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What's putting people off booking?
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Kgreen



Joined: 27 Feb 2017
Posts: 25
Location: Lavenham, Suffolk

PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2017 12:07 pm    Post subject: What's putting people off booking? Reply with quote

Hello everyone,

I am truly thankful for this forum. I've learnt so many valuable things as a newbie. Could I please ask for some advice?

I am very new to holiday letting and have invested a lot of time and money into our new cottage. I'm very passionate about it, and really believe in providing a high quality holiday (having been to lots of self catering cottages in the past, I've been somewhat underwhelmed by some).

I've only been available to book for around 6 weeks, so it is very new, but I thought I might have had some enquiries at least . I am on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and three referral sites, as well as having my own website and booking system and some business cards I've distributed with local businesses. Having looked at Google Analytics, I can see that people are finding my website through organic searches and referrals, but I am struggling to get bookings. (I am competitively priced compared with local cottages). I wondered whether there is something glaringly obvious that is putting people off?

Are bookings in general quite slow at the moment?

Any advice would be gratefully received. I didn't imagine this to be an easy venture, and I'm certainly not afraid of putting the time and effort in, I'm just worried people aren't as responsive as I thought they might be!

Thanks so much!

Katie

www.blacksmithscottagesuffolk.co.uk
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Jenster



Joined: 08 Mar 2016
Posts: 429
Location: Cornwall

PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2017 12:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Katie,

Your place looks lovely and in the long term i'm sure you won't have a problem getting bookings. Maybe it's the time of year - a lot of people will already have their summer hol sorted an are not yet looking forward to Autumn or winter. Which referral sites are you on?
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Joanna



Joined: 23 Aug 2007
Posts: 888
Location: Chester, North West England & Sidmouth, East Devon

PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2017 12:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We're having a slow summer too so it's not just you. And judging by the amount of special offer emails I'm getting from the likes of Sykes and Forest Holidays it looks like even the big companies still have quite a few dates available.

I had a quick look at your web site and I think you might be able to engage visitors more effectively with a couple of tweaks to the home page.

The overall first impression I have of the home page is that it's promoting Lavenham rather than a particular holiday cottage. The illustration is lovely but I'd rather see your best photos of the house take prime place.

The exterior shot with closed door and blinds drawn isn't particularly welcoming - maybe one or two of your gorgeous interior shots at the top of the home page?

I'd move the village illustration further down the page or even to the location page.

The body text grey is very pale on my laptop (might just be me) which might be putting some people off reading it.

It took me a while to work out where the cottage is so maybe introduce the key words Suffolk and East Anglia in more prominent positions - if you put them in headings or sub heads they'll also help boost your ranking in search results.

I'd also recommend having more short snappy paragraphs so visitors can skim read the important info quickly. Breaking the text up with subheads helps with that too.

Are you on the 'book your holiday direct with the owner' Facebook group?
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Jo

Joint owner of Baker's Cottage in Chester & Chandler's Cottage in Sidmouth
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Kgreen



Joined: 27 Feb 2017
Posts: 25
Location: Lavenham, Suffolk

PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2017 12:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jenster wrote:
Hi Katie,

Your place looks lovely and in the long term i'm sure you won't have a problem getting bookings. Maybe it's the time of year - a lot of people will already have their summer hol sorted an are not yet looking forward to Autumn or winter. Which referral sites are you on?


Hi Jenster, thank you very much - that's good to know! I'm on Romantic Retreats, Independent Cottages and Elite Cottages. The only traffic I really get is from Romantic Retreats!
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Kgreen



Joined: 27 Feb 2017
Posts: 25
Location: Lavenham, Suffolk

PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2017 12:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Joanna wrote:
We're having a slow summer too so it's not just you. And judging by the amount of special offer emails I'm getting from the likes of Sykes and Forest Holidays it looks like even the big companies still have quite a few dates available.

I had a quick look at your web site and I think you might be able to engage visitors more effectively with a couple of tweaks to the home page.

The overall first impression I have of the home page is that it's promoting Lavenham rather than a particular holiday cottage. The illustration is lovely but I'd rather see your best photos of the house take prime place.

The exterior shot with closed door and blinds drawn isn't particularly welcoming - maybe one or two of your gorgeous interior shots at the top of the home page?

I'd move the village illustration further down the page or even to the location page.

The body text grey is very pale on my laptop (might just be me) which might be putting some people off reading it.

It took me a while to work out where the cottage is so maybe introduce the key words Suffolk and East Anglia in more prominent positions - if you put them in headings or sub heads they'll also help boost your ranking in search results.

I'd also recommend having more short snappy paragraphs so visitors can skim read the important info quickly. Breaking the text up with subheads helps with that too.

Are you on the 'book your holiday direct with the owner' Facebook group?


Hello Joanna,

Thank you so much for this. I am with the book your holiday direct Facebook group! I totally take on board your comments about the exterior cottage photo - I need to retake one this week as I've just bought a hanging basket and plants for the front so it will look much nicer! I completely agree with the illustration and photos, I will have a look at rearranging. I realise my text IS a little boring, so I will look at that too! Thanks again for your comments, they are much appreciated!

Katie
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Jenster



Joined: 08 Mar 2016
Posts: 429
Location: Cornwall

PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2017 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ps I didn't get any bookings in my first 6weeks of operation either. Eventually I changed the photos on my listings for some better ones and after that the bookings came flooding in. So great photos prominently displayed can make a huge difference. As Joanna says, you have some great ones - a little rearranging might just do the trick.

Also - do you have a Google my business listing? That can really help you be found. Holidays direct including dog friendly is another good fb group and there are others just for dog friendly places if you take them. I have also had success with fb ads...they can really increase website traffic and have led to a few bookings. So much so that I am considering ploughing most of my marketing budget into them next year instead of renewing my OD subscription.
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Jenster



Joined: 08 Mar 2016
Posts: 429
Location: Cornwall

PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2017 2:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ps I didn't get any bookings in my first 6weeks of operation either. Eventually I changed the photos on my listings for some better ones and after that the bookings came flooding in. So great photos prominently displayed can make a huge difference. As Joanna says, you have some great ones - a little rearranging might just do the trick.
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greenbarn



Joined: 30 May 2009
Posts: 5986
Location: The Westmorland Dales, Cumbria

PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2017 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

First, yes it is very tough at the moment! Take heart.

Your website - lovely photos but not enough information.

Iím looking as a potential guest:

Iím guessing itís on two floors from the pics, and that downstairs is open plan kitchen/lounge/dining area, although I donít see a dining table.
I donít know what facilities there are - I can see what I think is a washing machine, but is there a dishwasher for instance, or a freezer? Guests would assume thereís a microwave oven, even if itís not in the photos, but it would be good to have it confirmed.

Most important piece of information - how big is the bed?

The point is that this is all information (and thereís probably more) that is pretty vital before I (as example guest!) would be interested, and Iím really not going to bother to get in touch with basic questions to find out.
As a typical guest I need to be spoon-fed or Iíll look at the next offering.

One further thought - itís the photos that really draw me in and give me good feelings about the place, but Iíve got to be sufficiently grabbed by the home page to want to look further. I love the sketch, but it doesnít tell me or sell me anything beyond the fact that Lavenham has a pretty street, whereas some of the photos do. The sketch would make a lovely header or background to the other pages, but I donít think it sells the dream well enough to stand alone.

Others with a better eye for these things can probably make better suggestions.
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zebedee



Joined: 12 Sep 2014
Posts: 843
Location: yorkshire dales

PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2017 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would tend to agree with all that Greenbarn has said.

Also, there is nothing wrong with having prices a little lower than your competitors in order to draw in the late bookers, you can gradually increase prices next year and so on until you feel you have reached a balance with prices v. Availability.


Don't forget, your competitors may have regulars which they have built up over time, and you are the newbie.
Some people like the idea of being in a new on the market property so why not exploit that in your home page??? You won't be able to do it for very long.

My last suggestion would be to indicate your price range more clearly. I know if you tough the dates, a pop up window appears with prices, but this may not be quite transparent enough for people looking to produce a short list of properties to choose from.
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newtimber



Joined: 24 Nov 2012
Posts: 1616
Location: Brighton

PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2017 5:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Joanna wrote:

The body text grey is very pale on my laptop (might just be me) which might be putting some people off reading it.



I find it so too. I actually like the line art drawing, but I need to have the basic information stand out - like how many it sleeps, what are the facilities etc.
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Kgreen



Joined: 27 Feb 2017
Posts: 25
Location: Lavenham, Suffolk

PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2017 7:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you all so much! I've made a few changes this evening based on your feedback, I'll need to work on it a little more, but I really appreciate your help, your points all make perfect sense - can't see the wood for the trees when you've been staring at something for so long so it's great to have fresh eyes!

Thanks again, I'll let you know how I get on.

Katie
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Riponnewbie



Joined: 17 May 2016
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 7:56 am    Post subject: Re: What's putting people off booking? Reply with quote

Hi Katie,

Your cottage looks absolutely beautiful! Your website is fabulous too. Your prices are high end but inline with the quality of the accommodation you are providing. I think you have to be patient. Which listing sites are you on? (I might book a stay myself!)

G


Kgreen wrote:
Hello everyone,

I am truly thankful for this forum. I've learnt so many valuable things as a newbie. Could I please ask for some advice?

I am very new to holiday letting and have invested a lot of time and money into our new cottage. I'm very passionate about it, and really believe in providing a high quality holiday (having been to lots of self catering cottages in the past, I've been somewhat underwhelmed by some).

I've only been available to book for around 6 weeks, so it is very new, but I thought I might have had some enquiries at least . I am on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and three referral sites, as well as having my own website and booking system and some business cards I've distributed with local businesses. Having looked at Google Analytics, I can see that people are finding my website through organic searches and referrals, but I am struggling to get bookings. (I am competitively priced compared with local cottages). I wondered whether there is something glaringly obvious that is putting people off?

Are bookings in general quite slow at the moment?

Any advice would be gratefully received. I didn't imagine this to be an easy venture, and I'm certainly not afraid of putting the time and effort in, I'm just worried people aren't as responsive as I thought they might be!

Thanks so much!

Katie
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newtimber



Joined: 24 Nov 2012
Posts: 1616
Location: Brighton

PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kgreen wrote:
Thank you all so much! I've made a few changes this evening based on your feedback, I'll need to work on it a little more, but I really appreciate your help, your points all make perfect sense - can't see the wood for the trees when you've been staring at something for so long so it's great to have fresh eyes!

Thanks again, I'll let you know how I get on.

Katie


It's much better. Looking at your booking page, it's not terribly user friendly. I thought I'd book a week in August - but the price I'd actually pay wasn't clear. It's given as £810 with a discount code of 20%. Most people wouldn't instantly know how much the break (with the 20% discount) was and may be put off. And when you get on the next page, you have to enter the discount code - but you can't see what it was without going back and re-entering your dates again and writing it down or remembering it.
Wouldn't it be a lot simpler to give the actual price that people have to pay rather than a price with a discount code?
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JanB



Joined: 17 Aug 2012
Posts: 510
Location: Near Bath

PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your cottage looks stunning and of an unusually high quality - love the bath!

One big influence these days is going to be reviews from guesfs so I would actively encourage any guests you do have to leave a review on your booking sites as that really does help in establishing your reputation and gives confidence to potential guests.

Good luck and I might well book myself as it looks so fantastic!
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Kgreen



Joined: 27 Feb 2017
Posts: 25
Location: Lavenham, Suffolk

PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 5:35 pm    Post subject: Re: What's putting people off booking? Reply with quote

[quote="Riponnewbie"]Hi Katie,

Your cottage looks absolutely beautiful! Your website is fabulous too. Your prices are high end but inline with the quality of the accommodation you are providing. I think you have to be patient. Which listing sites are you on? (I might book a stay myself!)

G


Hi Riponnewie,

Thank you so much, that is very kind indeed. I have worked very hard to create a nice place to stay - it's in a gorgeous village and totally worth a visit!

I'm on Elite Cottages, Romantic Retreats and Independent Cottages, although Romantic Retreats is the one I see most traffic from!

Please do book a stay, I put together a lovely welcome basket, including a bottle of bubbles! Wink

Thanks again for your very kind words.

Katie
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