Websites for Holiday Homes and Guest Houses

Here at Impress51, perhaps because of our location in Cornwall in the beautiful South West, we have been asked to build a number of websites for guest houses and other sorts of holiday accommodation over the past few years.  For this reason, we thought we’d make this very subject the first in a new series of industry specific guides, aimed at helping your business conceive and select the perfect website for you.

Head over to our Website Portfolio to see some of the websites for holiday homes and guest houses mentioned in this guide.

 

Guest House Booking Considerations:

Based on our conversations with customers, one of the first questions to crop up is how you want to approach bookings and availability.  We started off making the assumption that most guest house / bed and breakfast / holiday cottage owners would like to have fully functional booking facilities right there on their website, but it turns out that was not the case.  Here are a few of the different things requested:

 

Contact details to do it in person      

A guest house enquiry form image

Some people just like to do these things personally, so for Roscarrock we simply put convenient contact forms and contact details, to allow potential customer s to contact the owners and chat about their visit.

Availability and a detailed booking enquiry form    

Availability image for a guest house
For Moyles Farm, who have four cottages available on their site, we created clear availability calendars for each of the properties, which they are able to update themselves with a simple form upload.  Once their guests have seen that their dates are available they are able to complete an enquiry form specifying their preferred property and dates.  That way, Moyles Farm receives qualified enquiries to follow up and make final arrangements.

Links to third party booking websites

Our clients at 1, The Terrace in Rock were already set up to take their bookings through an account with HomeAway, but wanted their own website to really showcase the amazing site of their holiday home.  We designed them a great looking site, which simply took visitors straight to their page on HomeAway when they were ready to check availability and book.

 

Fully Functioning Booking

Image of a Booking System
Our friends at Coastal Valley Camping wanted something a little different.  While we know they are not technically a guest house or holiday home, they did want something that is really worth your consideration if you are thinking about a website that needs to take bookings.  They asked us for a fully functional booking-taking website, with loads of options and flexibility, and the ability to take payments.  We couldn’t find one that we really liked, so ended up building our own.  If you want all the bells and whistles for the booking element of your website, take a look at Kernel Booking.  There is a price structure for all sizes of business and we do all the set up for you.

Websites for Holiday Homes - Images and Graphics:

Our recommendations here are to always consider that this website is going to be the shop front for your holiday rental business.  In this sense, it does not matter whether you are a bed and breakfast, a guesthouse or a self-catering cottage of some sort – your images have to sell the visit to your website visitors.

Good Holiday Home Photography Example
Make sure you use the right camera for the job.  This does not have to mean that you hire someone it, it simply means that if you have the confidence to do the job yourself, make sure you beg, steal or borrow a good quality camera, rather than doing it all on your phone.  A digital SLR will be ideal, and most of them have an ‘auto’ function which will at the very least give you a consistent look to the pictures, along with high quality resolution and focus.  It doesn’t mean you have to be an expert photographer, it just means you want to have a website populated with photos that give a consistent and high quality feel.

Wait for the right moment.  Your visitors are planning their summer holiday and are of course dreaming of endless days in the sun…so make sure you wait for a sunny day to take your pictures.  If you are not sure what we mean, head on to one of the big holiday booking sites and find a rental property which has been photographed on a dull, cloudy day.  There’s not many, right?

Some of our clients have asked us to arrange a day of interior and exterior photography at their property through the summer, giving them a selection of images which are high quality, and also consistent in their look and presentation.  We are always available to assist with photography for a website development, but you can certainly achieve what you need with a reasonable camera and the right conditions.

What Clients Have Asked For:

If you are wondering what will help to fill out your website, and deliver your visitors all the information they need to make an informed choice about whether rental property is right for them, here are a few ideas we’ve picked up along the way.

 

 

A Content Management System

For a guest house or other form of holiday letting, things can change regularly.  This might include your availability, or What’s On, or you might simply get some great photos of your location, which might help you to boost the number of bookings your receive.  With a content management system you are in charge of this, and can add things whenever you like.  Of course, it doesn’t mean that your friendly web developers aren’t available to assist you during busy periods!  You can read more about Content Managed websites here.

A Floor Plan

Image of Holiday Home Floorplan
Show your visitors exactly how your accommodation is configured.  Our clients at 1, The Terrace had some great floor plans, which had been professionally designed for them, which we included as a gallery in their website.

A Great Gallery

The folk at Roscarrock knew that their location (regularly featured in the Doc Martin TV series) would sell itself, and it really is a beautiful site.  So we made sure to give them a great gallery to show it off to its best advantage.

A Filter of Features

Image of Filtering Holiday Home Features
Show off the different features of your rooms, as we have for the different self-catering holiday cottages on the Moyles Farm website.  On that website, you can select different features, such as number of people each property can accommodate, parking, wi fi and such like, and narrow down the options when browsing the different properties.  This web site is for a relatively small collection of accommodation, but the feature would be doubly valuable when considering a larger number of different rooms or properties.

A guide to what is happening

Perhaps one of the more obvious choices, but be sure to let your potential guests know what is happening in the neighbourhood.  This might be events, which only happen at certain times, or it may be clubs, classes, trips which they can book.  If there is a lot going on, you could also consider breaking the list up in to categories.  Take a look at the website we created for Moyles Farm to see the tabs we’ve created to divide their ‘What’s On’ list.

Testimonials

Nothing tells your potential customers how good your service is better than your past customers!  We always recommend displaying testimonials on your website, and for a service like holiday accommodation that is especially powerful.  Take a look at the Moyles Farm website to see how much impact good testimonials can have.

Tick List of Things to Consider for Holiday Accommodation Websites:

  • Content Management System
  • Booking, no booking, or partial booking
  • Links to third party booking sites
  • Pictures
  • Gallery
  • What’s on
  • Availability
  • Showing your property / rooms off and giving great descriptions
  • Filtering rooms / properties by feature
  • The story of your guest house, bed and breakfast or self-catering
  • Enquiry forms
  • Social media – display your posts on the website
  • Latest news / offers of some sort
  • Testimonials and press