Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A good Website for B&B

After having talked about using blogs and Facebook for promoting B&B’s, it may seem that creating own Website is unnecessary. But it is not so. There are a lot of reasons, why a real website has to be made by innkeepers. First of all, on Facebook or even blog you can't choose design and present your business in a way you want it, in a way that your guests and partners would accept as serious. Yes, a lot of people hang out on Facebook, but when it comes to the presentation and booking, they still prefer to look at more content, with good-quality pictures etc. It is just more reliable. After all, anyone can create a blog or a Facebook without actually existing. A good Website will present your B&B and make you a desirable host.

Website is a powerful tool to generate business for a B&B. The main goal of a B&B Website should be to clearly describe the experience of staying there. As we all know, people don’t buy goods and things longer. It is not a bed or a room they purchase. It is the overall experience, the atmosphere, the service and hospitality that customers are willing to pay for. That is why is it important to stress the special qualities and characteristics of the B&B and personality of the innkeepers. This can be done by providing information on the history of the property, as well as information about local events, rates, photographs, awards, testimonials of former guests, packages, and promotions. These factors make the virtual experience of the B&B more tangible for the user.

Booking: FIND/SVP (1999) reported that there were two fundamental reasons for customers’ visit to Web sites: information acquisition (collection) and online transactions (booking). An online reservation function on the Web is considered one of the most convenient and innovative features on the Internet. It provides your guests with an opportunity to complete their booking via the Internet without having to communicate with a reservationist (which saves you a lot of time!). After all, if your guests would like to contact you first, they will do that anyway. But in this case full contact information (phone, fax, address, and e-mail, now also Skype, MSN and ICQ etc.) must be provided and visible.

Content: A Website that is easy to navigate enables a potential guest to freely click in and out of pages without causing confusion or distress. The more user-friendly a Website, the more a potential guest is likely to continue to view the B&B information and want to find out more about it. When HOME button
is clearly available on every page, this makes it easy to find information without getting confused and lost. This also prevents the user from accidentally closing the browser. Such buttons as CONTACT US, PRICES, BOOKING, REQUEST, ROOMS, PICTURES, ABOUT US, INFO, EVENTS, MAP, HOW TO FIND US etc. can be examples of what a user may want to see.

If a B&B Website does not have clear and readable text, color, hyperlinks, and good quality photographs and images, then Web page space is being misused. A B&B Website should not be a photocopy of a print brochure, but an interactive display of what is available at the property. Cluttered and unclear pages decrease Website's effectiveness. The B&B Website should stimulate the user's interest, and not turn them away. If the Website is not attractive, then a guest will feel that the B&B itself is not appealing.

Owners: The absence of information about the innkeepers may scare the potential guests. It may appear that the owners are not managing the property or are not onsite. More importantly, however, the Website must show the personality of the innkeepers, their backgrounds, and interests. According to (2001), B&B innkeepers need to use or express three Ps on their Websites: professionalism, personality, and pictures. Under personality, the Web provides a prime opportunity for innkeepers to introduce themselves to virtual guests and welcome them to their B&Bs. This greeting
should be in text, but it can also be done virtually in the same manner as the virtual tour. For example, the innkeeper could welcome the guest and describe the B&B using YouTube video implementation.

Additions: Virtual tours are now possible and free of charge to make - in fact it is even better to present a self-made video rather than to hire someone to make a commercial video for you. The reason for it is that users trust you more if you are sincere. Commercials are on contrary seen as fakes. The addition of sound and video takes the online experience beyond the static brochure-on-the-Web experience that one finds on most existing B&B Websites.

Overall, there is much room for improvement. Innkeepers need to expand the description of packages and special promotions, as well providing more links to area attractions. Awards, guest testimonials, and vision and mission statements are all opportunities for innkeepers to make their properties more concrete for Web users by providing positive evidence and opinions on the qualities of their B&Bs.

In this acticle materials and quotations were used from:

Sheryl F. Kline, Alastair M. Morrison, Andrew St. John (2004) “Exploring Bed & Breakfast Websites: A Balanced Scorecard Approach”. Handbook of Consumer Behavior, Tourism and the Internet The Harworth Pres.

Miyoung Jeong (2004) An Exploratory Study of Perceived Importance of Web Site Characteristics: The Case of the Bed and Breakfast Industry. Journal of Hospitality & Leisure Marketing, Vol. 11(4)

1 comment:

Bed and Breakfast Team said...

By the way, creating a Website nowadays is much easier than before. There are a lot of tools that you can use for free. A good domen name is necessary, but normally they don't cost that much, as well as simple hosting.
Just Google "Free website" and you will find enormous amount of suggestions. I found this one for expamle:
But don't use Flash too much: it is an outdated feature and irritates users a lot.