Plus, 6 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Website Now!
Do you ever feel like your website is out of date, bland, or in need of a facelift but have no idea where to start?
Or, do you find yourself hunting online for hotel or b&b website design inspiration only to realize you don’t have the resources to get the job done?
If so, rest assured. You are not alone, and we can help.
How, you might ask?
Simple. First, we’ll help you understand the crucial components of successful bed and breakfast website design and then show you a few of our favorite examples. While an effective, well-designed website is just one piece of the integrated bed and breakfast marketing strategy, it is an important one.
6 Key Aspects of Successful Bed and Breakfast Web Design
Before we dive into B&B and hotel website design inspiration, we need to offer some bed and breakfast website design tips to optimize your site! Luckily for you, many of the components listed below can be added to your site quickly and easily. Take a look at our list. It’s certain that every B&B and hotel website design needs to include these important features. For all our customers, we make sure that these key factors are covered before we do any additional work in hospitality search engine optimization (SEO).
Does your website meet these basic necessities?
1. Responsive Web Design
Does your bed and breakfast website look great on a phone, tablet, and desktop computer? If the answer is no, your first step to a better website is responsive web design. It’s important to have a responsive website, one that can adapt to screens of any resolution, for several reasons. The most obvious reason is that it allows guests who found your inn on their mobile device or tablet to easily navigate your website. If they can navigate your site, they will stay on your website longer. They will learn more about your accommodations and will be more likely to make a reservation.
This improved user experience also has its technical advantages. If your website is responsive, Google will reward you. The search engine giant has made it clear that responsive websites perform better and rank higher on Google searches than websites that are not mobile-friendly.
2. Excellent Photos
For a quick and easy way to improve your website, review your photography. Often, photographs are the first introduction potential guests have to your bed and breakfast. If the photos on your website are poor quality, outdated, and uninviting, website viewers will associate your inn with these same notions.
But, having photographs that appeal to viewers is only half the battle. Excellent bed and breakfast photography is also high-resolution photography. Using high-resolution photographs ensures that images are always sharp, defined, and detailed. Another important thing to track is the file size of your photographs and the time it takes for them to load on a page. Photographs that take too long to load are frustrating for users. But, more importantly, load time hurts Google rankings and general website performance.
3. Quality Content
We cannot overstress the value of high-quality content. Whether you’re writing a blog, updating the home page, or sending a newsletter, quality content is crucial across the board. Not only does solid, descriptive content help persuade potential guests to make a reservation, it also has technical advantages. Gone are the days where you stuff your website full of keyword buzzwords and frequently searched terms within your market. Now, your content must feature these keywords and be enjoyable to read.
Google now boosts the rankings of websites that have compelling content.
Because doing so makes the search engine look good. If Google provides website recommendations that readers enjoy, they’ve bolstered their credibility with their users. You can boost your credibility with Google by creating high-quality content that Google will recognize as helpful, enjoyable information worth sharing.
4. Lead Generation Tools
What is lead generation? We’re glad you asked. First, a lead is a person whose contact information you’ve acquired that you can reach out to directly to help them book at your bed and breakfast. Lead generation is the process of using your website to turn more anonymous visitors to your website into qualified leads that will be more likely to book when you contact them.
Your website is an easy, inexpensive way to generate leads. After you capture the attention of potential guests with a responsive website, excellent photographs, and compelling content, invite them to learn more about your inn. In exchange for their contact information (which you can use for later marketing purposes), offer potential guests exclusive access to newsletters, blog subscriptions, or valuable materials they can use to plan their trip.
Using these types of lead generation tools on your website is like having a salesperson who works for your business 24/7/365. These tools can capture important contact information while you devote your time to delighting your guests and catering to their needs at your inn. Additionally, it’s one of the most important tools to help you reduce your dependency on 3rd party distribution, booking sites, and online travel agents.
5. Easy to Find Check Availability Buttons
The ultimate goal for your bed and breakfast website is to book more rooms, right? To do that, you need to give people a direct way to get to your booking engine, and you need to do it often! The easier it is to book a stay at your bed and breakfast, the more likely a potential guest will complete a booking.
The easiest way to ensure that visitors on your website never have to spend time looking for “Check Availability” or “Book Now” buttons is by prominently displaying them on your website. Hard to find buttons put you at risk of losing potential customers who get frustrated with your site, leave, and book with a competitor who offers an easier online experience.
6. SSL Certification
We know talking about website security isn’t nearly as much fun as talking about hotel web design, but hear us out. One of the best things you can do to improve your website is upgrade its security features. Take a peek at the URL on our website. See that green lock and https? That green lock is simply a browser’s way of informing website users that the transfer of information from their computer to the website (and back) is encrypted. This means no one in between that connection can add/edit/read or “see” what is sent. To get this green lock for your website, you must apply for an SSL certificate. This certificate is important because it verifies to the world that the information sent to and from your website is trusted by an SSL Certificate Authority (CA) and confirms you’re using a secure, encrypted connection.
SSL certification and https security will become increasingly important this year. Starting on January 31, 2017, with the release of version 56 of Google Chrome, non-https secure sites will become even easier for website users to recognize. According to Wordfence, which created one of the top security plugins used on WordPress websites, this is a significant change that “may confuse your site visitors or surprise you if you are not expecting it.”
This change will come in three phases of a staged rollout:
- First, non-https pages that ask for passwords or credit card information will start to show a “Not Secure” message in the location bar.
- Then, non-https pages in incognito mode will show the “Not Secure” message.
Finally, as the last step in the rollout, Chrome will label all non-https pages with a “Not Secure” message that might look like this:Why is this important for your website? For one, having an https website helps protect you and your website users from cyber security problems. However, it also helps you build a positive relationship with those users. Seeing a “secure” message builds trust with website visitors while seeing “Not Secure” is a quick way to lose it. Having an SSL Certified website is also beneficial because Google rewards secure websites. By upgrading the security measures on your website, and getting an SSL certificate, you won’t just protect yourself and your potential guests from online threats, you’ll also improve your SEO rankings. Thanks to this incentive from Google, amping up your online security means boosting the visibility of your website and your inn online.
Bed and Breakfast Website Design Inspiration
You will be hard pressed to find a magical one-size-fits-all bed and breakfast website example. That said, the 6 key bed and breakfast web design tips we just discussed are important details that every B&B, luxury inn, guest house, boutique hotel or resort website should include. And, now that we’ve talked about these key components of successful B&B web design, let’s get to the fun part! Take a look at some of our favorite bed and breakfast website design inspiration. Then, start to imagine what your bed and breakfast website could look like today!
The Old Wailuku Inn
If you look closely at The Old Wailuku Inn website, you should notice one thing right away. Color. In the photographs, across the navigation menu, and on important buttons, the website uses the same sage green that appears in the inn’s logo throughout the site. Why? Because the intentional placement of color is a simple way to control where the eye of your viewer leads. You can make the most important parts of your website, like the check availability button, stand out and easy to find with the proper use of color. Appropriately placed color, especially on an open, white website design layout like The Old Wailuku Inn’s, will command where your viewers look. Use this to your advantage.
Click to view larger image.
The French Manor Inn & Spa
All great bed and breakfast website design inspiration has one thing in common: a well-defined “feeling.” Your website design should also capture the “soul” of your area and your property. The French Manor, located in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, needed a website that evoked the rustic, natural, woodsy vibe of their area. To do this, our web designers chose details like wooden textured backgrounds, prominent images of the landscape, and illustrations of the mountains and wildlife guests can expect at the inn. When evaluating your bed and breakfast website, one question you should ask yourself is, “What should viewers feel when they look at my website?” Obviously, you want viewers to feel like booking a stay at your inn. But, to do that, you have to tempt them by conveying what they will experience at your inn before they ever set foot on the property.
Click to view larger image.
Wine Country Inn
For some bed and breakfasts, the dominant feature of the property is something “extra.” This might be an award-winning spa, iconic restaurant, or national landmark. For the Wine Country Inn, this “extra” is its proximity to Napa Valley wineries. The bed and breakfast promotes an unmatched wine country experience. This experience is the reason that guests stay at this Napa Valley boutique hotel. In turn, the Wine Country Inn website evokes this same experience. When designing this website, our web designers turned to the vineyards for inspiration. Like a fine, red wine, the website evokes an old-world feel. It has hand-drawn images of vineyards and wine barrels, dark photographs, and deep burgundy buttons and accents. When you look for bed and breakfast website design inspiration, consider what makes your property unique, and play up this feature on your website.
Wyndswept Bed & Breakfast
The Wyndswept Bed and Breakfast website, designed by Red Cherry, makes our list of the best bed and breakfast website design inspiration for two reasons. One is the central “check room availability” section of the homepage. The other is the website’s ability to effectively sell the visitor experience. One look at the website and viewers know exactly what they can experience at The Wyndswept Bed and Breakfast.
High-quality photography and a slider touting real attractions command the homepage. But, photo-centric web design like this one isn’t often mobile-friendly. Remember, your bed and breakfast website should look and function just as well on mobile devices and tablets as it does on a desktop computer. Your users will thank you, and Google will reward you with higher rankings.
Brass Lantern Inn
Take a look at the Brass Lantern Inn right. We applaud our friends at Whitestone Marketing for this great example of responsive bed and breakfast website design. While the desktop view of this website is effective, the mobile device view is where the website shines. On a mobile device or tablet, the Brass Lantern Inn website maintains a clear, organized menu and has many of the same features as the desktop version. Most notably, the menu options on the mobile view, including booking, are well defined.
This is important because it makes navigating the website on a phone or tablet user-friendly. And, if a website is user-friendly, potential guests are more likely to stay on your website and complete a booking. If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it 1,000 times. Your bed and breakfast website must be responsive. Bed and breakfast websites receive just as much, if not more, traffic from mobile devices as they do desktop computers. You don’t want to miss out on attracting this audience.
Create a Better Bed and Breakfast Website Today!
You know what your website needs to be successful, and you’ve seen some of our favorite bed and breakfast website design inspiration. But, there is one last bit of information you should know. Before you start shopping for a new website for your bed and breakfast, be sure you understand your options. While it may sound foreign, buying a website isn’t always the best approach.
While popular, buying a website, rather than leasing one or getting a free website with paid marketing services (what Q4Launch offers), is not always the best approach for business owners. Some may find this counterintuitive.
By buying it, you own the website and can take it with you regardless of who manages your marketing, hosting, etc.
Isn’t that a good thing?
Not if the website you own becomes outdated or in need of updates. And, not if you lose out on free maintenance and updates that are essential to keeping your business’s website running well. The Internet moves too fast to have the same website for more than a few years. Technology and software changes, people’s online behavior changes, and expectations for the online experience change. Remember when autoplay music on a website was the norm? If your website did that today, people would quickly leave.
The same goes for the look and feel of your website and its ability to work with the multitude of Internet-ready devices now available. Will an 8-year-old website look good on a smartphone? Definitely not. That’s why we’re the only company in the bed and breakfast marketing industry to offer a New Every Three™ Guarantee! Use our marketing services or “website as a service” model and we’ll redesign your website every 3 years, at no charge!
These are the risks of owning a website. You will end up with a static site that does not evolve over time. When you discover that your website is out-of-date, you’ll need to buy a whole new one. This is often a huge up-front expense. Then, when you need updates or fixes, you’ll need to pay a webmaster to manage them, adding further to ongoing expenses.
The Benefits of a “Website as a Service”
With a website that is leased or that comes as part of a paid marketing service, you avoid these risks and the associated costs. For example, Q4Launch provides free websites with our hospitality marketing services. We regularly maintain these websites, develop and install important updates, and even completely overhaul our design when a new format provides a better solution. All this at no cost to our customers. This approach could be thought of as “website as a service,” and is quickly becoming the norm across the web design industry.
A common concern with this format is that you do not own the website. Often, this concern is raised by those trying to sell websites. But, it is something that is easily mitigated by understanding your options. Whether buying a website or using a “website as a service” model, it is always important to check with the provider. Be sure you understand who owns what, and what your options are, before signing any contracts. Make sure you have the ability to buy the website outright (as Q4Launch customers do). And, ensure you maintain ownership of the website content such as the domain, page copy and images (something that Q4Launch also guarantees).
Ready to Find Your Next Bed and Breakfast Website Builder?
When weighing your options, make sure to ask questions and understand the long-term impact of your choices. Buying a website outright may seem better up-front. However, over time, it can prevent you from having a modern, updated, well-maintained website. It can also cost substantially more.
As long as you ensure you have flexible options from a trustworthy provider, you will find that getting a website as a service, rather than buying it outright, is often the better option. It isn’t just more affordable. It also ensures that your website will remain fresh and up-to-date without any work on your part. Your website will serve as a business asset rather than an expense. Start building yours today!
Photo credit: Getty Images: Rostislav_Sedlacek, gustavofrazao, beatpavel | Wordfence | Q4Launch: The Old Wailuku Inn, The French Manor Inn and Spa, Wine Country Inn | Red Cherry: The Wyndswept Bed and Breakfast | Whitestone Marketing: Brass Lantern Inn
Lauren Balmer | Customer Experience Manager
Learn More About Me and Q4Launch on LinkedIn today!