The transition process from old to new site has been slowed down considerably, mainly for the following reasons:
First various hiccups and days down at our ISP provider. I must say that I am very disappointed with them. After more than two years hosting my blog Happy Hotelier without hardly any such problems, I decided to move my sites to them and then all of a sudden I count 4 whole days of non service for various reasons in the past three months. Not acceptable. Off course I’m looking for alternatives, but haven’t found them yet….
Secondly I’m having troubles with my channel manager. “What is a channel manager?” you will ask. A channel manager is a way of keeping your room inventory up to date in one place. From that inventory there are several sites where the rooms can be booked. If, as a small hotel, you don’t maintain your inventory in one place, the risk is high that you are getting overbooked. If you like to maintain a top level of service, you will understand that you will be having a lot of egg on your face if guests come with a reservation to find you have no rooms available for them. I believe that would be the worst possible experience for a guest
Still I haven’t decided about the language issue. I have a feeling that at least there should be a mirror of this site in the Dutch language, my native language, because when I look at the Dutch Google translations of this site, it doesn’t make sense. I fear the same with other languages…but a new version of the plugin has arrived. Let’s see whether that works better.
Design issues. There is a new version of the framework for this site to arrive soon. Hopefully I need less hacking around with that new version than I need to do now to further the site’s look and feel
One of the major issues is the widget for the availability of our suites. I want to incorporate that on every page of this site in a manner that is easier for our visitors…I need more asking around to get what I want
And finally a very good reason: We are getting more and more guests in the first three months of 2010!
After the unpleasantness of the hack and other duties, I just had some time to consider the color scheme of the new site. This is very easy to do and very easy to change with the Thesis theme I’m using.
I’ve made a screen shot of the soon to be old site that served us so well for over 8 years. I was so proud of it, because:
Much thought had gone into:
Very fast loading, essential when many people were still on very slow internet connections, but even essential now with high sped internet access of nowadays: People tend to get less patient.
Showing as many photos as possible without slowing down the loading speed of the page. We preloaded them..nifty.
Address and telephone numbers of Haagsche Suites on every page for easy reference for our guests.
Even the e-mail address was always shown, despite everybody warning against it. Mail spam had to be handled with spam filters in our mailbox.
When applied, I thought the drop-down menus were a killer application. They enabled us to keep all the links within the one-page-without-scrolling principle we tried to maintain. The only disadvantage of a drop-down menu is that not every user appreciates it. I’ll have to think about that as well here.
The color scheme worked fine. Easy to read and just a bit different of the rest of the hotel sites. Before going wild on colors I will just bring the colors her close to the old scheme.
One of the big brain breakers is how to have your site in two languages. We used to have an English language landing page and each page linked to the Dutch equivalent and vise versa.
Bear with me:-)
What is wise for the new site: To concentrate all languages at one url here (the .com one) or to put the English language part at the url here with the .com extension and the Dutch language part at the url with the .nl extension? Do you have any ideas?
Again I’ve revamped the site. Now it has a static home page and dynamic blog posts. Apart from the lay out and the logo this seems the set up we are going to work with for a while. This time the main concern was to have the availability and reservation calender up front as those in the know tell me that that is a necessity for a landing page of a hotel site.
I’ve added Translator pro. Translator pro is an automatic translation plugin for WordPress. It is not ideal, because the translations are machine translations and not very accurate. However, being a small hotel, we cannot afford the fees for real translations. At the same time the content of this site will change frequently. Translator pro currently offers translations for 42 languages. I’ve enabled some.
Translator pro offers two ways of creating translated pages. One is to store the translated pages as temporary html pages and the other is to store them into the WordPress database. For the moment I use the former way, as I’m afraid the database might become too bulky to handle when making backups. We’ll see.
Translator pro also caused me to change servers first before diving into this adventure of creating a WordPress based website for Haagsche Suites. When testing it last year over at Happy Hotelier it proved to take so much space on the server and also to take so much time to load, that the change of server was imperative.
Today I managed to upgrade this blog to WordPress Version 2.9. I’m not sure it is because of this update, but certain errors now have disappeared.
It snowed in the Netherlands. Snow in the Netherlands is not strange in itself, but it happens seldom that we get 10-15 inch of snow in one day. So I took the opportunity to take some photos of the garden with this layer of snow and decided to make a Season’s Greeting card of one of the photos.
In addition I have now some time to devote on the development of this blog.
I haven’t posted for some time, because of several developments with the two other blogs. The main development is that I changed my Dutch hosting company that hosted the Haagsche Suites site. The two blogs were already hosted by my present Dutch hosting company, but there was a dire need to change server at their site for various reasons among which was my desire to have the three blogs hosted in a PHP MySql version 5 environment, the most preferred environment for self hosted WordPress blogs nowadays.
Those migrations I did a bit clumsily myself. With as a result me manually editing a couple of thousand posts. I’ve not finished that project yet, but at least to an extent that I am able to go on with this project.
Originally it was my idea to move from Haagsche Suites.nl to this haagschesuites.com site. Unfortunately that never materialized before we closed Haagsche Suites on December 20, 2013.[edited December 19,2013]
What was Haagsche Suites?
It was a luxe boutique hotel (or B&B or private guest house) with 3 suites in a terraced townhouse in The Hague, The Netherlands. It’s now in its eighth year of operation.
Why are you constructing a hotel website based on WordPress blogging software?
There are several reasons:
For over 7 years we have maintained a static site in the English and Dutch language only at HaagscheSuites.nl. This site I’ve set up my self in 2002 with the help of Willem Vos, who runs the site Weekend Hotel. It’s about time to revamp the site. To my view relaunching it as a static site would be no option.
For over 5 years I’ve gathered blogging experience in English as Happy Hotelier, as co author of the Dutch language Weekend Hotel Blog and at a separate blog, Chair Blog, one of my hobbies. These blogs have received recognition in their respective fields. In addition I’ve been building up rapport with numerous people from all over the world, primarily in relation to travel, both Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Consumer (B2C). Now I would like to apply that what I have learned and am about to learn to a real hotel website with integrated blog.
From my blogging experience I’ve learned that hotels should adapt to social media. So rather than developing a completely new static site and – bang – launch it out of the blue, I would like to make this a more gradual process. One that our guests and onlookers can be part of. Be it by offering comments, by looking what I’m doing, or by spreading the word. Web 2.0 is about sharing, isn’t it? In a way it is a social media experiment in itself.
If you are running a small business as we do, you have a limited budget for your web presence. Starting the web presence of a businesses can easily be done with a blog only nowadays. You can start with hosting your blog for free at one of the free blog portals. It will save you tremendously. We had our self hosted presence already, so I’ll not be changing back to a blog portal, but replace the static site with a combined site. It is one way of showing fellow hoteliers how they could start or change their web presence.
The WordPress blogging platform has rapidly evolved over the past years and to my view is about ready now to take over. In addition Google is rapidly changing its search algorithms from Keywords and meta data to real time content. To stay in business and get Google and the other search engines finding you, you need to refresh your content frequently. With WordPress you can much easier do that than wit a static site.
I had a couple of things on my wish list for a revamped site of Haagsche Suites:
First: a little widget throughout the site to make online booking much easier for our guests. In our soon to be old site the online booking engine is a bit hidden and many times guest call me for explanation which shouldn’t be necessary.
An easier way of updating the site without being forced to be hacking around in web code each time.
The ability to provide more local knowledge of The Hague in an easier way
The ability of incorporating guest reviews in the site in a more natural way than a guest book (which is so 1990ies). In a blog guests can simply leave a comment, and search engines are likely to pick them up much better and quicker nowadays.
I would like to publish more photos and even -be it at a later stage- (more) video on the site.
I would like to have an easier way of translating content of the site without the high costs involved with hiring a translator…
A way of telling the (hi)story of Haagsche Suites in an easy way:
With the Thesis framework that I use as a theme for this blog it is reasonable easy to make style changes to the site, so we can for example start to think about a different lay out for different seasons
Our adventure with Haagsche Suites started already in the fall of 1999 with the acquisition of the terraced house that now contains Haagsche Suites. The official opening was in fall 2002. Both data were long before blogs – as we know them nowadays – existed at all. All photos I have from that period are still in analog form. This will induce me to digitize them and show them to you. Many of our guests appear to be curious to know our history as soon as they are over their amazement when they have entered Haagsche Suites. Stories from the past will bear the time stamp from when they occurred. So don’t look surprised if You’ll see posts appear dated with a time stamp dated long before this post.
I’ve started this site three or four times from scratch and have faced several server problems. I hope it will remain calm on the server front for some time now.
We had owned the haagschesuites.com url all the time. Until I created this separate site, there was a simple but efficient “‘301 redirection” in place from HaagscheSuites.com to HaagscheSuites.nl: A 301 redirection means so much as when you clicked the site with the .com extension you would be redirected to the site with the .nl extension. (I will be addressing the “simple” part later)
During the transition HaagscheSuites.nl will remain our main site until I have revamped this site to an extent I’m satisfied it can take over from HaagscheSuites.nl.
Again: You will see many posts which will have an older date stamp than this post. That is because I have a lot to tell about the past. If I don’t forget I’ll ad a time stamp like this: