Things to Consider Before Building a Lodging Website for Your Inn, Motel, or Bed & Breakfast
Are you considering opening an inn, motel, or bed and breakfast? If so, then you probably have a question or two about building a lodging website. We’ve been building websites since the mid-2000s and we have some advice for creating websites for inns, motels, and B&Bs.
Driving Foot Traffic to Your Door
First of all, an informative and easy-to-use website will help you drive foot traffic and keep the rooms full. Small, stand-alone lodging businesses don’t typically spend a lot of money on print advertising. Instead many choose to rely heavily on driving business through their website.
If this is the case for you, then with the exception of business derived from word-of-mouth, most people will decide whether or not to make a reservation based on the impression they take away from your website. Does it look clean and well-maintained? Is it easy for to find the information they need? Where is your business located in relation to the other things they plan to do in the area?
The Importance of Good Photos
Good, clear, well-staged photos with the right lighting are always important, but for small inns, motels, and B&Bs, they are crucial. For potential guests, the right photo can make the difference between making a reservation or going somewhere else.
An easy-to-use booking system that offers live availability information shows the site visitor that you are a serious business. It can increase the chance that someone who visits your website actually books a room.
Setting up an online reservation system may seem like a no-brainer, but there are dozens of decisions to be made. Situations you normally handle on the fly need to be defined in order for the system to do its job.
We’ve compiled a list of these questions that should help setting up your new online reservation system.
- What is the maximum occupancy for each room (adults, children)?
- What are the minimum and maximum length stays?
- Is there a limit on how far ahead someone can book?
- What is checkin/check out time?
- Do you offer early check in or late check out? If so, how will this be handled?
- What is your cancellation policy?
- What credit cards will you accept?
- Will you accept cash or checks?
- How will you handle walk-in reservations?
- What if the number of guests changes after the reservation has been made?
- Will reservations require a deposit?
- How will you handle incidental charges?
Hiring the Right Partner to Build Your Lodging Website
It is important to make the right choice when it comes to building and designing your lodging website. Your web designer is building the online face of your business. They must understand what is needed and know how to do it right. If you are considering building your website yourself, we suggest reading our three part series of blog posts: What is The Difference Between DIY and Professional Development, Why Building Your Own Website Won’t Save You Money, and Web Development: There’s More To A Book Than A Cover.
Do you have a website you’re not happy with? Give us a call. We can discuss a redesign or suggest ways to improve what you already have. And if you’re new to lodging and need a website built from scratch, we can do that too. Contact us by email or call (518) 392-0846.