Today is the longest day, and in the northern hemisphere it’s the start of summer. I hope the sun is shining wherever you are in the world
Today’s livestream is called – What’s the purpose of your website?
I’ve did a video recently on websites, and today, I’m going even deeper into what purpose your website serves and how it’s one of 3 crucial elements in your digital marketing or online marketing.
So let’s dive in
Since the arrival of the online travel agents and especially Airbnb, there’s the notion that if you list with them, then you don’t need your own website. And maybe that’s true, if you’re only interested in using those platforms to bring you a bit of extra money for your spare rooms, then that could be a good solution for you
Horses for courses
However, if you’re depending on the income from your hospitality business, then I suggest you treat it like a business and give it a “home” online, and not only rent space in others’ homes
And if you’re aiming to maintain or even start creating a B&B business that brings bookings direct to you, rather than going through those third parties, then you’ll need to pay particular attention as to how that “home” online is looking
So first, let’s do an exercise.
If you can imagine yourself as your own ideal guest, and step into the shoes of that person, not yourself as the owner.
So let’s imagine now that you are your new prospective guest. And you’re looking for a place to stay in your area. You’ve done some searching online (as that’s where every body searches now) and by some fluke or by design, you found your website link, and you took a chance and clicked through to arrive at your “front door” ie, your front page or your home page
What do you see there?
If you’re in front of your computer right now, open a new tab and go take a look at your website now. You should be able to do both, while listening to me.
What is your first impression?
Let’s start at the top of the home page, and ask yourself these questions
Is it clear where in the world this B&B is located?
In other words am I in the right place?
Cast your eyes to the top right of the home page. Is it easy to find where to contact the owners?
Is there an online booking or check availability button there at the top right?
Moving slowly down the page,
Is there a clear navigation bar, so I can find my way around this site?
Is it easy to find what I’m looking for, or am I having to search for it?
Moving down a little further, what do the photos look like? Professional or kind of hand-made?
Is there a selection of photos on a slider, or better still a video of what this property is like inside?
Under the main images, what does it say?
When I read the first bit of text, am I inspired yet to step inside?
Are there any discount buttons popping up, or deals being flashed before my eyes?
Are there any reviews visible, so I can see what other people have said about this property?
What’s the overall tone on this website – luxurious or budget? Professional or not so much
You’ve just passed through your own “entrance hall”
What was the overall feel of it?
Cluttered or clear? How much have you put in your entrance hall that doesn’t need to be there?
Was there anyone there to welcome you and guide you through?
Let’s move on, and “open one of the doors”
Click on any one of your navigation tabs and look carefully where it leads you and more importantly, how does each tab lead you to the information you need to feel confident enough to make a booking and hand over your card details?
When you’ve finished reviewing this second page, is it easy to find the next bit of information you’ll need to inspire more confidence to book? Or are you having to search around for the next steps by yourself?
Do you feel like you’re being guided around the website, or left to find your own way?
Now let’s open another door off the “entrance hall” and move on to your “About us” page, if you have one. If you don’t have one, then you’ll want to create one.
On that page, how does it read? Like a brochure for the property, or a little bit of insight into the owners’ past and current lives? Do you feel like it would be interesting to meet these people and chat with them?
Do you feel like these people could help you to have a great time in your area?
Or is there no-one home?
When we’ve finished here, open the other “doors” on your website and as you enter those “rooms” notice how you feel about the information there, and how clear it is
Your website is your virtual home online, and it needs to have the look and feel of your real property, with a clear pathway from the entrance hall to choosing a room to book, with reassurance and guidance from you every step of the way.
You’ll want to be updating it regularly, so if you’re someone who thinks they’re not techie and can’t do this, then you’ll either be paying for someone else to do it or you’ll need to learn. I suggest you take the time to learn how to do a few simple things on your website, so you can move the pictures, add new ornaments, change the décor, add new facilities and make sure you’re as visible and welcoming as you are at your real property. This is your job
So let me ask you this. When your guests have finished breakfast and left for the day, what’s the first thing you do?
If you’re someone who starts cleaning the rooms, stripping the beds, putting the laundry on to wash, picks up the iron, and switches the vacuum cleaner on, then you’re missing a huge opportunity.
What do you think would happen if you decided to let someone else do that work, and instead you sat down in front of your computer and worked on your website, like you work on your real property?
The purpose of your website is for you to be as warm and hospitable there as you are at your real property.
Your local knowledge needs to be there for your prospective guests to consume. Your tips on where to go and what do in your area need to be at the disposal of your prospective guests. The things you talk about with your guests, deserves some space on your website too, so that prospective guests, recently arrived at your virtual front door feel as welcome as you would want them to feel when they arrive to begin their stay with you.
The purpose of your website is not to throw a few photos together, write a few words that talk mostly about you and your awards, and then add a gazillion links to external sites! And then leave it alone to languish on the web, with very few visitors knocking on your door
Do you see the difference?
When we talk about digital marketing which has become some kind of buzz word, we’re really talking about how you translate what you do into your very own corner of cyberspace so that people who are looking to visit your area, are completely confident in your ability to deliver to them a great experience.
And that you have confidence in your ability as well
Yvonne Halling is an award-winning consultant, coach and mentor for independent hospitality businesses worldwide, where since 2013 she has been helping owners to add at least 25% to their income, without working harder.