food photos I bought online for $1 a piece. I knew what I planned to serve, so I went with similar pictures. I bought dishes so was able to use one of those. I had exterior pictures of the place and used those as well.  I think I bought a stock photo of a bed with linens on it and a head board that looked just like one I had. 

The biggest mistake I made was at first I bought a website template with a picture on the top that I thought folks would know was just a random picture. WRONG.  People asked me if that was the view from the place and I had to get rid of it.

Best of luck to you.

 

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seashanty wrote:

Cafe Mae

I did exactly what you are saying.

We were renovating an old run down place and I could not show the actual rooms ... also, we did not yet have our permit and license and I was terrified that I'd take reservations for the coming season and would have to cancel everyone!

(But, it all worked out.) I convinced the state inspector to take it on faith that the dishwasher and oven/stove would be in place before we opened.  (Instead of the gaping holes he saw)

For room pictures, I made up one bed at a time (MINE) with the linens I had planned to use and I put a tray on one, an overturned book on another.  Chairs for another. I used these pictures and explained where the rooms were located and what they had and then out the window shots. 

I actually used food photos I bought online for $1 a piece. I knew what I planned to serve, so I went with similar pictures. I bought dishes so was able to use one of those. I had exterior pictures of the place and used those as well.  I think I bought a stock photo of a bed with linens on it and a head board that looked just like one I had. 

The biggest mistake I made was at first I bought a website template with a picture on the top that I thought folks would know was just a random picture. WRONG.  People asked me if that was the view from the place and I had to get rid of it.

Best of luck to you.

 

That's great advice!  I wish I would have checked out some online food photos yesterday before my efforts yesterday, and what I will term as "the coffee incident"

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As an aside, remember whenever you're testing Google search results, make sure you are logged out of any Google accounts (e.g. gmail) that you might have. You may also want to clear all your cookies, and, if you are really paranoid, try a different computer at a different network access point. Big Brother IS watching you, and uses that information to tailor the search results you get, so if you really want to see where you stand in a generic search, you need to make sure that you and your computer are not identifiable.

Your blog posts may rank highly because Google thinks those are what you are looking for based on your having visited those pages before, etc., etc...

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swirt's picture
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 Absolutely get a website up to get the clock ticking on your website history.

Collect email addresses from anyone interested in knowing more, once you are open.

Start writing about your points of interest in your area.  

Don't obsess too much about the rooms pages right now.  They are rarely of SEO importance.  As a couple people mentioned, don't say that your website is under construction, but mentioning that your rooms are under construction is fine.

I'd even go so far as to recommend either other places to stay while yours is under construction or another resource for them to find places to stay in your area. (specific places to stay is preferable to linking to a regional directory)

Arkansawyer wrote:
As long as you regulary mention your town and your inn in the blog posts, a blog will move you up the search engine ladder a lot more than the main website, which is rarely updated and thus of lower SEO priority.

For any given short -tail search like [town-xyz bed and breakfast] the top ten listings are very rarely a blog and are not there because they are the freshest.  Don't get me wrong, a blog can help things in a lot of ways, but to say that due to its freshness that it will rocket past the main website is off base.

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swirt wrote:

 For any given short -tail search like [town-xyz bed and breakfast] the top ten listings are very rarely a blog and are not there because they are the freshest.  Don't get me wrong, a blog can help things in a lot of ways, but to say that due to its freshness that it will rocket past the main website is off base.

I can only speak from person experience (which is pretty much nil). There are no B&Bs currently in my town. Before I started blogging, if you searched for a B&B in my town, Google brought up B&Bs 35 to 45 miles from us. Since I started the blog, the top 5 results for B&B in my town are quotes from my blog. And NONE of the results is my actual website telling about the places I'm going to open here in a few months. It's only interested in the recent blog posts.

So I don't know. Maybe what I'm seeing is different from what someone from a distant location might get with the same search terms.

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swirt's picture
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When I search [your town state b&b] I get one reference to your blog in the top 10. When I do [your town state bed and breakfast] I get no reference to your blog or your site. The results you are seeing might be tailored to you and not indicative of what the rest of the world is seeing.

I mean no insult, but really, the reason your blog is outpacing your main site for the terms of B&B or Bed and Breakfast is simply that your main site really isn't targetting those terms, while your blog is. The results you are seeing is not the result of a blog being super fresh and powerful, but your main site being either poorly tuned, or just targetting completely differernt terms.

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swirt wrote:

...your main site really isn't targetting those terms, while your blog is. The results you are seeing is not the result of a blog being super fresh and powerful, but your main site being either poorly tuned, or just targetting completely differernt terms.

Yes, it's hard to have a B&B site when you don't yet have a B&B. Going back to the original post, yes, establishing a website before you open is of benefit, but it's hard to take full advantage until it's all "for real".

Cbz
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You can  have a few pictures of the common meeting place, breakfast area, outside sitting area,  areas of interest, drawing/dining area, and some decorated classic corner picture put up which will help the potential guests get a feel of the surroundings & your place in general.  Add a brief description of individual rooms (if that is how you intend selling them) and/or a floor wise decription.

It's only the main room images you are missing - other pages like how to book, location & direction, house rules (if any) & cancellation policies and contact page can be put up. This also allows major search engines to mark up your website  & place it accordingly by the time you are all set to add the images in the gallery/room description page of your website.

 

Arks's picture
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Avoid the "website under construction" notes on your website, but nothing wrong with saying you inn is under construction.

Start a blog. Blog about the project, plus some stuff you'd blog about anyway if the inn were open. As long as you regulary mention your town and your inn in the blog posts, a blog will move you up the search engine ladder a lot more than the main website, which is rarely updated and thus of lower SEO priority.

Madeleine's picture
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One of the blog posts on here the other day said to avoid the 'site under construction' icons.

You can use this time to decide on colors you want. (I've changed 3 times already.) Font. Layout. You can play with it a lot right now. Not so much when you're busy busy.

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I know of one from this forum who is doing this now and has placeholder images, architectural drawings etc. Construction images, as they progress are always fun.  You can work on your logo and put that on the website, and information about the inn to come, the innkeepers, what you will be offering. 

Do you live in the same vicinity NOW as the inn being built Cafemae? If so get your sights of interest pages, maps, amenities, and more on the site. That is what I would do. And most importantly imo, put a nice header saying "We look forward to serving you here at the CafemaeB&B!" or whatever the name will be.

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Joey Bloggs wrote:

I know of one from this forum who is doing this now and has placeholder images, architectural drawings etc. Construction images, as they progress are always fun.  You can work on your logo and put that on the website, and information about the inn to come, the innkeepers, what you will be offering. 

Do you live in the same vicinity NOW as the inn being built Cafemae? If so get your sights of interest pages, maps, amenities, and more on the site. That is what I would do. And most importantly imo, put a nice header saying "We look forward to serving you here at the CafemaeB&B!" or whatever the name will be.

Hah!  I just finally, after I don't know how many revisions, developed the perfect logo - er, at least for this month.  You don't know how proud I am of this 100 pixel image.  It's taken the most time of any web considerations so far.

I have most of the basic content written, hoping to get this up over the next two weekends, but got stuck on this room thing. 

Your "coming soon" message is beautiful. 

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CafeMae wrote:

Joey Bloggs wrote:

I know of one from this forum who is doing this now and has placeholder images, architectural drawings etc. Construction images, as they progress are always fun.  You can work on your logo and put that on the website, and information about the inn to come, the innkeepers, what you will be offering. 

Do you live in the same vicinity NOW as the inn being built Cafemae? If so get your sights of interest pages, maps, amenities, and more on the site. That is what I would do. And most importantly imo, put a nice header saying "We look forward to serving you here at the CafemaeB&B!" or whatever the name will be.

Hah!  I just finally, after I don't know how many revisions, developed the perfect logo - er, at least for this month.  You don't know how proud I am of this 100 pixel image.  . 

From my DH this morning.  "Sorry, hon, hate the logo."   Arg...

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 If you want to get a few options for a logo done by graphic designers, the cheapest place to go is a site like Fiverr where you pay $5 to work with a designer (possibly a student trying to build a portfolio, a professional doing work for fun, etc). You can get 3-5 sketches of a logo done in short time, choose one, and develop it further. 

For more professional designs, try 99designs. People will bid on your job with designs and then you get to choose one to work with. I have heard very few complaints about the finished work from there.

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fsconsult wrote:

For more professional designs, try 99designs. People will bid on your job with designs and then you get to choose one to work with. I have heard very few complaints about the finished work from there.

I got mine through 99designs and was very pleased with the whole process.

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Arkansawyer wrote:

fsconsult wrote:

For more professional designs, try 99designs. People will bid on your job with designs and then you get to choose one to work with. I have heard very few complaints about the finished work from there.

I got mine through 99designs and was very pleased with the whole process.

Thanks guys.  Arkansas, saw your earlier thread on logos, it's good to know who you went with.

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04/21/2010

It is good to start a google presence as soon as possible. So yes try and get the main pages up and flesh it out. Changing stuff later is probably helpful with google so no worries there.

Joey Camb's picture
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Id do the same it never hurts to have something up even if its just a - we are under construction and will add photos as our newly refurbished bedrooms are finished keep checking for more info or become friends with us on facebook to receive updates, info and photos as they come avaliable etc. See no reason why you shouldn't be marketing. Also may be worth setting up a mailiing list opt in ie join our mailing list for info about our rooms, facilities and opening dates/special offers etc.

Plus people are super weird they love it when they see the before and after photos.  Take lots while you are under construction and make a folder for guests to look at as well as any weird things ie bottles you find.

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camberleyhotelharrogate@yahoo.co.uk wrote:

Plus people are super weird they love it when they see the before and after photos.  Take lots while you are under construction and make a folder for guests to look at as well as any weird things ie bottles you find.

 

Weird things...hmmm...hadn't thought about that,  good idea.   

EmptyNest's picture
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05/22/2008

 Kind of hard if you don't have rooms....but if you really want to get a room page up something like that would work. Just explain BRIEFLY. The house is under construction and real images will be posted when ready.

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catlady wrote:

 Kind of hard if you don't have rooms....but if you really want to get a room page up something like that would work. Just explain BRIEFLY. The house is under construction and real images will be posted when ready.

Yup, it is!  And it is kind of silly.  But I do want to get something up, so I can start having a web presence, and open up for reservations for the coming summer season.

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