Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Half a day's holiday cottage availability looks better than no availability

I've been fiddling with our holiday cottage website again, making what I hope is a useful but effective tweak to the holiday availability calendar.

Old-style holiday booking calendar for our Brittany Gite
When I first created the website I was in a bit of a quandry as to how to show what dates were booked and what were free. I settled on graying out and drawing a line through the booked dates which looked OK but on the day that our guests left or arrived I had a bit of a problem as to how to represent this.

In the end I settled on graying out the nights that the cottage is booked, so the day that our guests were leaving was always left as showing available (because the guests leave in the morning).

This kind of works OK but still has a problem with the first day of the holiday booking because it makes it look like that date is completely booked. In reality the afternoon and evening are booked for our new set of guests but the Gite is still available for the morning.

Where this really becomes a problem is as the diary starts to fill up and there's less and less availability. In the example above from June 2010 we've actually got a free week available from Saturday 5th June through to Saturday 12th June, but as the 12th is marked as booked it's not all that obvious that this is the case. Sometimes I do get booking enquiries where the diary is mis-read, so for instance I'll get an enquiry asking for Saturday 5th June through to Friday 11th June, and I always reply back to offer the extra half day as well.

And of course if I get some customers mis-reading the diary I'm sure there are also some potential customers put off because they think we've not got availability for when they want their holiday.

New-style booking calendar showing half-day holiday cottage availability
Well I've found a solution to the problem and rather than just using a solid colour to show whether a particular date is available or not I've hit on the idea of using a background image to show the half-day availability.

Now by appropriate colouring of the left and right halves of the holiday calendar date I can show much more clearly what dates are available and what are already booked. So using the example week in June you can see much more clearly that we're vacant from Saturday afternoon through to the following Saturday morning.

I experimented with different types of half-and-half shading, with diagonals and with vertical and horizontal shading before ending up with this design. I also asked the boss (Liz) what she thought and was given the official "seal of approval" that this was clear and simple.

Full (and clearer) availability for our holiday cottage is now showing on our booking diary!

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home