Acorn Internet Services Question

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We are turning over every stone before we change direction with our website/hosting/booking engine revision.  While we CAN just purchase a template (WordPress/Responsive), upload to a host, and manage it from there, we have reviewed RezNexus and now we find an Acorn Internet Services.

We see from previous posts that some of you have history with Acorn, and often we are reading about "business doubling", "they know what they are doing", etc.

Can anyone give us an idea of what cost range this company is, and if you have them, how pleased are you?

Obviously, a basic hosted site with a personally-built template website, fairly well-managed by an individual B&B owner, takes time and effort to stay attuned to SEO changes.  But I would guess that there is a point at which a "professionally"-produced site, hosted by a specialization company, pays for itself in increased sales.

Any thoughts or input as we sort through this?

 

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Now in communication with RezNex/BnBWeb sites and A corn.   I'd appreciate any input on real-life experiences among you all with these two "players".  They both appear top shelf and relatively similar in cost.  So....how do they differ? 

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A co rn is top notch..always has been the leader in the industry. Res. N.  hasn't produced websites before so have no experience. But I have dealt with Jeff and he's been great. but that is with the res service. So can't say about building a site. Have they given you any examples of sites they have done. We can take a look and comment.

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Here's 3 RezNex/BnB websites.

http://www.johnsonmill.com/

http://www.wimberleyinn.com/

http://www.eastwindinn.com/

A corn below:

http://www.anewfoundbnb.com/  (This one is the lower cost level)

http://www.martinhillinn.com/

http://www.brewsterhouse.com/

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I'm not sure that last one is an Acorn site. They generally attach their info to the bottom. 'Designed by Acorn' or some such.

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http://www.wimberleyinn.com

http://www.johnsonmill.com

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If you are going this route, make sure the site you get is done in a responsive wordpress theme so that YOU will be able to edit and that it will be viewable responsively on mobile devices.

the b n b ones are not from what I can see.

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EmptyNest wrote:

If you are going this route, make sure the site you get is done in a responsive wordpress theme so that YOU will be able to edit and that it will be viewable responsively on mobile devices.

the b n b ones are not from what I can see.

Acorn made an announcement recently that all their new sites will be built as responsive.

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Just wondering here....as due diligence moves ahead and I am catching up with the wacky world of website-ing.   Having just emerged from the caccoon of first-gen, straight HTML, I am feeling sort like Rip Van Winkle just waking up.....

Anyway, it appears that trending strongly is the Responsive / WordPress combo.  I am looking for perspective on what innkeepers are doing who do not use WordPress.  Do any use Joomla or Drupal, what has the experience been, etc.  On one hand I need to fast-track my learning, on the other hand, I want to avoid paralysis of analysis. 

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Ok, I think we have told you about all we know. Are you really listening?  Forget html. Those with it still will move on their own to something else when they are good and ready and have the bucks. I don't know anyone here on anything other than Wordpress. I have looked at the others and found wp to be the one easiest to work with. If A co r n is using it, then that should answer your question.

Come on hearthstoneinn.... you are already in paralysis...Just listen and get 'er done.yes

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Still moving on the research here - no paralysis yet - I have some ground to cover as I get re-oriented to website technology.  Anyway, all websites use HTML of course - it's just a mark-up language. There are different opinions on Responsive vs Adaptive platforms.  They both address the issue of resizing/optimizing  to the device being viewed.  One is Client-side, one is Server-side (generally speaking).  Responsive is more code-intensive and potentially at a speed disadvantage. In the end - it's all relative.

In a way, this is a Coke vs. Pepsi thing.  The bottom line is really going to be does it LOOK GREAT? Is the SEO great?  Does it result in more bu$ine$$ for the owner?  Are we comfortable with the mechanics of maintenance using the Dashboard it provides? 

All I know is that we're not in HTML 1.0 anymore (like my first home-made 2000 website, complete with lulling music and animated .gifs!) and it's time for us to "get with it" ....or die on the vine!

WordPress is certainly garnering the buzz - no debate here.  But it's not the end-all of course. A few more days of analysis can be handled by me.  Then the gauntlet will be thrown down somewhere.  Best potential ROI.  A key element is also the PMS (not just booking engine) we use - so we have a critical set of decisions to make.

You all have REALLY observed a SERIOUS paradigm shift to the extreme here, and this forum has contributed tremendously, acting as a catalyst of sorts.   Wherever we end up on this journey....we're better positioned thanks to InnSpiring!

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Check your links on the first 3, because there was one place that 2 different links went to. That site is VERY basic. Is there another one you can show us?

Is it just me? I don't really love any of them. LOL

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Hitting the ground running on Mon 6/10.   I've had a virtual turnaround in website strategy during the last week - thanks to the input, now I am viewing the website as foundational to our forward progress instead of as a secondary web support to maintain our status-quo. 

Another way to put it is a perspective shift - moving from the "cost" mentality to the "business investment" mentality.  Will be talking to Acorn I-S and RezNex/BnBWebsites costing out the marketing project.

So much for my new Camaro SS/RS purchase plans.....crying  Hey ...wait....if this REALLY WORKS....

I can get TWO of 'em!yes

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I haven't read through all the comments, so sorry if I'm repeating info.  Might also want to check out Insideout Solutions. Last weekend, I stumbled across a site I loved.  Found that it was developed by them ( specialize in B&Bs). Don't know much about them, maybe others here do.

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Great to see that you are jumping in with both barrels! 

White Stone Marketing is another company to look into. 

 

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copperhead wrote:

Great to see that you are jumping in with both barrels! 

White Stone Marketing is another company to look into. 

 

Yikes... They're really good, but $$$$$$$

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I just did a 302 redirect temporarily for the dash site.  Meanwhile.....I think that I'd better get my mind off this website stuff and go to a different thread for a few laughs.....

Keep the comments flowing.  I'll be back soon enough....

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OK, your redirect gives me a pretty hideous site. Broken links, no slideshow, it's the old site that you first put out, all squiffy. It's not the site you posted the link to in this thread. Not by a long shot. And, if you are redirecting it, where are you redirecting it to?

Let me edit this...if I click the link in this thread I get one site, if I just type in the URL I get the squiffy site. You might want to look at that.

So, the redirect works if you click the link, not if you type in the URL.

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Maddy, may be a problem with your browser cache. I experienced the the "squiffy" page when clicking the link in this thread (for the "dash" site), but typing in the URL for the dash site (in a new window or tab) took me to the BuTq site. Refreshing my browser on the "squiffy" page then also took me to the BuTq site. Now clicking the link follows the re-direct.

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OK everyone....been beat up enough now...

OK, just kidding.  I'm having a major paradigm shift.  First thing Monday, Acorn Internet is getting a call from me and I'm putting the website project in the "essential/critical" category instead of our historic "nice tool to have" category.  Costing out a pro site over 5 years amounts to 10-15 room nites per year for us, assuming a $5K investment.

Also, if anyone has experience with ResNex/BNBWebsites, I'd like to hear.  I'll be doing some fast comparisons of the two before  moving ahead.  If you are aware of any other leading-edge B&B Marketing companies, I'm all ears.

In the meanwhile, I'm going to put site#2 with 1and1 into suspended animation......

If anyone else has 2 cents to throw this way, please do.  We're now in big-buck territory and I want to do this right.

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I like you Hearthstone Inn. You read. You listen. You provide feedback. Great qualities! yes

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Just put a "robots.txt" file in the home directory that disallows all user-agents from crawling the secondary site, problem solved. Google and other well-behaving spider-bots will respect that and ignore the site. When you are ready for the transfer, edit the robots.txt file to allow them in. (The other trick for a site under development is to just never publish the URL anywhere until you are ready -- the bots can't find the site if the URL is not out there somewhere that they already know about. You've already posted the link to your secondary site here, so too late for that!)

If you haven't already, set up an account with Google Webmaster Tools, do so. They will tell you virtually everything you need to fix on your site(s) in terms of page titles, etc...   There is really not a lot of magic to SEO -- fill your site with rich and meaningful content that is relevant to people searching for information about your area and looking for a place to stay, including page titles, image alt tages, and headings and subheadings on the page (all good practice for human readers as well as bots), use Google's tools to check the site for problems, and keep the site fresh.

The "magic" part is figuring out what search terms and keywords people are using to try to find what you have to offer, which you really can't obsess over too much -- if you've got the rich, meaningful content, people will find you.

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Question on the robots.txt.   Do I make the change with the domain registrar (GoDaddyo) or the host 1and1?

I'd just as soon just change the dash site back to being a :"redirect" to the main Buut website for the time being.  This way anyone who googles the dash lands on my primary site. I'll keep the 1and1 as a reference point as needed during the transition period.

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At the host. In your root directory.

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I have to disagree with this :"trick for a site under development is to just never publish the URL anywhere until you are ready."

I am working on several sites under different directories. No one knows them but me and the owner. Not published anywhere. Google has found them all. So I hurry to get them done so I can just make them live.

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That's because Google might be REALLY good friends with the IRS, CIA, FBI, EPA, and that big white house in DC....you...are...not....alone.......heh heh heh...

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Hmm, do you suppose that the spider-bots are randomly probing registered domain names to see if there is a site there, rather than following links from existing known pages? If so then the trick would be to name your "home" landing page something other than index, home (etc...) -- and maybe have a temp splash page at index or home (etc...) to throw the bots off the scent.... Still the best way would be a robots.txt file

 

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The first page of my site that got picked up was the rooms page, not the home page. Odd, right?

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Yes, thanks, that's also what I did - disallow robots

So, had 3 different things going to block the crawling!

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The Buut CMS allows me to do my own bgd, pix, content, slideshow.   Pretty basic though.

Oh....they control/own the platform.  The 1and1 is a 1and1-controlled template also.  But I have had more CMS tools to use - but AROUND the essential code.

Hence....I want again have own my own "portable" content and file as I did in "the old days" pre-Nov 2012.  I built the site, managed the content, uploaded to a host, etc.  However, it was "old-school" based on straight HTML 3.0 without any gee-whiz widgets, social, etc.

Enter Buut.  And here we are now faced with this crossroad....

We also never used a BOOKING ENGINE of any type BTW...

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Do they own the website design and the domain name is what Joey meant. If they own the design and you just copied it you won't be able to keep it. If they own your domain name they can do with it what they want when you go elsewhere. (Someone here had that very problem - the webhost owned their domain and wouldn't turn it over, they simply posted tons of ads on the site while the inn owners had to buy a new domain name and compete with their old, very visible website.)

Also, if you now have 2 sites going live with the same info, that is going to cause you grief with Google.

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I own the domains fully.  The 1and1 is intended to become the primary site - that's why I built it AFTER Buut came in.  1and1 is a host boilerplate template, ALL content is mine, the architecture is different than Buut.  They LOOK sort-of similar, but is MY color scheme that does that, MY bgd pattern, MY tabs and pages, etc.  So....I can take my toys and go home anytime.

This is why time is of the essence.  I don't want to get slammed by the crawlers with 2 similar-content sites.  I'd LOVE to get the website baby put to bed this week.  One site only, 2 URLS with one as a redirect. 1and1 was launched as my attempt to duplicate Buut's attempt at getting us up-to-speed with"digital marketing" (snappy term, huh?).  Plus, I now want a full Booking interface with our PMS (RmMaster) which Buut can't do. So....I planned to do the 1and1 thing with possibly ResKey popped in.   Now....the jury's back out on what-to-do....

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You are in VERY dangerous territory with google if you have both sites up! At this point, choose one and get the other one down. Google will penalize you for duplicate content and it's again their rules to have to sites for the same thing.

If I were you, I'd get rid of Buuu asap. This is my personal opinion mind you. They would be the last company I would go to and I hang up on them when they call and they won't take me off their call list.

With a property your size, you should pay the bucks to have a site done. I've only got 4 rooms and have had professional sites built! A site that will be YOURS. A site you can pick up and move any time you want to. Never be a hostage.

Because of the questions you've asked (nothing wrong with not knowing), I really think you need to have someone help you. Whether that be a site developed by Acorn or someone else, or pay someone to help you with a WP site, it will pay off in the end.

 

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In re the web crawls - it took Google less than a week to find my new site and start caching it back in Feb. Google alerts were showing me page after page being crawled when there wasn't even anything on them. A Google search showed me the pages they had found. I had to pw protect everything and ask the bots to not crawl the new site.

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All the more reason....TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE!  Aggghhhhh....

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Do you OWN the buut site? I mean you have the same background/color scheme etc on the new site, are they going to cause a stink about that? Just wondering.

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I am not sure what is meant by "[problems with both sites".  For one, Buuteeq has control of the HTML so any Title Bar set up is according to to THEIR professional specs.

As for the secondary 1and1 site, I fail to see an issue with Title Bar content as it is fully descriptive of who, what, and where we are.

If you could please reply here with WHAT you believe should be in the Title Bar, that would help.  At this point I am re-visiting the whole concept of our website management - fully self-managed  vs. professionally set up with just CMS-based mods.

I made the recommended changes several weeks ago as well as notifying Buuteeq.  Our 1and1 secondary site is not yet fully finished, as this is a work in progress. If our primary site has "problems" as has been stated, have a BIG problem with that too.  They are getting the big bucks with their "expert digital marketing".  I have no access to the mark-up, just the basic CMS they provide.

Keep chiming in.  I am in the process of my head getting "paradigm-shifted" with regards to the present realities of quality websites and SEO. We have 20 rooms as an independent inn.  Maybe it's time for us  to move out of template-based website hosting and into the pro-arena where Acorn and Nexus abide?  Like they say in Brooklyn....OY VEY!

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Just because a company claims they are doing things right..doesn't mean they are. Sad I just saved one of my clients over $5000 this morning. She bit on a cold call for SEO...NOOOOOOOO!!!!  Why she didn't call me to ask I don't know why..but I gave her the run down this morning along with the hosting company owner. I  have already done what they told her they would do..except give her "crummy" backlinks every month Sad

Needless to say..she is cancelling her contract. Guess I will up my invoice for consultation now Smiling

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Your title bars all say the same thing. So what. You need to use that space more creatively. Name of inn, location of inn, rooms is not creative. You can expand this to surrounding area info. 'Lodging close to ...' or 'Accommodations close to...' and insert some popular place nearby.

You can try to pull in some traffic from neighboring towns by using those town names in some of your title bars - Bike Trails in (name of town or name of bike trail). It looks like you did do some of that work compared with the comments I made previously.

Like EN said, you have 70 characters, use them!

BTW, it's not like your present hosting company doesn't know about this forum, they've been here a few times. Just saying.

 

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Pssst....Hey Buut.....ya listenin' ?????

Oh WAIT...no...sorry .....That was the IRS, the CIA and the White House....

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Truth in advertisement here. I'm an Acorn fan. They have done 2 websites for me and a mobile site... custom, not template. With the first site they did we saw a big increase in bookings and the SEO they did for us was terrific. It moved us from nowhere land to the top pages for our niche. With the second site, we saw an increase in bookings, but not as dramatic since we went from a slightly dated (but still good) to updated site.

I just read a couple of days ago that all new Acorn sites will be responsive sites.

One thing I really like about Acorn is that they have a ton of education for the innkeepers who want it. They encourage you do to as much with your site as you're comfortable with.

Yes, if you go to any of the b&b specialists for a new website you're going to pluck down at least $5,000 for a small site & much more to have a lot of pages. I took a look at both of your sites and see major problems with both. Look up at the title bar on both of your sites...totally wasted space. That should be filled with key words for your area! That's just a small example.

How many rooms do you have? I couldn't tell from your site(s). How many room nights would you need to increase to pay for a new professional site? Divide that over about 3 years (most sites need to be refreshed by then) and see if it's worth it.

Go to the Acorn site and click on "education". Read through all of them..if you're informed on most of what they're saying, then go ahead and do your own site, but if not, better have professional do it.

Your website is your single most valuable tool in your business. It's worth spending some money on it, just make sure they know what they're doing.

 

 

 

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Breakfast Diva wrote:

 I took a look at both of your sites and see major problems with both. Look up at the title bar on both of your sites...totally wasted space. That should be filled with key words for your area! That's just a small example.

 

I thought I said the same thing weeks ago.

If those changes haven't been made by now then Heart just doesn't have enough time to get the site done!

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Title display in search engines is limited to 70 chars, anything else gets truncated. The meta description will be limited to 156 chars and then truncated. (So these should be chosen carefully to reflect what you want search engines to find you.

 Keywords and phrases should be put into the text of the pages.

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Let's try this - our 1and1 website is hearthstone-inn.com with the re-directed Buuteeq booking engine.

I just created this above site 8 weeks ago to mimic the main Buuteeq site, hearthstoneinn.com with plans to jettison Buuteeq  at $300/month and install an independent booking engine.

Does our site meet the grade as it is (improved photos is a given in spots) even without the fancy fades and scrolling scribble? 

Honestly, by the looks of ALOT of other sites floating on the net, I think our 1and1 looks pretty snazzy.

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Actually, RezNexus is in bed with BnBwebsites.com, both divisions of Convoyant, LLC, which also has Destination Nexus.

Ice
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Yep I use Acorn and so glad I did.  If you don't know very much about the internet then I feel this is your best bet.

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Keep the thoughts flowing folks.  I just wonder what the reasonable "$weet $pot" is for someone who wants a web makeover with booking engine and doesn't want to spend days on end chasing bugs and keeping ahead of Google.

It SEEMS to me that there is a penny-wise/pound foolish element to current web management science - where a self-made site, more times than not, produces less sale conversion than a more "expensive" professional site, with the "professionally-built and SEO managed" site generating more verifiable result$.  This is, of course, the contention of Acorn and RezNex.  Can anyone out there confirm this from experience?

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We did have some folks on here a few years ago who did the conversion from an older site to a new acorn site and they did say they had 6 new reservations within the first day of launching. Would they have had them without the new site? You just don't know. They also had prof photos taken and that may be the biggie right there.

But, folks with huge jumps probably had really old sites with unfocused photos and pink dancing fairies. Getting everything organized in a clean layout really makes a difference to the viewer. Fingers crossed I haven't lost any traction on Google since the changeover. But, I won't say I'm bringing in the bookings like crazy, either. Pretty even with the site I had before. But, it was a good site, just a bit sloppy.

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they do a "template" quick thing i think for 3,500! and it goes up from there for customized site i know some who have paid over 7,000!

 

Res Nexus just does reservation system, not web sites.

sorry but if you think you can find a cheap site, you are mistaken. You get what you pay for. If you have skills, buy responsive theme, and do it yourself.

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EmptyNest wrote:

they do a "template" quick thing i think for 3,500! and it goes up from there for customized site i know some who have paid over 7,000!

 

Res Nexus just does reservation system, not web sites.

sorry but if you think you can find a cheap site, you are mistaken. You get what you pay for. If you have skills, buy responsive theme, and do it yourself.

I did a quick look at Res Nex... and they are now offering website building. 

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Holy Cracker Jack...$7,000!  Seriously?  Even RezNexus is less than that....do the results actually validate the "investment" at THAT level? I cringed when I saw $2900 for the Platinum BnBwebsites plan...

I thought $149/month for RezNexus was too much.

I have a REAL hard time justifying the high end when I can buy a template for $100+-, copy/paste my content, upload my photos, fill in the ALT tags and H1s, and inject my keywords.

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