Warm water gently falls from a tropical outdoor shower, feather-soft pillows are ensconced in a brightly colored throw atop a king size bed, and hot maple syrup streams from a carafe to a piping hot plate of buttermilk pancakes. Separately, these are simply images – together they create the heart of superb bed and breakfast website design. Show the traveler an immersive, sensory experience and you’ll win their hearts before you command their pocketbook. Your design MUST communicate who and what you are through stunning imagery – still photography, video, dramatic content. Do this and you’ll catapult your bed and breakfast reservations to a new level every. single. time. These are the top 11 items you should consider integrating with your new bed and breakfast website design.
1. Incorporate Stunning Photography
A picture is worth a thousand words. Invest in pictures – not words. Words alone won’t convey your message. Invest all you can in professional photography preferably by specialists in architectural photography such as these bed and breakfast industry experts Jumping Rocks and Christian Giannelli.
Great photos to include on your b&b website include:
- Rooms & bathrooms
- On site amenities
- Wedding venue options (real weddings showcasing the seasons)
- Business and event rooms
- On site activities
- Off site activities
- Tavern/bar and beverages/food
- Restaurant food and ambiance
- Pet friendly experiences
- Spa services
- Seasonal photos
2. Implement Useful Rooms Layouts
Those perusing your B&B website should be able to easily skim and decipher the differences between your rooms. They should be able to justify higher prices for certain rooms based on the descriptions and imagery indicated on the site.
Room descriptions should include:
- Highlight points of difference. Is your jacuzzi tub facing the sunset in one room and located in the master bedroom in another? The guest needs you to paint a picture to highlight why one room is preferable to another.
- Make it clear why higher priced rooms justify the cost. Is your room larger than a typical New York city apartment? Show square footage if you have bragging rights!
- Make it easy to skim on the main page but offer more details with a page all about an individual room. When a guest is ready to buy, they want to see more – more photos, more amenities, more descriptions. Give them the eye candy WHEN they want it. Lead them through the process peeling off one layer at a time.
- Include photos of the room and the bathrooms. If you have a bathroom that could easily accommodate a family of 10, talk about it with as many bathroom shots as possible.
3. Include Enticing Specials & Packages
In a world where OTA’s steal your guests and sell them back to you at a premium, it’s important to entice guests to book direct. You can encourage direct bookings and also increase profits by executing creative and useful specials and packages. It behooves you to get creative and launch a marketing campaign which strategically pushes your campaigns out to your loyal guests throughout the year.
Ideas to consider:
- Romance packages
- Food and beverages
- Activity packages
- Free nights and discounted stays
- Unique contests
- Midweek and stay longer packages/discounts
- Loyalty programs
- Seasonal packages and pricing
- Holiday packages
- Local events
- Creative Rate types
4. Craft Fun and Exciting Blogs
If your blog doesn’t excite you while writing it, why bother? Can I swim with the dolphins, get up close and personal with the ranch animals, embark on a sunset sail while sipping champagne? Lure me in by creating the experience with easy to skim text, great photos and videos. Provide the best content available online for experiencing your area and it won’t just be Google noticing your content. If you promote your experience with a carefully curated email blast, paid search push and a social media campaign, you will win with folks who will add these experiences to their reservation. Remember – you aren’t just selling a room, you are selling an experience.
- Festivals & events
- Real weddings
- Gift certificates
- Feature a room
- And more!
5. Create a Fairytale Wedding
Your inn website should create the magic of a wedding or elopement by bringing the fairytale to life. How you incorporate packages and experiences as well as sharable content is critical to your wedding business success.
Items to consider:
- Packages that incorporate seasonal yield management
- Beautiful graphic PDFs and online materials
- Photo galleries with seasonal photos
- Video integration
- A well crafted RFP
- Tour scheduling capabilities
- Packages for elopements
6. Encourage Small Group & Business Retreats
A somewhat challenging niche to promote are business events and small groups. Step one is to make sure you address your property’s capabilities succinctly and accurately on your inn website.
Items to consider:
- Showcase the different room set ups
- Highlight area activities
- Incorporate team building activities
- Include an RFP
- Explain your expertise with business conferences & retreats
- Provide References of other companies that have used your facilities for successful gatherings
7. Integrate Strategic SEO So Your Website is Found Online
After 25 years in the digital marketing niche of the hospitality industry, I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen a great b&b design sporting a home page title of simply: ‘HOME”. Great! What in the world does that mean? You can’t just publish a bed and breakfast website design without logging the necessary man hours of both doing and implementing the hard work of strategic Search Engine Optimization. Having tracked online bookings for 1000’s of clients, we can confidently state that Google organic reservations blow all other resources out of the water in providing leads that convert. Not integrating the best SEO possible is leaving countless, valuable reservations on the table.
Things to consider:
- Make sure to invest 10% of your Gross Annual Revenue on marketing. Yes, you heard me correctly. And before you start fanning yourself, ask me if I’ve even seen an inn fail that HAD a proper marketing budget. Not. Once. in all my years!
- Make sure you have SEO integrated from a proven company. What do I mean by proven? Ask for case studies, for references, look at reviews. And most importantly, run from anyone that tries to rope you into more than one year marketing contracts. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t sign more than a 12 month contract with any company. Even that length is suspect. You should find a company that believes so heartily in what they do, they don’t have to force your loyalty.
- Make sure the account rep working on your SEO is not a rookie. And by rookie, I mean anyone paid under about $12-15 per hour. You can hire someone locally for that price and simply have them follow a google primer…
- Search for “Hershey Bed and Breakfast” in Google and look for The Inn at Westwynd Farm.
- Search for “Louisiana Bed and Breakfast” in Google and look for Maison d’Memoire.
8. Invest in a Highly Converting Booking Engine
Your booking engine must be top of the line and mobile friendly. It should allow you to sell add-ons and work seamlessly with the OTA’s so you do not have to manage an extranet. It should be beautiful and functional and provide excellent reports that allow you to make better yield management and business decisions.
Things to consider:
- Research booking engines as a guest making a booking to see which one functions and looks best in all platforms – desktop, mobile and tablet.
- Ideally the Booking Engine will have a direct connect with Google Hotel Ads.
- The booking engine should allow for the Facebook Pixel integration.
- They should allow customization so you can retarget people that abandon the booking engine.
- They should integrate Google Analytics properly for effective and accurate revenue tracking.
- They should allow for customized yield management integration. And, if you really want an earful, talk to me about the dangers of relegating your yield management practices to an automated system. But, then again, it’s only money…
9. Highlight Being Pet Friendly & Your Niches
Niche marketing when properly executed can lead to a nice profit at the end of the year. Whatever the niche, you must market it effectively on your inn website. The only types of property we represent are independents. And for those of you familiar with running a small, independent lodging property, you are keenly aware of the need to squeeze out profitability wherever you find it. Do it by becoming a bit nichey…Remember – the riches are in the niches. Hone in on those unique offerings that only you can provide and exploit them to death through stellar internet marketing practices. You’ll sing and dance your way to the bank. I promise.
Things to consider:
- Pet friendly
- Spa services
- Eco friendly
- Weddings (small, large and destination)
- And more
10. Add the Experience of Your Restaurant or Tavern
Bed and breakfast owners need to get creative with their spaces. If you have unused space indoors or out you can get creative in adding a restaurant, tavern or both. I was recently at a property that had a storage room RIGHT ON THE WATER! They weren’t able to use it as a guest room but I encouraged them to turn it into a spa room for guest massages and move the many boxes to less desirable digs. This incredibly attractive perk at your property can be open to the public and your guests. This added service will encourage many more guests to stay at your property.
Things to consider:
- Tapas in the tavern
- Wine tasting dinners
- Beer tastings
- Whiskey tastings
- Happy hours
- Cooking classes
- Midweek specials
- Date night packages with dining & staying at the inn
- Offer a free drink when guests check in and sign up for your newsletter
- If your tavern/restaurant is well known a stand alone website might be in order
11. Launch a Marketing Campaign
Once you have an exceptional bed and breakfast website design, it is imperative to market your website. Launch a strategic and aggressive B&B marketing plan and watch your reservations soar.