I have decided to write this blog post out of sheer frustration. I have been emailing hotels/guest houses to enquire if they have a room suitable for 5 or more people in the UK, Europe, Usa etc and these problems are common throughout the different countries. Here are a list of problems I have faced when visiting a hotel/guest house website:
1. No Email Address
No email address at all, nowhere!!
Email is a very popular form of contact. For one thing its free! Why would we want to spend money on a phone call when we can ask a question by email for free??
It is also preferable for foreign guests as they can use an online translator to ask a question and translate your reply in the same way. I find it shocking that some websites don’t have an email address and its not just limited to small establishments, in fact some of the big chains are guilty of it too.
2. An Email address but no link
This is a very big pet hate of mine. The website does have an email address but you can’t click on it. This is just laziness on behalf of the designer, it takes 10 seconds to convert plain text/images to an email link.
If you leave it up to the customer to type in your email link and they type it in wrong (especially those with long email addresses) then you risk losing business. Ok, sometimes email addresses can be copied and pasted but a lot are actually images and can’t be copied.
If you need to know how to add an email link simply add this code to your website in place of the email address: [a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org"]email@example.com[/a]
Replace the [ and ] with a < and >
3. An email address that is invalid
They have an email address, excellent!! It is a hyperlink, awesome!!! Your message has sent, fantastic!!!
Two minutes later you receive an email that says ‘mail delivery failed: returning message to sender’ . That means one thing, the email address is not valid. It is either no longer used or it was typed wrong. You would not believe how many hotels/guest houses have invalid email addresses on their sites and again, I’m not just talking about the small establishments either. C’mon hotel/guest house owners, get your act together, check your email addresses on your websites regularly, make sure they are working, it is you that is losing business!!
4. Contact Forms wanting too much detail
Ok, there’s no email but there is a contact form (most websites use these to prevent spam). Great, we have a form of contact that is free but why do they need to know so many personal details about me? I just want to ask a quick question, why do I have to provide my address? If that’s not enough, some forms actually have dates that you have to input! Believe it or not a lot of these are requirements too, you can’t submit the form without entering these details. A simple Name, Email & message contact form is all that is needed. Then all you have to press is submit, which takes me to number 5………
5. Broken contact forms
You’ve spent a while typing out your well thought out message, you click on the submit button then……………………
nothing!! There is an error page saying there is a problem, you click back and your message is gone, type it out again and the contact form still does not work.
Again, please check your contact forms regularly, it’s you that is missing out on business.
6. Not enough information
Most of the rooms on room for 5 are not shown on the hotel/guest house owners website. They state “family room”. What does that mean? Is it a family of 3 (which is the case with most places) or 4? How are we supposed to know? If you have a double room but have a guest bed you can put up for the night, why not put that on the website? If you have a family room that sleeps 3 but you don’t mind another child top & tailing, put it on the website. If you have a family room but don’t mind people bringing sleeping bags for extra children, put it on the website!! A lot of families just need the room for one night, maybe they are attending a family event or need a room before catching a flight? I know we don’t mind ‘roughing it’ for one night.
This only applies to a very small minority as most of the hotel/guest house owners I have encountered have been nothing but polite. There have, however, been the odd few that have been downright rude. I have had messages from people who don’t have room for 5 say under no circumstances do they accept children and if I had read their website properly I would’ve known that, some say only well behaved children (is there such a thing?:)) Others have taken great offence that their accommodation is not suitable for the site and had no problem telling me what they thought of me (see this blog post).
If you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all, ignore the email and delete it. After all, you are supposed to be in the hospitality trade and hospitable is far from what I am seeing, we also have friends and family that would need a hotel like yours that doesn’t accept kids but we certainly won’t be recommending you.
8. Lack of Pictures
All we want to know when we book a hotel is, where it is, what facilities it has to offer, how much it is and what our room will look like. There are lots of websites that do not show the interior or if they do, they have one picture that is supposed to represent what their rooms look like. If you have a family room, it would be great to see what it looked like instead of seeing the standard double, that way, I’m not going to be completely shocked when it is completely different.
9. Price per person
Why can’t it just be price per room? This would be so much easier. The tarrifs on a lot of web pages are very confusing. The guest just wants to know what they will be paying for their room, they don’t want to have to do a mathematical equation!! It’s enough to give anyone a headache, what with child 0-5 pays third, child 5-12 pays half etc!
Ok, not really a mistake but I just have to say why??? Answer honestly, if you go on a website and music starts playing what is the first thing you look for??? The off button!!! Please don’t put music on websites:)
If anyone has anymore to add to the list that they have come accross when visiting these sites please comment below:)