The holiday industry is a competitive market. With tens of thousands of hotels, B&Bs and campsites all vying for paying guests, it pays to stand out. Of course, by definition, holidays are one of the few things most of us buy blind. Which means basically that we don’t get to see what we’re buying in the flesh, only booking from a distance.
Traditionally that meant relying on holiday brochures and travel agents to get a clear representation of your holiday destination. But then along came the internet and changed all the rules. Now holiday parks and campsites can connect directly with potential visitors from all over the world via a website. And that’s why you need to make sure your site is working as hard as it possibly can to reel in potential guests.
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When booking any holiday accommodation, the importance of good photography and images can’t be underestimated. People booking their holiday are essentially staking their precious vacation time on your services. So they want to get as clear a picture as possible of what to expect.
That’s why stock images are out. And also why grainy, small images don’t work either. Essentially, the more high-quality, large and high-definition photos you can have on your site, the better. If you can’t capture them yourself, then it might be worth paying a photographer to do it for you.
Having an image gallery on your site is an excellent way to show off your facilities and let your potential customers see exactly what you can offer. Try not to make the images misleading (this can lead to problems in the future) but seek to show off your site in the best possible light.
A sturdy booking system
Is there anything worse than making your decision then being thwarted when you come to book? Getting customers to your site and convincing them to pay their hard-earned money is 95% of the battle. Don’t let them slip away at the last minute.
Cart abandonment statistics are shocking, with an average of 62.3% of people failing to confirm at the final hurdle. So it’s the same with your online booking system. Give them a reason to go elsewhere or prevaricate by using a less than adequate booking system, and you could be waving goodbye to a huge chunk of potential bookings. A good example of a robust and mobile-friendly booking system is Camp Manager.
Clear call to action
More than 90% of people who read your page headline will also read your call to action. But it only works if it’s up front and centre. Hide it away or, even worse, leave it out altogether and you’re not correctly guiding site visitors to where the business happens.
Make sure you have a clear CTA on every page. You can even double up. Just make it easy to find.
It MUST be responsive
More than half of all adults own a smartphone, and up to two-thirds of web traffic comes from mobile devices. So to keep your website accessible to more than half of your customers, you need your design to work on all devices, all of the time.
That means creating a website with a responsive design that works across all platforms. But it’s not just for customer-facing reasons. Having one responsively designed URL rather than several makes it much easier to manage and update your site. Plus, it’s much better for SEO purposes (more on that later).
Keep content fresh
The site looks great, the images are good, but you check the blog, and it was last updated two years ago, or the calendar is a year out of date. Would you hand over your money to this site? Probably not.
Stale content is a huge turn-off. Firstly, if the site’s owners are still operating, then it just looks a little lazy that they’re not keeping on top of the content. Secondly, how can you be sure the site is even being maintained at all? The web is full of sites for companies that ceased to trade.
But even more important, letting site visitors know what you’re up to regularly is an excellent way to spread the news and advertise your brand. Keep the blog regular and engaging, sharing it where you can. Link to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms with guides to what’s new, what’s on and what’s coming. Your website shouldn’t be a chore; it should be your chance to tell the world how great you are.
Ensure it is optimised for search engines
If your site is not SEO optimised then it’s not working as hard as it should. Search engines are the main way that people will find your site, and if you’re not playing the SEO game correctly, then the engines won’t be finding your site.
Make sure you keep your site stocked with relevant local and global keywords, as part of a good content strategy. Build links internally and externally and make sure your SEO net is cast far and wide to catch those SEO bots when they pass through. You can read more on why SEO is so important - http://mattmeazey.co.uk/blog/why-written-content-is-king-the-benefits-of-seo
The power of words
Lastly, but no less importantly, fill your site with well-written and immersive copy. Try to put the potential guest in the right state of mind, helping them to picture how they will feel when they’re staying with you.
Be descriptive, inclusive and use direct and friendly language that engages the reader. Again, it’s well worth paying a professional to write your copy as it will more than pay for itself in the long run.