Have you included these essential pages on your website
Earlier this year I helped to judge the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence accommodation categories. Going through the entries is always interesting. It’s a good way to see the latest trends.
This year two web pages were seen as particularly important.
Some businesses performed well, with excellent entries, but if they lacked these two pages we scored them much lower.
Why? Because the world has changed and we all need to keep up with customer expectations.
You’ll be asking which pages
Sustainability and Accessibility.
If your reaction to this was, ‘but I’m not doing enough, what will I write?”, let me reassure you. Almost everything thinks that.
Let’s look at each of the pages in turn.
Sustainability matters more and more to visitors. For some it will be of paramount interest, for others it’s a ‘clincher’ that can help someone make a decision to book, choosing your place over competitors.
You might think that you’re not really doing enough to become more sustainable, or you might be quite proud of what you’re already achieved. The most important thing is to show you’re thinking about sustainability, and have started to make changes.
No-one expects you to be entirely off-grid or the greenest business in the area.
State what you’ve already done, what you’re in the process of doing, and what you’re planning to do. You can be upfront and acknowledge that there’s still plenty more to do, but you can also be proud of any changes you’ve made and any results. It helps to add some photos showing your progress or any innovative steps you’ve taken.
It’s worth thinking about sustainability quite broadly – not just considering your own energy use and recycling. Which local suppliers do you use (to cut down on miles travelled & put money into the local economy)? Which other local businesses can you recommend to visitors?
You can find some more ideas on how be more sustainable here. Just choose the stage you’re at and see the actions you could take. You’ll probably find that you’re doing more than you might realise so now it’s just a case of mentioning it in your marketing.
When I mention accessibility, many business owners immediately explain to me why their premises are not wheelchair-accessible.
Not all disabled people are in wheelchairs! Disability includes long term illness, as well as sensory impairments. Many disabilities are invisible, yet almost 1 in 4 of us have some kind of impairment. Small, inexpensive changes can make a big difference.
When you make your business more accessible, you become more inclusive and gain access to a market worth £15.3 billion!
The law requires you to make 'reasonable adjustments'. Not all improvements need to be physical or expensive. It’s most important to demonstrate that you’re doing all you can to be more accessible. Adding a page explaining the details of your building and business will help reassure visitors who want to make their own decisions about whether you’re suitable for them. A major cause of frustration for disabled visitors is the lack of information available to them in advance of visits.
92% of disabled people don't feel confident about visiting new places. 93% will try to find accessibility information about a place before they visit, and over half won't bother visiting if they can't find it. The good news is that 87% will return to places with good accessibility.
There are two simple actions you can take right now:
1. Create an accessibility guide - more info here
2. List your business on Euans Guide - more info here
There's plenty of support available. The VisitBritain/VisitEngland advice hub is a good place to start.
Once you’ve created these pages, don’t forget to make regular mentions of them in your social media.