Essential Elements for Your B&B Website

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Essential Elements for Your B&B Website

 

Open for discussion. Your thoughts? Brian is here on the forum at times, he may be interested in the feedback. 

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LaurenRains's picture
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Hey guys!

This conversation took off in an interesting direction, ey?! So, here is a list of a few of the essentials for some of the best B&B website designs I've seen.

 

1.) Large Homepage Slideshow showcasing QUALITY photos of B&B interior, exterior, & surrounding area.

---> When I say quality, I mean it's worth it to bring in a professional photographer rather than doing it the good ole' DIY method with your iPhone. The photos will go a long way drawing people into your B&B immediately when they get to the website.

2.) Set the slideshow speed to be fairly quick. This is a helpful little trick to let customers see more of your B&B upon visiting your site, before they leave.

3.) CLEAR CALL TO ACTION. This is one of the most important aspects of any website in general. The key to a good website is that people shouldn't have to think. The Main CTAs should be A.) To Book, B.) Check Availability and C.) Entice with specials and deals. Furthermore, the more obvious the answers to their questions are, the more time it saves you not having to answer that which is readily available on the website. People want their answers ASAP on a website, and even just a moment of searching will lead them to stop. 

4.) Look and Feel: Similar to what Madeline said above - your look and feel should showcase the vibe and atmosphere of your B&B. If you own a B&B along the Delaware River that works with rafting and kayaking companies and appeals to the outdoorsy traveler, then your website should showcase this type of personality, and also make it obvious that it caters to those with that interest. If you run a B&B in the middle of the mountains equipped with massage packages and a honey moon sweet, then your website should showcase this elegance and luxury. People are very visual, and as you already noted, don't like to read to find out about your B&B. It should say it all in the branding.

5.) TIP: Showcase the seasons. If you're operating a B&B that has 4 seasons, flip out the photos to prepare for each one. It'll let people visualize their experience at that time and entice them to book with you more. If a guest wants a winter getaway in Vermont, they want to see a warm fire with snow outside and hot chocolate, not lemonade glasses on the desk during a hot summer day, and visa versa. 

What do you guys think? 

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LAUREN RAINS
Owner & Head Web Designer: Wild World Creative: Web Experts in the Travel Industry || http://www.WildWorldCreative.com ||

 

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YOu are preaching to the choir here. We all know this information. But it will be helpful to those just dropping in and not regulars.

LaurenRains's picture
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...or people just getting into the industry. Marketing, and online marketing in general, as well as website changes and how it affects conversion rate, is not as intuitive to some as it is to others. It's also just fun to talk about and get people sharing what's been working for them. 

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LaurenRains wrote:

What do you guys think? 

I think it's great advice, much of which we've discussed before, but good to refresh, plus help folks who haven't been here as long as others.

Regarding slideshow time, do you have a number of seconds you recommend? It's definitely a balance between trying to show lots in the few seconds people stay on the page, and the frustration you can cause people who want to examine something in a photo and it changes too quickly!

Of course, most slideshows these days pause if you click a photo, but not everybody knows to do that.

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Madeleine's picture
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Arkansawyer wrote:

LaurenRains wrote:

What do you guys think? 

 It's definitely a balance between trying to show lots in the few seconds people stay on the page, and the frustration you can cause people who want to examine something in a photo and it changes too quickly!

 

It's stopped now but when I first put up the slideshow (and I did have some of the gang here test the speed) I had callers saying the slideshow went too quickly and they couldn't pick the room they wanted. Sigh. All of the same photos were a mere scroll away down the page. They thought the slideshow was it. Never saw the amenities, prices, nothing.

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It definitely is a magic number! Here are a few of my thoughts on slideshows. I absolutely LOVE them on websites, but there are a few things to think about 

1.) The Slideshow Purpose: If you want the purpose of your slideshow to be a way for people to view rooms and therefore click on a button call to action that would read "book now" then yes, the slideshow should go slower. If, on the other hand, the purpose of the slideshow is to give viewers an overview of the B&B, then it can go quicker. The slides don't necessarily have to book to anything, and can be seen as just a slideshow. If this is done, then I'd recommend immediately below the slideshow placing a tagline and button call to action that lets people view rooms and availability. 

2.) Pause on Hover: Some slideshows (nearly all that use wordpress today im not sure about Joomla or Drupal if that's what you use) are set to automatically pause when a viewer hovers over the image with their cursor. Oftentimes, we do this subconsciously. Furthermore, if it's the kind of slideshow where you want people to click, they'll obviously be moving their cursor over to the image, and they'll be less likely to miss it.

3.) Thumbnails: Another option is to add small thumbnails below the slideshow that people can click to go back and forth between. You can make them smaller so they don't take up too much essential space on the homepage. There are some slideshows that will have drop-down thumbs once you hover over the slideshow as well. The real estate of the homepage is essential, so, choose wisely!

4.) Slider Navigation: the other option is a simple slider navigation but arrows on either side or at the bottom so people can flip through themselves even if you have it set to automatic. 

5.) Set a different speed for 1st slide. Some wordpress sliders will let you set a different speed for the first slide. This means that for the first slide, you can set it to just 2 seconds until it transitions to the next slide, now pulling the viewer in, and the other slides will now transition at 4 seconds.

6.) Dynamic Slideshows: Slideshows don't just have to be one full-width image rotating, though there's nothing wrong with that. Done correctly, you can have text drop in, possibly reading the "name of the room" or "name of package" or "special holiday deal". If you do this, you'll like want to make it so the slideshow will link to its respected landing page. 

Hope this helps in the world of slideshows! Would love to hear your thoughts on some of these points, or if you have any slideshows that include these features please share the link so we can check them out. I have a few I can show you guys once I grab the links! 

Have sliding!

- Lauren 

LaurenRains's picture
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It definitely is a magic number! Here are a few of my thoughts on slideshows. I absolutely LOVE them on websites, but there are a few things to think about 

1.) The Slideshow Purpose: If you want the purpose of your slideshow to be a way for people to view rooms and therefore click on a button call to action that would read "book now" then yes, the slideshow should go slower. If, on the other hand, the purpose of the slideshow is to give viewers an overview of the B&B, then it can go quicker. The slides don't necessarily have to book to anything, and can be seen as just a slideshow. If this is done, then I'd recommend immediately below the slideshow placing a tagline and button call to action that lets people view rooms and availability. 

2.) Pause on Hover: Some slideshows (nearly all that use wordpress today im not sure about Joomla or Drupal if that's what you use) are set to automatically pause when a viewer hovers over the image with their cursor. Oftentimes, we do this subconsciously. Furthermore, if it's the kind of slideshow where you want people to click, they'll obviously be moving their cursor over to the image, and they'll be less likely to miss it.

3.) Thumbnails: Another option is to add small thumbnails below the slideshow that people can click to go back and forth between. You can make them smaller so they don't take up too much essential space on the homepage. There are some slideshows that will have drop-down thumbs once you hover over the slideshow as well. The real estate of the homepage is essential, so, choose wisely!

4.) Slider Navigation: the other option is a simple slider navigation but arrows on either side or at the bottom so people can flip through themselves even if you have it set to automatic. 

5.) Set a different speed for 1st slide. Some wordpress sliders will let you set a different speed for the first slide. This means that for the first slide, you can set it to just 2 seconds until it transitions to the next slide, now pulling the viewer in, and the other slides will now transition at 4 seconds.

6.) Dynamic Slideshows: Slideshows don't just have to be one full-width image rotating, though there's nothing wrong with that. Done correctly, you can have text drop in, possibly reading the "name of the room" or "name of package" or "special holiday deal". If you do this, you'll like want to make it so the slideshow will link to its respected landing page. 

Hope this helps in the world of slideshows! Would love to hear your thoughts on some of these points, or if you have any slideshows that include these features please share the link so we can check them out. I have a few I can show you guys once I grab the links! 

Have sliding!

- Lauren 

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Madeleine wrote:

Arkansawyer wrote:

LaurenRains wrote:

What do you guys think? 

 It's definitely a balance between trying to show lots in the few seconds people stay on the page, and the frustration you can cause people who want to examine something in a photo and it changes too quickly!

 

It's stopped now but when I first put up the slideshow (and I did have some of the gang here test the speed) I had callers saying the slideshow went too quickly and they couldn't pick the room they wanted. Sigh. All of the same photos were a mere scroll away down the page. They thought the slideshow was it. Never saw the amenities, prices, nothing.

A new website was launched in our state and the photos are giant, not adequately sized (so they are fuzzy) and not very attractive on the header slideshow. I mentioned them using stock photos until they can get their own photos. (and I never recommend stock photos!)

So if you DO have a slideshow, make it interesting. If the photo is very detailed then a fast slide show is no good, but then the very detailed photo may not be a very good choice either.

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Absolutely. Great points.

Each photo should have a specific purpose. Think of it like this, "What are the 5 main selling points of my B&B?"

Each photo should display one of these 5 points and display 5 clear messages. If it's 5 random images that don't have a specific purpose, then the slideshow definitely isn't fulfilling its purpose. 

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Error on this page: http://www.wildworldcreative.com/web-design-by-wild-world-creative/

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Joey thank you SO MUCH for pointing that out! Can I ask where did you find that link? I can't seem to find it. I just relaunched the site last week after an extensive revamp.

The correct one about web design is this: http://www.wildworldcreative.com/web-design-services/

Thanks again!

- Lauren 

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I went to your website to see your work, I cannot see more than a homepage on any of the sites you have done? How can we see how a site operates? Give us a link and we can check them out. yes

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Hi Joey - thank you for the feedback! I will add links to the websites and post more screenshots and let you know when that's been updated. 

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LaurenRains wrote:

Hi Joey - thank you for the feedback! I will add links to the websites and post more screenshots and let you know when that's been updated. 

Not really interested in screen shots though, what I want to do is CLICK and see the features. That is important. Load times, etc. Thx!

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I try my best to direct them to the web site, but there is nothing quite so stupid as the general public.

My site has a contact form, so I very clearly say that you need to tell me how to contact you, do they do it, nope.

So I have added my e mail address.

I usually get a second sense as to weirdos, the last one had made numerous phone calls, had family nearby so presumably had knowledge of the building, turned up a day late and could not climb more than 3 steps, my building dates back to 1897. You would have thought he might have mentioned that in all the calls.

to be honest I was glad to see the back of them. i was told the wife had tattoos suggesting she had done some serious jail time.

to get over the description issue i ask them for their e mail address to send my flyer, that seems to work.

 

 

 

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Como Depot wrote:

I try my best to direct them to the web site, but there is nothing quite so stupid as the general public.

My site has a contact form, so I very clearly say that you need to tell me how to contact you, do they do it, nope.

So I have added my e mail address.

I usually get a second sense as to weirdos, the last one had made numerous phone calls, had family nearby so presumably had knowledge of the building, turned up a day late and could not climb more than 3 steps, my building dates back to 1897. You would have thought he might have mentioned that in all the calls.

to be honest I was glad to see the back of them. i was told the wife had tattoos suggesting she had done some serious jail time.

to get over the description issue i ask them for their e mail address to send my flyer, that seems to work.

 

 

 

David, you might want to reconsider having your website and name so open on your posts here. This site is very powerful and google loves it, so it's very probable that if a guest does a search for your property's name, a link to this or other threads you comment in will show up. Do you really want them to see what you think about them? That's why most of us have alias' here.

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Yeah, and then I get the guy who calls me just yesterday. Asks me to describe my rooms & rates. I ask him if he's seen my site...says yes, I just pulled it up and since I saw your phone number I thought I would call and ask!

Sometimes you just can't win. This guy never got farther than the top of my home page. Turns out he wanted a cheap motel for 4 adults and a slew of kids.

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My call today was someone trying to make an online rez and he couldn't get it to accept '4' as the number of guests in the room. He kept telling me the 4th person was a baby and I kept telling him the 4th person was another adult. No can do.

Then he wanted a run down of all the hotels in town. No can do. I'm serving breakfast, not playing tourist info assistant.

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Madeleine wrote:

He kept telling me the 4th person was a baby and I kept telling him the 4th person was another adult.

At least he didn't just put 4 and assume the baby didn't count. But then he'd have gotten to the price and left anyway. But at least he'd have done it all online and left you alone.

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I'm just happy the system wouldn't take '4' in the room!

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So all of this discussion means, what should we do about it? What is missing that is essential? 

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Joey Bloggs wrote:

So all of this discussion means, what should we do about it? What is missing that is essential? 

From his list?

Clarity.

  • The website should be clear. No clutter. No 'adorable' pix of your kids unless you're selling family-friendly. Actually, especially if you're selling that.
  • What do you offer? Clarify.
  • Is everything easy to find for someone who has never seen the website? Test it out.
  • Consistency. Does every page look similar enough that the guest doesn't have to search all over again for the next thing they might want to look at?
  • Unless you are an artiste, your website should 'look good' but not cause the average person's eyeballs to explode trying to figure out what to do next. (LOTS of photgraphers' websites have ZERO indication that the home page is not the only page. They never tell you to 'click here' or anything mundane like that.)

Personality.

  • Avoid 'garish' colors unless those colors are essential to your location. There are some places I wouldn't stay because their websites are so 'loud'. Reflects on the possible personality of the host.
  • Try to reflect your location & personality in the entire layout and attitude of the website. So, if you're garish & loud, I guess your website should be, too!

 Test your website

  • Contact all of your friends and family and ask them to test your website on whatever 1990-now version of OS they use. Make sure your slideshow works everywhere. Your text aligns everywhere. Your guests will be using hundreds of different combos to look at your site. It has to render well in every one of them.

What should we do about it? Tweak the websites we have. Continue to learn and use what we learn.

I do have to disagree with the last one about having a two-way conversation ON your website. Links to a blog or FB or Twitter or something, ok. But I am NOT having a gripe page on my website. Guests can email or call or contact us thru FB to ask questions. NOT directly on the website. They can gripe on TA or Yelp. I want a clean website!

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I agree with Maddie. Every time I allow comments on a blog post, all I get are spam trolls. I am too busy to have bother deleting the trash. I would LOVE to have a conversation but so far too few real people have bothered. No comments. Go to FB for that

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I Gillumhouse,

If you use Wordpress for your website, you can install the free plugin called Akismet, which blocks all spam. 

Another option is to install a social commenting plugin like Disqus or LiveFyre and that should help.

There's also another WP plugin that lets you install facebook comments area below your blog posts. 

Again, all of this is if you're on Wordpress though. Smiling

Having comments can be a great thing for interaction, and for SEO as well being Google will crawl those comments. It's definitely worth it to try to find a way to allow them on your blog posts. 

 

Good Luck!

- Lauren

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I would not have the foggiest notion of how to install the plug-in or where to install it. I do have WP but making all comments required for me to approve - when I allow them - keeps me spam free, there at least.

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LaurenRains wrote:

I Gillumhouse,

If you use Wordpress for your website, you can install the free plugin called Akismet, which blocks all spam. 

I use Akismet on my blog. Saying it blocks all spam is a bit much, but it blocks 99.999% of it! One or two a year still get through.

I also have my blog set to require me to OK the comment the first time a new person makes one. If I approve them, from then on their comments post immediately. This, plus Akismet, mean I've never had spam appear on my blog (knock on Formica).

Madeleine's picture
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Yup, those are the essentials. I think he missed something, tho (but I was just scanning, so maybe it's there) - another essential is a clearly laid out site without lots of distracting 'dancing bears' and 'flashing words'.

For me, a site has to have text not just photos or videos. I won't watch a video. And I realize I'm in the minority now. But there are still people like me so humor us.

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We do all this.  People DO NOT READ!

They see our phone number, call and ask about everything that is clearly presented on the web site. It's infuriating!

I recently created a mobile version of the site and get the same results.

The one essiential element your web site needs, that was not mentioned, are customers who are not too lazy to read.

Madeleine's picture
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I understand the phone calls because they could have gotten our phone number from anywhere. What I don't get are the emails, from the site, asking if we have rooms open.

'Hi! We're coming in from Timbuktu on June 27. Is x room open?'

ON the page for that room is a calendar that shows if the room is open on June 27. You don't even have to open another window. Much less find the email link and type out a whole email to me.

Then begins a correspondence that goes right up until they have called to make a rez wherein the 'mention' they have a dog. Or 3 kids. Or they can't walk upstairs. So, yeah, all things talked about on the site but never brought into the conversation until I'm asking for their cc info. Do they think I am going to change my mind about dogs and kids because I'm so close to making money?

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Madeleine wrote:

...the emails, from the site, asking if we have rooms open....

And you can't reply to that e-mail with "yes it is open" because it may NOT be by they time they read the e-mail.

I guess the proper response is to give them the web address where they can check the calendar and assure them it has the current availablility and THEY MUST READ THE SCREEN!

From there, they're on their own. (Wow, I used the three versions there, their, they're in one sentence!)

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Arkansawyer wrote:

Madeleine wrote:

...the emails, from the site, asking if we have rooms open....

And you can't reply to that e-mail with "yes it is open" because it may NOT be by they time they read the e-mail.

I guess the proper response is to give them the web address where they can check the calendar and assure them it has the current availablility and THEY MUST READ THE SCREEN!

From there, they're on their own. (Wow, I used the three versions there, their, they're in one sentence!)

I reply back, 'At this moment, this is available. For the most up to date availablity, please use the calendar on the website. It is accurate.'

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