Any advice you could give me to improve my website?

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J.Lee

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Website: www.hilltoplegacy.com
Aloha! , I would first like to say thanks to all of you on this website for all your great information and ideas about running a B&B. I am a new innkeeper and have been in business for a little over a year now and so far I have been having a blast. I really enjoy meeting the many diiferent people from all walks of life around the world.
Anyways, I recently decided to try to build my own website to save some money. I looked at dozens of other B&B websites and got many great ideas, so I tried to incoorporate them into my site. Please let me know what you think I could do to improve my website. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I'm sure I have so much to learn from all of you on here
. Thank you!
 

Emily Spiers

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Welcome from Ohio!
The first thing that jumped out at me regarding your site is the size of the postcards on the top. It literally made me dizzy right off the bat. Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of the postcards. It's a very good way to tie in the theme. It was just the size of them that got me.
Your place looks lovely and I don't think you could have a more beautiful setting!
 

JBloggs

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Nice site.
Your rates are insane, I can't imagine how you can make any $ with the Fall special rates. You must be doing what others are doing in the area with that?
Obv the google ads would be my only no no on your website, but is it rqd with the template you chose?
As far as photos the giant cat is the one that distracts me from the header. :)
 
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I Think your site looks very professional. It is easy to navigate. I especially love the corners on the pictures, as if looking at them in an album. Your prices seem SO low for Hawaii, but if you've been in business for a year, I'm sure you know your market. I lived in Hawaii for many years but have been away for 25 years. The Hawaiian music was very relaxing and brought back many fond memories!
 

egoodell

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Welcome from Ohio!
The first thing that jumped out at me regarding your site is the size of the postcards on the top. It literally made me dizzy right off the bat. Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of the postcards. It's a very good way to tie in the theme. It was just the size of them that got me.
Your place looks lovely and I don't think you could have a more beautiful setting!.
I would get rid of the music. I'm at work and went to look at it and immediatly shut it off since my break does not start for 10 minutes. I get a lot of people booking from work, and you are losing them.
RIki
 

EmptyNest

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It took really long for the page to load. To me you just have too much on the home page...very busy and distracting...especially the music. I love the music but not on a website...not needed. Can you pare down some of the stuff on the home page?
Your title says VACATION RENTAL....is that really what you are or a B & B? You need to get bed and breakfast in your title as well.
I too agree..your rates are way too low. People will assume with that low of a rate, you don't offer much.
 

Arks

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I spent a week in Hilo a year ago. Stayed at Hale_Kai B&B and considered their $165 rate a bargain. So, as others have said, I don't understand your low rates. The fact that you have continental breakfast rather than full breakfast doesn't matter that much. I'm in a small town in Arkansas and the local seedy motel charges more for a tiny room than you are for a suite with private Jacuzzi, Kitchen, panoramic ocean views, 50" HD-TV, cable, and free wifi!
I really like the "where our guests are from" map, if it doesn't turn out to be too much trouble to keep up to date.
I have a wide monitor and was surprised to have to use almost the whole width of my monitor to see the full width of your website. I don't have to do that often. I suspect if I had a lower resolution monitor I'd have to scroll horizontally to view the full width. People don't like to do that.
Beautiful website. I just think it's too wide. And, as other's have mentioned, all the experts say you should not have music on a website because it makes the page slow to load, and some people just won't wait, and because people are often needing to browse silently.
 

JBloggs

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They had the ongoing battle on not allowing B&B's vs vacation rentals, which would be in my mind why there is no breakfast (not allowed to cook it) and advertise as a B&B.
I would consider a 7th night free if it were me. Try to get some longer stays.
 

bbinnsitters

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Ohmigosh! I love the website, but I had to scroll sideways too - kinda annoying. Your prices seem way too low to me too! Are other places in your area as low? I think you should at least bump them all up to $100 - especially if you are offering a "free upgrade" if available. Why have different rates if that is the case? You obviously are doing something right - your availability calendar is almost full! Maybe I should book now b4 you raise rates! Call on me if you ever need a break!
 

J.Lee

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Welcome from Ohio!
The first thing that jumped out at me regarding your site is the size of the postcards on the top. It literally made me dizzy right off the bat. Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of the postcards. It's a very good way to tie in the theme. It was just the size of them that got me.
Your place looks lovely and I don't think you could have a more beautiful setting!.
Hi!, Thanks for your advice.
I understand exactly what you are saying. After taking a look at the website a few more times, I realized too that they are a bit big. I will be sure to keep that in mind when i'm editing. Thanks again for your help!
 

J.Lee

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Nice site.
Your rates are insane, I can't imagine how you can make any $ with the Fall special rates. You must be doing what others are doing in the area with that?
Obv the google ads would be my only no no on your website, but is it rqd with the template you chose?
As far as photos the giant cat is the one that distracts me from the header. :).
Hey Joey! Thank you for you response. Yeah the rates are very low right now. Since we are still fairly new compared to the other inns in the area, not many people know about us yet so that is why we made our fall special rates so low. We noticed that many of the hotels and other B&B's in the area were dropping their rates because of the low occupancy due to the economy.
The google ads weren't required in the template and will be taken off. I was thinking it might generate a little income but I realize now that no one ever clicks on those ads. Thanks about your tip about the picture of the cat. It really does jump out at you! I will be sure to resize it or replace it a smaller picture. Thanks again!
 

seashanty

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i am enjoying the song right now. not at work. some of the web guru's can tell you ... there must be a way to have an OPT IN to listen to music. click for music or something like that so that one can turn it on to listen and not have to turn it off when it comes on unexpectedly.
i also like the big cat .. it didn't jump out at me, i had to go look for it/her/him.
i would say maybe the main heading is too big ... when it stays on each page ... i think when i click on rooms i should be able to see that the rooms are appearing below the heading ... not sure how to accomplish this, but i am wondering about sizing and why one has to scroll down and sideways so much.
best of luck to you! i love the views and all of it. never been to hawaii but the more i see the more i want to go.
 

JBloggs

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Nice site.
Your rates are insane, I can't imagine how you can make any $ with the Fall special rates. You must be doing what others are doing in the area with that?
Obv the google ads would be my only no no on your website, but is it rqd with the template you chose?
As far as photos the giant cat is the one that distracts me from the header. :).
Hey Joey! Thank you for you response. Yeah the rates are very low right now. Since we are still fairly new compared to the other inns in the area, not many people know about us yet so that is why we made our fall special rates so low. We noticed that many of the hotels and other B&B's in the area were dropping their rates because of the low occupancy due to the economy.
The google ads weren't required in the template and will be taken off. I was thinking it might generate a little income but I realize now that no one ever clicks on those ads. Thanks about your tip about the picture of the cat. It really does jump out at you! I will be sure to resize it or replace it a smaller picture. Thanks again!
.
J.Lee said:
Hey Joey! Thank you for you response. Yeah the rates are very low right now. Since we are still fairly new compared to the other inns in the area, not many people know about us yet so that is why we made our fall special rates so low. We noticed that many of the hotels and other B&B's in the area were dropping their rates because of the low occupancy due to the economy.
The google ads weren't required in the template and will be taken off. I was thinking it might generate a little income but I realize now that no one ever clicks on those ads. Thanks about your tip about the picture of the cat. It really does jump out at you! I will be sure to resize it or replace it a smaller picture. Thanks again!
When I added google ads on the blog it slowed it down terribly, I removed them, in the end I earned so little it was not worth the frustration and loss of potential business when guests closed the window. Try the speed with it and without it, that may be the slow load dilemma right there.
Remember you aren't a hotel. You can never match they fly and stay packages. Since you are new I will mention this - low rates, too low of rates give the impression that something is wrong or it is not a nice place to stay, it certainly looks lovely to me!
PS I noticed the background on the page is not Hilo, but Lanikai. I spent some time there, plenty of time, snorkeling off that beach. :)
 

Copperhead

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Welcome J.Lee - Aloha! beautiful place - we loved Hilo last October and seeing this makes me really want to return!
I agree with the others - the width of the site is too big for most monitors, no one likes to have to scroll sideways! I also agree - while the music choice is wonderful and relaxing - the message you are trying to create, it could cause you to loose views as too many are searching while at work or some in the library where silence is key. Either remove or change it to opt IN to listen. It loaded slowly for me as well and I have extremely fast band width connection.
The name of your B&B aka Vacation Rental needs to stand out more... as it fades into the background. My eyes were immediately drawn to the postcards and missed your page links. Make them stand out more. While pictures speak 1000 words, you do need a nice balance to direct people to where they find your info. I would have more on YOUR B&B on the home page - make them want to see more of YOUR B&B! Place the pictures on the galery page, and either create a page about the area and place the Hawaii map on it (and and your own touches too)
Like the Guest map but that would be best served on the guest review page.
Think of your home page as the front page of your local paper... the most important news and intriguing headlines go on this page... it makes you want to pick up the pager to read... Another example is a Magazine... Pictures do the trick - along with a very eye catching logo - then you see the headers and short tidbits of what you will find inside... Front pages Sell!
Good luck -
PS - agree about the price thing... find hotels, B&B's etc. with the same amenites, view & location and price accordingly. (did not look but if you do not have a 2 night min. and plan to keep your rates low, you should consider a min. night stay to get this rate!)
 

J.Lee

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It took really long for the page to load. To me you just have too much on the home page...very busy and distracting...especially the music. I love the music but not on a website...not needed. Can you pare down some of the stuff on the home page?
Your title says VACATION RENTAL....is that really what you are or a B & B? You need to get bed and breakfast in your title as well.
I too agree..your rates are way too low. People will assume with that low of a rate, you don't offer much..
Hello, Thank you for your great advice. I noticed on my computer that it took a while to load the page too .I thought that it might have been due to my internet connection, but now I know that its not just me. I think it is because of the music. After hearing everyones opinion of why the music is not needed, I will take it down. I never thought that so many people were booking rooms from work, but now that I think about it, that is very reasonable.
The reason we changed our title to vacation rental from bed and breakfast was because we had a few gests complaining that since we don't serve a full breakfast (we serve a continental) that we should not be considered a bed and breakfast. I don't know why, but even though we put that we only serve a continental breakfast, people were expecting a full breakfast. Thanks again for your helpful tips!

 

J.Lee

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I spent a week in Hilo a year ago. Stayed at Hale_Kai B&B and considered their $165 rate a bargain. So, as others have said, I don't understand your low rates. The fact that you have continental breakfast rather than full breakfast doesn't matter that much. I'm in a small town in Arkansas and the local seedy motel charges more for a tiny room than you are for a suite with private Jacuzzi, Kitchen, panoramic ocean views, 50" HD-TV, cable, and free wifi!
I really like the "where our guests are from" map, if it doesn't turn out to be too much trouble to keep up to date.
I have a wide monitor and was surprised to have to use almost the whole width of my monitor to see the full width of your website. I don't have to do that often. I suspect if I had a lower resolution monitor I'd have to scroll horizontally to view the full width. People don't like to do that.
Beautiful website. I just think it's too wide. And, as other's have mentioned, all the experts say you should not have music on a website because it makes the page slow to load, and some people just won't wait, and because people are often needing to browse silently..
Thanks Arkansawyer for your input.
We recently bought a new computer and it has a really wide screen. I should have thought about the website being too big for smaller monitors. I will try to find a fix that will make the website adjust size depending on the user's monitor size. I've seen it on some other sites, I just have to learn how to do it.
I got the idea of the guest map from looking at one of those airline maps that show where their flights go! I will also be sure to take down the music or at least change it so it doesn't play automatically. I understand exactly what you are trying to say! Thanks again for your helpful advice and have an amazing day!
 

J.Lee

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I Think your site looks very professional. It is easy to navigate. I especially love the corners on the pictures, as if looking at them in an album. Your prices seem SO low for Hawaii, but if you've been in business for a year, I'm sure you know your market. I lived in Hawaii for many years but have been away for 25 years. The Hawaiian music was very relaxing and brought back many fond memories!.
Aloha!, Thank you for the compliment.
It's nice to meet someone on here from Hawaii! If you don't mind me asking, What Island did you used to live on? Our rates are quite low compared to other B&B's in the area. Since we are still fairly new and still learning about how to run a B&B, we didn't really want to charge as much as the more experienced properties in the area. Thanks again. Aloha!
 

J.Lee

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They had the ongoing battle on not allowing B&B's vs vacation rentals, which would be in my mind why there is no breakfast (not allowed to cook it) and advertise as a B&B.
I would consider a 7th night free if it were me. Try to get some longer stays..
Thats sounds like a great idea! Most of the guests we have are usually for 2-3 nights. We might have 1 or 2 guests a month that stay for at least a week. We would prefer longer stays too as it means less cleaning for us
.
That is the reason we serve a continental breakfast. We are not allowed to actually "cook" anything. Geez I really learned so much today from all of you. Thanks again Joey!
 

J.Lee

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Ohmigosh! I love the website, but I had to scroll sideways too - kinda annoying. Your prices seem way too low to me too! Are other places in your area as low? I think you should at least bump them all up to $100 - especially if you are offering a "free upgrade" if available. Why have different rates if that is the case? You obviously are doing something right - your availability calendar is almost full! Maybe I should book now b4 you raise rates! Call on me if you ever need a break!.
Aloha!, Thanks suellen for your help
. There are a few places in the area with rates as low as our but not many, and I think that is why we have been getting those bookings.
The reason we offered the free upgrade if they book through us was because most of our reservattions would come from travel agencies. With our rates already being so low, after they take out their commission we wouldn't receive much. Once we are able make our website bookable so guests can pay and reserve a room right from our website, I will most likely stop the free upgrade offer. If you ever plan on coming to Hawaii please let me know. We would love to have fellow innkeepers at our property! Don't worry about the rates, for you, we won't raise the rates !

 

Copperhead

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J Lee wrote: "The reason we changed our title to vacation rental from bed and breakfast was because we had a few gests complaining that since we don't serve a full breakfast (we serve a continental) that we should not be considered a bed and breakfast. I don't know why, but even though we put that we only serve a continental breakfast, people were expecting a full breakfast."What about Guest House instead of Bed and Breakfast? 'Vacation Rental' makes me think of a whole house rental - at least that is what it is on the main land. But you really need to settle on the name and stick with it.
J Lee wrote: "Our rates are quite low compared to other B&B's in the area. Since we are still fairly new and still learning about how to run a B&B, we didn't really want to charge as much as the more experienced properties in the area."A little less maybe, but drasticly less can lead someone to think "what is wrong with the place". A year of experience should even you out by now...raise those rates and get what your rooms are worth! You deserve it. And the place is lovely!
 
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