It’s only when I was looking for somewhere nice to stay for our own break away that I realised how terrible some people’s websites are! I wanted a nice little B&B like ours really – reasonably priced, nice breakfast, good reviews, personally run, in an area with plenty to do and somewhere to have a nice meal.
In this day and age, there really is no excuse. There’s a whole range of options available to businesses from doing it yourself like we do with easy-to-use programmes that are no harder than Microsoft Publisher where you can drag and drop and amend what to want, to off the self templates where you just fill in the boxes and press publish. There’s always the option of a professional website designer too but prices vary wildly and in the ever-changing accommodation sector, it can be difficult and frustrating if you have to ask and wait every time you want something changing or updating.
A poor or outdated website is going to loose you my booking immediately. Here’s my top 5 pet hates:
Well, basically – update! Update your website at least once a year!! I update my website very regularly, sometimes daily or weekly but I doubt a month ever goes by without adding a blog or a photo, changing a page or updating something.
I hate it when someone gets a sparkly new website and thinks a blog would be a great idea. They’ve been told how good it is to help your website be found organically in Google and think “why not?”. Unfortunately, so often that was back in 2017. They wrote a blog entry in July and another in August when they were super keen. They then had some big news around Christmas 2018, then it’s not been touched since. Nothing says unloved like a sad blog. If you can’t be arsed to write it, remove it. Completely. If you can’t be bothered with that, can you be bothered with maintenance around the B&B? Can you be bothered to clean my room thoroughly? And how out of date is all the other information on your website? No thanks. I’m gone.
Also under this heading falls all other manner of updates – I want to see current room prices, not those from 2019. I don’t want to know that you’re planning to re-open from COVID lockdown (one) on 4th July when we’ve all been closed, reopened and closed again since.
Think of your website as a shop window at a green grocer. You don’t just make a lovely display one day and leave it. A year later those lovely ripe bananas and juicy strawberries are not going to be looking anywhere near appetising. You may get away with the apples still looking a bit green and not too bad but no one’s going to come in and buy when they’re surrounded by out-of-date food.
First of all, I’m the one that can’t be arsed this time. I can’t be arsed to email or message you and there’s no way on earth I’m going to call you to see if you have availability. I want to type in my dates and know which rooms you have available and the price immediately. Simples.
If you have no online booking facility in this day and age then I’m not going to want to come and stay anyway – let’s face it, the chance of you also having the high speed wifi and Smart TV I’d like are probably non-existent.
And don’t make it difficult – some people have plainly never tried to book a room at their own property. Some systems are just rubbish. Particularly on a mobile phone. It should be as easy as possible. There’s a reason why Booking.com get bookings via their website – they try to be as frictionless as possible.
While I’m on the subject of booking, as per point number one – I need current pricing, not last year’s, I need to know all about your bedrooms, and I want to book ahead. If we’re in September and you haven’t got next year’s prices and availability on your website / booking system yet then you’re loosing bookings. You should always try to have at least the next six to twelve months available to book.
Taking a good photo is as easy as taking your phone out of your pocket, pointing and pressing a button. No special lighting, lenses or fancy cameras needed. Of course they can help you get fantastic professional shots but something half-decent is just as easy on an iPhone. Our website photos are 90% taken by us on our phones.
A big turn off is bad photos. I’m not going to book somewhere that thinks it’s ok to have photos where you can’t be bothered to straighten the duvet or the pillows before taking the shot. I’m looking for attention to detail, not a toilet seat up and a poorly set up shot.
What’s more, I want to choose the nicest bedroom. I’m looking for a super king bed and a large walk-in shower. How can I tell which room to pick if there’s no full description of each room and no photos of the rooms? Bathroom photos are often missing too.
I don’t want to take a chance, so I’ll often just move on to the next place.
It goes without saying that we’ve got great reviews at The 25 – after all, we’re the best bed and breakfast on the planet. We’ve worked damn hard to get great reviews. I usually check the reviews of other B&Bs on TripAdvisor and often find it useful to look at the photos guests have posted on there too.
It would be useful if there were a link to reviews on the B&B website to save me having to search on Google. It’s important that they have a good reputation. I’m not put off by the odd poor review, particularly if they’re from a way back. I will look at ranking. If someone is 19th out of 20 B&Bs in their town then I’ll start to re-think. If they can’t be bothered to reply to their reviews, again another warning. It’s also interesting where reviews appear. If someone has hardly any TripAdvisor reviews but loads of Booking.com reviews, that tells me most of their guests are not repeat guests. Is the business fairly new or are people just not enjoying it enough to go back?
Well, lack of information actually. It doesn’t all need to be on the home page, but I would like a few other pages or links to further information if I want to read it. I’m not one for surprises, I want to know exactly what I’m getting.
I want to know what the breakfast menu is. I can tell how special a place is then. If they only do a full English, that’s probably still fine but if I’m looking for a luxury bed and breakfast then I’d hope to see some other dishes too.
It’s important to me that a B&B owner is hands on and I’ll get a personal welcome. I’ve been to so called B&Bs before where you let yourself in with a code and find your own bedroom. That’s not for me. An “About Us” section is always a help so you know the person behind the business.
I’d also like to know what there is to do in the area. There’s no point staying somewhere in the middle of November if the only activity locally is a day at the beach. I want to know about things like National Trust properties, museums, walks and so on to check I want to go there and spend time. B&Bs should be selling their area just as much as themselves. We’ve listed no end of places to visit and things to do on our website, not to mention all my many blogs on days out, places to visit, favourite walks and so on. Yes, I could go to Google and start researching myself but I’m short on time and want the work done for me. Once someone is on The 25 Boutique B&B’s website then they shouldn’t need to go anywhere else before pressing the “Book Now” button.
Whilst I’m on the subject of location, you’re a bed and breakfast therefore won’t serve an evening meal so why are you not listing local places to eat? I want to know that I can walk to a decent place to eat or that it’s easy to get a taxi and a nice place to eat won’t be too far away.
And another thing…
Why oh why do people not do some research when they set up their B&B name and their website? Calling it a common name when there’s lots of them all over the country is never going to help prospective guests find you. Ideally you want to be the only one that comes up in a Google search.
And I can’t believe I’m even having to type this but there are actually still some B&Bs without their own websites! They seem to think it’s ok to just be listed on other third party websites like Booking.com – why on earth are they ok giving 15% or more of every booking away in commission? Madness.
So folks, if you’re a B&B – get your act together or you’re not getting my business. If you’re a guest looking for somewhere to stay, I hope you find lots of great bed and breakfasts with wonderful websites so you know quickly and easily they’re the right place for you.
One final thing – it’s 2020 – year of the pandemic. Guests are rightfully concerned about their safety whilst they are staying with you. By law you are required to have produced a COVID-19 Secure Policy. It’s also best practice to have achieved some kind of accreditation to show you are COVID-19 aware and safe. Guests need and want to know all about what you’re doing to keep them safe. Why am I still seeing so many websites with absolutely no mention of COVID-19 at all?
If you want more information than you could ever want on a website with an easy booking system, loads of photos and full descriptions of the rooms, why not check out our website for The 25 Boutique B&B? Come and stay at our bed and breakfast in Torquay soon. www.the25.uk I’ve even got an up to date blog!