Every bed night counts! And direct bookings are a great way to maximise your returns, avoiding those (sometimes hefty!) agency commissions. Your guesthouse website needs to look beautiful and reflect the unique personality of your business – but above all it needs to give potential guests all the information they need!
Here are my top 5 must-haves for your guesthouse website.
Be specific about the location of your guest house. Simply providing the name of the town, or even just the street address isn’t enough. Make sure you include a map which allows potential and booked guests to see exactly where you are in relation to local attractions or landmarks. Including directions is a huge help to guests (providing they are accurate of course!), and GPS co-ordinates can be invaluable if your guest house or lodge is a little more off-the-beaten-track. Linking to Google Maps allows your guests to get directions on their phone.
2. Rates, Specials & Packages
Once someone has worked out that your accommodation is in the right area, they want to know if they can afford to stay with you. Clearly stating your rates on your guesthouse website is the best way to make it easy for your guests.
Don’t forget to also let potential guests know about special offers (pay for 3 stay for 4 etc), or packages (fully-inclusive with activities etc).
Along with rates, be upfront about any special conditions such as no kids under 10, or minimum stay requirements, to avoid any disappointment later on.
3. Beautiful & Realistic Images
Location and price alone aren’t enough to entice someone to stay at your guest house. They also want to know what they will experience when they stay with you. I can’t stress enough how much it’s worth investing in a photographer who can take professional images of your guest house! But you also need to find the right photographer, who takes great images and doesn’t over-process or enhance the images. If the images on your guesthouse website over-promise then you are just setting yourself up for customer complaints and bad reviews.
Include a wide range of images that cover all aspects of your accommodation including bedrooms, bathrooms, common areas, views and outside areas.
4. You & Your Ethos
For owner-operated or managed guest houses, B&Bs or lodges, your personal interaction with the guests is often a very important aspect of a guest’s stay. So even if you are a bit camera-shy, it’s worth including a little information about who you are, why you are passionate about your guest house and what your overall ethos is. Whether you pride yourself on using only locally made toiletries, you are involved in community projects (like Pack for a Purpose), or you serve only organic, sustainably sourced food, let your guests know. Equally, if you have won awards, or you are members of tourism or community organisations, don’t be afraid to mention these as well.
5. Contact Details & How to Book
Don’t make it hard for people to work out how to get in touch with you! Make sure that your phone number and email address is clearly visible throughout your site. In my experience, just having a contact form isn’t enough, and can deter many potential guests from getting in touch – put your email address and telephone number there for them to find.
If you are comfortable with taking bookings directly through your site then this is definitely something you should include. Again, it’s all about making it as easy as possible for guests to book with you – don’t give them any reason to leave your site and go and look elsewhere.
Saving the agency or booking site commission on a couple of bed nights quickly pays for your guesthouse’s new website. If you would like help with your website, please email me at email@example.com.