A guide for new self catering businesses with what to include on your holiday property homepage, plus proven hints & tips to help drive direct bookings to existing cottage websites.
The homepage is often (but not always) the first page someone sees. It should give a concise overview of your self catering business and holiday properties. Our suggestions in this guide will help you to better inform your customers, so they can quickly establish suitability and further explore your website.
Plus, making sure you include our tips will also improve your website’s discoverability and allow search engines to find your holiday lets!
At SCRUMPY we study guest behaviour and can see how interactions are made with our websites in real time. This data helps us understand how holidaymakers browse and the steps they take before clicking that book or contact button.
What is our biggest takeaway? Well it’ll probably come as no surprise, that not all guests use websites in the same way! Some like to go straight to the availability calendar, or to look at pictures, whilst others like to read more about the local area, key features that you offer, or simply go to the enquiry form. The key is to provide your customers with multiple routes to find the information they want, without overwhelming or trying to cram too much in.
Just factor in that the average visitor will only read a fraction of your homepage, before looking to navigate to an area of your site that can further help with their research/buying journey. Similarly, as you are reading this now, you are perhaps already skimming this part and scrolling through to find a heading or bullet point that is of interest to you!
It is crucial that you map out your homepage in a way that offers simple navigation for your guests. This doesn’t mean having a menu for every page on your website, in fact, having just a few works far better (and prevents your site from being too top heavy!)
You should instead have just a handful of menus, and then distribute other ways of moving across your site onto your homepage. The likes of hyperlinked text within your content and prominently placed call to action buttons below, create a much more interactive and natural experience for a guest to peruse through your site.
The most common way of getting around a website is via navigational menus. These should be placed at the top of the page where they are prominent and can be easily found. Here are some recommendations, listed in a proposed chronological order:
- Home - Don’t include a ‘Home’ menu as this is an outdated practice, can take up valuable space within your navigational bar and can encourage users to return to the beginning. Instead, place a logo in the top left corner that links to your homepage.
- About - A good introductory page that can provide a background for inquisitive guests can work well as your first menu. Especially as customers like to know who they’re buying from, so this can be a very useful place to start.
- Accommodation - This is where the browsing truly starts and where a majority of potential customers will want to go from the off. You could use: ‘Accommodation’, ‘Properties’, ‘Cottages’ or whatever is most relevant for you.
- Search - If you have multiple properties, a date search could be a great addition to allow users to quickly see what is available. (Not necessarily advised if you have one property or are fully booked, as it may prematurely end browsing if the dates aren’t free.)
- Contact - Whether you decide to call it ‘Contact’, ‘Contact Us’, ‘Get in touch’, ‘Enquire’ etc. this menu should always sit to the far/top right, making it obvious and as easy as possible for your customers to talk to you!
Here’s a great example of a concise and simple holiday property navigational menu that isn’t cluttered, with each option offering a clear direction to a key area of the site.
Considerations for your navigational menus
Your menus will vary depending on the pages of your site, but if you are questioning whether you need it, just ask yourself, will the menu help a majority of your customers, regardless of what stage they are in the browsing/buying process? Or will not having it at the top of every page actually be more beneficial? Remember that navigational menus are not the only way to access pages on a website.
- Keeping up to date - The Likes of a Blog, Holiday Ideas and Special Offers/Late Availability can also work well as navigational menus, but make sure they are regularly kept up to date. A Blog with no recent articles or a Special Offers page without any offers, won’t paint the best first impression and shouldn’t be highlighted at the top of your website!
- Supplementary pages - There may be other pages that you want guests to see but aren’t necessarily best suited at the top of your navigational bar. So perhaps your Pets, Booking T’s & C’s or FAQ pages, would sit better and be more appropriate on your property page - you don’t want to bombard or discourage a visitor by presenting this sort of info too early, especially when they haven’t had the chance to fall in love by looking at your gallery first!
- Footer - All websites powered by the SCRUMPY platform have a footer at the bottom of each page, which includes your contact number & email address. Here you’ll also find links for navigating across your site, with a Sitemap that lists all of your pages in one handy place.
At each possible opportunity, your website should have dedicated pages that expand upon topics that are niche to your business and location. So when you mention said thing, you can create a link within your copy that takes the user to your page on it. This way, if there is intrigue, the reader can simply click and stay on your site, instead of leaving to seek out the information elsewhere.
Side note: If there isn’t that much published on the particular thing/place you’ve written about, you’ll have a good chance of ranking within search engine results and visitors finding you via these additional pages too!
For example, if you mention ‘Only a 10 minute walk to a quiet & pristine sandy beach’, this text should be linked to a page all about that place, that goes into more detail, and answers everything anyone might want to know about it. As well as retaining your readers attention, this presents the ideal opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge as a local expert and gain their trust.
Users will often be drawn in by a pretty picture too, so linking your homepage images to a relevant page can seamlessly move them onto the next step of their browsing & buying journey. Again with the example above, clicking an image of the sea, could take someone through to more details on your local beach.
Buttons are like normal text links, but are more prominent, with formatting that makes them stand out and command attention. They’re often styled within a box and utilize different colours to the main body of text. You can technically use any wording within them, but try to make sure that it flows on from the body of text it accompanies and that the destination it links to is relevant.
A button with a phrase that asks your customer to act is a call to action (CTA). ‘Check Availability’ for example, prompts the user to not just look at the calendar, but see if their dates are free. CTA’s work well for readers who have read your text and want to naturally progress to the next page, as well as those who have skimmed your page looking for that obvious signpost in the first place.
They’re also very effective at retaining potential guests on your site. Just consider that if someone has scrolled to the bottom of a page, do you want to make them scroll back to the top? Or just click where they are to progres? There is every chance they’ll simply close the page and leave your site if there is no obvious next step; which sounds dramatic, but by removing that potential uncertainty, you give directions that literally tell them what to do next, and keep them on your website for longer.
Tip: If the text above is describing your sleeps 6 cottage, make sure the call to action button below links to the corresponding sleeps 6 cottage page (and not to your 1 bed shepherds hut!)
Button ideas for your self catering homepage
There’s no right or wrong way of labelling a button, other than making sure that it's concise, uses language that reflects the tone of your site and what you want to achieve. You can for instance go firmly with ‘Book Now’, which is more assertive than the softer approach of ‘Get in touch'. Take a look below at other wording that you can use on your self catering homepage:
Check out, Find out more, Learn more, Take a closer look, Explore our
Late Availability, Last minute deals, Special Offers, Cancellations,
Check Availability, Prices, See our Rates, Calendar, Book Direct,
Call today, Get in touch, Contact Us, Enquire, Reserve Dates, Book your holiday
Read reviews, Guest Feedback, See what our customers say
Subscribe, Join the mailing list, Sign up to our newsletter, Get the latest news
Buttons are perfect for highlighting links on a page and directing users towards a specific destination. Try not to overuse them though, as the impact can be dramatically reduced.
Tip: As a general piece of advice, you should always have a button at the bottom of every page, so you can usher your reader along to where you want them to go next. SCRUMPY automatically places strategic call to action buttons across our sites, for example at the bottom of all Galleries you’ll find ‘View Availability’ & ‘Enquire Now’.
Just like a newspaper, your homepage should have headlines that are bold, in a larger font and grab attention. These titles map out your information, hinting at what each section contains and allows readers to easily find what they are looking for.
Headings are also used by search engines to first understand what is on a webpage, and along with the content, determine if it is relevant enough to appear within a queries search results. So make sure that your titles are concise, snappy and not too long; whilst naturally including keywords or phrases that your guests may be searching for.
What to include in your Homepage Headings
Location - You need to disclose where in the world your properties are. Including your Town/Village, County & Region (such as South West, Midlands etc.)
Occupancy - Guests need to know suitability and will scan for the likes of ‘Sleeps X in 4 bedrooms’ so if this isn’t already within your content, consider having it as a title.
USP - What is your unique selling point, what makes your properties special? Think along the lines of ‘Dog friendly holiday cottage’ or ‘Self catering property with indoor pool’ etc.
This might sound a little obvious, but the images on your homepage need to be good. Whilst your titles, descriptions and buttons are there to inform, and get your visitor to the right place, the job of your pictures is to entice and get that holiday booked. Try to include a combination of:
The Local Area - Include views of landmarks, the coast or countryside (but don’t be misleading if you’re not within close proximity of these places!)
Outside of the property - A great shot of the front door, garden, or outside facilities can really help guests to visualise their holiday
Inside of the property - Give a glimpse of the interiors, by showing off that impressive dining table, cosy fireplace or luxury bed.
The Holiday Experience - Why not tempt guests with images of luxury offerings such as mouth watering food, adventurous activities & bespoke experiences.
Tip: The images on your homepage form the basis of everyone's first impression. It’s important to invest in professional photography and get it right the first time.
So, the homepage for your holiday property website should be clean, concise and offer easy navigation to other pages (but don’t add clutter with menus that aren’t strictly needed). Important information should be obvious and easy to find. Your images alone should make someone want to book, and bringing all of these components together, will help to attract more visitors in the first instance, and then set them on their way to.
If you would like further advice, or to discuss the best ways of improving your homepage, get in touch. We’re a small friendly team of experts who specialise in the holiday property industry and would love to help!