Monday, July 4, 2016

Woodland Bay Hotel updates their site ahead of The Open

One of the most appealing aspects of our Open Rooms website product is the fact that we have tried to make it as future proof for independent operators as possible. How have we done this?

Well, the main benefit of powering your digital strategy with an Open Rooms website is the fact that we have been building the Content Management Solution specifically for the hospitality sector for more than a decade now and the result is a system that is as easy as it could possibly be to update everything from homepage content to full page imagery, links and promotional features.

However recently we have moved to a monthly payment programme for all of our websites where a small set up fee is all that's needed to build the website followed by a "no contract" monthly payment scheme based on the size of the website.

Not only does this spread the cash flow load for small businesses but it also ensure that the technology behind the site is updated regularly with new functions and security added continuously and at the end of every two years the site is redesigned around one of our Open Rooms Themes at no further cost.

The latest example of this can be seen with the "refurbishment" of the excellent and worth a visit Woodland Bay Hotel on the coast road just south of Girvan. We have been providing owner Michael and his team with digital support since their opening and the site is now on its fourth redesign since then and still features some of the original branding and logo design work we did early on.

As well as providing mobile ready functions as standard, the site includes in page image galleries for very page and the use of update-able feature boxes to promote current food and accommodation deals and offers that are not available through the OTAs.

As ever all of the work is in developing increases in DIRECT business to reduce the cost as sale as far as possible.

The new site benefits from technical updates increasing speed and security but some simple changes to the design make it easier than ever to navigate on both phones and desktop. The full screen images now sit nicely behind the text and can be changed in seconds with the Claymore CMS.

As part of the overall digital strategy we are now working more closely with the hotel owners to see how we can develop the direct business further with a co-ordinated strategy stitching together their online booking promotions more closely with their email marketing and pay per click campaigns.

We think the new site, and the longevity of the relationship with the hotel, is testimony to the strategy behind Plan B and out Open Rooms hotel website suite.

Find out more on our Open Rooms site

View the updated Woodland Bay Hotel website

Friday, May 27, 2016

Maximise your Conversion with the right Booking Engine

Our three cogs approach has long been a part of our thinking and it does seems to help when trying to change operators' thinking towards on-line marketing.

Build your site; Develop your relationships, Maximise your conversion.

It sounds simple and in actual fact much of it is simple. You can't rely on any one area of your digital presence to do everything for you but create a focussed and achievable plan and you can build more of that all important low cost DIRECT business.

Plan B have been Scottish partners to Bookassist Booking engine for more than a decade now and in that time the message has always remained wholly consistent with simple rules of on-line engagement - ALWAYS

  • have your Best Rate DIRECT
  • have all your off line offers and availability bookable online and DIRECT 
  • Reduce Friction for the site visitor

Implement these three basic rules and there is little doubt that you can start moving the customer away from those pesky, expensive OTAs back to booking more rooms DIRECT.

Best rate and maximising availability are maybe more easily understood but what does Reduce Friction mean and how do you do it?

Well, basically it means taking the customer from where they are to where they want to be as simply and quickly as possible. If we use an example of an event package within your property "reducing friction" would include the following.


  • You are selling a new series of music based packages with dinner, bed and breakfast to fill shoulder rooms.


It is all about content and in this context that is both booking engine content and webpage content. You must have both - a dedicated Music event page is needed for search and focus whilst without online availability it will never convert.

  • Ensure the priced package is live in your booking engine with best rate and maximum availability
  • Create a rich content web page with details and images of the offer 
  • Create a direct booking "deep link" from the web page to the actual package on sale on your site
  • Promote the "deep link" from your email marketing campaign taking the visitor from the email straight to the booking page
  • Promote the same link via your Facebook, Twitter, Google +  and other channels and see the click throughs increase
  • If you have local partners or PR sites that you use engage with their site and social media to promote the link to the page and a Book Now link
Tick the above and you will have reduced friction quite dramatically and if the product and pricing is right you will see increased uptake and conversion.

However as we all know, not all booking engines are equal. Yes it may integrate directly with your PMS or even be good for managing channels but in all honesty is it easy for the customer to book or for you to create packages like the one above? 

Use your Booking Engine Effectively

With Bookassist the above scenario couldn't be easier with the use of Price Groups that allow you to link directly to:
  • Specific packages and offers
  • Room types - standard, suites. single, executive.
  • Specific dates
  • Groups of packages sucj as a Special Offers page
  • Room packages - B&B, Room Only or DBB
Your Bookassist online manager will provide you with a list of your "price groups" and web links connecting to each offer directly for you to drop into your online marketing campaigns. 

Simple and effective and at every stage reduces friction and increases the chance of conversion dramatically. 

Have a look at exactly this with one of our favourite hotels in Scotland, the five star luxury Lochgreen House Hotel overlooking Open Championship venue Royal Troon. 

Click on the Feature to the right and maybe you'll even Book a night out in Ayrshire!

If you recognise that you need to take your own bookings back, and to paraphrase a rather large hotel group stop your customers clicking about, then give us a call on 01294 233713 or email us directly to find out how Bookassist can improve your conversion rates.

Five Star Linlithgow B&B chooses Open Rooms

Arden Country House Bed and Breakfast boast its five star rating from both the AA and Scottish Tourist Board and now they have a five star online presence with the launch of their new Open Rooms website earlier this week

The luxury Bed and Breakfast is located in Linlithgow, near Edinburgh, nestled deep in the heart of West Lothian, Scotland. Belsyde Estate, Linlithgow is an idyllic country retreat,set in 105 acres of stunning wooded sheep farming land and offers panoramic vistas as far as the eye can see.

The new site was trigerred by the work Plan B had already done for Arden and others in putting the Scotland's Best Bed and Breakfast website live at the end of 2015. The site impressed so many of the members that many have already redesigned their sites with the affordable Open Rooms packages and using the bespoke "Claymore" Content Management System designed specifically for hospitality operators,

The new site is based on one of the Open Rooms themes and as well as having full control over content the site also integrates the Bed and Breakfast's blog and social media, integrates their Freetobook booking engine to drive DIRECT bookings and allows easy page and image management with the easy to use content management solution.

View the Arden Country House website here or find out more about Open Rooms

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Little Music for the Soul at South Beach Sessions

Two years ago I, foolishly, decided to start putting live music on at The South Beach Hotel in Troon - we call it South Beach Sessions.

Since then we've lost far too much money but had a ball doing so in the company of Grammy winners such as Albert Lee and John Jorgenson, herpes of my youth such as Whitesnake legend Bernie Marsden and some wonderful bands including The Chaplins, JJ Gilmour, and Bernie Torme!

The latest wonderful experience was last Sunday night with "The Goddess of Soul" Dona Oxford. With her talented young band she treated the audience to an evening of soul, blues, gospel and an astounding chunk of Boogie Woogie. It had to be shared.

But here's the plea, music promoters all over the UK are struggling for any number of reasons but the next time you see someone putting on live music in your location please think about supporting it. You can be assured that they are doing it for love of the music and not for the money and supporting local business is not just about buying some beef olives and steak pie at the butchers - Live music needs an audience and small venues can offer the most amazing experiences too.

Click if you need proof and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Alba Golf in Fife launch dedicated golf website

Alba Golf in Fife have launched a brand new website focussing solely on their personalised golf tour business.

Owner Christine Seaton has been involved in the golf sector for more years than she cares to admit too and is a well known face at Scotland's top hotels, resorts and golf courses. Christine has been out on her own operating Alba Tours for a number of years specialising in independent groups and packages for the Edinburgh tattoo. Golf has always remained a part of the overall mix but for 2016 it was felt that the golf section needed a presence of its own hence the launch of Alba Golf.

The site is a simple site reflecting the quality ethos of the business. Christine offers a bespoke highly personalised service for limited number of golf groups every year with her personality central to every communication, itinerary and recommendation.

We have helped not only with the sourcing of imagery but assisted in content writing and giving the site a personal feel that may distinguish it from other larger more corporate offerings.

The site is powered by our own Claymore Content Management Solution and allows full control over content, full page images, headers, features and event the creation of an image gallery on every page. The site allows for the addition of new golf and hotel partenrs as required and the integration of blog features and even the creation of itineraries and programmes.

Ian McCaig explained the new functions,
Using our own Content Management Solution allows us to develop useful tools which can then be used by other clients. The new itinerary planner function was built as part of the project for Hebridean Cruises but was developed to be a fully operational tool for other tour operators and travel professionals. It means that with a simple click and add travel websites can add their own personalised itineraries and tour programmes.
View the new Alba Golf site here

View Hebridean Princess website