Ten tips to make your holiday accommodation website shine

Posted: 21st July 2015

Hi! I’m Helen, a freelance copywriter, social media helper and brand new WiRE member. Please take a look at my website www.inkgardener.co.uk and give me a call if you think I could help your business, meanwhile if you are in the holiday cottage business, read on…

The sun cream and waterproofs are packed and the British summer holidays beckons.

Now more people are researching and booking online, your holiday accommodation website needs to be as spick and span as your sheets. Stand out from the competition with these tips:

1. Use friendly, normal language in your content

Imagine you’re chatting to someone on the phone. For example ‘2 to 6 people’ not ‘persons’.

2. How many people can sleep in a family room or holiday cottage?

Do you give the exact bed configuration? A description such as ‘A double bed, single bed and sofa bed’ may sway someone who knows their children will never get to sleep if they have to share.

3. Do you have a photo gallery for each room type or cottage?

Include the view, bathroom and beds. If you don’t, they’ll just scour TripAdvisor instead…

4. Are your Special Offers on your home page?

It’s strange how some holiday accommodation sites have their Special Offers tucked away. Make sure they are in the front window of your website.

5. Do you use bold or italics?

Don’t! Both are difficult to read for those with visual impairments or dyslexia. Italics in particular look quite old-fashioned. Headers are a brilliant Google-friendly alternative.

6. Do you have disabled access online too?

It’s great if you have wheelchair-accessible holiday accommodation. But does your website pass disability standards? Check with your website designer that it passes WAI AA compatibility at the very least. Otherwise you could miss out on business.

7. Have you a Frequently Asked Questions page?

Things like – ‘Can I bring my dog?’, ‘Can we park right next to the cottage?’, ‘Where are the nearest shops?’, ‘Do you have hairdryers?’. Again, just imagine you’re answering someone on the phone.

Often clients reply ‘Well they could just call me’. However if your customer is in another time zone or an open-plan office illicitly planning their escape, a conversation may be impossible.

When I worked for a major holiday company, the highest number of complaints came from the last-minuters who had not researched their holiday. The more information you give, the more reassured your potential guest will be. Remember, people buy from people they trust.

8. Make sure the metadata is tailored for each page

Metadata is the ‘invisible indexing’ Google and other search engines use to help work out how relevant your page is to a search. You can change the metadata on every web page. For example if you want to highlight the disabled facilities in a certain cottage, then add ‘disabled’ to the metadata for its page.

9. Have a great rating on TripAdvisor?

Then link to it! Your users will probably search for you on there anyway. Linking shows you are proud of your reviews.

10. If you have negative TripAdvisor reviews, don’t panic

If someone is negative, use your right to reply to say “We are so sorry to hear about this. We will talk to the staff/mend the lampshade/fix the heating as soon as possible” or “We are so sorry to hear about this. Please email us at X so we can investigate further”.

Readers will work out if someone is being a diva in their demands and will respect your restraint. Trying to justify yourself will just make you sound petty. I once picked a different apartment because the owner was so livid not to be awarded full marks by a reviewer. No one wants to book with Mr. Angry.

For some charming Tripadvisor examples from Buckden in the Yorkshire Dales, take a look at the replies by Dalegarth Holiday Cottages.

See? Just a few tweaks and you’re ready. Here’s to that ‘No Vacancies’ sign going up soon.

P.S. Please could you leave out some decaffeinated teabags too? And at least four of those little milk cartons. Thanks!

Like more advice?