Resources – Exclusive WordPress Themes for Hotels Thu, 15 Mar 2018 16:42:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 46425155 Blueprint for a Great Hotel Website: Things to Do & Mistakes to Avoid Thu, 15 Mar 2018 16:15:48 +0000 When visiting a hotel website, people expect to find answers to the same questions that we all have when booking a trip: what’s the offer, what are the benefits and how much it will cost. One way or another, every […]

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When visiting a hotel website, people expect to find answers to the same questions that we all have when booking a trip: what’s the offer, what are the benefits and how much it will cost. One way or another, every piece of content on your hotel’s website should address one of these three questions.

For the purpose of this post let’s agree on one thing: a hotel website should serve a utilitarian purpose, not an artistic one (unless that’s your very specific niche).

So every element on your website should bring value to your visitors and answer some of their questions. The user experience (UX) should be comfortable and intuitive. Thanks to this it becomes a little easier to determine what a hotel website should and should not have on it.

Most of these suggestions are relevant and achievable on any hotel website, regardless of the content management system used, be it WordPress, Joomla, Wix or even static HTML websites.

Before we begin

Photo of Dumitru Brinzan, the author of this post After seeing what a blessing WordPress can be for independent hotels and B&Bs, in 2013 I have started HermesThemes, a WordPress Themes shop that caters to the hospitality industry.

Since July of 2017 I have started a continuous analysis of more than 1 million hotel websites from every country on planet Earth. I run automated tests, I gather stats and I manually verify and compile all the data. I published some of my findings in The Current State of Hotel Websites (September 2017) post.

I use some of this data for a small project called Instagram Leaders, an ongoing ranking of the most followed hotel Instagram accounts from over 200 countries and locations.

Table of Contents:

  1. Design, Layout, UI/UX Advice
    1. Easy to Find Contact Information
    2. Intuitive Layout
    3. Professional & Current Photography
    4. Good Content Readability
  2. Content Advice
    1. A summary of your property on the homepage
    2. Easy to Understand Navigation
    3. Gallery Page (Photo / Video)
    4. Overview Page (About the Property)
    5. Special Offers & Packages Page
    6. Room Types Page
    7. Dining & Drinking Page
    8. Events & Activities page
    9. Explore & Attractions page
  3. Bonus Points for these Extras
    1. Live Chat Feature (not a chatbot)
    2. Press Kit
    3. In the Press/Media page
  4. Frequent Mistakes
    1. Video or Music that plays automatically
    2. Too many links to OTAs and Social Media
    3. Small and/or Outdated Photos
  5. Resources

1. Design, Layout, UI/UX Advice

1.1. Easy to Find Contact Information

You want to engage your website visitors as soon as possible, so having your contact information in a visible location is essential. Make it easy for them to get in touch via the best contact methods: email and telephone.

Imagine guests that are stuck on the highway or are lost somewhere. Is it easy for them to quickly get in touch with you using the website? They should be able to find your telephone number directly from your homepage, preferably in the header or the footer of the website.

Delaire Graff Estate does a good job with their contact information in the website’s footer.

1.2. Intuitive Layout

Having an original website design is good, but it should not come at the cost of your visitor’s frustration. People have been using the Internet for over 20 years now, so they have grown to expect certain patterns on a website.

Let’s take a quick look at something simple: the importance of logo placement in the header of a website. Most websites have the logo on the left. Many websites experiment by placing it in the center (which also looks better on mobile), while some try to stand out by placing the logo (and the menu) on the right.

According to a study by Nielsen Norman Group, people are 89% more likely to remember a brand if their logo is placed on the left instead of the right. The same study shows that people don’t find websites with a logo on the right to be more unique, it is the opposite.

For every design we compared, we found that more users remembered the brand name when it was displayed on the left side of the page, rather than the right side. This difference was statistically significant.

According to another study by Nielsen Norman Group, a centered logo hurts website navigation.

Getting back to the homepage is about 6 times harder when the logo is placed in the center of a page compared to when it’s in the top left corner.

The bottom line is this: originality is good, but you have to be extremely careful when you want to break patterns and surprise your visitors with something unconventional.

1.3. Professional Photography

Great photos can be your best marketing asset, so don’t settle for mediocre photos. They should also be current. You can keep historical photos of your property on the History page, but guests want to see how your hotel looks today.

You should set very clear expectations for your guests, so make sure to have:

Exterior Photos

Guests should know if you are located on a crowded street, if cars are parked right under their windows, etc.

Guest Room Photos

The people at recommend that each room should have at least 4 photos from different angles.

Dining Area Photos

Breakfast area photos are very important, as that’s where most of your guests will start their day. If you serve lunch and/or dinner, make sure to showcase how the dining room looks in the evening. People should know what to expect: a crowded, noisy place or a quiet place for a romantic dinner with their loved one.

Facilities Photos

People should be able to see what facilities you provide: a swimming pool, a sauna, a playground or a sunbathing terrace, show them all.

Event & Meeting Space Photos

Do you host events at your property, like weddings, birthdays or business seminars? You have to showcase the type of events that you can accommodate.

Want to see what great B&B photography looks like? Check out the portfolio of Jumping Rocks (based in Philadelphia). I’ve been following their work for many years, and I’m always amazed by their fantastic ability to frame a property. We are not affiliated in any way, this is just honest praise from a fellow photographer.

1.4. Good Content Readability

When working with a professional web designer, clients expect to get the best results for the money that they invest, which is why they hire a professional.

Here’s the thing though. Designers love to design, and that’s good. The problem is that some designers focus on making things look pretty. Very often this is very easily achieved by using a small font size and low contrasting colors.

Here are two examples of bad readability on otherwise good hotel websites that I like.

Hôtel Byblos has a beautiful website that matches the brand and style, but the homepage headline and description are annoying to read, so I just skipped them. Is that the desired result?

Katzenthalerhof Hotel from South Tyrol has a nice and modern website, but there are a few mistakes that I would like to see fixed.

One of them is the paragraph’s length. Text that is 1200 pixels long is very difficult to skim and scan, which is what most people usually do.

In a 2014 article by The Washington Post, researchers found out that people are so used to skimming and scanning text online, that they are now doing it when reading books.

Without going too much into it, general readability rules state that the ideal line length is 45-75 characters. In this example, one line has an average of 170 characters per line.

You’re doing it wrong when someone has to physically turn their head while reading a single line of text.

2. Hotel Website Content Structure Advice

With some variation depending on location and audience, some things should be present on every property website, be it a hotel, hostel, B&B or a large resort hotel.

2.1. Summary of your property on the homepage

All hotel websites should have a clear summary on the homepage, preferably as close to the top of the page as possible.

You should not assume that a website visitor will know exactly what he/she is looking at. Make it clear what you are, where you are and what you have to offer.

Consider this example: Siena House is a boutique hotel in Tuscany, Italy. They are located in the region of Siena, so their name makes perfect sense.

But there’s also a Siena House hotel in Sozopol, Bulgaria. The Siena House homeless shelter in New York and the Siena House Maternity Home in California.

Sure, an attentive visitor will immediately understand if they are on the wrong website. But for both usability and SEO purposes, it is a very good idea to have a paragraph or two describing your property.

An example of a good property description by The Lincoln Hotel.

Another example of a good property description by The Zhero Hotel from Ischgl/Kappl, Austria.

2.2. Easy to Understand Navigation

A few months ago I’ve analyzed how 34 of the biggest hotel chains use navigation on their portal hotel websites. Here’s some of my findings:

  • On 29 of them (85%) the main menu contains between 6 and 10 items.
  • On 28 of them (82%) the main menu is horizontal.
  • Only 9 of them (26%) have a dropdown menu.

Identify what the big players are doing, learn and adapt. Some of these chains invest millions of dollars into research and website analytics, so why not learn from them a thing or two?

An example of a main menu on a Radisson Blu hotel (The Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group).

An example of a main menu on a Raffles hotel (AccorHotels).

Not to pick on them specifically, but consider the main menu of Vigilius, a luxury mountain hotel in South Tyrol.

Even though the labels make perfect sense for their overall style, it creates some friction and confusion. The current menu requires the potential guest to work a little bit, to hover over things, to review all menu labels before clicking on something.

Not to mention the fact that the dropdown menu becomes completely unusable to people that can’t use a mouse, be it for physical or personal reasons.

If you don’t know how to organize your menu structure and/or how to call your pages, take a look at the table below. These are the most used menu labels on the 34 chain hotel websites. If your visitors are frequent travelers then they might be expecting a combination of these words in the main menu.

Menu Item Label Occurrences
Dining 17
Meetings & Events 17
Offers 15
Accommodations 10
Gallery 10
Rooms 10
Rooms & Suites 9
Spa 9
Overview 7
Restaurants & Bars 7
Location 5
Reviews 5
Activities 4
Amenities 4
Hotel 4
Photos 4
Services 4
Special Offers 4
Weddings 4
Wellness 4

2.3 Gallery Page (Photo / Video)

Every hotel website should have a separate Gallery page with the most current photos of the property. People shouldn’t have to hunt for a photo of your exterior or the breakfast room.

The most popular way of displaying your gallery is in a grid format, usually with 3, 4 or 5 photos in a row.

In my opinion the thumbnails should not be smaller than 160×160 pixels and not larger than 300×300.

Take a look at the Gallery of Port Ferdinand Resort in Barbados.

No sidebars, no distractions, just a way to filter the photos by their category. Photos are large enough to impress, but small enough to fit on the page. Clicking on them of course brings up a lightbox with their larger versions.

2.4. Overview Page (About the Property)

An Overview page (called About Us, The Hotel, The Resort, etc.) should be like a complete brochure for your property. A visitor should be able to find all relevant information about your property from this single page.

Here’s a good example: the website of The Serras Hotel in Barcelona, winner of the World’s Best City Hotel award at the Boutique Hotel Awards 2017.

Each block could be linking to additional pages or keep everything on a single page, it depends on how much content you have.

2.5. Offers Page

Don’t make your potential guests hunt for information about special offers and promos. Make it easy for them to find that as soon as possible.

The Chester Grosvenor, another winner at Boutique Hotel Awards 2017.

Lefay Resort & Spa, another winner at Boutique Hotel Awards 2017.

2.6. Rooms Page

A good Rooms page will help visitors choose the right room for their trip. This is especially useful when your rooms have unconventional names, like “Hamilton Room”, “Rosemary Room”, etc.

Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa, Aruba.

Your rooms list should preferably display: a photo, a short description, the room size, capacity and standard rate per night.

Pro Tip: you’re the one who knows your rooms best. So when possible, suggest different rooms to different types of guests.

Add a line for each room recommending it to a certain category of guests. For example: “Who books it: couples” or “Who books it: families with children”, etc. This will help visitors spend more time researching the rooms that are more appropriate to them.

2.7. Dining & Drinking Page

Wherever your property is located, be it in the center of a major city or on the outskirts of a small village, people need to know their dining options. You should make it as clear as possible what you offer in terms of food and drinks.

Even if you’re a B&B without any dining options, you should have a page dedicated to that. Make a list of restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs that are near you. If there are too many to choose from, you should try out some of them, check their reviews, etc. and recommend only the best places.

2.8. Events/Activities page.

The Events and/or Activities page is a must for any type of property. Here are some things that can and should be added to the website:

  • Create a calendar of business events, fairs, expos, etc. This will add some keywords that, with some luck you might rank high for. It will also show that you are knowledgeable about what happens in your area and will help you adapt your rates for the busy days.
  • Create a calendar of local events and regional holidays, there’s always something to write about, no matter how small or niche it is.
  • What do people usually do when they visit you? If you have many concertgoers because of your proximity to a certain venue – put it out there. Do people come to your property for hiking, fishing or anything else? Write about it. Identify what needs you satisfy the most and make that clear on your website.

Pro Tip: Set up a free Google Alert for your city/location name and get immediate, daily or weekly email alerts of new pages that contain your term. You can even set up multiple alerts, totally free of charge.

Example of a Google alert for Sölden, a popular ski resort in Austria. It took a minute to find out that a major snowboarding event is coming up. Add it to your calendar, blog about it and maybe adjust your room rates accordingly.

Even though this event is most likely advertised throughout the resort, smaller events will probably not get much attention. But you will know. You might be one of the most informed hoteliers in your location. With effort and luck, that knowledge could transform into additional revenue.

2.9. Explore/Attractions page

Do not assume that only leisure travelers are interested in exploring the surrounding area. The term “bleisure traveler” is proof of that.

Bleisure travelers are people who extend their business trips by a few days for leisure purposes. CNN had a story about Bleisure travelers.

According to a study by Global Business Travel Association, 37% of the surveyed 675 North American business travelers have taken a bleisure trip in the prior year.

Let’s look at an example of a good Explore page.

The What’s Nearby page of Strand Hotel in Singapore is a very useful page to have. It fulfills multiple needs: shopping, exploring and eating.

Would your guests benefit from a similar page on your hotel’s website? Go for it!

3. Bonus Points for Going the Extra Mile

The following tips are not applicable for all properties, but you should at least be aware of them.

3.1. Live Chat module (not a chatbot)

Not to be confused with a chatbot, which I find useless and overhyped, Live Chat became a popular and beneficial feature on many websites, especially on E-commerce websites.

A Live Chat is that little message box that appears in the bottom-right corner on some websites, with a person on the other end suggesting a quick chat to answer your questions. This is a great way of informing visitors about the benefits of booking direct and not via an OTA.

Even though this requires someone to be online in order to provide live assistance, chances are that you already have someone being in front of the computer all day.

A live chat service can be kept open in a separate window while you do other things. A sound alert will notify you when someone’s trying to engage you in a chat. And when you’re not online, all these questions from potential guests will be sent via email, so you get good leads.

Again the website of Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa, Aruba.

You should definitely experiment with Live Chat and see if it works out for you. Make sure that the time invested converts into sufficient bookings.

Popular Live Chat Software Providers:

  • Zendesk Chat: from $14 / month, FREE plan available. HermesThemes uses Zendesk, you can see how it works in the bottom-right corner.
  • Freshchat: from $15 / month, FREE plan available.
  • LiveChat: from $16 / month, FREE 30 days trial available.

3.2. Digital Press Kit

We have written before about How Hotel Press and Media Kits Help You Get Publicity.

In short, a press kit will make it easier for interested journalists to understand what your property is about. A press kit usually contains a short summary of the property, the names and photos of main staff, facts and figures, etc.

You can see a very good example of a hotel Press Kit on the website of The Alpina Gstaad, Switzerland.

3.3. In the Press/Media page

Not all properties are lucky to get press mentions in mass media. Nonetheless, if you have been in business for multiple years then there are probably at least a couple of blogs and smaller websites that have reviewed your property. Link to bloggers and influencers, the Press page can have even the smallest stories.

The Halcyon House boutique hotel from Australia display their numerous press mentions and awards on a single page. I have cropped out many of them to make the screenshot shorter.

4. Frequent Mistakes

I have to mention some of the worst things that many hotels do with their websites.

4.1. Video or Music that Autoplays.

You should never have videos or audio content that begins playing without the user’s consent. This is one of the worst user experience mistakes in web design. There are so many reasons to avoid this at all costs.

Here’s what Nielsen Norman Group have to say about it:

When users arrive at a webpage, they don’t appreciate being surprised by video or audio content that begins playing without their consent. Video, and the accompanying audio, can confuse or distract users, and can interfere with their consumption of content on the page.

Those users who do not want to watch the video must devote cognitive resources and extra effort to figure out how to turn the audio off or pause the video, rather than focusing on their goals and information needs.

Even Google has decided to take measures against websites that try to play audio and video without the user’s consent.

4.2. Too many links to reviews on OTA websites: TripAdvisor,, etc.

According to the stats published in Current State of Hotel Websites (September 2017), ~37% of hotel websites link to Facebook, ~17% to Twitter, 10.6% to TripAdvisor and 8.75% to Instagram.

Some properties feel the need to prove their worth by showing off their rankings on websites like TripAdvisor. Sounds like a good idea, but sometimes it has the opposite effect.

Cart Abandonment

Every time you place an external link to an OTA or a social media account, you run the risk of losing a customer. They might get lost in the reviews, they might start considering a different property with a better ranking, or what’s more likely – they will book your hotel via an OTA, even though you already had them on your website. So you end up paying a commission for a booking that you could have had anyway.

Yes, I know that almost everybody will tell you to link to social media as much as possible, show off walls and walls of user generated content. Sure, you can do that. But before you do, at least do a A/B test for your conversion rates.

And I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use Facebook or Instagram. You should use them, but social media should be generating the traffic for your website, not your website for your social media accounts.

Let’s look at the website of Spier Wine Farm from South Africa.

In my opinion, having the social icons both in the header of the website and in the footer is overkill. If someone is looking to connect with you on social media, then they are used to finding the icons in a sidebar or in the footer. So removing them from the header won’t negatively affect your social media accounts, but it will free up some valuable real-estate in the header of the website, make it less overwhelming.

4.3. Small and/or Outdated Photos

A hotels’ photography is so important that I decided to address it twice in the same post.

I still find websites with just 3-4 photos of their property, or photos so small that you can’t discern anything on them.

A current, high-resolution photo is most important than a professional photo taken 15 years ago. Even if you invested good money in them, outdated photos should be discarded or moved to a separate page.

Unless it’s a room upgrade, nobody wants to walk into a booked room and discover that the furniture is different, the walls are painted in a different color, etc.

Even if you are shooting on a modern smartphone, there’s no reason to deliberately taking bad photos. Choose a good angle, stabilize the phone on something. Think about framing for a few seconds. Take that trashcan out of the way. If there’s a bed in the photo then make sure it is wrinkle-free.

Crooked, blurry images send the message that you are negligent and don’t put too much thought into your work. Maybe you have the same attitude towards room cleaning and hygiene when preparing breakfast?


Continue Reading about Photography

Continue Reading about Accessibility and Readability

If you are interested in finding out more about making your website accessible and readable to all, here are some articles and resources to get you started:

Have your say

Have you got other tips for a great hotel website, have I missed something essential? Or do you think that some of these tips are overrated and are not as important as I make them to be?

I would like to hear from you, so please feel free to comment below.

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Introducing: Instagram Leaders – Most Followed Hotels on Instagram Sun, 11 Mar 2018 23:09:48 +0000 Introducing: Instagram Leaders, a filterable ranking of the Most Followed Hotels on Instagram. A discovery tool for travelers, influencers, collaboration seekers, marketers and PR people, etc.

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Today I am finally ready to share a little project that I’ve been working on for the past couple of weeks. Introducing: Instagram Leaders.

According to my ongoing research of over 1 million hotel websites from all around the world, Instagram is used by ~9.81% of hotels.

After a couple of weeks of tinkering with code, I finally came up with a good way to gather, sort, filter and rank the stats from all these Hotel Instagram accounts.

A Hotel Discovery Tool for Travelers and Influencers

Influencer Marketing has grown a lot in the past 2-3 years, so the Instagram Leaders project can help influencers find potential partners much easier.

I would assume that a hotel that is very popular on Instagram is more likely to consider a collaboration with an Instagram influencer.

Let’s look at an example: Top 50 Most Followed Hotel Instagram Accounts from Austria.

We quickly discover that some of the most followed Austrian hotels on Instagram are (as of March 11th, 2018):

  1. Bio-Hotel Stanglwirt (@stanglwirt)
  2. The Zhero Ischgl/Kappl (@zherohotelischgl)
  3. Naturhotel Forsthofgut (@naturhotelforsthofgut)

When having to choose from a selection of hotels with similar amenities and room rates, I see a world in which someone would choose a hotel that is more popular on Instagram over one that isn’t.

Feedback is Welcome

I would love to hear what other people think about these Instagram rankings. Do you see other scenarios in which this information would be useful?

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Over 77% of Hotel Websites are Not Secured with HTTPS Tue, 27 Feb 2018 12:33:57 +0000 Beginning in July 2018 with the release of Google Chrome 68, Chrome will mark all HTTP sites as “not secure“. Hotel websites handle sensitive customer information, so using HTTPS is essential. Nonetheless, more than 77% of hotel websites are still not secured.

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Beginning in July 2018 with the release of Google Chrome 68, Chrome will mark all HTTP sites as “not secure“.

This is according to Google’s official statement from February 8th, 2018.

What’s the difference between HTTP and HTTPS?

To keep it short, the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) sends data between the website (server) and website visitor in clear text which can be easily monitored and/or tampered with.

HTTPS is HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure. Nothing really changes for most people, you simply have to type an extra S.

Websites that go through the HTTPS protocol are encrypted, which makes them less susceptible to certain types of hacks. Think of all the times when you use public Wi-Fi networks to access non-secure websites.

With HTTPS, even if someone malicious is monitoring network traffic and gets between the sender and the recipient of traffic, they would still not be able to decipher the content.

Should I really care about using HTTPS?

The short answer is YES.

A really good article about why you should care about HTTPS was written by Chris Hoffman for How-To Geek.

Even worse, HTTP allows your Internet service provider to tamper with the web pages you’re visiting, if they want. They could add content to the web page, modify the page, or even remove things. For example, ISPs could use this method to inject more advertisements into web pages you visit. Comcast already injects warnings about its bandwidth cap, and Verizon has injected a supercookie used for tracking ads. HTTPS prevents ISPs and anyone else running a network from tampering with web pages like this.

Hotel Websites and HTTPS Adoption Rates

According to Google, over 68% of Chrome traffic on both Android and Windows is now protected. But what about hotel websites?

I would like to share some stats that haven’t been included in The Current State of Hotel Websites (September 2017) report.

Here’s what I came up with after analyzing over 1 million websites in the lodging industry (hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, resorts, campings, etc.) from all around the world.

Only 22.47% of lodging websites (all types of accommodation) are using SSL/HTTPS

Israel is leading the chart with an impressive 45.3% HTTPS adoption rate (949 out of 2095 lodging websites).

Serbia, Poland, Czech Republic, South Korea and Turkey are at the bottom of the chart with less than 11% of lodging websites being secured with HTTPS.

You Might be Losing Customers

Hotels and other accommodation websites deal with sensitive customer information. Even if you think that you’re not a target for hackers and other malicious individuals, you shouldn’t assume the same about your guests.

What do you think that happens when a potential guests comes to your hotel’s website and sees a “Not Secure” warning? Some might not notice it, some might not care about it, but some most definitely will move to a competitor’s website.

In less than 5 months from now Google will make an even bigger issue out of this, so there’s really no reason to ignore it any longer.

How to Switch a Website to HTTPS for Free?

I know that many people are discouraged by the price of a SSL certificate, especially when some of the providers charge up to $500 per year.

Thankfully there’s a great free alternative: Let’s Encrypt.

Let’s Encrypt is a free, automated, and open certificate authority brought to you by the non-profit Internet Security Research Group (ISRG).

There is a list of hosting providers that support Let’s Encrypt available, so check it to see if your hosting provider is there. If it’s not then considering getting yourself a new hosting provider.

Need Help Switching to HTTPS?

Feel free to get in touch if you need help upgrading your website from HTTP to HTTPS, while minimizing website downtime and decrease of ranking in search engines.

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The Current State of Hotel Websites (September 2017) Wed, 13 Sep 2017 15:33:19 +0000 I have analyzed over 705,000 hotel websites from 150+ countries. Stats about CMS usage, plugins, SEO data and WordPress data, TOP 50 Hotel WordPress Themes.

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At the beginning of 2017 I wanted to do a very specific analysis of HermesThemes client websites. I was curious to see how many customers keep their WordPress websites up to date.

One thing lead to another and I ended up creating my very own search engine that is able to achieve some interesting things.

During July-September 2017 I have analyzed over 705,000 hotel websites from 150+ countries.

I am publishing the results of my research ~2 months ahead of the Digital Strategies for Travel Europe 2017 conference that will take place in Amsterdam (29-30 November), a conference that I will be attending. Get in touch if you would like to meet and have a quick chat there.


About This Research

Who Is This For?

I believe that this data will be mostly useful to the following categories of people:

  • IT and Marketing people working in/for the lodging industry;
  • Web developers and web designers;
  • Hotel owners and hotel managers;
  • Social Media Experts;
  • The Search Engine Optimization Community.

Content Management Systems (CMS)

There are a lot of ways to build websites: static HTML files, free content management systems (CMS), licensed content management systems, proprietary (custom) website engines, etc.

This research includes data for 8 popular content management systems that are available to the general public:

  1. WordPress (we sell WordPress Themes for Hotels)
  2. Joomla
  3. Drupal
  4. TYPO3
  6. Weebly
  7. SquareSpace
  8. BookingSuite – a service by

Additional Research Metrics

This research includes data for additional metrics that are relevant to web developers, marketers and SEO’s:

  • Percentage of hotel websites that link to their social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
  • Percentage of hotel websites that link to their TripAdvisor listings.
  • Usage of Google Analytics.
  • Usage of Facebook Pixel.
  • Percentage of hotel websites with <meta name="robots" content="NOINDEX" />.
  • Stats about the Homepage <title> tag: average length, most used words, etc.

I’ve also wanted to gather and analyze data specific only to WordPress hotel websites.

  • Usage of the WooCommerce plugin.
  • Usage of the WPML and qTranslate plugins (for creating multilingual WordPress websites).
  • Usage of Jetpack plugin by
  • Usage of Yoast SEO plugin.
  • Usage of Visual Composer plugin.
  • Usage of Slider Revolution plugin.
  • Usage of WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache plugins.

Country Differences

Some countries have a larger impact on the total numbers for certain metrics.

For example here are the top 15 countries (~73% of the total) by number of websites analyzed:

  1. USA: ~100,000
  2. Germany: ~92,000
  3. Italy: ~76,000
  4. France: ~51,000
  5. United Kingdom: ~37,000
  6. Spain: ~23,000
  7. Brazil: ~22,000
  8. Austria: ~18,000
  9. Poland: ~18,000
  10. Australia: ~17,000
  11. Canada: ~17,000
  12. Netherlands: ~13,000
  13. Greece: ~12,000
  14. India: ~11,000
  15. Japan: ~10,000

Because of this difference in volume, if you care about raw numbers, then a 10% share for the USA represents the same number of actual websites as a 20% share in France.

The purpose of this research is to study percentages and not just the raw numbers.


Before We Begin

It took almost 3 months to gather and analyze this data, the results of which I am giving away for free.

The intention is to update this data every 3-6 months and analyze the monthly/yearly changes across all these metrics.

If you plan to use, write about or publish this data anywhere else, please consider linking to the source ( when and where that is appropriate.


Table of Contents

  1. Market Share by Content Management System (CMS)
    1. CMS Market Share in Country: USA
    2. CMS Market Share in Country: GERMANY
    3. CMS Market Share in Country: ITALY
    4. CMS Market Share in Country: FRANCE
    5. CMS Market Share in Country: UNITED KINGDOM
  2. CMS Market Share by Country:
    1. CMS Market Share by Country: WORDPRESS
    2. CMS Market Share by Country: JOOMLA
    3. CMS Market Share by Country: DRUPAL
    4. CMS Market Share by Country: TYPO3
    5. CMS Market Share by Country: WIX
    6. CMS Market Share by Country: WEEBLY
    7. CMS Market Share by Country: SQUARESPACE
    8. CMS Market Share by Country: BOOKINGSUITE
  3. Hotel Websites Linking to Social Media Accounts
    1. Social Media Usage by Country: FACEBOOK
    2. Social Media Usage by Country: TWITTER
    3. Social Media Usage by Country: INSTAGRAM
    4. Social Media Usage by Country: TRIPADVISOR
  4. Tracking/Remarketing Tools:
    1. Tool Usage: GOOGLE ANALYTICS
    2. Tool Usage by Country: GOOGLE ANALYTICS
    3. Tool Usage: FACEBOOK PIXEL
    4. Tool Usage by Country: FACEBOOK PIXEL
  5. WordPress Websites:
    1. Top 50 Most Popular (Active) Hotel WordPress Themes
    2. WordPress Versions
    3. WordPress Websites: ACTIVE PLUGINS
    4. WordPress Plugin Usage by Country: WOOCOMMERCE
    5. WordPress Plugin Usage by Country: WPML
    6. WordPress Plugin Usage by Country: qTranslate
    7. WordPress Plugin Usage by Country: Jetpack
    8. WordPress Plugin Usage by Country: WP Super Cache
    9. WordPress Plugin Usage by Country: W3 Total Cache
    10. WordPress Usage Plugin by Country: YOAST SEO
    11. WordPress Plugin Usage by Country: VISUAL COMPOSER
    12. WordPress Plugin Usage by Country: SLIDER REVOLUTION
  6. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Metrics:
    1. SEO: Websites with <meta name="robots" content="NOINDEX" />
    2. SEO: Average Homepage <title> Tag Length
    3. SEO: Most Used Homepage <title> Tags
    4. SEO: Most Used Words in Homepage <title> Tag
  7. Branding: Most Used Words in Hotel Names


1. Market Share by CMS

WordPress is very comfortably in the lead with a 20% market share, with Joomla behind it with a 5,1% market share.

It is important to note that ~67% of hotel websites are not powered by any of these Top 8 CMS and website builders.

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1.1. CMS Market Share by Country: USA

Data for 100,000 hotel websites from 2,500+ locations in USA.

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1.2. CMS Market Share by Country: GERMANY

Data for 92,000 hotel websites from 3,000+ locations in Germany.

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1.3. CMS Market Share by Country: ITALY

Italy has one of the highest usage rates for these 8 CMSs combined – 41%. WordPress powers 26% of hotel websites in Italy.

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1.4. CMS Market Share by Country: FRANCE

Wix is larger than Drupal in France.

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1.5. CMS Market Share by Country: UNITED KINGDOM

WordPress powers 25% of hotel websites in United Kingdom and Wix is larger than Drupal and Joomla.

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2. 1. Market Share by Country: WORDPRESS

WordPress powers ~48% (43 out of 90) of hotel websites in St. Lucia, an island country in the Eastern Caribbean Sea.

In Europe, Estonia is in the lead with ~43%, with Lithuania, Iceland, Malta and Sweden with ~36%. Germany and Austria are at the bottom of the charts with 13-14%.

In North America, Canada leads with 22.5%, with USA and Mexico both with only 16%.

In Asia, Japan is close to 15% while WordPress is used only on ~3.3 of hotel websites in South Korea.

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2.2. Market Share by Country: JOOMLA

Joomla is the world’s second most popular CMS. It accomplishes that by being used all around the world, not in just specific regions.

Joomla is big in Venezuela, where it powers ~25% of hotel websites. It is also surprisingly popular in Greece and Kenya.

Even though Joomla powers only 1.25% of hotel websites in USA, that’s still an impressive number: 1,250 websites.

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2.3. Market Share by Country: DRUPAL

Belgium is Drupal’s “home-country”, which could be the reason why it is so strong in the neighboring countries of Denmark and France.

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2.4. Market Share by Country: TYPO3

No surprises here: it is a well-known fact that TYPO3 is mostly used in German-speaking countries.

If you are a PHP developer starting out in one of these 4 countries, then you can try giving it a chance. If you live/work elsewhere – convincing customers to try out TYPO3 can be challenging.

The same thing goes for end-customers: it might be difficult to find a local TYPO3 expert if you are located outside of this area.

I found TYPO3 websites only in 64 countries. In the USA I found only 3 distinct websites running on TYPO3.

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2.5. Market Share by Country: WIX

Wix has the largest share of hotel websites in South America and different island countries.

A ranking by the total number of Wix websites would look like this:
USA, France, Brazil, Italy, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Germany.

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2.6. Market Share by Country: WEEBLY

Weebly has a relatively good share only in a handful of large countries, all of them English-speaking countries: New Zealand, Canada, Australia, USA.

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2.7. Market Share by Country: SQUARESPACE

Similar to Weebly, SquareSpace is doing well only in English-speaking countries: 1,245 websites in USA, 330 in United Kingdom, 300 in Australia, 200 in Canada.

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2.8. Market Share by Country: BOOKINGSUITE

Croatia is in the lead with over 450 websites powered by the BookingSuite (a service of Most of these are one-apartment properties, which seems to be the main customer base for the BookingSuite.

Taking in account both the market share and the raw number of websites, top countries for BookingSuite are Italy, Brazil, Portugal, Spain, Chile, Greece, Mexico, Canada, USA.

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3. Hotel Websites Linking to Social Media Accounts

Over one third of hotels link to their Facebook page, but only 9% link to their Instagram account/hashtag.

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3.1. Social Media Usage by Country: FACEBOOK

How surprising is this chart?

People in Germany are not too excited about Facebook, they are very concerned about privacy.

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3.2. Social Media Usage by Country: TWITTER

A similar situation as with Facebook, just with smaller numbers.

I was surprised to see that hotels bother with Twitter at all, I expected even lower numbers.

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3.3. Social Media Usage by Country: INSTAGRAM

You would expect that hotels in some countries would focus more on Instagram Marketing, but it is what it is.

One explanation for the low numbers in certain countries is the total number of VERY outdated hotel websites. It is normal to find German hotel websites that haven’t been updated in more than 15 years. Static HTML websites with sparkling .gif animations, frames and other good stuff.

Hotels in countries like Madagascar, Romania, Cuba, Austria and even New Zealand should pick up the pace. Even if you think Instagram won’t get you direct hotel bookings, it will at least raise the country’s general reputation and image on the international level.

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3.4. Social Media Usage by Country: TRIPADVISOR

Many hotels use their TripAdvisor page as “social proof” of their good service and quality.

Many industry experts think that sending your website visitors out to other websites (even for social proof) is a good way to decrease your direct bookings and lose customers in the process.

The smaller countries are in a confident lead, with Germany confidently at the bottom of the chart, again.

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This one was probably one of the biggest surprises for me: Google Analytics is used on only 22% of hotel websites.

In an industry where every bit of intelligence and analytics can be used to improve your business, over 75% choose not to use this free tool from Google itself.

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4.2. Tool Usage by Country: GOOGLE ANALYTICS

Both USA and Germany are at the bottom of the chart.

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4.3. Tool Usage: FACEBOOK PIXEL

The Facebook Pixel is used for retargeting/remarketing (I wrote about it here).

It is somewhat of an advanced tool used by marketers to target and reengage visitors that were on your website in the past.

This is what the big shops use when you discover in your Facebook feed an ad for a pair of sandals that you were looking at only 20 minutes ago.

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4.4. Tool Usage by Country: FACEBOOK PIXEL

This chart is probably a good indicator of the power and reputation that marketers have in these countries.

The higher a country is on the chart, the more effort goes into squeezing every little bit they can via marketing efforts.

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5.1. Top 50 Most Popular (Active) Hotel WordPress Themes

These are the most popular WordPress themes used on the 141,300 WordPress hotel websites that were analyzed.

  • 14 out of Top 15 Themes are sold via ThemeForest.
  • 31 out of Top 50 Themes are sold via ThemeForest.
  • 13 out of Top 50 Themes are distributed via
Place Theme Name Developer Distribution Websites % Share
#1 Divi ElegantThemes Independent 5,180 3.67%
#2 Avada ThemeFusion ThemeForest 4,575 3.23%
#3 Enfold Kriesi ThemeForest 2,699 1.9%
#4 BeTheme muffingroup ThemeForest 1,832 1.29%
#5 Hotel Master GoodLayers ThemeForest 1,817 1.28%
#6 Soho Hotel quitenicestuff ThemeForest 1,557 1.10%
#7 Bridge QODE ThemeForest 1,160 0.82%
#8 The7 Dream-Theme ThemeForest 1,039 0.73%
#9 Jupiter artbees ThemeForest 898 0.63%
#10 Nice Hotel quitenicestuff ThemeForest 884 0.62%
#11 Bellevue Themovation ThemeForest 759 0.53%
#12 Nation Hotel raybreaker ThemeForest 731 0.51%
#13 X THEMECO ThemeForest 673 0.47%
#14 Hotec SmoothThemes ThemeForest 649 0.46%
#15 Salient ThemeNectar ThemeForest 618 0.437%
#16 Sydney athemes 615 0.435%
#17 Customizr Nicolas GUILLAUME 601 0.42%
#18 Vantage SiteOrigin 552 0.39%
#19 Leisure CurlyThemes ThemeForest 549 0.388%
#20 Starhotel Slashdown ThemeForest 531 0.37%
#21 Sailing ThimPress ThemeForest 509 0.36%
#22 Vierra designesia ThemeForest 432 0.30%
#23 The Place HotelWP ThemeForest 425 0.30%
#24 SKT Hotel Lite SKTThemes 405 0.28%
#25 Kallyas hogash ThemeForest 392 0.27%
#26 Total WPExplorer ThemeForest 372 0.263%
#27 Virtue Kadence Themes 360 0.254%
#28 Calluna themetwins ThemeForest 354 0.25%
#29 Impreza UpSolution ThemeForest 353 0.25%
#30 Responsive CyberChimps 351 0.248%
#31 Hillter awethemes ThemeForest 338 0.239%
#32 Anchor Inn ProgressionStudios ThemeForest 335 0.236%
#33 Zerif Lite ThemeIsle 323 0.228%
#34 GeneratePress GeneratePress 321 0.227%
#35 Viva Cohhe ThemeForest 317 0.224%
#36 Welcome Inn ThemeFuse ThemeForest 311 0.219%
#37 Travelify Colorlib 301 0.212%
#38 uDesign AndonDesign ThemeForest 290 0.205%
#39 Tempera Cryout Creations 287 0.203%
#40 Spacious ThemeGrill 278 0.196%
#41 Canvas WooCommerce (WooThemes) Independent 277 0.195%
#42 Guesthouse Ait-Themes Independent 272 0.192%
#43 Nirvana Cryout Creations 259 0.183%
#44 Milano themoholics ThemeForest 252 0.178%
#45 Genesis StudioPress Independent 251 0.177%
#46 Pinboard One Designs 249 0.176%
#47 Headway Headway Themes Independent 237 0.167%
#48 ROSA pixelgrade ThemeForest 223 0.157%
#49 Hoteliour Ait-Themes Independent 216 0.152%
#50 Lamoon UXBARN ThemeForest 202 0.152%
#104 Ambassador HermesThemes Independent 95 0.067%
#106 Fortuna HermesThemes Independent 92 0.065%
#186 Castello HermesThemes Independent 63 0.05%
#223 Leonardo HermesThemes Independent 48 0.03%
#238 Victoria HermesThemes Independent 43 0.03%

The position of a theme in this table does not mean that it is better (or worse) than the ones above or below it.

Some may want to buy a Top 10 because of it’s popularity alone, but it also means that your website will look the same as other hotel websites.

Some may want to buy a less popular theme just to have a more unique design.

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5.2. WordPress Websites: WORDPRESS VERSIONS

The number of hotel websites using outdated versions of WordPress is astonishing.

Only 66% of hotel websites are using one of the latest 3 major versions of WordPress (4.8, 4.7, 4.6).

At the time of writing this (13/09/2017), the latest version of WordPress was 4.8.1

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5.3. WordPress Websites: ACTIVE PLUGINS

One out of five WordPress hotel websites has WooCommerce installed and activated.

WPML is used on 16% of hotel websites that are powered by WordPress (~22,500 out of 141,300), which is 5.5 times more than qTranslate, a similar (but free) plugin.

WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache have an almost equal market share of hotel websites.

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5.4. WordPress Plugin Usage by Country: WOOCOMMERCE

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5.5. WordPress Plugin Usage by Country: WPML

Unsurprisingly, WPML has the smallest share in a cluster of five English-speaking countries that don’t worry too much about tourists speaking other languages: USA, Ireland, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

On the other hand, Andorra, Estonia, Greece, Mauritius and Italy are putting in the effort to make their WordPress websites multilingual, with most of the other European countries in the top half of the chart.

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5.6. WordPress Plugin Usage by Country: QTRANSLATE

The English-speaking countries are confidently at the bottom of the chart, even for a free plugin.

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5.7. WordPress Plugin Usage by Country: YOAST SEO

Yoast SEO (formerly known as WordPress SEO) remains the most popular SEO plugin for WordPress websites.

Out of 21 hotel WordPress websites in Norfolk Islands – Yoast SEO is active on 15 of them (71.4%).

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5.8. WordPress Plugin Usage by Country: JETPACK

Jetpack is a free plugin provided by the team. It is a Swiss Army Knife type of plugin, which I’ve written about before.

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5.9. WordPress Plugin Usage by Country: VISUAL COMPOSER

Visual Composer is the most popular page builder plugin for WordPress. It currently has over 314,000 sales on ThemeForest. It is also included for free in a great deal of WordPress themes sold via ThemeForest.

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5.10. WordPress Plugin Usage by Country: SLIDER REVOLUTION

Slider Revolution is one of the most popular WordPress plugins for creating image, video and content slideshows (sliders). Currently it has 210,700 sales on ThemeForest.

Similarly to Visual Composer, it is included in a good portion of themes sold via ThemeForest.

Back in 2014 a major security flaw was discovered in Slider Revolution, which might have lead to the famous Mossack Fonseca Hack in 2016, also known as #PanamaPapers.

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5.11. WordPress Plugin Usage by Country: WP SUPER CACHE

A chart of countries that care the most about caching, which generally leads to quicker loading websites.

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5.12. WordPress Plugin Usage by Country: W3 TOTAL CACHE

The chart looks a little different for this plugin, which is a little more difficult to set up.

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6.1. SEO: Websites with META ROBOTS = NOINDEX

Not the most impressive chart, but the importance is incredibly great: 1% of hotel websites prevent search engines (like Google) from crawling and indexing the website.

That’s almost 7,000 of hotel websites completely block any traffic that could be coming from search engines and most of them are completely unaware of doing it.

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6.2. SEO: Average Homepage <title> Tag Length

Close to 2.5% of hotel websites use a single word as their homepage <title> tag. Usually it is a word like “Home” or “Welcome”.

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6.3. SEO: Most Used Homepage <title> Tags

These are the most popular variations of the homepage <title> tag, and all of them are terrible.

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6.4. SEO: Most Used Words in Homepage <title> Tag

These are the most used words in the homepage’s <title> tag.

Over 6% of hotel websites have the word “Home” somewhere in the title, but only 0.4% target families with the word “Family“.

The word “Boutique” is used by 0.74% of hotels.

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7. Branding: Most Used Words in Hotel Names

If you are looking for inspiration on how to name your property, these are the most used words in the hotel names.

Here’s an example how to better understand these figures:

The word family shows a share of 0.146%. This means that out of 10,000 hotels, 14.6 hotels have the word family in it.

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In Conclusion

There are many interesting takeaways from all this data, especially for web designers, WordPress theme developers, plugin developers, marketers, etc.

It is also curious to review all these stats separately for each country and spot different “weak spots”.


It took a lot of time and effort to gather, analyze and present this valuable information.

The intention is to update this data every 3-6 months and analyze the monthly/yearly changes across all these metrics.

If you plan to use, write about or publish this data anywhere else, I will greatly appreciate it if you will link to the source ( when and where that is appropriate.

It would also be great to know who found this data useful and used it for an article or presentation, so please get in touch and send me a link to your articles.

The post The Current State of Hotel Websites (September 2017) appeared first on

]]> 4 6974
How to Start and Run a Bed and Breakfast Mon, 13 Jun 2016 08:44:04 +0000 It’s your big dream: starting a bed and breakfast in a beautiful house and getting to meet interesting people on a daily basis. That would beat your boring day job, no? Starting a bed and breakfast can be a wonderful […]

The post How to Start and Run a Bed and Breakfast appeared first on

It’s your big dream: starting a bed and breakfast in a beautiful house and getting to meet interesting people on a daily basis. That would beat your boring day job, no?

Starting a bed and breakfast can be a wonderful experience. You get to live in a fantastic house and work for yourself.

At the same time, it is a business. As such, there are several things you need to keep in mind to succeed with your bed and breakfast. In this guide, you’ll learn the ins and outs of starting a bed and breakfast business.

First up: how do you set up your bed and breakfast?

Starting a bed and breakfast business


Setting up your bed and breakfast

First things first, what’s a bed and breakfast?

A bed and breakfast is a something of a mix between a boutique hotel and a private home. Usually, the service is extremely personal. The manager might live on-site, and it’s not unusual that the manager and the guests spend time together.

Before you even think about opening a bed and breakfast, you need to plan ahead. Planning is essential before you set up your business. If you have a clear roadmap of what to do in certain situations along the way, you make your life a lot easier when you’re running your bed and breakfast.

Planning includes research. Do you know if there’s demand for a B&B in the area where you want to set it up? After all, demand is what makes or breaks a business.

Additionally, you need to plan your financials, marketing, sales, customer service, branding… The list is long.

Most bed and breakfasts are small, family-run businesses that don’t make a huge amount of money.

Most importantly, you should make sure that starting a bed and breakfast is the right thing to do. Mind you, it’s not for everyone. You need to run the administrative and operative side of the business. You need to be persistent (after all, it’ll take some time for your B&B to get profitable), flexible and have social skills. Last but not least, you shouldn’t start a bed and breakfast for the money. Most bed and breakfasts are small, family-run businesses that don’t make a huge amount of money.

Make sure you evaluate what it is you really want before you start looking for a location.

Type of ownership


There are three types of ownership you can choose from when you start a bed and breakfast. The first one – and probably the most popular alternative – is to own the property.

Clearly this has some benefits. If you have a mortgage, you get to keep more of the money once it’s paid off. If you already own the property, you get to keep a bigger part of the money from the start. Plus, you might be able to pocket a profit if you decide to sell the property down the line.

The other side of the coin is that owning the property comes with its own set of responsibilities. For example, if you have a bigger mortgage, it will take time to pay it off. Plus, there are other costs you need to take into consideration like maintenance of the property. Bear in mind that if your property is a bit older or something unexpected happens, those costs can be quite high. And they will affect your budget.


The second alternative is that you rent the property. This means that you don’t have the same responsibilities as an owner. For example, your landlord has the primary responsibility to take care of maintenance. Plus, you don’t have mortgages to pay off.

On the other hand, rent will always be deducted from your earnings. Additionally, your rental agreement might not be renewed for various reasons (or, it might even be canceled). In worst case, that would mean that you have to shut down your B&B. You can take measures to prevent that from happening. For example, you can try to negotiate a longer rental agreement. And, you might want to make sure you’re allowed to renovate the property.

Hired manager

As a hired manager, someone else owns the B&B, and you run it as an employee or a contractor. This is the option with the least risk. Besides, it’s the cheapest option. You don’t have maintenance, rent or any other costs to think about.

The downside is that you have less freedom. Someone else decides what the B&B looks like and how it should be run. If you want to start a bed and breakfast in order to work independently, this might not be the best option for you.

Your property

When you start a bed and breakfast, you need to figure out questions concerning the property.

First, you need to decide the living arrangements for your B&B. There are two options:

Either, you, as the manager, sleep in the same building as your guests. Alternatively, you sleep in a separate building. This depends on your preferences and the property. Living in a separate building gives you more privacy and space. On the other hand, your property might limit your ability to do so.

Second, you should define what type of property you want for your B&B. Do you want a historic house? It might help you attract customers, but it requires more work. Or do you want a more modern house? If your property is more generic, you might have to get creative and come up with ways to attract customers.

Demand is key to running a successful bed and breakfast.

Third, and most importantly, you need to figure out where you want to set up your B&B. Keep in mind; demand is key to running a successful bed and breakfast. This means that location is everything.

Need inspiration for finding the perfect location for your bed and breakfast? Below is a list of emerging travel destinations in the US and Europe. Plus, some more unusual travel destinations that attract a lot of tourists on a yearly basis.

Destinations in USA

According to AirBnB, Oak Lawn in Dallas (Texas) had a 260% growth rate last year as a travel destination. Similarly, Poncey-Highland in Atlanta (Georgia) has grown 240%.

TripAdvisor compiles yearly lists of travel destinations that are growing in popularity. These destinations include:

  • Laconia (New Hampshire)
  • Rosemary Beach (Florida)
  • Munising (Michigan)
  • Mount Desert Island (Maine)
  • Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)
  • Door County (Wisconsin)
  • Seaside (Florida)
  • Lago Vistas (Florida)
  • Wimberley (Texas)
  • Zion National Park (Utah)
  • Red River (New Mexico)
  • West Yellowstone (Montana)
  • Crystal Beach (Texas)
  • Lake Geneva (Wisconsin)
  • Bushkill (Pennsylvania)

Destinations in Europe

In Europe, AirBnB reports that destinations like Capucins in Bordeaux (France), Koukaki, Athens (Greece), Triana, Seville (Spain) and Hammerbrook, Hamburg (Germany) are growing in popularity. TripAdvisor lists Porto (Portugal) and Brighton (United Kingdom) as top destinations on the rise.

Don’t forget that there’s a vast number of travel destinations that are less ordinary. Here’s a list of curious travel destinations with lots of tourists (in need of accommodation!):

  • US Space and Rocket Center, Huntsville (Alabama). A popular destination for space hobbyists of all ages.
  • Kentucky Bourbon Trail (Kentucky). A must-see for those who love bourbon.
  • Cedar Point, Sandusky (Ohio). Cedar Point is one of the oldest amusement parks and the world’s roller coaster capital.
  • Roswell (New Mexico). Home to the International UFO Museum & Research Center, as well as the Annual Roswell UFO Festival during the July 4th weekend.
  • The southernmost point, Key West (Florida). The closest connection point to Cuba.
  • Wilson’s Creek Battlefield (Missouri). The best-preserved battlefield that hosts an annual candlelight tour and a ceremony.
  • The Oregon Vortex and The House of Mystery (Oregon). Home to weird phenomena.
  • Bracken Cave (Texas). The world’s largest bat colony with millions of bats flying out at dusk.

Plus, don’t forget that your bed and breakfast could be a travel destination. AirBnB lists 40 of its most popular accommodations. Most of them are located in historic, famous or quirky houses. Tourists choose to book these accommodations (often at a higher price point) because of the experience of staying at such B&Bs.

Laws, regulations and security considerations

Your B&B is a business. As such, you need to be aware of laws and regulations in your country.

If your business falls within US legislation, this means that you need to have things like business licenses in order. What’s more, your property and your services are regulated by several laws. Plus, you need to ensure that the area in which your B&B is located is zoned for bed and breakfast. If not, you’ll need to apply for a variance or a conditional use permit. This leads to interesting situations; you might not be allowed to use signage to attract visitors, and you might have to appear before a planning commission to argument for your B&B business.

All in all, it might take 2-3 years for your bed and breakfast to have all required permits and licenses. Here’s a list of some of the licenses and checks you need to take care of to start a bed and breakfast.

In Europe, you need to adhere to similar regulations. If you set up a B&B in the European Union, there might be specific EU legislation that you need to take into consideration.

Irrespective of where you plan to set up your B&B, one of the most important things to keep in mind is that there are various ordinances on a national and local level that regulate safety. You’ll need to plan for things like fire and food safety. Plus, you might need business insurances.

Running a bed and breakfast


What does your bed and breakfast look like?

To run a successful B&B, you need to make sure you create a concept that works for your customers and yourself. As a hospitality business, this is the main reason visitors choose your B&B instead of a hotel.

First and foremost, is your bed and breakfast open year-round or seasonally? This depends on the location of your property and your own preferences. For example, if you’re property is in an area with lots of tourists in the summer and fewer in the winter, it makes most sense to run a seasonal B&B.

Further, you need to decide what services you offer. Do you have a swimming pool? Do you have theme nights or weekends? Do you host weddings? Or do you offer some leisure activities, like horse riding or tennis?

Additionally, you need to figure out how many meals you serve per day. Normally, a B&B includes a breakfast and some complimentary snacks and drinks. Do you want to offer dinner one or several nights of the week for an extra fee? Or maybe something special, like picnic baskets that guests can bring to the nearby beach?

Branding, sales, and marketing

The most important aspect of your bed and breakfast is to have a steady stream of visitors. Without them, you don’t have a business.

To ensure that people find your B&B, you need to have a good sales and marketing strategy.

Before you focus on spreading the word, you need to decide on your branding.

It’s crucial that you do so because you want to attract the right customer to your business. Remember, if you’re selling to everyone, you’re selling to no one. To establish a brand, you need to cater to a niche. That way, you attract the right people – those who’re interested in your offering and who you want to do business with.

For example, are your target customers retirees who enjoy French cuisine and wine? Or are they families with small kids who love to play in the pool? Maybe you want to target wedding parties and honeymooners. Either way, make sure you have one type of customer in mind.

When you have your niche figured out, you need to decide how you’ll reach out to them by establishing a marketing strategy.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Set up your own website.
  • Contact the local tourist office and chamber of commerce.
  • Attend local event or fairs.
  • List on B&B websites and AirBnB.
  • List on Craigslist.
  • Set up partnerships with local service providers.
  • Blog to reach an online audience.
  • Learn the basics of SEO to reach customers through Google searches.
  • Ask potential and previous customers to sign up for your newsletter and send out emails to them.
  • Provide excellent customer service to your guests to tap into word of mouth marketing.
  • Put effort into your TripAdvisor listing and the reviews there.

Managing your finances and calculating your room rate

To make sure that your business is stable, you need to make sure you manage your finances correctly.

Most bed and breakfasts won’t make big money. For example, almost half of all European bed and breakfasts make less than EUR10,000 per year. On the other hand, this figure doesn’t tell the whole story. Many B&B owners rent out a few spare rooms in their houses or have seasonal B&Bs. In other words, B&Bs can support you like a full-time job. But you need to be prepared to work hard for it.

To manage your finances, you must make sure that you have your expenses figured out. These include:

  • Mortgage. If you don’t own your property, you need to pay a mortgage, which can be a major monthly cost.
  • Decoration. This is no small cost. Expenses can go up to tens of thousands of dollars or euros.
  • Running costs. These are monthly costs you need to take into account, such as food, electricity, cleaning, your own salary, and insurance.
  • Annual expenses. These include costs like accounting.
  • Taxes. As a business, you need to pay taxes. If you operate within the European Union, you need to account for VAT.

Now that you have your expenses figured out, you need to calculate your room rate. Your room rate depends on several factors, like:

  • Location. Is your bed and breakfast centrally located? Or close to a beach? Is it a popular tourist spot or do you attract business travelers? In that case, you can charge more than if you are located far away.
  • Amenities and services. If you offer luxury amenities, you can charge more. Similarly, if you offer more services, that means you can increase your rates.
  • The average rate in your area. While you can position yourself as a luxury bed and breakfast with higher prices than other hospitality options in your area, you have to be aware of other prices in your region. Otherwise, you risk losing business.
  • Season and weekday. Rates tend to go down in off-seasons or during weekdays due to the decrease in demand.

Apart from these points, your rate needs to make sense for your business. To figure that out, you should divide expenses with the expected amount of visitors over a certain period of time. That way, you can calculate your rate and understand your profit margin per visitor.

How running a bed and breakfast affects your life

There’s one thing you’ll notice when you run a bed and breakfast: it has a huge impact on your life.

Running a bed and breakfast is a job that stretches way beyond the normal 40-hour work week. As the owner, you’re responsible for everything. Starting a bed and breakfast means that you might have to give up other things that you love in your life, like your hobbies. There’s simply no time for things like traveling, going on long hikes or eating out several days of the week.

Instead, 99% of your time goes into your business. When you have guests, your job is to entertain and be there for them. Cleaning, cooking, small-talking… that’s your job. And when there are fewer guests, you’ll need to put extra effort into finding them. You work harder at marketing your business, managing your website, attending events and so forth.

Lots of new bed and breakfast owners are not aware of the sacrifices they might have to make.

Lots of new bed and breakfast owners are not aware of the sacrifices they might have to make. Once they run their bed and breakfast, the reality hits them hard. But if you’re willing to make those sacrifices, running a bed and breakfast might be just the thing for you.

Tips and Advice from Professional Innkeepers


The 1780 Farmhouse glows in the early morning sun.

Don’t be a cheapskate

There is a nugget of truth in the old saying “you gotta spend money to make money.” You really can not afford to skimp on marketing nor on maintenance and upkeep. Another old saying with an underlying truth, “penny-wise, pound-foolish.” Certainly very few have unlimited deep pockets, so the trick is to be realistic, know your limits, and not over-extend yourself (although you may have to extend…).

Know what you are offering

Determine your “unique selling proposition,” or USP) and market it appropriately. Don’t try to sell your place as something that it is not. You want to attract guests who will appreciate your offering, and avoid attracting guests whose expectations you will never be able to meet. Again, be realistic, know your limits, and do not overextend yourself. Everyone, your guests and yourself, will be happier.

You are going to need help

Cultivate a network of vendors and service providers that you can rely on. Be realistic in your expectations of them, understand the constraints they operate under, treat them as the valued professionals that they are, pay their bills in a timely manner, and they will favor you. (See “don’t be a cheapskate.”)

You may need employees

Finding, hiring, training, managing, and retaining good employees requires its own special skill set and mindset. One of the keys here is training — training of the employee and training of yourself! The people that you hire are not mind-readers and will most likely not know right off the bat what it is you expect of them. You need to learn to communicate with them and how to do it, show them not just tell them, be realistic in your expectations of them, understand that people’s lives can be complicated, treat them as the valued members of your team that they are, pay them well, and they will favor you. (See “you are going to need help” and “don’t be a cheapskate.”)

You are running a business

Your business needs to maintain adequate cash flow to meet ongoing expenses, and ultimately needs to generate revenue in excess of expenses. You need to know the numbers. Familiarize yourself with the basic principles of accounting and with the relevant tax codes (and other laws) that impact your business. Stay on top of your book-keeping and learn how to get the information out of your systems that you need to make decisions. (But know your limits, and do not overextend yourself. See “you are going to need help,” a professional accountant perhaps?)


Innkeeping is not for wimps

Be prepared to do the unthinkable when the unthinkable happens like repair a bed at 2AM in the morning after honeymooners broke it and are still in it, or unclog places that you never knew could clog.

Innkeepers are in the people business, and people are the icing on the cake. But most guests do not realize the amount of sweat equity that goes into running a bed and breakfast, it’s takes plenty of plain old elbow grease. If you cannot do many household chores yourself, you will lose the benefit of owning and operating an inn. Hiring someone from outside to do so many of the tasks will bring your bottom line down significantly.

Your day will never be dull and your commute enviable.

The most important factor I have learned to owning an inn is that you run the business and don’t let the business run you. This is common for all small or family owned businesses, and add to the equation that you most likely will live in this business, you have to learn how to make time for yourself and your relationships. As we say often, as an innkeeper “You can check in but you can’t check out” so make every moment count and have fun.


Twin Gables is centrally located in the Skamokawa National Historic District.

Start a pre-planning notebook or spreadsheet.

Just as the real estate brokers say – “location location location”. A destination location and at least a 5-6 room inn will likely support you and your mortgage. A lesser location or smaller property can be a success also, but flexibility and adaptability to what works in your area will be essential. Make sure your local zoning/planning rules will let you proceed with your plans. Getting local rules and determinations about your project in writing will stand you in good stead when local officials move on to other areas.

You will need more upfront $ than you think you need.

You will need to be an expert on your house or building’s construction and systems: plumbing, heating, air conditioning. You need to know how it all goes together and how it works in order to maintain it yourself, or to hire competent help.

You will need to be your own marketer and bookkeeper.

A guest friendly easy to use website with great SEO is a must. I find a reservation system with the capacity for related expense records to be a big help. Again – good to know at least the basics of how those processes work.

A critical eye must be used to evaluate your property, your rooms and your service. Is yours up to the standards you expect when staying in lodgings yourself?

The food part is really important!

Past restaurant experience will be a huge help in menu and service planning. Especially if you are cooking and serving without additional help, all kitchen and dining room layout plus cooking and service procedures must be efficient so you can do it all, roll with the punches and keep a smile on your face!

Guests will puzzle you, pester you and absolutely be a pleasure. If making them happy genuinely makes you happy – inn-keeping just may be for you!


The house at 35 Walnut Street was built in 1912 and purchased by Troy and Anna Brane Gillum in 1918.

If you are “off the path” or rural, it is important to give people a reason to come to your area – and to stay with you. I made my area and my small city a destination. I made turn-by-turn routes to see things in my area, and nothing is too small to include because if it is there someone will be interested in it (I mark those places as FYI). Guests know nothing of your area and it is up to you to tell them why they should come.
Rail-trails, Covered Bridges, Farmers markets, historic things, birthplace of, burial place of, attractions, golf courses, birding sites, wineries, orchards & U-Pick, anything and everything. I must have done something right because we celebrate 20 years as a B & B (start-up) in July.

Also, never be afraid to share information or help someone AND be involved in your community. They have families who need a place to stay sometimes. I am an “import aka an alien” to my city although from this State originally. I built a reputation as being honest, helping when needed, and a person of integrity – these things help in getting local people to recommend you.

Start with a good B&B Website

We have many great WordPress Themes for B&Bs, all come with theme updates and one-on-one support. Hundreds of amazing properties (client showcase) worldwide already use our themes, you would be in really good company.

You should also read our Blueprint for a Great Hotel Website: Things to Do & Mistakes to Avoid article.

Keep on learning

Last but not least, any business owner needs to keep something in mind: never stop learning

Before you even start your business, there’s just so much information out there. Even when your business is blooming it will constantly evolve, and you need to stay on track.

Here are online courses that will help you start your bed and breakfast.

Courses that teach you how to start a bed and breakfast:

Marketing courses:


Checklist for starting a bed and breakfast

  • Research your business: location, customers and marketing;
  • Create a roadmap for your business so that you know what to do in all situations;
  • Determine if you want to own or rent your B&B property or become a hired manager;
  • Figure out what type of property you’re looking for;
  • Research legislation and regulations that apply on your business in your country and region;
  • Build your brand and set up a marketing strategy;
  • Figure out your finances – calculate expenses and room rates;
  • Sign up for one or several online courses to keep on learning.

Bed and breakfast owners’ experiences

Other useful links

List your B&B:

Have your say

How do you see the life of a bed and breakfast owner, is it for you? What do you think are the main perks and benefits of running a bed and breakfast? Share your thoughts in the comments area below!

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TripAdvisor’s 2016 Ranking Algorithm Update: What You Need to Know Wed, 20 Apr 2016 08:03:31 +0000 TripAdvisor has its own ranking algorithm, the Popularity Index, which determines how hotels rank in comparison to other hotels in the same area. In February 2016, the Popularity Index was updated for hotel listings.
In this article, we'll look at those changes and how they affect your hotel listing.

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TripAdvisor is one of the biggest travel websites in the world. It goes without saying that the site has a major impact on the hospitality industry.

For example, 67% of travelers check TripAdvisor a few times a month or more.
65% of travelers are more likely to book a hotel that has won a TripAdvisor award.
In other words, TripAdvisor is a channel you as a hotelier can’t afford to ignore.

TripAdvisor has its own ranking algorithm, the Popularity Index, which determines how hotels rank in comparison to other hotels in the same area.
In February 2016, the Popularity Index was updated for hotel listings.

In this article, we’ll look at those changes and how they affect your hotel listing.

How does the new Popularity Index work?

The higher ranked a hotel is, the more travelers see it.
Naturally, you want your hotel to rank as high as possible in the search results.

Before, hotels with a few reviews could quickly climb in rankings if they received good reviews in a short period of time.

This meant that some hotels were ranked much higher than hotels with more reviews over a long period of time. In other words, hotels with a better long-term track record didn’t rank as high as hotels with a short term track record.

TripAdvisor’s goal is to get the best hotels to rank higher. This ensures that travelers are happy and keep on using TripAdvisor when they book hotels.

Subsequently, TripAdvisor’s algorithm update was aimed to crack down on this glitch in the system.

That’s why TripAdvisor changed its algorithm to prioritize consistency. Now hotels that have performed better over a longer period of time are ranked higher in the search results.

The algorithm is based on three ranking factors. Namely:

  1. Quality of reviews: Obviously, positive reviews are important. However, it’s unclear what makes a positive review particularly qualitative.
  2. Quantity of reviews: The more reviews you have, the higher you rank.
  3. Age of reviews: Recent reviews are prioritized, and older reviews have less impact over time.

“Quantity” and “freshness” of reviews are pretty self-explanatory. On the other hand, “quality” is harder to define. Is it the star rating or the amount of text? Both? Or something else? Because it’s so hard to define, quantity and freshness are more important than before.

All three ranking factors work together, and this means that hotels with a weaker track record won’t outrank hotels with consistently good feedback.


Example of the first page results for Paris hotels – a high star rating doesn’t guarantee that you’ll rank higher. The amount of reviews and their age play a role.

How can you rank higher on TripAdvisor?

Now that you know how TripAdvisor’s algorithm works, the question is: how can you rank higher on the platform?

Let’s start with #1 – quality.

While we don’t know the exact criteria, we can generally conclude that the more positive reviews you have, the higher your hotel ranks.
In other words, the more five-star reviews you have with at least some amount of text and probably some positive statements, the better your hotel ranks.

So how do you get those positive reviews?

Unfortunately, you have something working against you: customers are generally more likely to share a bad experience compared to a good one.

On the other hand, that applies to all hotels, and there are ways to encourage visitors who are satisfied with their experience to share a review.

The most important part is to set guest expectations and fulfill those expectations.
Make sure the information on TripAdvisor is correct and up to date. Feature images that reflect what your hotel looks like in real life.
If you’ve set the right expectations, it won’t be hard to fulfill those expectations.

Great customer service and clean rooms go a long way.

Second, the more reviews you have, the higher you rank.

You need to encourage visitors to leave reviews. This doesn’t have to be very hard.

For example, place a welcome card or a flier in every room. With the card or flier, you can encourage guests to review their stay and include a QR code to your TripAdvisor listing.

Alternatively, you can send an email to thank you visitors for their stay and include a link to your TripAdvisor listing.

Just remember, all kinds of bribes are against TripAdvisor’s user policy. This includes asking for reviews with incentives.

This leads us to the third ranking factor: TripAdvisor now prioritizes newer reviews.

In other words, you need to keep on asking and encouraging visitors to leave reviews.

For seasonal hotels, this might pose a problem. After all, visitors leave reviews during the high season. But what happens the rest of the year?
In the worst case, your hotel is outranked by other hotels that are open the whole year.

To avoid this, you can ask your visitors to join your newsletter. During low or off-season, send out a newsletter and encourage them to leave a review.

Last but not least, there’s one more thing you need to keep in mind on TripAdvisor: Your own activity.

TripAdvisor doesn’t list this as a ranking factor. However, there are some things you need to know in terms of how you can improve your hotel’s ranking.

TripAdvisor wants its visitors to have a great experience on its platform. That’s why it monitors your activity on its site. Being active on the platform by responding to reviews can help boost rankings. (Read: How to Respond Properly to Online Hotel Reviews).

Why? Simple: if visitors see a friendly response to reviews by you or your staff, it’s much more likely that they will leave their own reviews. This, again, helps your hotel rank higher.

In Conclusion

With its algorithm change in February 2016, TripAdvisor aims to reward hotels that are consistently performing well. That’s why you need to ensure that your hotel gets positive and consistent reviews.

But don’t wait for visitors to take the initiative to leave a review. Chances are that they forget to do so, even if they enjoyed their stay.
Instead, encourage them to review their stay.

Just remember: TripAdvisor’s ranking factors work together. You need to ensure that your reviews fulfill all the criteria to see a change in how well your hotel ranks.

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Start Taking Direct Bookings on your Hotel’s WordPress Website Sun, 10 Apr 2016 18:57:16 +0000 For the last 3 years since HermesThemes was launched there were numerous people asking about ways to reliably take direct hotel reservations using WordPress. However this is not an easy task technically speaking, if you stop to consider all the […]

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For the last 3 years since HermesThemes was launched there were numerous people asking about ways to reliably take direct hotel reservations using WordPress. However this is not an easy task technically speaking, if you stop to consider all the small things that have to be taken care of.

One of these aspects is room inventory management: when a room is available and when it is not? If you mismanage room inventory while taking direct reservations (with deposits or pre-payments) then you will certainly get double bookings (a room sold twice for the same period of time).

This problem becomes even bigger when you use multiple channels to sell your rooms: OTAs like, TripAdvisor, etc.

For this reason I have always recommended to sign up and use a specialized third-party service for taking reservations and property management. Many of these services are used by HermesThemes customers. Thanks to these services you have to manage all of your inventory in a single place. For example if you get a booking on – it will become unavailable across other channels. If you don’t use a reservation system like this, you will often be open to unpleasant situations with double bookings.

The downside of these services is that they all cost a certain amount of money, be it a sign up fee, a monthly service fee, a fee that depends on your property’s capacity, etc. So if you are only getting started with a small hotel, B&B or a holiday rental, it might not be worth it.

After reviewing numerous WordPress plugins and solutions that promise to be “the only reservation plugin you will ever need”, I was always left disappointed and frustrated.

Many of the reviewed plugins usually have limited features or were developed by people that never ran a hotel and don’t know what a plugin should actually accomplish.

AweBooking Plugin – A Good Alternative for Small Properties

For the last couple of months I have been eyeing AweBooking, a premium WordPress plugin that is supposed to accomplish a lot. After playing with it for a few days it does look like a very good product.


So after thinking about it I have decided to make all HermesThemes themes compatible with this plugin (except Castello). All current HermesThemes customers will be able to download the plugin directly from our website, from the Member’s Area, just like you did with the purchased themes.


For a general presentation of the plugin’s back-end (admin panel) you can check the screen-shots displayed in the documentation page: How to Set Up AweBooking Plugin.

If you want to see how this plugin works live, please check how it works in some of our themes: in Caballero, in HomeRent, in Pinotage, in Imperial, in Majestic, in Palazio.

In my opinion this plugin will work well for people with small properties with low traffic. If you get 2-3 bookings a week or if you rent out just one property, then this will be fine. You will have to manually take care of the availability calendar, but it is acceptable for seasonal properties with not too many customers.

But if you run a hotel with 10+ rooms and want things to be more organized and automated, then you should consider signing up for one of the specialized reservation and property management systems.

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How to Respond Properly to Online Hotel Reviews Fri, 11 Mar 2016 13:57:07 +0000 How do most travelers make up their mind when booking a hotel stay? They check reviews on sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp,, and Facebook. According to a 2014 study made by TripAdvisor and PhoCusWright, 77% of travelers reference reviews before […]

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How do most travelers make up their mind when booking a hotel stay? They check reviews on sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp,, and Facebook.

According to a 2014 study made by TripAdvisor and PhoCusWright, 77% of travelers reference reviews before choosing a hotel. 80% read 6-12 reviews and 73% look at photos by other travelers before booking a room.

Most hotels are concerned about online Hotel Reputation Management. But do you know exactly how you should respond to online reviews?

Why it’s important to respond to online reviews the right way.

For hotels, it’s incredibly important to reply to online reviews. According to the TripAdvisor study, 62% of travelers say that management responses to reviews make them more likely to book a stay at a hotel.

But you also need to reply to them in the right way. Particularly, 87% of travelers had an improved opinion of a hotel if they read an appropriate management response to bad reviews.

87% of travelers had an improved opinion of a hotel if they read an appropriate management response to bad reviews.

In any case, when replying to online reviews, remember that online is forever.

Not replying at all or replying in the wrong way could hurt your brand and business. Ultimately, a bad review can spread and cause severe damage to the reputation of your hotel.

Besides, responding to reviews is an excellent opportunity to respond in a way that builds your brand. You can do this by highlighting what your hotel stands for and show some personality.

How to properly respond to online reviews

Bad reviews can feel like a personal insult, especially if you’re a small family-owned hotel. However, it’s crucial that you put your ego aside when responding to reviews.

Ignoring or lashing out at unhappy visitors is never a good idea.

This also applies to situations where you suspect that the review is false.

According to the TripAdvisor study, 70% of travelers are less likely to book a hotel with aggressive and defensive replies to reviews.

70% of travelers are less likely to book a hotel with aggressive and defensive replies to reviews.

The question is: how do you properly respond to online hotel reviews?

First things first:

You need to have a game plan in place.

That way, you always know how to handle reviews and you’re consistent when replying to them.

When you respond, remember that your customers are not looking for perfection. In fact, consumers are suspicious of businesses with nothing but five-star ratings.

Instead of exclusively relying on star reviews, they look at the content of the reviews.

If your business comes off as personable, relatable, polite, professional and nice, potential visitors will notice this. At least to some extent, your reply will help them form a positive image of your hotel.

How to reply to positive reviews

Replying to positive reviews should be easy, right? Occasionally, hotels and other businesses get this wrong.

When responding to a positive review, you should only thank them for their review.

Don’t make a follow-up offer, give them a gift or anything else. Ultimately, you might annoy your already happy customers or come off as trying to bribe them.

Here’s a good example of how you should respond to a positive review:

Example of a Good Response to a Positive Review

The hotel representative simply thanks the guest for the review and welcomes him or her back.

How to reply to negative reviews

When you respond to negative reviews, you want to be extremely careful with your reply.

Your customer is already disappointed and by responding in a way that makes you seem rude or disinterested, the situation can escalate from bad to disastrous.

Keep your reply simple:

Thank your customer for the review and for the business. Be as specific as you can about the customer’s experience. Include changes that you’ve implemented after receiving the feedback.

For example, if a wedding was held at your hotel and a guest complains about dust in his or her room, you could thank the guest for staying at your hotel and for the feedback. Then, congratulate the newlyweds, compliment their beautiful wedding and let the customer know that you’ve taken action on his or her review and put in extra effort to ensure that the rooms are clean.

To illustrate the difference between a good and a bad reply to a review, let’s take an extreme example: bed bugs.

Few negative reviews can turn off visitors as easily as a review complaining about bed bugs.

So how do you respond to these reviews in a way that at least helps win back future visitors’ trust?

Let’s take an example of a bad response:

Example of a Bad Response to a Negative Review

Notice how the hotel representative questions the guest’s review and experience?

This is something you don’t want to put out there, even if you suspect that the review is false. Chances are that other customers won’t trust that you take the problem very seriously.

On the other hand, here’s a reply that you want to use for your own hotel:

Example of a Good Response to a Negative Review

Not only does the hotel representative profoundly apologize for the guest’s experience, he also explains the measures the hotel takes to prevent similar situations. He then offers the guest a complimentary stay. Note that you don’t have to – and shouldn’t – offer gifts for all bad reviews. But for issues as serious as bed bugs, it’s a good way of showing that your hotel cares about its guests.


Online hotel reviews are of major importance when hotel visitors book their stay.

When you get feedback, you should always respond in a manner that shows that you’re personable and that you’re there for your guests.
Instead of taking feedback personally, consider what you can learn from it. After all, feedback is invaluable to any business.

The next time you get negative feedback, think about this: how can you use the feedback to help your guests have the best possible stay at your hotel?

Further reading:

Want to learn more about how to respond appropriately to online reviews?
Check out these resources to understand how you can best serve your customers:

Proper customer service

Crisis and reputation management

Consumer psychology

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Hotel Photography Tips and Tricks from Professional Photographers Wed, 17 Feb 2016 11:11:26 +0000 In today’s article I would like to continue talking about the importance of good photography for a hotel or a bed & breakfast. I have reached out to some professional and very talented photographers asking them to share their interior […]

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In today’s article I would like to continue talking about the importance of good photography for a hotel or a bed & breakfast. I have reached out to some professional and very talented photographers asking them to share their interior photography tips. I hope the advice below will help some of you improve your photography skills.

You can also read our previous article: Photography Tips for Taking Better Hotel Interior and Architecture Photos.


Simon Garcia is a professional architecture photographer from Barcelona, Spain.

For me it’s essential to work with Tilt-Shift Lenses.

Wide views with very angular lens can give information but you have to choose very well the point of view so as not to deform objects. These views may not be the most attractive images but are necessary, even if objects in the corners of the frame will suffer from distortion.

Casa de les Lletres

Photo by: Simon Garcia

With medium lenses you can select what you show and be more intentional in order to transmit the atmosphere.

Try not to position the camera too high, because you will show a large white surface of the bed.

If there are windows you will have to take multiple bracketed shots for lights and shadows and blend them in post. Thin curtains on the windows will help remove brightness in the scene.

Casa de les Lletres

Photos by: Simon Garcia

Wrinkles are horrible to correct in post, so spend some time arranging the bed and the curtains before starting the shoot.


Beatrice Pilotto is a young rising photographer operating all over Italy.

My personal advice is to ALWAYS take photos with natural light and turn-off the artificial light in the room! This way the image will be more fresh, soft and white!


Photos by: Beatrice Pilotto

As for camera lenses, for a good interior photo you will need a wide-angle lenses (16mm – 35mm). The image becomes “open” and you can include more details of the room into the shot.


Pieter Naessens is a professional photographer based in Australia.

I think one of the most important tips would be that the photographs should reflect the brand that the hotel wants to portray without being too obvious about it (subtle hints, rather than “in your face” branding).

Another general good tip is that the more input you bring to the table as a client, the better the results will be. I mean, if you brief your photographer really well, this will help her/him to create better results suited to the client’s needs. In other words: the better you explain and the more time you take to explain your photographer what it is you are after, the nicer the end result will be.


Photo by: Pieter Naessens

This could mean sourcing existing photographic examples, making up drawings of certain angles, telling him/her which areas are important to you, how many shots per room you are after, if the shots should be “horizontal” of “vertical, if the images will be used in a specific layout, if the images are going to be used for print and/or web use, etc…


Lorenzo Vecchia is an Italian photographer based in Barcelona, Spain.

Don’t force the setting, in most of cases less is better.

Make sure the room is clean and tidy, no stuff around etc. After that, you can add a touch of presence if you wish (example: a breakfast, a pot of coffee and an open magazine, etc). But don’t force the setting, in most of cases less is better.

Shoot as less wide angle as you can. Sometimes we don’t realize we still can step a little backward and use less wide angle. This makes a big difference because wide angles distort interior spaces and it’s better to not overdo it.


Photo by: Lorenzo Vecchia

Try to catch the best natural light: this make a big difference. A ray of light on the bed is always nice to see. Try to spend some time guessing the best moment for shooting a room according to the sun’s position.

For the night picture, shoot the fully lit building a few minutes before the sky gets completely dark.

If you shoot exteriors, try to shoot both day/night, they both create a different feeling and atmosphere. For the daytime picture, make sure that the sun is in the best complementary way, usually early in the morning is best for shooting exteriors. For the night picture, shoot the fully lit building a few minutes before the sky gets completely dark.


Ron Blunt, an award-winning British photographer with a career spanning over 30 years.


One of the most crucial aspects of hotel photography is styling. A good stylist is part editor, part designer. Someone who can translate the design personality of a hotel.

Lively modern botanical’s and just-right details warm up sterile spaces, making them inviting. Furniture placement is also critical. It’s an art form to compose beautiful photographs, and a strong creative collaboration between photographer and stylist (like the one between Ron Blunt & his wife, Keleigh Swan) results in finely-crafted images of the highest level.

Hotels need to build styling into their photo budgets.


Photo by: Ron Blunt


Hotels should feel comfortable, shifting guests’ mood through Architecture & Design. Good design inspires productivity, encourages relaxation, and creates a social vibe. A successful hotel makes a guest feel like he/she is part of something larger: a location, style, or social scene. Photographs must capture this. That means dynamically carving out spaces with well-styled, architectural compositions that reflect the brand.

Thompson Playa del Carmen

Thompson Playa del Carmen. Photo by: Ron Blunt


And, you need nice light! Few photographers are stellar at lighting these days. No one is taught, really.

It takes a lot of lighting to make a room look like it’s not (artificially) lit.

Ron’s background includes formal photographic education in England, and this has served him well. His eye is ultra-sensitive to lighting conditions, but he also has the technical skills required to properly light a space – and to troubleshoot problems as they arise.

In hotels – especially guest rooms, lighting is a big factor. You need a photographer with excellent lighting know-how. Ron says, “It takes a lot of lighting to make a room look like it’s not (artificially) lit.”


Tanja Milbourne is a professional photographer from Australia.

The #1 advice would be to hire a professional photographer that knows his/her job.

Tanja’s quick tips for shooting interiors:

  • Make sure the room is neat and tidy – this will save time in post-processing.
  • Use a wide angle lens.
  • Take multiple bracketed photos for post-processing.
  • Learn about HDR (High Dynamic Range imaging) for post.

Piero Fabbri is a professional photographer from Venice, Italy.

My number one suggestion would be to take the time to involve as much as they can the photographer in the atmosphere of the hotel/b&b/resort. This way the photographer will have a better chance of translating into pictures their idea and their vision.

In Conclusion

I think that one of the key takeaways from this article is this: the photography should reflect the value of the business. If you value your business and you provide high value to your customers, then you shouldn’t rely on photos taken with your iPhone or low-resolution photos from 10 years ago. You should update and invest in photography the same way you invest in better sheets, furniture maintenance, etc.

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Photography Tips for Taking Better Hotel Interior and Architecture Photos Tue, 09 Feb 2016 05:15:50 +0000 Maybe the number one advice in photography, or in any other place for that matter, is to trust your intuition. We all have it and it is a very powerful tool.

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This is a guest post by Ronald Kreimel, a Swiss freelance photographer specialized in architecture and automobile photography.

You can follow Ron on his website ( and on Facebook.


Maybe the number one advice in photography, or in any other place for that matter, is to trust your intuition. We all have it and it is a very powerful tool.

But, in order to steer our minds the right way, preventing us from too many often frustrating trial and error situations, we have to collect information that has, hopefully, been proven to work.
Tapping into the knowledge that is out there plus a good amount of experimentation is key.

Since it is clear what the content of the photographs is going to be and why those pictures are needed, namely to present your own or your clients hotel in an inviting way, it is much easier to focus on the important things.

Get some inspiration and build Your visual vocabulary

Before starting out, have a look around the internet, thumb through magazines and books and get to know what’s out there and what might suit your needs. Don’t be discouraged by the enormous amount of photographs available at Your fingertips. The one thing that will bring you clarity, whether You are a photographer that is starting out or a hotelier wanting to have a go at photography yourself, is to actually grab the camera and take the photographs. One way or the other, you will have to invest money (to hire a photographer) or time (if you want to take the pictures yourself).

Taking photographs of any building is a great chance to rediscover a place and can be a great motivation to fall in love with a building all over again.

However, a great deal of experience is needed to successfully apply many of the techniques you may see online or in print. And the most daunting might be the use of flashes. So right of the bat, lets shed some light onto this and also how you may go about it with just a camera on a tripod.

Available Light or Additional Lighting

In architectural photography (if the client is the architect himself), photographing interiors with the available light (daylight and/or existing interior lighting) is often very welcome or even the only way to go.

But, if You decide that Your photographic career-path will lead mainly to hotel/interior photography, as opposed to doing work for architects and/or editorials for magazines (that work often with available light), getting used to artificial light is indeed very important and can not only add greatly to the atmosphere in the picture but can sometimes prove to be necessary.


Photo by: Ronald Kreimel

One way around it has been the use of HDR (High Dynamic Range imaging). Often frowned upon, this now digital technique has been applied for a long time. And it can, unless you plan to create some extreme imagery, produce delicate, close to life impressions of interiors. It is surely too big of a topic to cover here. Aspiring photographers will be quite familiar with it. If not, have a look at it. The success of it very much depends on how strong it is applied. But if You are not very proficient in digital retouching and have to rely mainly on “creating the photo in camera”, no worries.
And this is where a good camera comes in very handy.

A Good Camera

Surely, it is true that You can make a great photograph with any camera, and a pro or talented enthusiast will use the abilities and character of any camera to his advantage. But modern digital cameras have a trump card that can be played by pro’s and non-pro’s alike. Namely the quickly advancing capabilities of their sensors – especially the ones in mirror-reflex cameras. And whoever has a digital camera most likely has some version of Photoshop or Lightroom at hand.

Compared to the earlier digital cameras and some of the pocket-type digital cameras available now, modern sensors allow for much greater adjustments when opening a RAW-File in either Photoshop or Lightroom. Especially the highlights and shadows can be adjusted greatly to even out the values of the image. Plus, it can create a very modern look that will suit many types of hotels.

And if, for whatever reason, You are not at all versed in digital retouching, break no sweat, You can still get great images. A look at the next section “Available Light” may be encouraging. If, however, You are an aspiring hotel photographer that wants or needs to apply artificial light, especially flashes, but haven’t had much experience with flash photography, make sure You have
some practice under Your belt before heading out to photograph for a client.

Do the practicing in your spare time and build a good portfolio. Getting to know new equipment and techniques while on location and the clock ticking is a bit adventurous to say the least. You might get lucky, but the time and concentration needed to figure out unfamiliar equipment and what it does might be better invested in capturing additional photographs and highlights of the hotel that might otherwise be overlooked. Of course, if you photograph your own hotel, its an altogether different story.

Available Light

Its the basis on which to work on.

Many stunning photographs of interiors have been made with the available light only!

Knowledge about digital retouching might transform your pictures greatly. Learning how to see and capture the available light might actually call onto the artist inside yourself much more than dealing with lots of technical equipment. Instead of bringing a lot of things with you into the room, its actually the room that will provide you with most of the tools you need to make a great photo.

Once You developed a feeling for the natural light that is available, the additional use of artificial light will become much more approachable and You will most likely see that it oftentimes takes very little of it to add to or to complete a photograph.


Photo by: Ronald Kreimel

Again, trust your intuition. Even if you have scouted the internet and have come across imagery that you would like to produce, keep in mind that you might already be a genius at something that you haven’t even considered yet. A look at the internet might be a great motivation. But it can also be very confusing and make you forget the things that you are already good at.

So, as a starting-out photographer, just to be safe, get to know what the hotelier would like to have. If his wishes seem technically out of reach (or out of budget), show him what you can do with some of your past or even personal works.

The other way around, if you are the hotelier, have a look at the photographers work or at least have a talk with him to agree on something that works for both. Certainly, some larger hotels and especially hotel-chains do often have a specific look to their
images and need a photographer who can hit the mark with his work. On the other hand, many smaller and cozy places very often allow a much more intimate and personal approach.

Dealing with harsh contrasts

One reason lots of people shy away from photographing interiors is the strong value changes between the lit and shadowy areas.

Modern cameras can handle this pretty good to some extent as mentioned above. But if the contrasts are too much (light coming from the windows versus the dark areas), either keep the windows out of frame or draw the curtains or lower the shades. In any case, turn on the interior lights. It will not only lighten the interior a bit more, but also add to the atmosphere. And unless the room has a fantastic view, having the window as a dominant feature may not be that important. Focus on the room itself.

If the windows must be visible, consider the time of day. The early mornings or evenings have softer light. Also consider photographing on a cloudy day. It might not sound convincing, but the calmness of the grey daylight will make the light coming from the lamps on the walls or bedside tables very inviting and warm. That way, your room will come to life and be the star.

Choice of lens / Show as much as possible

A wide angle lens will definitely come in handy. Although it may be important to focus on details inside the hotel as well as outside, for the most part You want to show as much as possible in a single image, whether it be the indoors or outdoors.

The less-is-more approach doesn’t entirely apply here.

The reason: when looking at a photograph, viewers can process information very quickly. We are trying to convince people to come and actually visit the photographed space. The less-is-more approach doesn’t entirely apply here. Showing as much as possible in a single shot will come across as honest and will give the viewer a chance to look around and get a feeling for the place. A slight distortion due to the extreme angles of a super-wide lens might be questionable in many peoples minds, but if You compose the contents of the image well, it can work beautifully.

Choose Your point of view

Don’t shy away from taking as many trial shots as you need to determine where to place Your camera. Sometimes the photographer and the always tripod-mounted camera might end up in the most awkward place, usually as far back as possible, to take the desired photograph. Checking Your perspective and set-up on the screen or even a laptop is smart. Oftentimes the impression we get by
looking through the viewfinder may not be what will ultimately be seen on a larger screen.


Photo by: Ronald Kreimel

Rearrange the furniture

Once You have found the spot that will work best, start to think more like a stage designer or graphic designer. In fact, type of work is less about “taking” photographs and more about “making” photographs. You are completely in charge, especially on the interior, of how the final photograph is going to look like.

This type of work is less about “taking” photographs and more about “making” photographs.

Unless You are photographing a hotel room where, usually due to lack of space, the furnishings are built in and cannot be moved, feel free to arrange some of the items. This is not intended to make the room appear much different than in real life, but to make the photograph more coherent.

Due to the wide angle of the lens, it may be necessary to place chairs, lamps and tables in the most
questionable ways and at the strangest angles to make them appear correct or harmonious in the picture and keep the overall image in balance. It is a little bit like those 3D-looking drawings or paintings that only look correct from one specific point of view. In our case, its the camera.

A portable flash

A portable flash linked to the camera and usually held by an assistant, might be of great help to brighten up or add interesting touches to the image. But you might be surprised how finished and convincing a photograph looks once it is composed very well.

So if you want or even must use additional lights, first, consider the right time of day and maybe see what you can get done with moving around some of the lamps that are already in the room. Since your camera is fixed on a tripod, and triggered with a remote or cable, you can even have someone assist you in moving things around while you are in the “directors chair”.

Camera height and angle

There is no rule on what will work for you. But the right height of the camera (always sitting on a tripod) can have a massive, oftentimes underestimated effect on the outcome of the picture. So try it out.

Set your camera lower to the ground than usual and maybe keep the lens just above the height of the tables. It is natural to look down onto the surfaces of beds and tables. Plus, lowering the height of the camera position will reduce the visual impact of many perspective lines and create a calmer impression while still showing all the surfaces.

Of course there are exceptions, no one should keep an artist from trying out things. Many unusual angles can work great and sometimes offer views that can otherwise not be seen. Try out things and don’t shy away from photographing something you like exactly as you see it standing there. Many pictures that might not work by themselves, but they may be a star when either entirely or partly used in the right media.

Consider what format You are taking the pictures for

In addition to choosing how much you want to show in a single image, it will not only help but may be a great inspiration to know how the images are ultimately going to be used.

The choice of website layout, the format of the brochure and other mediums in which Your pictures are going to be shown to prospective customers, can all be a great source of inspiration.

Of course, a good photograph will work in many places, but it doesn’t necessarily have to. First and foremost, in most cases, it has to look great on your website. And even more so than other mediums, a screen on a laptop or tablet in your hand can be like a space within a space. Especially nowadays with clever designs that offer a wide range of possibilities with full-width or even full-screen presentation. And don’t forget that its always ok to crop Your images or show just part of them.

Cropping a wide-angle photograph on the top and bottom can have a great effect. Many distortions will be out-of-frame and the picture will become more calm. Also, our peripheral perception is very natural. Just think of viewing a 70mm presentation at the cinema. Even without 3D, the impression is very three-dimensional.

Sharpness all the way

If a wide-angle lens is used, the sharpness will usually be very even throughout the picture. If you decide for a shorter, more normal lens ranging something from the 30’s to the 50’s for example, the picture will look more natural and calm right from the beginning, which can be the preferred choice in some cases. But the shorter the lens, the shorter the depth of field (more blur in the areas that are not focused on).

This can be pretty, but in hotel photography it is usually avoided unless used for a specific purpose. Remember, a prospective customer wants to look around the room and discover it by himself. A shallow depth of field, indoors as well as outdoors, might distract more than it might add to the experience. Of course there are exceptions.

Keeping large areas out of focus might even give the impression that something needs to be hidden.

Try to keep your images sharp from front to back unless You are focusing on a smaller, specific object. A wineglass comes to mind, or the room keys. But in general, keeping large areas out of focus might even give the impression that something needs to be hidden.

Outside the hotel room

There is much more freedom outside the hotel room. You can roam more and try more angles. Still, keep in mind to get as much information onto the pictures as possible and try to create images that will create spaces on the website or in the brochure. If you really have a lot to show, like big gardens, pools, terraces and what not, feel free to get as much into a single shot as possible. It might look crowded at first, but depending on how you use and crop the picture ultimately will have a massive effect. Try it out. Go big and give the prospective customers something to look at. And once you got the totals in cam, its time to go closer and show the separate places and items.

Don’t try to make things look better than they really are and don’t try to hide stuff.

If, however, Your hotel is not in such an attractive location, don’t try to make things look better than they really are and don’t try to hide stuff. But instead move the camera closer to the entrance for example and show what your establishment has to offer.

As mentioned, finding the right ideas on how to photograph your place can help to rediscover or even redefine the strengths and personality of what it actually is that you offer the customers. All the work of building, furnishing and running a hotel is condensed onto a small number of pictures that will ultimately sell it – something both the hotelier as well as the photographer have to be aware of.


Photo by: Ronald Kreimel

Agree on a shot list

How many pictures need to be taken really depends on either the size of the hotel, the variety of rooms or the budget.

If the budget is small, focus on the important aspects and create the above mentioned establishing shots. For example, a photograph of the exterior of the hotel, the entrance, breakfast room and, of course, the rooms themselves. But this decision is very much up to the hotelier. So make sure You mutually agreed and signed off on a list that states clearly what will be photographed.

Have fun

A famous architect who I neither met or worked before, assigned me a while back to photograph his newest building. The responsibility was huge as the equally huge building was a milestone in the architect’s career. So the pressure was on. To my surprise then, after signing all the paperwork and agreeing on what will have to be photographed, I received a message from the architect who hoped that I would “have a lot of fun” taking the pictures.

This proved to be the single most important aspect of the whole assignment. I trusted myself and was motivated to throw at the assignment whatever I had to offer. The pressure was still there, but it felt more like a great opportunity to take great photographs.

The photographs then went on to secure the building a first prize at the World Architecture Festival.
Therefore… whatever you do, have fun doing it!

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