We’ve already armed you with the key elements to consider and prepare before you start creating your website.
Next there’s the small matter of actually building the website.
And assuming you’ve decided to take that job on yourself, here are seven tips to help you create the perfect holiday let website that will encourage visitors to make a booking.
Tip 1: Create immediate impact
The easiest way to create immediate impact on your website is by having a show-stopper image on the homepage.
This is the page most visitors land on first, so hit them with something that appeals to their holiday spirit.
And remember, it doesn’t have to be of the property itself.
In fact, if you have a large header display area on your website, or want to include a background image, you should consider a landscape local area photo as well.
The idea is to help your website visitors imagine what it will be like to holiday at your holiday let.
Is it set in a stunning location? Does it have fabulous views?
As professional photographer Sarah Kay suggests in her photography tips article, “think about the unique features of your holiday and its location, then photograph them.”
Place the best one on the homepage to create that WOW factor.
Or why not rotate a few different images of your property and its location to give your website visitors a real sense of what it’s like.
When adding photos to the header display area, just remember:
- Don’t use a photo that’s in portrait format – most people view websites on computers and tablets. These are formatted as landscape. Use a portrait photo and the image won’t be seen in full, or it will make the page scroll too long.
- Don’t use a photo that’s too close to the subject. This will result in the image being too tall for the webpage. Again, resulting in a long page scroll for the website visitor.
In reality, your website visitors probably won’t bother scrolling. They’ll just move on to a competitor’s website instead.
So, carefully consider how to frame each subject. And how to place each photo on your website.
Think about your website visitors and the impact it will have on them.
Will it WOW them?
Will it make them want to find out more?
Will it make them want to make an enquiry?
Tip 2: Include plenty of visual stimulus
We live in a world where we are bombarded by information all day long and we have limited time.
This can make us lazy when it comes to searching for something online.
Which is why eye-catching images and well-formatted copy are hugely important.
High quality photos should feature throughout your entire website – not just as the main image on the homepage or on a gallery page.
Take photos of the exterior, interior, local area and attractions.
Then think about each page of your website and place relevant photos on each one.
You will most likely want to have a dedicated gallery page, but placing photos on all pages are a great way of adding a little eye-candy to break up the monotony of text.
Just don’t go overboard.
You want your website to be aesthetically pleasing as well as informative.
So take a look at your website text and add photos that align with that text.
Pop in the best ones and move all others over to your gallery page.
Tip 3: Relevant and well-formatted copy
You may wonder why it’s important to write wonderful copy when people tend to scan websites.
True, many people won’t read your website text in full. But clever writing does plays an important part.
And writing copy that can grab the attention of those ‘scanners’ is the key.
Use short headlines, sub headings, short paragraphs and bullet points to help key information stand out.
Don’t make it difficult for visitors to read by using bold, capitals or a mesh of different fonts and colours throughout.
Think simplicity. Less is more.
That and relevant, to-the-point information.
Put the good stuff at the top, so that if they don’t read anything more than the opening few lines, they’ve at least got something of value.
This appeals to the emotional side of a purchasing decision. Because when it comes to booking a holiday, it’s almost always based on a want. A desire. Rather than a need.
Tip 4: Good structure and easy navigation
When it comes to structuring your website, it’s not rocket science.
Match relevant information to the page you’re editing.
If you’re adding content about your property, don’t include copy about the local area. Keep it to the point. That way your website visitors know exactly what to expect when they click into that page.
So what about the homepage?
Yes, you have to contend with those who only spend a few seconds scanning a website before moving on. But that doesn’t mean you should overload your homepage.
That’s definitely not going to have the desired result.
Actually, it’s more likely to get people moving away from your site quicker.
The homepage should give an overview of your property and the local area. A synopsis. It’s a portal to excite and entice people before luring them further in.
Then you use clever call-to-actions.
Internal hyperlinks are the perfect way to walk your website visitors through the site. Visiting pages in a logical order.
Take them from the enticing overview to the accommodation information.
Next move them further in to find out more about the local area. If there are various activities nearby, you may want to consider additional sub-pages. This is a great way to break up information so it’s easier to find.
Then you may want to guide them through to check out the availability and relevant rates.
And of course you’ll most definitely want them to get in touch. Whether it be to make an enquiry, or to find out more.
Tell them to contact you, don’t just hope it’ll happen.
Tip 5: Provide various methods of contact
Adding an enquiry form to your site is ideal. You can ensure it’s specific to a holiday rental so people can include their specific dates and group size, etc.
But don’t necessarily leave it there.
More and more people use online methods of communication, such as email, Skype and messenger. And of course some prefer the good old fashioned telephone.
So why not cover all bases and provide a few different options. Making it easier for your potential guests, and possibly more lucrative for you.
Tip 6: Showcase your social proof
With so many options available to the holiday maker, why should they choose your accommodation over another? How do they know what you say they’ll get, is what they’ll actually get?
Trust means a lot these days and consumers expect it.
So how can you go about building that trust?
Two words – social proof.
Testimonials? Get them on your website. Rave about them online. Let others see what a great holiday let you offer.
Have social media profiles? Make sure they’re featured on your website, and they link back to your website. Encourage people to like or follow you via those channels. Interact with people to build up your connections.
Don’t think social media’s worth it? Think again.
Your target market are using social media platforms whether you are or not. They talk. They interact. They find out information.
You should be there too.
Promoting your holiday let. Interacting with your target audience. Building your authority as a holiday let owner and as an advocate of the area it’s located in.
And if that hasn’t convinced you, using social media as part of your overall marketing plan sends signals to Google which can result in you website ranking higher in search results.
Tip 7: Keep it clean, simple and useable
Keep your website clean with nicely structured photos and copy in terms of layout and formatting.
Keep it simple by not over-complicating the navigation. Keep page content relevant and create new pages if you want to provide information in more detail or about something specific, such as activities, corporate events, group bookings, etc.
And finally keep it user-friendly. Don’t add loads of 3rd party widgets or plugins unless they’re absolutely necessary. Each external piece of code that’s added to your website will slow it down a little. The slower your website, the more likely people are to give up waiting for it to load.
And anyway, just because you can include a link to the current weather, doesn’t mean you have to.
If your accommodation is in Ireland, you may not want everyone knowing it’s cold, grey and rainy! (Yes we’re stereotyping here, but you get the point).
So remember, create immediate impact using your best photos. Include plenty of visual stimulus throughout your site. Keep copy relevant and easy to read at a glance.
Guide people through your site logically so they don’t have to think about it themselves. Provide various contact methods so you don’t miss out on any enquiries. Shout about your guest reviews and link through to any social media profiles.
Follow these tips and you’ve got a website ready to promote.