Website Features

[From an interesting conversation on the old forum:]

B&B websites come in all shapes and sizes. The list of options can be intimidating. Some things are essential, some are not. Opinions vary, but if I had to narrow it down to three things, I would choose:

1. All pages must have real text that can be read by search engines. This text should describe both the inn and the area including the area’s attractions. (many sites in an effort to be pretty use pictures of text which are absolutely invisible to search engines)

2. High quality images of your inn. Small, dark, or grainy images should be avoided.

3. A online reservation system with availability calendar. Not just a request form that emails you a request, but an actual system that takes reservations and updates the availability calendar. The travel trend is that people like to book vacations at odd times, the middle of the night, first thing in the morning, while they are at work… If you don’t take advantage of being able to accept reservations online 24/7 you risk guests looking elsewhere.

Of course the beauty of a website is, you don’t have to stop at just 3 items. Look at your own and other B&B sites from a traveler’s point of view. What would you want to find on a B&B website? Share your thoughts and dreams here.

3 thoughts on “Website Features”

  1. I agree with your points about what sites should attend to for clarity and usability. Text on a page, rather than an image containing text, may be the most important point you made.
    I do feel that pictures are important, butI feel they need to be sized so that load time is minimal. If a picture is too big (too many pixels, not its apparent size) it takes too long to load the picture(s) and thus the page. Between people being in a hurry and still so many people being on dial-up connections, it’s a kiss of death to be slow.
    Clear navigation — how you get around the site — is important too. If you have topics hidden under navigation buttons, then you need a site map. For example, if You have a page on your news releases or links to your printed articles, and then tuck something about your environmental policies in there, people won’t readily find the environmental policies — unless you have a site map they can view.

  2. Past Guest comments can be a nice addition to a web site. They can be used effectively as annecdotal quotes sprinkled around the entire site or they can be placed all on a single page. Through tracking software on our own website I find that many visitors make the move from the guest comments page directly to our reservation system. Past guests will often include something in their comments that an innkeeper couldn’t say themselves. An innkeeper declaring that their rooms are clean sounds bosting, but a guest declaring that they love how clean the rooms are is great. Of course the the guest comments could always be fake, so it is no proof of anything, but generally they are nice additions.
    We put comment cards in each guest’s room the day before they check out, inviting comments and suggestions. We get some helpful suggestions this way and we get great comments that we can place on our web site. Some are so cleverly written that you are certain they wrote it with the sole purpose of later seeing it appear on the web site.
    When putting guest comments on our site we are careful to respect our guest’s privacy so we do not use their last name and we do not reveal their exact address, email, phone number or any other info that would put them at risk of spam, harassment, or identity theft.
    Steve Wirt
    Wine Country Cabins Bed and Breakfast in the Finger Lakes
    and Inngenious Bed and Breakfast Website Promotion

  3. One feature I suggest as innkeepers are looking to improve their B&B website design is to add a page of recommendations on local restaurants. This is a great addition because it fills a need for nearly all of your potential guests. Even if you are lucky enough to be in a resort area, you can never be sure if incoming guests are coming for golf, skiing, horseback riding, wineries, or comic book shops, but the one thing you can be sure of is that your guests will need a couple of meals a day. You will be providing breakfast, but that still leaves a meal or two a day on their own. Many travelers are a lot more comfortable if they don’t have to blindly forage for themselves (although some love that idea). Provide them with recommendations on restaurants including what the places are known for (quiet intimacy, fancy, large portions, live music, specific type of cuisine…) .
    Avoid bad recommendations – If there is a place you wouldn’t recommend because the food or service is bad, just don’t list them. However, be careful not to just recommend the fancy expensive places. Many guests will appreciate being directed to affordable places to eat with decent quality food. (include price info in your descriptions)
    Link out to as many of the places on your list that have websites. Some restaurants will notice and may link back to you and will also send guests your way over time. It is a win-win.
    And of course there are several search engine related benefits to adding a restaurant recommendation page to your site if it is done correctly.
    Steve Wirt
    Wine Country Cabins Bed and Breakfast in the Finger Lakes
    and Inngenious Bed and Breakfast Website Promotion

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