Summer 2012

Summer News Letter

We are now well and truly into the busiest time of the year for the accommodation industry. The large holiday cottage agencies are reporting that last minute bookings (made within two weeks of arrival) are up 18% on last year. That means that there’s still plenty of time for lots of potential bookings to come in which in turn means that you really need to keep focused on attracting new enquiries. As ever, your website needs to be smart, up to date and must show your property off to its very best.


Make Your Website Sticky

First of all, what does 'sticky' mean? Well visitors to a website spend an average of 2 seconds before they move elsewhere if they can't easily find what they are looking for. There is just too much choice out there for them to hang around waiting for a page to load, or a lengthy flash introduction to play out. Don’t get involved with the fancy stuff and concentrate on creating a practical and attractive home page that’s easy to navigate. So here are my top tips to convert website visitors into guests:
Use attractive images.. Most potential guests want to see the accommodation that they are considering booking and the look and style can have a big impact on whether they make a booking. Using beautiful images that show your property off to its very best WILL increase your bookings.

Make very clear where the property is located . It sounds so obvious but its amazing how many websites don’t really tell the visitor exactly where their property is located on the first page. A website is all about giving the potential customer a sense of credibility and confidence in your business and if your website raises any doubt in their mind, the customer will simply book elsewhere.

Easy navigation . Again another obvious one but clearly marked buttons or labels enabling the customer to find prices, availability etc is essential. Don’t make them search through various slide shows or animations to find what they want quickly.

Call to action . Tell your customers what they need to do next. Perhaps you can clearly explain the booking procedure, making it very clear as to how they make a booking right now. Make your contact details easy and simple to use

Avoid using flash intros . where the viewer has to sit through a lengthy animation before even getting into the nuts and bolts of your page. Surveys show that 80-90% of your visitors will leave before the intro has finished. If you really have to have an animated intro, include a ‘Skip Intro’ button.

Poor font or text colour choice . Using an elaborate font for your text might seem like a good idea but the font will hugely impact the feel of your website. If the font is difficult to read or is an odd colour, visitors will feel uncomfortable and simply not bother.

Beware of external links . Now external links to other websites or articles are an excellent feature BUT please don’t include them on your home page. Effectively, you are encouraging your potential customers to click away from your website and they may well not come back. So links should be collected together on a separate page towards the end of your website.

It's all about getting visitors to stick around, visit more than one page and to explore the site. If it's not showing your accommodation off to its best, they’ll simply book elsewhere.


See the Difference

This is a new section that I’ve added to my website: the first photograph in each case shows the room as I arrived. The second shows the finished photograph. Producing good images for your website is about more than simply owning a good camera. There’s a lot of work that goes into ‘staging’ the room correctly with lots of attention to detail. Using my years of experience, I am able to use the right combination of lighting, exposure and composition to create beautiful photographs.
The well-known saying that a photograph is worth a thousand words has never been more apt. Please take a look at this section as the results are striking.


Measuring the effectiveness of your website

A really handy tip is to use a service called Google Analytics to monitor traffic to your website. Its really is vital that you know how well your website is working and if the data is interpreted properly, this can be hugely useful.
Firstly you need to register your website with Google Analytics (its free). Once this is done, you can see where your visitors (or traffic as its called) is coming from. Google Analytics will show you which search words are being used, which sites are referring visitors to you and whether visitors are clicking on to your site directly. This will all help you work what listing sites are good for you and exactly what advertising is working well. You can look at trends over several weeks or months or even just over an individual day.
You can also see if your visitors are new to your site or whether they are a returning viewer. It should also show the ‘exit page’ – that’s the page that the visitor left from. So if they left after visiting your ‘contact’ page, that’s good but if there’s a pattern of visitors regularly leaving on an information page, it could well be that there’s something there that they don’t like.
This is a facility that I use every day. I can see whether certain marketing strategies are working, what effect advertising has on my website numbers and much more.