Your Website-Bite Sized Winning Strategies (1of10)

Great websites a winning strategy.

10 Bite sized winning strategiesA winning website is a worthwhile investment. Like it or not your customers will form a view about you and your property based on what they see and how they interact with your website.

The first thing a potential customer will do is look for your website, on finding it they form a view about your property and service, you have a winning strategy if the third thing they do is make a booking.

What you need to do to create a winning website ?

  1. It’s now well established that customers select accommodation with their heart first and their head second. So make sure they fall in love with your website, it’s about an emotional connection. This means big impact, great looking photos and engaging text that is short and to the point.
  2. Understand what it is that your customers want and make sure they find it writ large on your home page. For a farm stay, a fabulous rural panorama or some cute animals, a seaside retreat might have a high impact photo of the beach/sea and a party town hotel some nightlife photos – it’s all pretty simple.
  3. OK, you know what they want and you have given it to them, now they want to book. To achieve maximum bookings make it easy to book. Your online booking button must feature prominently on your home page (“above the fold” – no need to scroll down to find it) and on every other page in a very similar position. You will lose bookings if you make it hard to find your booking button.
  4. Keep it simple, engaging, attractive and easy to navigate. Make a point of asking your customers what they think of your website, don’t be precious about the website it’s not for you it’s for your customers.
  5. Regular updates are critical to keep your website fresh and relevant, a handy way to do this is through a blog.
  6. A great website is a winning strategy….. a rubbish one will lose you bookings.

(look out for next weeks bite sized winning strategy “Customer feedback and Reviews”)

Free e-book

ebook_cover_resizedBecause we know that in the current financial climate getting extra online sales is more important than anything else (and because we know that everyone likes something for free!), we’ve created a free e-book, titled “How to BOOST your online bookings,” written by freetobook’s directors, Iain & Craig Stewart.

Continue reading “Free e-book”

Is your website “driving” customers away?

freetobook gramaphoneDriving home for two and half hours after a great wedding party is not my idea of fun! So why did we do it?

This summer my wife and I attended a wedding in the lovely old town of St Andrews (Scotland). My wife does most of the social organising (no surprises there!) and so she set about looking for somewhere to stay. We just needed a comfortable place and were looking forward to a break away…from the kids.

It was a busy time as there were university graduations taking place. Most hotels were showing fully booked and when she came across a website that featured many of the B&B’s and guesthouses in the area she thought she’d found the answer. However, after about 30 minutes of searching through the website she stormed in and declared we would just drive back that night!

Why? The website offered a list of properties with links but the websites she visited did not offer their availability online. She wasn’t prepared to send out emails, make calls or submit requests….so we drove home that night, getting in at 2:00am.

It wasn’t that she doesn’t like talking to people, she does (I can vouch for that!), but to her the cost in time of “manually” searching for accommodation was greater than the inconvenience of a two and half hour drive across Scotland in the wee hours of the morning! That’s quite a sacrifice, but if you are already conditioned to buy something in a certain way, the frustration and reluctance to change your ways is enough to make you question whether or not it is worth it.

In the end everyone lost out. We missed the end of the wedding party and a night away and the B&Bs lost a booking … not an ideal outcome. It’s a graphic example of how people’s habits have changed online: they expect instant answers, full access to the information required to make a purchasing decision and then to be able to complete the purchase.

A much more common scenario is that you lose bookings when customers visit your website, can’t see availability and rates and therefore just move on to the next.