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Bed and Breakfast Websites from Guest Perspective

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JunieBJones (JBJ)

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I would like to start this thread to cover some basics of Bed and Breakfast websites from the guest perspective and get all of your input. Remembering that not all guests are with us for the same reason nor are they attracted to the same things, some may be here for romance some may be here for business. You have a niche, but don't want to isolate the others and send them to another B&B. We really do want to be all things to all people and make all of them happy.

What do you (as a guest) look for on a B&B website?
#1 clear decent sized room photos - inviting, clean, and simple (I don't like them all dressed up - too much staging, I want to see just what I am booking. If the room has plants then they need to be in the photos)
 

Morticia

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JunieBJones (JBJ) said:
What do you (as a guest) look for on a B&B website?

  1. Where is the B&B located? ie- I am looking for a B&B near the beach. Are you near the beach? Ocean views, etc? Don't tell me you have 'water views' if that means I'll be looking at the birdbath.
  2. I want to see the room photos, but they can be amateur as long as they are in focus!
  3. Make it easy for me to find the price.
  4. Make it easy for me to see availability.
  5. Don't make me work, I'm planning my vacation!
  6. If there are going to be pets wandering into my room or sitting on the furniture in the common areas, you had best let me know that right up front.
 

Copperhead

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1. Good Up-to-Date pictures of both outside and rooms. (I don't mean each time you change a spread.)
2. I want to know if you are legit. Being on directories or having 'awards' do not tell me this. List Associations. Say "licensed and insured"
3. Honesty - tell it like it is!
4. Good descriptions with the least amount of words - give me the facts, then if you want to add fluff do ss, don't make me have to fish it out.
5. 'Don't make me call you' - if you have been asked, cover it on the site.
6. Easy to see availabiltiy
(Oh boy! NOW for me to make my site complies with my demands.)
 

Morticia

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1. Good Up-to-Date pictures of both outside and rooms. (I don't mean each time you change a spread.)
2. I want to know if you are legit. Being on directories or having 'awards' do not tell me this. List Associations. Say "licensed and insured"
3. Honesty - tell it like it is!
4. Good descriptions with the least amount of words - give me the facts, then if you want to add fluff do ss, don't make me have to fish it out.
5. 'Don't make me call you' - if you have been asked, cover it on the site.
6. Easy to see availabiltiy
(Oh boy! NOW for me to make my site complies with my demands.).
Really? You ask if a place is legit? Apparently we stayed at a place that wasn't. We didn't know that until we hit the next place and they asked where we had stayed the night before. They had a cow when I told them because the other place wasn't licensed, wasn't collecting tax (she collected it from us I can tell you), wasn't inspected, etc.
It never occurs to me to ask or even look for accreditation. I had some tell me I should make my membership logos more visible but I didn't know why it would matter. I don't get inspected by the groups I belong to.
 

JunieBJones (JBJ)

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Do you think by LEGIT you would wonder about that if there were 3 or less rooms? Vs a larger establishment? I mean, like a place I looked at where our guests stayed the night prior to here - made me wonder if it was legit or just a tax deduction they were after!
We have our business license seal on the front door - health dept certificate inside here - but I don't have a bunch of info about that on our website. And I wonder if any guest even thinks about that? Interesting topic.
 

springlady

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NUMBER ONE: Show me that this is the website of someone who takes innkeeping seriously. How?
(1) Show me a functional website. I don't want to see big squares with red x's in the middle, thumbnails that don't work, impossible to read blue letters on a green background, "page under construction" notices. If the website is unprofessional looking I wonder what I'll find at the B&B. If the next place on my list has a workable, informative website I'm going there.
(2) Let me book online. If I can't book online, answer the phone and if you can't answer the phone, call back promptly! Unless you have a killer website that's made me think that I cannot LIVE without staying at your place I'll book at the next place on my list that lets me book online.
(3) Pictures, pictures, pictures. Good pictures, scaled properly, not so big that I get a giant closeup of a wall plug or so small that I think it's a thumbnail that doesn't work. They don't have to be professional but it sure does help - in focus, properly lighted so that everything is not the "blue room". I want to see good photos of the common areas and bedroom. Make me want to be there. Show me that there's a comfortable place for me to sit and read or pull out my laptop. Don't tell me there's a great view, show me! Don't tell me how wonderful the gardens are, show me! Without pictures you haven't sold me.
BTW, I don't really care if there's a picture of the innkeepers or an innkeeper bio ESPECIALLY if the bio is long. Honestly, I've seen websites where more space is spent on the innkeeper's info than the inn itself.
(4) Tell me that there's wireless internet or at least DSL. Gotta have it.
(5) Clearly state your policies regarding pets, check in, check out, and late arrivals. Don't make me call, see #2!!!
 

Morticia

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NUMBER ONE: Show me that this is the website of someone who takes innkeeping seriously. How?
(1) Show me a functional website. I don't want to see big squares with red x's in the middle, thumbnails that don't work, impossible to read blue letters on a green background, "page under construction" notices. If the website is unprofessional looking I wonder what I'll find at the B&B. If the next place on my list has a workable, informative website I'm going there.
(2) Let me book online. If I can't book online, answer the phone and if you can't answer the phone, call back promptly! Unless you have a killer website that's made me think that I cannot LIVE without staying at your place I'll book at the next place on my list that lets me book online.
(3) Pictures, pictures, pictures. Good pictures, scaled properly, not so big that I get a giant closeup of a wall plug or so small that I think it's a thumbnail that doesn't work. They don't have to be professional but it sure does help - in focus, properly lighted so that everything is not the "blue room". I want to see good photos of the common areas and bedroom. Make me want to be there. Show me that there's a comfortable place for me to sit and read or pull out my laptop. Don't tell me there's a great view, show me! Don't tell me how wonderful the gardens are, show me! Without pictures you haven't sold me.
BTW, I don't really care if there's a picture of the innkeepers or an innkeeper bio ESPECIALLY if the bio is long. Honestly, I've seen websites where more space is spent on the innkeeper's info than the inn itself.
(4) Tell me that there's wireless internet or at least DSL. Gotta have it.
(5) Clearly state your policies regarding pets, check in, check out, and late arrivals. Don't make me call, see #2!!!.
I forgot about the policies, but that's a good one, too. The place I mentioned that wasn't legit had a policy that she would not book us if we did not fax back a signed copy stating we had read the policies. (Basically the policy about cancellations. NO refunds for ANY reason.)
 

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I look for clean code. I mean really, if the code is not clean, can the bathrooms be all that different?
 

EmptyNest

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I look for clean code. I mean really, if the code is not clean, can the bathrooms be all that different?
.
You WOULD say that!!! Would be nice but hey some sites look really nice but don't have "clean" code. We try though:-(
 

Morticia

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I look for clean code. I mean really, if the code is not clean, can the bathrooms be all that different?
.
swirt said:
I look for clean code. I mean really, if the code is not clean, can the bathrooms be all that different?
You are too much!
 

Copperhead

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1. Good Up-to-Date pictures of both outside and rooms. (I don't mean each time you change a spread.)
2. I want to know if you are legit. Being on directories or having 'awards' do not tell me this. List Associations. Say "licensed and insured"
3. Honesty - tell it like it is!
4. Good descriptions with the least amount of words - give me the facts, then if you want to add fluff do ss, don't make me have to fish it out.
5. 'Don't make me call you' - if you have been asked, cover it on the site.
6. Easy to see availabiltiy
(Oh boy! NOW for me to make my site complies with my demands.).
Really? You ask if a place is legit? Apparently we stayed at a place that wasn't. We didn't know that until we hit the next place and they asked where we had stayed the night before. They had a cow when I told them because the other place wasn't licensed, wasn't collecting tax (she collected it from us I can tell you), wasn't inspected, etc.
It never occurs to me to ask or even look for accreditation. I had some tell me I should make my membership logos more visible but I didn't know why it would matter. I don't get inspected by the groups I belong to.
.
No, I do not ask if a place is legit but I do look at associations that they are with. State and or local associations are good indicators that they are on the up and up. I don't want to take a chance with my vacation with B&B that is operating under the radar, as I would be ever so bummed (and I do have this type of luck) if I arrived and they have been forced to close I am the one at the loss.
I had not thought about this years ago but I since have had several guests that discuss this with me over breakfast. Currently we do not have 'licensed and insured' on our site but do have icons for the CoC and our local assocations.
 

JunieBJones (JBJ)

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1. Good Up-to-Date pictures of both outside and rooms. (I don't mean each time you change a spread.)
2. I want to know if you are legit. Being on directories or having 'awards' do not tell me this. List Associations. Say "licensed and insured"
3. Honesty - tell it like it is!
4. Good descriptions with the least amount of words - give me the facts, then if you want to add fluff do ss, don't make me have to fish it out.
5. 'Don't make me call you' - if you have been asked, cover it on the site.
6. Easy to see availabiltiy
(Oh boy! NOW for me to make my site complies with my demands.).
Really? You ask if a place is legit? Apparently we stayed at a place that wasn't. We didn't know that until we hit the next place and they asked where we had stayed the night before. They had a cow when I told them because the other place wasn't licensed, wasn't collecting tax (she collected it from us I can tell you), wasn't inspected, etc.
It never occurs to me to ask or even look for accreditation. I had some tell me I should make my membership logos more visible but I didn't know why it would matter. I don't get inspected by the groups I belong to.
.
No, I do not ask if a place is legit but I do look at associations that they are with. State and or local associations are good indicators that they are on the up and up. I don't want to take a chance with my vacation with B&B that is operating under the radar, as I would be ever so bummed (and I do have this type of luck) if I arrived and they have been forced to close I am the one at the loss.
I had not thought about this years ago but I since have had several guests that discuss this with me over breakfast. Currently we do not have 'licensed and insured' on our site but do have icons for the CoC and our local assocations.
.
Copperhead said:
No, I do not ask if a place is legit but I do look at associations that they are with. State and or local associations are good indicators that they are on the up and up. I don't want to take a chance with my vacation with B&B that is operating under the radar, as I would be ever so bummed (and I do have this type of luck) if I arrived and they have been forced to close I am the one at the loss.
I had not thought about this years ago but I since have had several guests that discuss this with me over breakfast. Currently we do not have 'licensed and insured' on our site but do have icons for the CoC and our local assocations.
I don't have all those logos on our website as I don't want them cluttering it up, but maybe I should add a couple. I do have:
Adams County's Only Historic Bed & Breakfast Inn
Not that it means anything, but it sorta does.
 

NW BB

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Very interesting! No one has mentioned something we talked about a week or so ago. No one has mentioned they look for breakfast info. I'm still on the fence about whether to add a new page with breakfast info, so it's interesting that it hasn't been mentioned.
I wonder if we really can put ouselves in the position of being a regular guest. I think we as innkeepers look at website entirely differently than the non-innkeeper.
I go right for the rooms page. It's also a pet peeve of mine if the price of the room is not revealed in the description. I hate having to go to a separate page to try to find the rates, then remember which room is which to match it up with the rate.
I also go to the policies. You can tell a lot about a place by their policies. Again, we as innkeepers know how to read between the lines.
I definitely need online reservation request or real-time reservations.
 

egoodell

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1. Good Up-to-Date pictures of both outside and rooms. (I don't mean each time you change a spread.)
2. I want to know if you are legit. Being on directories or having 'awards' do not tell me this. List Associations. Say "licensed and insured"
3. Honesty - tell it like it is!
4. Good descriptions with the least amount of words - give me the facts, then if you want to add fluff do ss, don't make me have to fish it out.
5. 'Don't make me call you' - if you have been asked, cover it on the site.
6. Easy to see availabiltiy
(Oh boy! NOW for me to make my site complies with my demands.).
Really? You ask if a place is legit? Apparently we stayed at a place that wasn't. We didn't know that until we hit the next place and they asked where we had stayed the night before. They had a cow when I told them because the other place wasn't licensed, wasn't collecting tax (she collected it from us I can tell you), wasn't inspected, etc.
It never occurs to me to ask or even look for accreditation. I had some tell me I should make my membership logos more visible but I didn't know why it would matter. I don't get inspected by the groups I belong to.
.
No, I do not ask if a place is legit but I do look at associations that they are with. State and or local associations are good indicators that they are on the up and up. I don't want to take a chance with my vacation with B&B that is operating under the radar, as I would be ever so bummed (and I do have this type of luck) if I arrived and they have been forced to close I am the one at the loss.
I had not thought about this years ago but I since have had several guests that discuss this with me over breakfast. Currently we do not have 'licensed and insured' on our site but do have icons for the CoC and our local assocations.
.
Copperhead said:
No, I do not ask if a place is legit but I do look at associations that they are with. State and or local associations are good indicators that they are on the up and up. I don't want to take a chance with my vacation with B&B that is operating under the radar, as I would be ever so bummed (and I do have this type of luck) if I arrived and they have been forced to close I am the one at the loss.
I had not thought about this years ago but I since have had several guests that discuss this with me over breakfast. Currently we do not have 'licensed and insured' on our site but do have icons for the CoC and our local assocations.
I don't have all those logos on our website as I don't want them cluttering it up, but maybe I should add a couple. I do have:
Adams County's Only Historic Bed & Breakfast Inn
Not that it means anything, but it sorta does.
.
Well being the only historic B&B would mean something to us since we love old houses. They have more character that new houses just can't copy...

Riki
 

springlady

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Very interesting! No one has mentioned something we talked about a week or so ago. No one has mentioned they look for breakfast info. I'm still on the fence about whether to add a new page with breakfast info, so it's interesting that it hasn't been mentioned.
I wonder if we really can put ouselves in the position of being a regular guest. I think we as innkeepers look at website entirely differently than the non-innkeeper.
I go right for the rooms page. It's also a pet peeve of mine if the price of the room is not revealed in the description. I hate having to go to a separate page to try to find the rates, then remember which room is which to match it up with the rate.
I also go to the policies. You can tell a lot about a place by their policies. Again, we as innkeepers know how to read between the lines.
I definitely need online reservation request or real-time reservations..
I'm not an innkeeper yet so I'm still sort of objective...
In my case, I don't need a whole lot of space devoted to breakfast but I do want to know what to expect - is it a hot breakfast, gourmet breakfast, or a muffin and banana?
I don't think you should post a picture unless it's something beautiful like the picture on Bree's website. Bree, your colors are so fresh and that waffle looks scrumptious! This is one place that a professional photograph might be necessary unless you can really take a good one.
 

JunieBJones (JBJ)

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Very interesting! No one has mentioned something we talked about a week or so ago. No one has mentioned they look for breakfast info. I'm still on the fence about whether to add a new page with breakfast info, so it's interesting that it hasn't been mentioned.
I wonder if we really can put ouselves in the position of being a regular guest. I think we as innkeepers look at website entirely differently than the non-innkeeper.
I go right for the rooms page. It's also a pet peeve of mine if the price of the room is not revealed in the description. I hate having to go to a separate page to try to find the rates, then remember which room is which to match it up with the rate.
I also go to the policies. You can tell a lot about a place by their policies. Again, we as innkeepers know how to read between the lines.
I definitely need online reservation request or real-time reservations..
NW BB said:
Very interesting! No one has mentioned something we talked about a week or so ago. No one has mentioned they look for breakfast info. I'm still on the fence about whether to add a new page with breakfast info, so it's interesting that it hasn't been mentioned.
I wonder if we really can put ouselves in the position of being a regular guest. I think we as innkeepers look at website entirely differently than the non-innkeeper.
I go right for the rooms page. It's also a pet peeve of mine if the price of the room is not revealed in the description. I hate having to go to a separate page to try to find the rates, then remember which room is which to match it up with the rate.
I also go to the policies. You can tell a lot about a place by their policies. Again, we as innkeepers know how to read between the lines.
I definitely need online reservation request or real-time reservations.
The quickest way to find out the frustrations is to plan a trip. It is almost painful to find good B&B websites. Simple clear information at your fingertips - then MORE information if you should delve deeper. The reason for this thread was to try to THINK like a guest to see your website. I find typically AS A GUEST things not mentioned on the website were not an oversight, which we had hoped, but were not mentioned on purpose.
Someone mentioned they foresee an end to directories with each Inn having their own website and marketing. I disagree, as it is VERY HELPFUL to go do one stop shopping and plan your trip. How many B&B's to choose from in this particular area? Find out on the directory. Not every inn's seo puts them in the proper top 3 when you google.
I planned a trip and was overwhelmed and got a migraine over the mish-mash of B&B website, can't find rates, can't locate room pics -oh they are on the reservations booking page, can't find policies - oh you have to book a room to find them, on and on and on.
 

Copperhead

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Very interesting! No one has mentioned something we talked about a week or so ago. No one has mentioned they look for breakfast info. I'm still on the fence about whether to add a new page with breakfast info, so it's interesting that it hasn't been mentioned.
I wonder if we really can put ouselves in the position of being a regular guest. I think we as innkeepers look at website entirely differently than the non-innkeeper.
I go right for the rooms page. It's also a pet peeve of mine if the price of the room is not revealed in the description. I hate having to go to a separate page to try to find the rates, then remember which room is which to match it up with the rate.
I also go to the policies. You can tell a lot about a place by their policies. Again, we as innkeepers know how to read between the lines.
I definitely need online reservation request or real-time reservations..
NW BB said:
Very interesting! No one has mentioned something we talked about a week or so ago. No one has mentioned they look for breakfast info. I'm still on the fence about whether to add a new page with breakfast info, so it's interesting that it hasn't been mentioned.
I tried to cover this on my post when I said:
5. 'Don't make me call you' - if you have been asked, cover it on the site.
JBJ - I am with you regarding looking at B&B websites. We recently took a mini pre V-day getaway and wanted (needed) to be within a 2 hr. drive. Wow, I was clearly blown away by the info on the area on the home pages but had to dig to find what I really wanted to know...rooms, rates, policies, breakfast. I knew what there was to do in the area, I wanted to know about THEM.
Now that I have said that, I do want to stress that it is important to describe the area - what to see, do. But maybe a small blurp on the home page - then forward them to a seperate page for more info- fill them in as much as possible. But, devote the 'front and center' (yes my dad was in the service) to your B&B - That in fact is what we are selling, where the B&B is located is second and they were (most likely) already interested in coming to the area before they found your site.
 

JunieBJones (JBJ)

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Very interesting! No one has mentioned something we talked about a week or so ago. No one has mentioned they look for breakfast info. I'm still on the fence about whether to add a new page with breakfast info, so it's interesting that it hasn't been mentioned.
I wonder if we really can put ouselves in the position of being a regular guest. I think we as innkeepers look at website entirely differently than the non-innkeeper.
I go right for the rooms page. It's also a pet peeve of mine if the price of the room is not revealed in the description. I hate having to go to a separate page to try to find the rates, then remember which room is which to match it up with the rate.
I also go to the policies. You can tell a lot about a place by their policies. Again, we as innkeepers know how to read between the lines.
I definitely need online reservation request or real-time reservations..
NW BB said:
Very interesting! No one has mentioned something we talked about a week or so ago. No one has mentioned they look for breakfast info. I'm still on the fence about whether to add a new page with breakfast info, so it's interesting that it hasn't been mentioned.
I tried to cover this on my post when I said:
5. 'Don't make me call you' - if you have been asked, cover it on the site.
JBJ - I am with you regarding looking at B&B websites. We recently took a mini pre V-day getaway and wanted (needed) to be within a 2 hr. drive. Wow, I was clearly blown away by the info on the area on the home pages but had to dig to find what I really wanted to know...rooms, rates, policies, breakfast. I knew what there was to do in the area, I wanted to know about THEM.
Now that I have said that, I do want to stress that it is important to describe the area - what to see, do. But maybe a small blurp on the home page - then forward them to a seperate page for more info- fill them in as much as possible. But, devote the 'front and center' (yes my dad was in the service) to your B&B - That in fact is what we are selling, where the B&B is located is second and they were (most likely) already interested in coming to the area before they found your site.
.
Copperhead said:
NW BB said:
Very interesting! No one has mentioned something we talked about a week or so ago. No one has mentioned they look for breakfast info. I'm still on the fence about whether to add a new page with breakfast info, so it's interesting that it hasn't been mentioned.
I tried to cover this on my post when I said:
5. 'Don't make me call you' - if you have been asked, cover it on the site.
JBJ - I am with you regarding looking at B&B websites. We recently took a mini pre V-day getaway and wanted (needed) to be within a 2 hr. drive. Wow, I was clearly blown away by the info on the area on the home pages but had to dig to find what I really wanted to know...rooms, rates, policies, breakfast. I knew what there was to do in the area, I wanted to know about THEM.
Now that I have said that, I do want to stress that it is important to describe the area - what to see, do. But maybe a small blurp on the home page - then forward them to a seperate page for more info- fill them in as much as possible. But, devote the 'front and center' (yes my dad was in the service) to your B&B - That in fact is what we are selling, where the B&B is located is second and they were (most likely) already interested in coming to the area before they found your site.
YES!!! NAIL ON THE HEAD YES!!!
"Keep the main thing the main thing" You are selling YOUR B&B, don't let them slip away on all the links. I agree wholeheartedly, put as much info as you can - content content content. BUT have separate pages. Example - if i booked a room with you, I want the booking and B&B info. Then later on while at work I might go back and EXPLORE your website.
Then from my perspective that is where the BLOG comes into play - you can FEATURE things to see and do in the area - photos of a hike to the local lighthouse, links, more photos, more links.
On our website I have so many addtl pages that are only clickable from a couple places, so I think I might do the site map so it is all OUT THERE should someone want to explore it. But the booking info needs to be top center.
 

Morticia

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Here's a tip from that website class I went to last week...this is how any person looks at any website...like a passenger in an terminal looking for their departure gate.
My interpretation:
You could have a beautiful store (home page) set up on the concourse (website) but that viewer is only looking for their gate (rooms, prices, policies).
You have to make it easy for them or they frustrated and move on. Like my guest who called to get info because, as she put it, 'You all have different websites and I don't have time to figure them out.'
So, even if you think the site is a snap, make sure that phone number or email is very visible for the ones who just are tired of searching and are ready to book with the next friendly voice they hear on the phone.
That was another point the instructor made in the class...unless you are Morgan Stanley and the viewer HAS to use you site to gain access to their money, the viewer will NOT learn your site.
 

cherry64

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Very interesting! No one has mentioned something we talked about a week or so ago. No one has mentioned they look for breakfast info. I'm still on the fence about whether to add a new page with breakfast info, so it's interesting that it hasn't been mentioned.
I wonder if we really can put ouselves in the position of being a regular guest. I think we as innkeepers look at website entirely differently than the non-innkeeper.
I go right for the rooms page. It's also a pet peeve of mine if the price of the room is not revealed in the description. I hate having to go to a separate page to try to find the rates, then remember which room is which to match it up with the rate.
I also go to the policies. You can tell a lot about a place by their policies. Again, we as innkeepers know how to read between the lines.
I definitely need online reservation request or real-time reservations..
Breakfast is VERY important to me. It is one of the first things I look at. I do not go to a B & B to get a continental that I could get at the local hotel/motel. The more elaborate the better to me.

So I guess I would say:
1. Good honest pictures of anything important. Room, view, breakfast. If I book a waterview room and check-in to find that waterview means that you can see the lake acrossed the 4-lane highway and parking lot of apartment buildings which are acrossed the street, I am going to be upset.
2. Good Breakfast. I like eggs and pancakes, but I can make that at home. I want more than the basics. Homemade breads, local favorites, award-winning recipes. Let me know what makes your breakfast the best in town.
3. Things to do in your town, with LINKS, if possible. Innkeeper recommendations are great. I often research where to go for dinner before I get to town, and what I want to see before I leave town.
4. Ability to book Online. I would have to really, really want to stay at your inn to call for a reservation. Once I make up my mind, let me book. Don't give me the time or opportunity to change my mind and book somewhere else by having to wait to call until after I get out of work.

5. Easy to find pricing and how many guest rooms are in the B & B total. I don't normally stay at an inn that has less than 3 rooms. Just personal preferance.
 

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