2015 is upon us. As the year comes to a close, now is a great time to make sure your booking system is updated, and ready to manage reservations for the next year. You certainly want to avoid any issues that may arise, so we outlined a few key things you need to check to make sure you have a green light for the upcoming year.
Update your rates
The online booking system will only allow customers to make a reservation if it can find valid rates for the season. If your rates aren’t updated, the booking calendar will show grey, and your products will be unavailable for booking. To check your rates, log in to your account and go to Setup – Rates. You should have rates entered at least until the end of 2015 or 2016.
Update your schedules (for tours, events, and tickets)
If you are using the calendar type, “Schedules”, you will want to check the dates of your time slots and make any updates for 2015. Once again, if the system can’t find any valid schedule for 2015 the calendar will show grey and your customers won’t be able to book. To update your schedules go to Setup – Products and Reservation Rules – Schedules.
Update your discount codes
Don’t let your discount codes expire! When you create a discount code, valid dates are required for setup. Remember to check these dates to keep these discounts active. You can update the discount codes under Setup – Discount Codes.
Switch to the calendar 2.0
The calendar 2.0 is the latest version of our online booking calendar and it looks really great. It includes new features like the following:
- The Availability Grid: Allow your customer to see all your product’s availability at a glance.
- The Shopping Cart: Shows a summary of what your customer is purchasing as well as any discounts or extra charges.
- Responsiveness: The calendar is designed to be used on any type of device including smartphones and tablets.
On the top of that, the calendar 2.0 is 100% customizable so you can easily adapt it to your web design.
When a customer makes a reservation through the booking system, WebReserv automatically sends him an email. This is a great feature because it gives your customers instant notification, all the details of their reservation, and the assurance that they have successfully made the booking. Does that mean you are through with all communication between you and your customer? Of course not. There are still details and information that you would like to relay to your customers before arrival and even after they check out. Today we will talk about how WebReserv can help you keep your customer informed on every detail from A to Z with the Pre and Post Visit Email.
Pre and post visit emails can assist you by giving your customer a great experience from the first contact to the last. These emails allow you greater communication with your customers, and create added value to your sales and marketing strategy.
Pre-visit Email: The pre-visit email can be sent on whatever day of your choosing before your customer arrives (ex: 7 days before). This is a great way to avoid confusion with the date, the time, the place or the price. It is also a great platform to include important information about their room/rental/tour, such as items to bring, pick up location, or check in time. Your customers will certainly appreciate the reminder as they are preparing for their arrival.
“I run a food tour business and I work with clients all over the world. They normally book 4-6 months in advance so it is vital to be able to remind them the important information about the tour (date, time, etc.) before they arrive. Also, the pre-visit email can be used as a voucher. There is no doubt this feature saves us a huge amount of time calling clients and, since it is customizable, it reinforce our corporate image.” explains Matthieu Floret from foodlovertour.com in Barcelona (Spain).
Post-visit Email: The post-visit email can be sent a certain amount of time after the day of the tour/activity/rental/stay (ex: 2 days after). You will normally use it to thank your customer for coming as well as ask him to share his feedback about the visit. It is also the best place to include links to social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and to convert a standard customer into a proactive customer. If you sell other products or services or gift cards, don’t lose the opportunity to remind him there are other things he might be interested in so you can boost your sales.
“We send the post-visit email 2 weeks after the tour. It is a very efficient tool as it helps us to easily measure our client satisfaction directing them to social medias as Facebook, instagram, Tripadvisor or Twitter that are essential for us.” Says Matthieu.
To know how to setup the pre and post visit email, click here
What I am about to share is probably not what you are expecting. How do I know? Good question. I will tell you.
Creating a consistent stream of ideal guests is easy once you’ve got the 5 elements in place. But before I reveal what these 5 elements are, I will first tell you what they are not:
- Discounting your prices
- Listing with a gazillion free sites
- Listing with online travel agents, and letting them do the marketing for you. Plus paying their commissions for the privilege.
- Taking anybody and everybody no matter what they want
- Competing on price with other B&Bs in your area
- Mess around on social media talking about you
These will tasks will not get you increased business, and further, these mistakes and missteps will certainly not help you:
- Having a confusing website that doesn’t give enough information about your business or what guests are looking for
- No database of your past guests
- Never following up with past guests and inviting them to return
And yet, this is what most B&B owners tell me they’re doing or not doing, day in, day out. Why? They’ve never been taught or haven’t taken the time to learn. Like I said, it’s easy once you know how.
Download my free cheat sheet here and start learning how now. (Link to Free download: https://bedandbreakfastcoach.leadpages.net/free-resources/ ) You’ll learn what the 5 Essential Elements are, plus I’m inviting you to join me on a webinar next week, where I’m going to take you even deeper into what it really takes to create a great B&B business that you love. Here’s what one of my clients said:
The months of June, July, August and September are our busiest due to the beautiful weather in the Pacific Northwest. A big huge thanks to Yvonne Halling and her excellent program we almost doubled our occupancy rate this year over last year. Last year in these 4 months we only did 39% occupancy and this year we are at 68% occupancy thus far. So grateful!!! Shelley Wright
I’m taking a stand for your success in your B&B business.
About Yvonne Halling:
Yvonne Halling is known as the Bed and Breakfast Queen having taken her own B&B from making almost nothing to making over 6 figures in under 2 years, won a coveted online marketing award and 3 hospitality awards. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the last several weeks our team has been working on translating our calendar 2.0 to other European languages. Until now, the calendar 2.0 was available in English, French, Dutch, Swedish, German, Danish, Portuguese and Spanish. We knew that many of our clients in Europe needed to be able to show their calendar in more languages in order to attend to more customers.
We are please to announce that now the calendar is available in Italian. This is wonderful news for your customers who speak this language and want to book your products or services. They can now view the calendar in their own native language to provide them a better experience and make them feel comfortable with your business. “It’s great to be able to provide the system in other languages so that people in Italia can make bookings without effort.”, says Martin Israelsen, founder of WebReserv.
“We have numerous development plans for the system, but since our launch in Europe, we have been focused on making the system work well with European currencies, languages and payment providers, trying to make WebReserv as complete as possible.”, concludes Martin Israelsen.
And that’s not it. We are planning to add some great features during the next months. We hope you will enjoy the benefits of those updates.
Things are going well for businesses in the tourism industry. Businesses are reporting record revenue numbers as people are traveling more. Why? One big reason is due to many of the travel sites, such as Booking.com, TripAdvisor, and Expedia, are making it easy for people to find and book what they want. You can find a place to stay or various activities and tours in the destination you are traveling to. On one hand, these sites are beneficial for both the customer and the business to ‘find’ each other, but on the other hand, it doesn’t come cheap to the business as it has to pay commission to these big travel sites for any bookings received through their portal. This is why, smart businesses in the lodging or tour industry will always be looking for way to get more traffic and bookings on their own through their website.
It is not an easy thing to compete with those billion dollars companies, and ignoring them may not be the best strategy either. These travel sites can certainly help your sales, but it is also essential for your businesses to maintain a certain independence in order to reduce risks, be in control, and make more money with each reservation. You may have a very professional website, but if it is lying dormant out there on the web you will not make it on your own. Spread your voice, reach out to the world, and take back control with the following tips.
1. Create a stunning blog
As said earlier, your business must reach out to the world if you want to attract new customers. A great way to achieve this is to have an informative and creative blog that will deliver amazing content to travelers and potential customers. Ask yourself the question, “As a traveler, what kind of information do I want to know about travelling in general and more specifically about the area that I am visiting?” It can be details about attractions or events close to your business, unique items or foods specific to your area, historical facts about your region, or any other tidbits that will peak the curiosity of travelers. Create original content and be generous with the information you give. If you do it well you may become THE tourism expert in your area, and have thousands of people following your blog.
For more information about how to get more traffic on your blog we recommend this wonderful article of the Moz Blog.
2. Be active on Forums
The Internet is THE place for information and communication. If a traveler wants know about a place, he can easily find many online forums with details about that location as well as receive advice from other travelers. Be active on those forums, answer traveler’s questions, and share your expertise. If people know that you live in the area they want to visit, then they will trust that your comments and suggestions are credible. Being present on these forums and establishing your trustworthiness will open it up for you to promote your business. Do this by adding helpful comments with, at the end, a link to your website. Perhaps you say, “By the way, if you are looking for a place to stay / a city tour to see the sights, we will be glad to help you. Visit our webpage to learn more.” If you’re lucky, this post on the forum may reach hundreds of people. Remember, the key to the success of your comment is how great is the information you provide it MUST be helpful and unique. If not, people will just consider it as a SPAM.
In order to carry out this forum strategy it is vital to be informed when someone is looking for a specific keyword. Use Google Alerts to be know what is happening on the web. For example, if you have a Bed & Breakfast near Windsor Castle set an alert on “Windsor Castle”, and Google will let you know every time someone talks about it on the web.
3. Connect with key players in your industry
It is a great idea to develop partnerships with related businesses or attractions in your area. Forming these types of relationships will get the right people talking about you and your business. When another credible source in your niche publishes something about you, it will definitely attract people to your website. Also, writing guest posts for well-known blogs in the industry will allow you to reach a completely new audience, and to get others to refer to your webpage. This is quite possibly one of the most effective, and at the same time least utilized strategy. If you want to know more about guest blogging, see this guide.
4. Use Social Media to get your content in moving
Most people check Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ at least once per day. This is why social media is the best way to put your content in front of potential customers. Also, social media is the place to share, comment and interact. If your content is good enough, people will share it, and your business may reach thousands of people in a short amount of time.
You should also use social media to share other people’s information. Let them know you’re sharing their content, they will appreciate that, and likely return the favor.
5. Offer a website that can do it all
Once you get people to your website, make sure they will stay. This means that you design a webpage that is easy to navigate, can be accessed from any device, and allows your customers to book online. For more information about how to make a killer webpage, check this article by WebReserv.
6. Always give the best service
Yes, it sounds a bit cliché, but this is essential. Delivering an amazing service or having an excellent product will always produce good results. It is the key to a successful business and does wonders for a word-of-mouth marketing strategy. People will seek you out knowing that others have had such a great experience with your business.
7. Ask your customers to talk about you
This is a simple thing to do, but often goes undone. Satisfied customers are willing to help you, but you need to ask. Ask them to ‘like’ your business Facebook page, write a comment on your blog, write a review on your site, or simply ask them to tell their friends and family about their experience. Be sure that they know your website address, so they can share that as well.
8. Never surrender
Establishing an online presence will not happen overnight. Be patient, persistent, and don’t give up! Prepare yourself to put in a lot of time and effort. Understand that it can take months, and possibly hundreds of posts before you begin to see results. Focus on your goals – more business, more revenue. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and soon your business will become a trustworthy reference that provides an excellent service to travelers. In time, your success will also become an inspiration for other businesses. A positive effect all around.
You have a well designed website, but you are not getting the bookings that you expect. You realize that there is something that needs to be done to change that, but aren’t sure what to do. There are many things you can do to increase your conversion rate. We will discuss 13 tips below.
1. Measure your results
How can you make the right decision if you don’t know where you’re failing?
The very first step is to track your conversions. To do so, you can use Google Analytics. It is a free service, and will give you important data about people who view your website. Where are they coming from? When are they leaving the page? How many convert? How many bounce? To get started with it, see the Google Analytics training here.
2. Call to action
One of the common missing elements in websites with a low conversion rate is the “Call to Action”. You may showcase an excellent product or service on your site, but if you don’t clearly highlight the “Next step”, you are likely to lose your customer along the way. Your call to action can be “Submit”, “Buy now”, “Book right away”, or “Click here”. Whatever the text you choose, make sure your visitors will see it. To learn how to make a great call to action, check out the most successful sites of the web (see MailChimp example below).
3. Simplicity + Focus = Sales
Would you book a room in a bed and breakfast if you haven’t seen the pictures? Would you book a tour if prices aren’t specified? Just ask yourself the question, “What are the 3 most important things visitors want to see on my website?” In most cases, the answer to that question is: prices, pictures and descriptions. Don’t underestimate the importance of these elements. You may believe that online visitors will call you to get the missing information, but most won’t do that. If they don’t find the key information on the website, they will move on. Simple as that.
Once you’ve identified the key elements, organize it in an easy structure, such as a main menu. Make sure the vital information is available from the main page and that it is not necessary to scroll down to access it. Also, do not overload the page with unrelated information that could prevent visitors from buying (flash, advertisements, etc.)
4. Get an online booking system or a shopping cart
Most customers want to have the ability to book online. If you don’t give potential customers this option, they will book with a business who does, so don’t be left behind! If you run tours, recreational activities, rentals or if you are in the lodging industry, feel free to test our online booking system, WebReserv for free (click here for Europe or here for the rest of the world).
5. Have a competitive and fair pricing structure
A potential customer will usually have an idea of how much he is willing to pay for a certain product or service. If you offer the same service as the business down the street, but your price is twice as much, don’t be surprised if he sells more than you do. Check other businesses in the same industry with similar offerings to make sure your prices are in the same range. If you want to raise your prices, you will need to justify it by giving more to your customer (extras, quality, commodity, etc.).
6. Create an informative voice mail message
Every missed call is a missed sales opportunity. Since you cannot answer every single phone call, you need to make sure to give your customers an alternative to book your products. Set a voice mail message that properly directs a potential customer to your website.
Example: “Hi, thanks for calling us, we cannot take your call at the moment but we will call you back as soon as we are available. If you would like to book/buy you can easily do it on our website using our online booking calendar.”
7. Unearth your customer database
Don’t underestimate the power of your customer’s database as previous customers can be your best ambassador to their friends and family. Send them a newsletter to remind them about your business. Include new details about your products or services, special deals or happenings, or other interesting news. This will refresh their memory of the experience with your business, and they may book again with you or tell a friend!
8. Offer Discounts to your customers
Create a discount code, and then advertise the code in a newsletter or directly on your website. Sometimes a good offer is the incentive to help people make the decision to book with you. Any reason is valid, summer, christmas, last minute, etc.
9. Have a responsive website
In 2013, more than 25% of the Internet visits were done using a mobile device or a tablet. The percentage for 2014 will most likely increase, too. Even if you are a small business, you must have the expectation that most of your customers will use these types of devices. Ensure that your site is mobile friendly which will likely mean more visits.
10. Speed is the key
Did you know that 40% of people will leave your site if it takes more than 3 seconds to open?
If your site is slow the experience can be frustrating, and that is not how you want potential customers feeling. Here is some data on how your website speed directly affects your revenue. To resolve it, here are some easy steps you can take to increase your website speed.
11. Target your traffic
It is important to ensure that your ads and keywords on your site are relevant to your business. This will attract the most interested customers to your site. For example: you offer an evening Segway tour in Rome, and you publish ads using the keyword “Tours”. The cost for this ad will be high, and the visitors to your site that want your type of tour will be low. As a consequence, your conversion rate will also be low. To optimize your traffic be precise and use keywords with 4 or 5 words, i.e. “Evening Segway tours Rome”. Using these specific keywords will lower your cost and increase your conversion rate.
12. Get professional pictures
It is often said, “a picture is worth 1000 thousand words”. Good quality images on your site can make a huge difference in the way potential customers perceive your products. In addition, people will associate what they see on your website with how good your service or product will be. Having professional pictures on your site will convey a professional service.
13. Positive reviews and testimonials is a must
Site reviews have become a standard in most industries. Most of the big Internet platforms use it now (booking.com, tripadvisor, google store, etc.). Online product reviews from customers is a major information source for other potential customers and marketers regarding product quality. Having reviews on your website will give confidence to visitors that you offer a quality product or service. Invite your customers to leave a review, then, try to fix anything they are complaining about and ,finally, thanks them and let them know you took their feedback in account. Inevitably, it will help your conversions. if you are not able add reviews directly to your website, then add them to other outlets such as Facebook or a blog page.
Summer has begun, and the sunny days always puts a smile on our faces. It may be a good idea to transfer that good feeling onto your customers by giving your booking calendar a new look. This week, we have created 10 new beautiful themes that will give your calendar a fresh look and feel. We hope you will like it.
Black & Gold theme:
Fresh Bars theme:
Brazil World Cup theme:
I like one of these themes, how can I use it for my own calendar?
In order to use one of the theme designs, follow the steps below:
1. Open the preferred design in your browser.
2. In the address bar, copy the URL that comes after &css= (See example below)
3. Paste it in your own calendar’s iFrame as in the example below:
How can I create my own design?
WebReserv allows you to create your own design. To do so, go to the “Website” tab and under “Color theme” select “Choose your own”. This option will allow you to specify the 3 main colors of the calendar: text, borders and background. For further customization needs, you can create or modify the CSS (stylesheet). For more information about our customization options, see the help section Defining styles and colors. The CSS modification requires a working knowledge of HTML and CSS. If you would like our team to do a professional customization for you, contact us.
Spanish version here
French version here
If you are new to WebReserv, and are working on setting up your account, you may be asking yourself a few key questions. How complicated is the calendar integration? How much can I customize the calendar to match my web design? Should I embed the calendar or make it show in a new tab? Should I add it to an existing page or should I create a new one? These are important questions, and very appropriate to consider. After all, your webpage is the pillar of your business, and you need to make sure the booking calendar meshes well with the design. First of all, if you are unsure on how to integrate the calendar into your website, we recommend you review our documentation, How to integrate the booking calendar to your webpage and Customizing the Booking Calendar for further customization needs. In addition to these helpful guides, we also believe that, as the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. So, we would like to share with you some of the best integrations of 2014. Have a look and get inspired!
CornerStone Cabins – Cabin rental in Pomona, IL (US)
With its warm color scheme and beautiful pictures, CornerStone Cabins have been able to reproduce the cabin atmosphere on their website. You can almost feel the sweet autumn air blowing through your hair! Visitors will be captivated by the look of the cabins from the first moment. Guests will easily find more information about each cabin in the “Our Cabins” tab where they can book as well. If they need more information about prices and availability, the “Rates, Reservations and Availability” tab will give them the rate details and another version of the calendar that perfectly fits with the overall color scheme.
Wahine Charters – Charter Tours in Kona, HI (US)
Wahine Charters offer a simple and beautiful website that speaks to summer, fun and the Hawaiian atmosphere. The “Reserve Now” button (top right) is easy to find, and will take the visitor directly to the booking calendar that has been customized with the corporate colors. The main menu allow you to surf along the main activities Wahine Charters offers. By clicking one of those tabs, the visitor will find pictures, videos, descriptions, schedules, rates and a “book it” button. Everything is there, no need to visit more pages.
Orchard House – Bed and Breakfast in Granville, OH (US)
Orchard house understood how to create the WOW effect. The home page takes the visitor right into the house with a beautiful picture. Below, the visitor will immediately see the 3 main tabs “Our Rooms”, “Orchard House antiques” and “Reserve Now” where he will be able to book . Simple and fascinating, the site is alive and it takes you naturally to book online.
Hire a Hymer – Classic Mercedes Motorhomes for rental in Milton Keynes (UK)
View Hire a Hymer website
With this very professional website, Hire a Hymer demonstrates it is possible to make things look simple while they manage more than 20 products. From the home page, visitors can check availability of all vehicles at a glance through the availability grid of the WebReserv booking calendar. If the visitor comes with more specific needs, he can select one of the motorhome models in the “Classic Motorhomes” tab to see pictures, prices, dimensions and features. In addition, he will be able to click the “Book Now” button to make his reservation in a new tab that shows the calendar of the selected motorhome (product filtered calendar).
Food Lover Tour – Food and foodball tours in Barcelona (Spain)
FoodLover Tour creates an original business concept around food tours in the great city of Barcelona. Bright and colorful, this wonderful website is so well done. FoodLover Tour made it straightforward: 4 tours, 4 pages, 4 booking calendars. The site is easy to navigate and use, so there is no risk to lose the visitor along the way.
If you would like to to give your calendar a new look and feel, check the brand new themes we created for you.