I’ve been spending a lot of time on line lately researching places to stay when I head to Napa Valley California next month. I’ve looked at a zillion websites for resorts, hotels and B&B’s. I recall my days as an inn owner in Bar Harbor back in the 90’s and think to myself - how things have changed.
Crazy to think that we didn’t even have the internet then. No one had even heard of “www” or “google”. Innkeepers relied on print advertising to get the word out and a great brochure to mail out to those who inquired.
Today - most travelers turn to the internet to decide on where to stay and what to do when visiting a destination whether it be Bar Harbor, Maine or Napa Valley, California. As we prepare to welcome our summer visitors to Maine we need to recognize that travelers are on line now researching where to stay. Based on my recent experience “shopping on line” as I make travel plans here are several things that I like about particular lodging websites.
1. Lots of photos!
I want to see what the rooms look like and not just the best, most expensive room - but the room I will be staying in. One B&B I looked at has a photo of every room with a complete description so you can choose your favorite and know exactly what you will be getting when you get there. I also want to see what the common areas look like - dining areas, gardens, pool, etc. Photos of other guests enjoying the property are great too!
2. Who should stay there
Sites that specifically say best for families or couples or singles are a great help! I’m looking for a relaxing retreat for one - complete with spa pampering, exercise options and quiet places to sit and enjoy a glass of Napa‘s finest! Sites that speak to those needs are on my short list. Sites that offer lots of family activities are not. It’s so important that lodging websites are clear about who will be happiest staying there.
2. What to do
Ask yourself - what are visitors most interested in when coming to Maine and you’ll likely think - ocean, lobster, shopping, dining and outdoor activities - among other things! Be sure your website discusses where you are located in relation to the things people like to do when they visit here. I’m going to Napa for many reasons - one being wine - of course! So, I want to know how easy it will be for me to explore the wineries from the place I am staying. I also like sites that list shopping and restaurants nearby with links to their websites.
3. How much?
One of my favorite sites is for a resort in Calistoga. When you enter your dates they add up the total cost for your stay - including taxes and fees - so you know exactly what you’ll be paying. They also show you the room options, with a photo and room description and prices for each. Sites that make it easy to answer the question - “how much” are great. Sites that make it really difficult to answer that question are a turn off.
If you are gearing up your lodging business for the season keep in mind that potential customers are watching you constantly - on line! Make certain your site speaks to the customer and their needs so you improve the chances that they will choose you.