Why UK B&Bs and holiday lets need a quality website
Posted on 25th February 2022
The UK holiday and accommodation industry is one of the few sectors that saw growth during the Covid-19 pandemic – as British holidaymakers turned to ‘staycations’ instead of travelling abroad. Even though travel restrictions are now much easier to contend with, UK breaks are set to stay for the foreseeable future.
If you own a B&B or holiday cottage, the staycations trend presents the opportunity for a steady stream of bookings. And if you can attract more direct bookings, you can potentially increase your income while offering competitive deals for your guests.
Accommodation listing sites vs your own website
Many accommodation owners turn to listing sites like Booking.com, Cottages.com, Airbnb and Expedia to take advantage of the vast audience of accommodation hunters they attract. It makes sense to use listing sites when you’re first starting out in business – these companies have enormous marketing budgets and do all the legwork in helping you increase occupancy.
Of course, in return, you have to pay these listing sites a commission for every confirmed stay (for Booking.com, the fee is 15% on average). So, providing your accommodation is reasonably well established (you’re already getting bookings and good reviews), it’s best to cut out the middleman where you can and encourage guests to book directly through your website. That way, you’ll keep all the profits and be able to pass on better rates to guests. You can integrate a booking portal into your website for very little cost (some booking portals are free to use).
Crucial website design elements to attract direct bookings
When planning the look and feel of your website, there are certain elements you must have to enable your guests to have a great experience booking online:
1. Attractive design
When visitors land on your website, you want them to think, “Wow!” Your website design itself must look appealing (not just your accommodation!) to achieve this reaction. So, consider your accommodation type and your target audience and let these influence your design.
2. An easy-to-use booking portal
If you have several rooms to let, an integrated booking portal will make managing reservations easier. The booking process should involve as few steps as possible for guests to book their accommodation. It needs to be quick, efficient, and of course, secure – not clunky or longwinded, or you’ll risk frustrating visitors and losing bookings. Offer different payment options too, so guests can choose how to pay. Some examples of free booking portals you can use include freeonlinebooking.com and freetobook.
3. Detailed accommodation descriptions and photos
Potential guests want to know exactly what accommodation you’re offering, e.g., room types, amenities, and rates. Include as much detail as you can and take quality photos – arrange for professional photography if possible. This will not only make your website look more professional and your property more appealing, but will also be useful for any pictures you need to add to booking portals (if required). A video tour of your accommodation is also a brilliant addition to your site to provide an immersive experience for website visitors.
An interactive location map will help website visitors gauge how far they’ll have to travel to reach your accommodation – and work out where your property is in relation to areas they want to visit. For the best user experience, incorporate a map where guests can enter their postcode for directions.
5. Visitor reviews
Update your website regularly with new positive reviews – and include a TripAdvisor feed/badge – so potential guests can see what others think about your accommodation. Everyone looking to stay with you will do their homework – so make it an easy process by including reviews on your site.
6. ‘Things to Do’ section
Promote the local attractions on a separate page of your website, and if you can, secure some discounts for your guests. Accessing local eateries, wildlife centres, art galleries, etc., at a reduced rate could be the clincher that convinces a guest they should book with you directly.
7. Include FAQs
Pre-empt the questions your guests will have on a separate page on your website. Explain how bookings and payments work, your cancellation policy, Covid-19 policy, whether pets and children are allowed, etc.
Design your accommodation booking website with It’seeze
Here at It’seeze, we’ve plenty of experience working with UK accommodation providers and designing beautiful, easy-to-use booking websites. For example, check out these we’ve created for The Forge Guesthouse and Honeypot Barn.
We offer a range of website design packages to suit all budgets and needs. Talk to us today about your requirements and receive a no-obligation quote.
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