A Website That Showcases The Quality of Holiday Cottages and Increases Direct Bookings
The holiday cottage industry is a very competitive sector in today’s world. Gone are the days of simply being able to own a French Gite or a collection of Yorkshire Holiday lets and being confident they will be busy all year round.
Families on holiday have a far greater choice, making it more important than ever to show potential visitors the quality and care you have taken with your investment and reassure them that they are making the right choice by booking with you.
We had worked with Middleton Cottages previously creating photography for their stunning holiday cottages in North Yorkshire. They have a lovely collection of holiday cottages situated in the rolling countryside of North Yorkshire, each one with it’s own hot tub, private garden and contemporary decor.
Their initial website had been built in house and while they’d used a good content management system as a foundation, it was now several years old and as with all websites, it’s age was showing.
Over a chat to review the website, we agreed that several areas would benefit from attention and further development:
- The website wasn’t mobile responsive, something which is so important with modern mobile devices.
- It could be difficult to work out pricing and there was no mechanism for prospective visitors to quickly check availability before booking.
- We felt that he overall ‘look’ of the website did not really reflect the high quality of the holiday cottages and their fresh, contemporary decor.
- While the cottages were busy, the bookings were often through agents rather than direct. But with a busy farm business to manage as well as keeping the cottages in pristine condition for guests, they didn’t have the time or expertise to engage in an in house website project.
How We Helped
From previous visits to carry out photography of the cottages, we knew just how high a standard they had been built to and saw that the interior decor and quality finish wasn’t reflected in the old website.
We took some time to imagine what a prospective guest to the holiday cottages would be thinking and worked out ways to link that to some of the unique elements that Middleton Cottages offered, in particular:
- Each cottage has its own hot tub, situated in it’s own private area of the garden so that nobody overlooks any other visitor.
- One of the cottages is a huge ‘barn’ that sleeps up to ten people. This is very rare and unusual and we created a page to reach out to family groups and reunions.
- Some of the cottages are dog friendly. This is really important if you own a happy family dog and are faced with the upset and possible additional cost of kennels. But at the same time, not everyone likes dogs, so we made it clear that not all cottages are allowed pets.
From experience of booking holidays of our own, we also knew that visitors want the reassurance that they are not too far from the activities of the area and the things they came to enjoy. There’s little point in having lovely accommodation if everything involves a long drive. We created some landing pages with resources and links to some of the most popular tourism areas, places to eat and things to do in the locality.
An additional element was to make it much easier for visitors to check availability. Once website visitors had identified that the cottages would be a good place for a holiday, they need to quickly check availability and pricing.
Owners David and Caroline offer a flexible pricing policy, so a range of price guides were added.
Then each cottage has it’s own availability calendar added so that visitors can see at a glance which cottages might be available for them. This was designed to be easy to administer with just a few clicks, with the additional benefit that it also cut down on the number of email enquiries checking dates and brought customers several steps closer to booking when they finally did email, as many questions had already been answered through the information on the website.
So when the full holiday cottage website went live, as many changes to the content of the website were made as to the design. By giving visitors the information they need to make a decision to book, the new website resulted in a significant upswing in guests booking directly with the owners, rather than through agents who take a percentage.
Best of all, we’ve also convinced everyone that a little bit of Facebook marketing can be a great added element too.
If you have a project you would like to talk to us about, feel free to drop us a line below.