WordPress Website & Online Tools
Sue & Brian Smart from Dorset are the proprietors of Normandy Farmhouses, two gorgeous self-catering holiday homes in France. Their website had been built a few years ago, and they were finding it increasingly difficult to update it, as the person who created it for them was no longer able to support it. While they did have the ability to change prices themselves, they did not have the ability to make any text or photo changes to the website, and they wanted a fresh new look as well as a system that non-technical people could easily use. They are so passionate about Normandy and they have such a wealth of information, they really wanted this to come across somehow, too. A further requirement was to highlight the fact that one of the houses is disabled-friendly, but without feeling 'clinical' or compromising on style - meaning that all kinds of families could enjoy a holiday there, regardless of whether there is a less-abled member of the party or not.
After examining a number of holiday rental software and web solutions, it soon became clear that these were more suited for larger numbers of properties or people with simpler requirements: the Smarts wanted to be able to have different prices for each week, and to be able to create Special Offer rates for last minute deals very easily, but they didn't need or want a full-blown rental management solution.
In the end, I chose WordPress as it allows for the most flexibility, and options for incorporating additional functionality in future - for example, if they decide that they do need to have a more integrated management system moving forward. The prices are set directly in the WordPress system, so they don't have to go to a separate place to edit text or photos, but the booking is handled by an outside system for now.
The design was the most important thing, as it had to reflect the beauty of the houses, that 'holiday' feeling, and to impart a sense of 'French-ness'. The new site has a lot more opportunity for showcasing photos, both within the pages themselves as well as in a light-box style photo gallery. There is a new section for disabled holidays, but this is discreet so you don't have to have this information if you don't need it, and both houses now have clear descriptions of all the features as well as large floorplans to help potential customers choose which house is perfect for their needs. As per all of my client websites, we have also put in place a secure email contact form, hopefully reducing spam and the time wasted dealing with it.
Now that the core website is up and running, we are also going through an audit of their existing processes for booking, confirmation and administration, with the aim of streamlining their workflow and providing a robust, secure and easy-to-use system for storing and managing data.