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SiteValet - a simple online tool to create, manage and host your website, built specifically for inns, B&Bs

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SiteValet

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Hi folks:
I see a lot of people on the forum talking about the best way and best tools to use to build a website. I've watched small businesses struggle for years with this: do it yourself or spend a few thousand dollars to have someone do it for you. We don't think the results and experiences have been great for a lot of people we talk to, so we are trying a completely new approach.
I'm new here and I don't want to be too sales-y, but I did want to let people here know about SiteValet. SiteValet is a simple online tool to create, manage and host your website, built specifically for inns and B&Bs.
I would love to have some of you give it a try and let me know what you think.
We think SiteValet takes a completely new (and way easier) approach to building and managing your website. And we think it creates excellent, no-compromise websites. More details are available at www.sitevalet.com
Our biggest innovation might be our pricing. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on a website design and development project, SiteValet costs $49.95/month, including hosting. No design costs. No development costs.
Signup is free and you can build and preview a full, working version of your new site for as long as you like. You only pay when you publish your website to your URL.
Want to see some examples? Here are a few of our customers:
Again, I'd love to hear your thoughts and field your questions.
Thanks, DAVE
 

EmptyNest

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Thanks for sharing. What I see so far I like. This is a nice alternative for folks who want control over editing their site without the hassle of html. I assume you have a variety of templates / looks rather than just one cookie cutter one. You do the hosting. Can you also obtain domains or does the inn have to handle that themselves. At first $49.95 a month seems a bit high..but upon consideration...it is very reasonable considering many have to pay in the thousands to have a good site done for them.
In the short term, we’ll be adding the ability for you to provide a link to any third-party reservations solution you’re using. This will pop-up a new browser window from your site, taking your visitors to your presence on the external site.
I think this solution is better than trying to create something else. There are plenty of sites folks can use now.
I hope someone takes you up on this and lets us know how it goes for them. You need to start making the Innkeeping show circuit to show this off. You may could give the "big guys" a run for their money. At least get yourself as a member of PAII.
 

Morticia

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I didn't really do a lot of looking around so I don't know how well the websites are optimized using your templates, but it certainly seems like someone just starting out, with not a lot of money to throw at a programmer, could do a nice job for themselves with this. However, in the long run, it might work out to be quite pricey with the cost of the hosting.
There is a definite 'sameness' to all the sites. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing as long as the template covers all the pertinent details and can be customizable in some fashion.
Do you have multiple templates or does the inn just customize the color schemes?
 

EmptyNest

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I didn't really do a lot of looking around so I don't know how well the websites are optimized using your templates, but it certainly seems like someone just starting out, with not a lot of money to throw at a programmer, could do a nice job for themselves with this. However, in the long run, it might work out to be quite pricey with the cost of the hosting.
There is a definite 'sameness' to all the sites. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing as long as the template covers all the pertinent details and can be customizable in some fashion.
Do you have multiple templates or does the inn just customize the color schemes?.
Well it looks like they can edit out titles and descriptions and if they put the right keyword text in the pages, seems like it should be ok. Again like you...I don't care for cookie cutter looks. But I didn't want to sign up to see what the options were.
I thought hosting was included in the cost of the site. Did I miss something??
 

Morticia

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I didn't really do a lot of looking around so I don't know how well the websites are optimized using your templates, but it certainly seems like someone just starting out, with not a lot of money to throw at a programmer, could do a nice job for themselves with this. However, in the long run, it might work out to be quite pricey with the cost of the hosting.
There is a definite 'sameness' to all the sites. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing as long as the template covers all the pertinent details and can be customizable in some fashion.
Do you have multiple templates or does the inn just customize the color schemes?.
Well it looks like they can edit out titles and descriptions and if they put the right keyword text in the pages, seems like it should be ok. Again like you...I don't care for cookie cutter looks. But I didn't want to sign up to see what the options were.
I thought hosting was included in the cost of the site. Did I miss something??
.
Hosting is included. The package is $49.95/month. I was thinking that after a few years of paying the 'extra' (over what a normal hosting pkg costs) you will have recouped all you saved from not having a professional do the site and then you're just paying extra every month for a service you're not using.
 

Don Draper

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I didn't really do a lot of looking around so I don't know how well the websites are optimized using your templates, but it certainly seems like someone just starting out, with not a lot of money to throw at a programmer, could do a nice job for themselves with this. However, in the long run, it might work out to be quite pricey with the cost of the hosting.
There is a definite 'sameness' to all the sites. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing as long as the template covers all the pertinent details and can be customizable in some fashion.
Do you have multiple templates or does the inn just customize the color schemes?.
Well it looks like they can edit out titles and descriptions and if they put the right keyword text in the pages, seems like it should be ok. Again like you...I don't care for cookie cutter looks. But I didn't want to sign up to see what the options were.
I thought hosting was included in the cost of the site. Did I miss something??
.
I don't know, anymore it seems like even the really high end designers are starting to crank out "cookie cutter" type sites. It's hard, once they find something that works for them I'm sure it's easier to duplicate than constantly reinvent the wheel.
 

Breakfast Diva

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Once the site is designed, is there ever a time when the innkeeper can change hosting companies, or would they be forever held hostage until they did spend the couple grand to have a real developer do a site for them. What if this new company didn't make it and went belly up?
 

Innkeeper To Go

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Once the site is designed, is there ever a time when the innkeeper can change hosting companies, or would they be forever held hostage until they did spend the couple grand to have a real developer do a site for them. What if this new company didn't make it and went belly up?.
That would be my concern, too.
Both because of the belly-up possibility but also because paying $50 a month for hosting longterm would not make good sense.
 

Copperhead

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I agree that over time that cost of $50 per month would quickly add up to the cost of having a professional individually designed site. They may consider reducing the fee on a sliding scale starting the second year.
Did not look on the site, only glanced at a couple of the expamples, but how are the domains purchased. I would never let a company such as this one purchase my domain as well as design and host my site. If at some point most would want to leave this costly hosting to seek one that is easier on the pocket. I am wondering if they allow you to carry your site with you if you leave... (most likely not, but at some point it seems as though you have paid the pipper plenty).
 

swirt

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Hi Dave, and welcome to Innspiring.
Ok so I am obviously a little biased, but here is what I see and will do my best to be objective.
Your site says: SEO: We take care of the little things your site should do to optimize for search engines like Google: well-structured HTML, a sitemap.xml file, and a few others.
Looking at your three examples I would say these are not even close to being taking care of the little things of SEO. The titles are pretty much non-examples of SEO. Yes the html is fine (until somebody copies and pastes some crap into the online editor and then it becomes part of their site .. a downfall of nearly all content management systems unless they are really restrictive about what html they allow.)
The xml sitemap is a nice touch, but it incorrectly displays that all pages are updated every time the sitemap is loaded.(http://www.stanhopebeachresort.com/sitemap.xml hit refresh and watch the times go up each time) which offers really no benefit other than constantly crying wolf to the search engines .... "hey look this page just changed....oh sorry, no it didn't." It makes it only a matter of time before search engines just start ignoring it.
Images are all stored and referenced on an amazon server.... that doesn't really help when that image is found in an image search and then can't be credited or attributed back to the site that actually owns it or needs the traffic from it. (image search is not a huge source of conversions, but it can result in some)
Your site says: It’s built specifically for inns, B&Bs and small hotels.
What features are specific to these? This seems to be a content management system that could be used for any business or website. Maybe I am missing something or that part of the marketing is not in place yet.
Copperhead wrote:
I would never let a company such as this one purchase my domain as well as design and host my site.
That doesn't seem to be a shortcoming in this case. Of the three samples, they seem to be independently owned domain names.
Breakfast Diva wrote:
Once the site is designed, is there ever a time when the innkeeper can change hosting companies,
This would be more like renting than owning. You are essentially renting the website. You could copy the html for each and every page and then move it to an ordinary server (losing the ability to edit it using their editor. The question would really be whether SiteValet would allow this or whether they would claim ownership of the site and not allow you to do that.
Don't get me wrong, there are pros to this in addition to the cons I have mentioned.
  • This offers easy access to get a website up and going rather than having larger startup costs right up front.
  • This does allow people to update their site without needing someone else to do it. (caveat: there is no protection to keep themselves from doing themselves harm)
  • It is cost effective if you plan to keep the site less than 2-3 years. It is also cost effective if you planned to completely revamp/recreate a traditional site every 4 years or so
I think the claims made by the site that these are "better" than others that would cost $3K or more is probably a stretch, though that depends on the designer. The CMS is a nice feature, but lots of designers offer those now.
From the design standpoint if someone wanted similar looking sites (not including the content, just looking at the templates) it would be a lot more cost effective (especially long term) to
  1. Get affordable and reliable hosting for $4-$6 per month (including the domain name)
  2. Install WordPress (free) to use as your CMS (most people think of it only as a blog tool, but it has the ability to create more standard sites too)
  3. Customise a wordpress template for that B&B
Even if they had to pay someone to do 2&3, the cost would be less than the cost of 2 years at $50 per month.
 

white pine

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Once the site is designed, is there ever a time when the innkeeper can change hosting companies, or would they be forever held hostage until they did spend the couple grand to have a real developer do a site for them. What if this new company didn't make it and went belly up?.
Even though I don't have an inn yet, this would be my concern. It reminds me of rent to own, only you don't own it ever. It would be more interesting as portable product at least at the end of a period of time ala rent to own. Still not would be something I would do. I'll shop around.
 

EmptyNest

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Hi Dave, and welcome to Innspiring.
Ok so I am obviously a little biased, but here is what I see and will do my best to be objective.
Your site says: SEO: We take care of the little things your site should do to optimize for search engines like Google: well-structured HTML, a sitemap.xml file, and a few others.
Looking at your three examples I would say these are not even close to being taking care of the little things of SEO. The titles are pretty much non-examples of SEO. Yes the html is fine (until somebody copies and pastes some crap into the online editor and then it becomes part of their site .. a downfall of nearly all content management systems unless they are really restrictive about what html they allow.)
The xml sitemap is a nice touch, but it incorrectly displays that all pages are updated every time the sitemap is loaded.(http://www.stanhopebeachresort.com/sitemap.xml hit refresh and watch the times go up each time) which offers really no benefit other than constantly crying wolf to the search engines .... "hey look this page just changed....oh sorry, no it didn't." It makes it only a matter of time before search engines just start ignoring it.
Images are all stored and referenced on an amazon server.... that doesn't really help when that image is found in an image search and then can't be credited or attributed back to the site that actually owns it or needs the traffic from it. (image search is not a huge source of conversions, but it can result in some)
Your site says: It’s built specifically for inns, B&Bs and small hotels.
What features are specific to these? This seems to be a content management system that could be used for any business or website. Maybe I am missing something or that part of the marketing is not in place yet.
Copperhead wrote:
I would never let a company such as this one purchase my domain as well as design and host my site.
That doesn't seem to be a shortcoming in this case. Of the three samples, they seem to be independently owned domain names.
Breakfast Diva wrote:
Once the site is designed, is there ever a time when the innkeeper can change hosting companies,
This would be more like renting than owning. You are essentially renting the website. You could copy the html for each and every page and then move it to an ordinary server (losing the ability to edit it using their editor. The question would really be whether SiteValet would allow this or whether they would claim ownership of the site and not allow you to do that.
Don't get me wrong, there are pros to this in addition to the cons I have mentioned.
  • This offers easy access to get a website up and going rather than having larger startup costs right up front.
  • This does allow people to update their site without needing someone else to do it. (caveat: there is no protection to keep themselves from doing themselves harm)
  • It is cost effective if you plan to keep the site less than 2-3 years. It is also cost effective if you planned to completely revamp/recreate a traditional site every 4 years or so
I think the claims made by the site that these are "better" than others that would cost $3K or more is probably a stretch, though that depends on the designer. The CMS is a nice feature, but lots of designers offer those now.
From the design standpoint if someone wanted similar looking sites (not including the content, just looking at the templates) it would be a lot more cost effective (especially long term) to
  1. Get affordable and reliable hosting for $4-$6 per month (including the domain name)
  2. Install WordPress (free) to use as your CMS (most people think of it only as a blog tool, but it has the ability to create more standard sites too)
  3. Customise a wordpress template for that B&B
Even if they had to pay someone to do 2&3, the cost would be less than the cost of 2 years at $50 per month..
Thanks for your words of wisdom SWIRT. I knew you would give us all the "Real Skinny" on site. What appears to be an easy way to go for someone wanting to come up with a half decent looking site, still has some pitfalls. As I read closer and see that this is basically a "rental" site, it would not be something I personally would recommend at this time.
 

wendydk

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Swirt said: "Looking at your three examples I would say these are not even close to being taking care of the little things of SEO".
Too true. When you google "Prince Edward Island B&B", none of the sample sites come up in the first six pages, except the one that has a google business listing...and that appearance is not SEO related.
I think the concept has value....maybe just needs the bugs worked out! Best of Luck with your venture.
 

EmptyNest

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Swirt said: "Looking at your three examples I would say these are not even close to being taking care of the little things of SEO".
Too true. When you google "Prince Edward Island B&B", none of the sample sites come up in the first six pages, except the one that has a google business listing...and that appearance is not SEO related.
I think the concept has value....maybe just needs the bugs worked out! Best of Luck with your venture..
Don't you think the little SEO is because the innkeepers don't really have a clue as to what it involves. THe company provides the template and that is it I would guess. There is no guidance as to what to do for SEO. That is something most folks don't have a clue about and they don't want to learn either...they just think put up a web site and people will find it. :-(
I did a site for someone recently, she called me up the NEXT DAY and said, "how come I don't show up first in Google today?" GIVE ME A BREAK!!! That's when I just have to bite my tongue and try to explain in as simple language as I can ..."it doesn't work that way" :-(
 

swirt

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Swirt said: "Looking at your three examples I would say these are not even close to being taking care of the little things of SEO".
Too true. When you google "Prince Edward Island B&B", none of the sample sites come up in the first six pages, except the one that has a google business listing...and that appearance is not SEO related.
I think the concept has value....maybe just needs the bugs worked out! Best of Luck with your venture..
Don't you think the little SEO is because the innkeepers don't really have a clue as to what it involves. THe company provides the template and that is it I would guess. There is no guidance as to what to do for SEO. That is something most folks don't have a clue about and they don't want to learn either...they just think put up a web site and people will find it. :-(
I did a site for someone recently, she called me up the NEXT DAY and said, "how come I don't show up first in Google today?" GIVE ME A BREAK!!! That's when I just have to bite my tongue and try to explain in as simple language as I can ..."it doesn't work that way" :-(
.
Don't you think the little SEO is because the innkeepers don't really have a clue as to what it involves. THe company provides the template and that is it I would guess.
I would say that is definitely true. The problem I had with it was the part from the site that says they take care of the SEO stuff. That leaves the unsuspecting people who take that at face value and actually believe that part is being taken care of...when it doesn't seem to be the case. I'd rather have it say, the system allows you to manage your own SEO and is flexible enough to allow you to do that (or something like that). That way innkeepers would realize that they have to step up and do it...rather than wait around for a long time and wonder why their site does not perform well in the search engines. Often by the time people realize this, alot of time has been lost and opportunities to make money were missed.
 

SiteValet

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Hi Dave, and welcome to Innspiring.
Ok so I am obviously a little biased, but here is what I see and will do my best to be objective.
Your site says: SEO: We take care of the little things your site should do to optimize for search engines like Google: well-structured HTML, a sitemap.xml file, and a few others.
Looking at your three examples I would say these are not even close to being taking care of the little things of SEO. The titles are pretty much non-examples of SEO. Yes the html is fine (until somebody copies and pastes some crap into the online editor and then it becomes part of their site .. a downfall of nearly all content management systems unless they are really restrictive about what html they allow.)
The xml sitemap is a nice touch, but it incorrectly displays that all pages are updated every time the sitemap is loaded.(http://www.stanhopebeachresort.com/sitemap.xml hit refresh and watch the times go up each time) which offers really no benefit other than constantly crying wolf to the search engines .... "hey look this page just changed....oh sorry, no it didn't." It makes it only a matter of time before search engines just start ignoring it.
Images are all stored and referenced on an amazon server.... that doesn't really help when that image is found in an image search and then can't be credited or attributed back to the site that actually owns it or needs the traffic from it. (image search is not a huge source of conversions, but it can result in some)
Your site says: It’s built specifically for inns, B&Bs and small hotels.
What features are specific to these? This seems to be a content management system that could be used for any business or website. Maybe I am missing something or that part of the marketing is not in place yet.
Copperhead wrote:
I would never let a company such as this one purchase my domain as well as design and host my site.
That doesn't seem to be a shortcoming in this case. Of the three samples, they seem to be independently owned domain names.
Breakfast Diva wrote:
Once the site is designed, is there ever a time when the innkeeper can change hosting companies,
This would be more like renting than owning. You are essentially renting the website. You could copy the html for each and every page and then move it to an ordinary server (losing the ability to edit it using their editor. The question would really be whether SiteValet would allow this or whether they would claim ownership of the site and not allow you to do that.
Don't get me wrong, there are pros to this in addition to the cons I have mentioned.
  • This offers easy access to get a website up and going rather than having larger startup costs right up front.
  • This does allow people to update their site without needing someone else to do it. (caveat: there is no protection to keep themselves from doing themselves harm)
  • It is cost effective if you plan to keep the site less than 2-3 years. It is also cost effective if you planned to completely revamp/recreate a traditional site every 4 years or so
I think the claims made by the site that these are "better" than others that would cost $3K or more is probably a stretch, though that depends on the designer. The CMS is a nice feature, but lots of designers offer those now.
From the design standpoint if someone wanted similar looking sites (not including the content, just looking at the templates) it would be a lot more cost effective (especially long term) to
  1. Get affordable and reliable hosting for $4-$6 per month (including the domain name)
  2. Install WordPress (free) to use as your CMS (most people think of it only as a blog tool, but it has the ability to create more standard sites too)
  3. Customise a wordpress template for that B&B
Even if they had to pay someone to do 2&3, the cost would be less than the cost of 2 years at $50 per month..
Hey Steve:
Thanks for the comments.
so I am obviously a little biased
True: we're competitors to a certain degree, but your feedback is pretty balanced and fair. I appreciate it. Let me try to answer/tackle some things.
SEO
You're probably right on some accounts here. We're just getting going and we're probably missing some things. First let me say that our intent is to implement as many on-site SEO best-practices as possible. The nice thing about a platform like SiteValet is that we can make an improvement tomorrow that automatically manifests itself on all of our customers' sites (e.g. fixing the sitemap.xml problem you mention).
One of the things I observed when starting is that many designers/developers were failing to implement even the most basic best-practices. My goal is to ensure we do all that we can in this regard.
Also, while we will strive to get everything right, I think we add value as long as what we do is better than what our customers currently have. In this regard we're doing pretty well. Some examples: I use Website Grader and WooRank as a way to quickly check some customers sites before and after they go with SiteValet. Here are some before & after Website Grader scores for a couple customers:
(yes, I see areas of the Website Grader reports where we need to improve ... and we will)
Sites like Website Grader don't tell the whole story, but I'm pretty comfortable that we've made substantial on-site SEO improvements for these customers.
Yes the html is fine (until somebody copies and pastes some crap into the online editor and then it becomes part of their site .. a downfall of nearly all content management systems unless they are really restrictive about what html they allow.
Great point and yes, we aggressively strip out all HTML. Our rich-text fields only support bold, italics, ordered and unoredered lists, and links. All other formatting and all HTML is controlled by the application.
xml sitemap is a nice touch, but it incorrectly displays that all pages are updated every time the sitemap is loaded
Thanks for pointing it out. Looks like you're right. I've entered a ticket and our devs will fix it.
Images on Amazon S3. Agreed, but I think the advantages here (for us and our customers) outweighs the image search issue.
This seems to be a content management system that could be used for any business or website.
This is one I care a lot about. We are definitely built specifically for inns and B&Bs! SiteValet is a CMS in the sense that it allows you to "manage content." But it's not a CMS in the sense of it being a bunch of generic pages or text blocks with a MS Word-like formatting bar (like where I'm entering this post). This is what most developers (and site-builder apps) give their customers when they "CMS-enable" their sites.
SiteValet is based on a data model that is very specific to my customer group: amenities, units, rates, hours, etc, etc. You create a site on SiteValet by entering data in a series of forms that are very specific to these types of businesses. The app then generates the resulting site based on the information architecture and themes that we've created ... again, specific to these types of businesses.
And finally, we wake up every day trying to figure out how to help inns and B&Bs with their websites and their web presence. Just like it appears you do; this sets you apart from other web developers that just do websites and are happy to do one for an inn.
Of the three samples, they seem to be independently owned domain names.
You're right. We don't own them. Customers can manage their own and update A records, or they can transfer to us. In the latter case, we don't own them; we'e the registrar (and technical contact).
Pricing & Business Model. I'll tackle this one with a separate post at the end of thread. Lots of folks had questions, comments and concerns.
Again, thanks for the feedback. I'm new to INNspiring, but I'm pretty impressed with the level of engagement and civility.
Thanks, DAVE
 

SiteValet

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Swirt said: "Looking at your three examples I would say these are not even close to being taking care of the little things of SEO".
Too true. When you google "Prince Edward Island B&B", none of the sample sites come up in the first six pages, except the one that has a google business listing...and that appearance is not SEO related.
I think the concept has value....maybe just needs the bugs worked out! Best of Luck with your venture..
Don't you think the little SEO is because the innkeepers don't really have a clue as to what it involves. THe company provides the template and that is it I would guess. There is no guidance as to what to do for SEO. That is something most folks don't have a clue about and they don't want to learn either...they just think put up a web site and people will find it. :-(
I did a site for someone recently, she called me up the NEXT DAY and said, "how come I don't show up first in Google today?" GIVE ME A BREAK!!! That's when I just have to bite my tongue and try to explain in as simple language as I can ..."it doesn't work that way" :-(
.
Thanks for this. As we control the actual website, our goal is to do as much as we can with on-site SEO (good code, etc). But as you point out, a lot (most?) SEO takes place offsite: link building, social media, etc, etc.
 

SiteValet

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Swirt said: "Looking at your three examples I would say these are not even close to being taking care of the little things of SEO".
Too true. When you google "Prince Edward Island B&B", none of the sample sites come up in the first six pages, except the one that has a google business listing...and that appearance is not SEO related.
I think the concept has value....maybe just needs the bugs worked out! Best of Luck with your venture..
Don't you think the little SEO is because the innkeepers don't really have a clue as to what it involves. THe company provides the template and that is it I would guess. There is no guidance as to what to do for SEO. That is something most folks don't have a clue about and they don't want to learn either...they just think put up a web site and people will find it. :-(
I did a site for someone recently, she called me up the NEXT DAY and said, "how come I don't show up first in Google today?" GIVE ME A BREAK!!! That's when I just have to bite my tongue and try to explain in as simple language as I can ..."it doesn't work that way" :-(
.
Don't you think the little SEO is because the innkeepers don't really have a clue as to what it involves. THe company provides the template and that is it I would guess.
I would say that is definitely true. The problem I had with it was the part from the site that says they take care of the SEO stuff. That leaves the unsuspecting people who take that at face value and actually believe that part is being taken care of...when it doesn't seem to be the case. I'd rather have it say, the system allows you to manage your own SEO and is flexible enough to allow you to do that (or something like that). That way innkeepers would realize that they have to step up and do it...rather than wait around for a long time and wonder why their site does not perform well in the search engines. Often by the time people realize this, alot of time has been lost and opportunities to make money were missed.
.
Fair point, Steve. I probably need to do a better job of clarifying what we do vs. what the owner needs to do. It is our plan to help in this regard with blog posts to educate and the addition of some tools to help with off-site web presence, but your point's well taken.
 

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Thanks for sharing. What I see so far I like. This is a nice alternative for folks who want control over editing their site without the hassle of html. I assume you have a variety of templates / looks rather than just one cookie cutter one. You do the hosting. Can you also obtain domains or does the inn have to handle that themselves. At first $49.95 a month seems a bit high..but upon consideration...it is very reasonable considering many have to pay in the thousands to have a good site done for them.
In the short term, we’ll be adding the ability for you to provide a link to any third-party reservations solution you’re using. This will pop-up a new browser window from your site, taking your visitors to your presence on the external site.
I think this solution is better than trying to create something else. There are plenty of sites folks can use now.
I hope someone takes you up on this and lets us know how it goes for them. You need to start making the Innkeeping show circuit to show this off. You may could give the "big guys" a run for their money. At least get yourself as a member of PAII..
Hi catlady:
Thanks for the encouraging comments. I appreciate it. A few quick answers:
  • Yes, we have a variety of "themes." We only have 12 up there now, but I have a group of designers working on 20 new ones and we'll continue to add more on an ongoing basis. We also offer custom themes for $899. These give a customer a completely unique design while they still get all the benefits of the platform.
  • Domain names. User choice. If you have your own, you just point your A records at our servers. If you don't, or if you have to transfer away from your current host (which is the case for a lot of our customers) we manage domain names for $29.95/year. This is a premium over do-it-yourself with someone like GoDaddy, but we manage everything for you. We even provision a Google Apps for Your Domain account and create all necessary A, MX and CNAME records.
DAVE
 

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Hi folks:
First, sorry for posting then disappearing. Was away for a bit, but back now.
Thanks for all the great comments and questions. I'm new here but really impressed with the level of engagement and civility on this forum. Even the criticism here was respectfully positioned and all seemed constructive. I really appreciate it.
I've gone through and answered some specific posts and questions inline. I wrote a particularly long response to Steve's (swirt) thoughtful feedback. There were a series of similar questions and thoughts regarding pricing, value, "rent vs. buy", etc. that I thought I'd answer here.
SiteValet pricing and business model.
As I mentioned, we charge $49.95/month for SiteValet. There are no other up-front or ongoing charges (other than domain registration, which you can do yourself). We believe this represents real savings on an total-cost basis, compared to the alternatives.
First, some additional info: True, if you ever leave, you don't take your site with you. You own your content, but we own the code, HTML and designs. This makes sense. Otherwise, you could signup, use it for a month, save all of the HTML and go elsewhere. We pay a lot for our designs and recoup those costs over time and across multiple customers.
Is $49.95 more than you would pay for hosting elsewhere? Yep. Though in many cases, not much more. Our target market aren't tech savvy (though many members of this forum are). Many of our customers are still hosting under old agreements with their telecom company or original web developer (from 5-10 years ago). We have a number of folks coming to us from a developer that still charges $45/month for hosting only.
So we think the $49.95 is a premium over hosting only, but in many cases only a $10-25/month premium.
But with that, you get a completely new site. To do it custom, you're likely looking at $3k or more. Even if you lived with that design for 5 years, that $3k amortizes out to cost $50/month ... and that's not taking into account any time value of money. Spend more than $3k, or redesign before 5 years and that monthly cost goes up considerably.
Next, with SiteValet you get a dynamic platform. A custom-developed website is a static thing (leaving aside user changes to content in a CMS-enabled site). With us, we make improvements and release new features constantly. On your own site, each of these changes would require you to pay a developer (in most cases $50-100/hour).
And finally, with SiteValet you get full access to our library of themes. Want a redesign in a year? Just choose a new theme: instant (and free) redesign. Going the other route, you're looking at another $3k+
This also comes down to an age-old business choice along the lines of lease vs. buy. We are finding many of our customers are thrilled to have an option to dramatically improve their websites without having to swallow a multi-thousand dollar upfront investment. There are others (some of you) who would prefer to spend that amount upfront and less on an ongoing basis.
We're really comfortable with our pricing and the value (and alternative) it represents. Maybe not the right plan for everyone, but a great choice for some.
Again, thanks for all the great feedback and questions. I'll try to keep a better eye on things here and respond in a more timely manner in the future.
Thanks, DAVE
 
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