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This may have been suggested way back in the discussion...? not sure... but I'll say it anyway. You mention you're in Burgundy - well, it has it's own, strongly wine-influenced cuisine so you could offer a Taste of Burgundy as a cookery course and research a number of typical recipes from your region - libraries etc will help or I'm sure you have older neighbours who might part with their old recipes. Try and source main ingredients locally and tie in the cooking by matching local wines with the menu. Perhaps do an "ancienne recette" half-day and a more modern take on the same things for another half-day session. What gets cooked is eaten at lunchtime or as the evening meal. It would take some research - but very interesting research - and then you're directly tying in what you're offering with your own region / locality.

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One thing which I don't think has been mentioned is that you are using the Eurostile font for your site. This is not a font that comes already loaded on most people's machines so they would substitute a default font (probably Arial). For instance - I have Eurostile on my laptop but my OH does not have it on his - your site looks different on each machine. Unless you make your text a graphic (which you probably wouldn't want to do as it limits search engine accessibility) then I would suggest using a standard web font (eg Verdana).

I expect this sounds a bit "picky" but it can make a difference in how professional your site looks.


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I think the website has come on in leaps a bounds. As time goes by you can tweak it here and there to improve and tailor it more to your business.

I am not so sure about the comments on lack of trade. So far this year we have had more bookings than ever before and since March1 have been running between 67 and 92% occupancy with forward bookings looking really good (taken a third more cash than last year). We have very little space left for June, July and August. September is starting to fill now as is October. I think that where you are located is reasonably important (we are a short distance from the Carcasonne to Perpignan main road and in the centre of Cathar Country) as is your marketing.

Advertising is strong and producing results and I have no problems with either Visit France or French Connections. Being registered also helps a lot as we have many people from other European countries where the books are published making reservations. We are now, three years down the line, getting people turn up with the book in their hands looking for accommodation.

We are very happy to take one night stays as many have turned in to three or four night stays or alternatively people coming back for a week or two. We would never charge more for people who stay one night but that's us. Also, contrary to what some have said in the past, have no problems not taking children in as much as it does not appear to have affected our business. We are smokers but only smoke outside as do our guests.

Half board which we are doing for the first time this year is proving very popular across the board but it's not for the shy as its very, very hard work.

You also have to remember that results are regional and much depends on how your region pushes it's self. Languedoc has had a presence at a lot of European events over the last 12 months which helps a lot. When we have had it bad others have had it good, it also works the other way round.

Keep up the good work and I wish you well.

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Cat I have just revisited your website and I think it is delightful, You come accross as really honest people that I would love to stay with, your love of food comes accross perfectly,please let us all know how you get on, there has been so much information on this thread and good advice, I hope you get some more bookings you deserve them.Good Luck.
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Catherine, congratulations for taking what people have said without complaining about it and taking note of it.

I did not see your original site but positives for me are:

No kids

No smoking.

However, if I was looking for accommodation then the negatives are:

Not all en-suite

The bedrooms in the photos do not appeal in the least.

Others have also said this - you are aiming for niche markets and only advertising in main stream markets.

Best of luck


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On Saturdays I go to Putney School of Art for a pottery course. They run painting and drawing classes and other adult education courses. The school has a notice board advertising all kinds of things - a painting studio in Cornwall etc..In your position I would look to have a small colourful advert on their notice board as amateur artists are your target audience and this is where some are.

An internet search should turn-up plenty of other adult education / life long learning places - it might be soul-destroying finding them and emailing a PDF ad for them to display on their notice boards but at least you might keep your soul. Bon chance.

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Thank you Paul,

I've tried to remain positive and not responded to what I class as the 'arm chair' viewers, although sometimes it is very tempting!

I have tried to analyse and act upon various suggestions and most have been more than helpful. Thanks to all who have given me thoughtful and positive responses.

I still have a long way to go to improve my site but I'm not terribly computer literate and when someone suggests a change it doesn't happen overnight! It often takes me days to work on the site. Plus, I'm actually living in France which = paperwork, more paperwork, paperwork again, industrial grass, spiders that spin human catching webs and a teenager and a cat and various other life forms that need attention! And I'm also attempting to advertise a cookery experience here in the deepest darkest depths of south Burgundy/Jura, where no one appears to know about. [:'(]

I agree with you and I'm glad you have responded. The photos do not do the bedrooms justice. I just can't quite get the right image! I'm probably going to scrap them but I have taken all comments on board about people wishing to know where they are sleeping. With regards to en-suite... well, the bedroom at the end of the house has a private bathroom next to it that is 3.80 metres x 2.50 metres with a large walk in s-shaped shower, bidet, wash basin, WC, Italian tiles, a couple of exposed beams etc. It is so much nicer than the pokey add-ons in bedrooms, that are classed as en-suite! We decided not to do that to a nice airy bedroom.

The other room has a shower room opposite but the whole area is totally private so why have ensuite? There's no one there to see if you decide to go to the shower room stark naked!!!! And, it's much nicer. No nasty smells in the bedroom after eating my delicious roasted garlic with olive croutons and fromage de chevre, if you know what I mean.

Niche market? Yes. If I had a whole lot of lolly, I'd know exactly where to place the ads! C'est la vie.

Thank for the positive.


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Hi Gus,

Have already done this to loads of UK clubs and USA sites! We've had lots of visitors to our site from the USA but no bookings. I've a PDF here if you would like me to send it across to your club?

With regards to my soul, perhaps I'll rename myself Madame Faustus! Could be my next marketing ploy[6] Well at least it's different. Thanks,


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Coming late to this one. A lot of good points have been made, but if I were looking for a painting holiday and paying a good price for it I would be more tempted if the site was a little better designed and more aesthetically pleasing (colours, fonts etc.), reflecting the professionalism of the product offered. This doesn't mean more bells and whistles, in fact simplifying it would work much better. The links to the tutor's work are too deeply buried - one of the first things I'd want to see would be examples of the standards- it would be good to see something indicative on the first page - a painting of your house maybe.

If it were any other type of holiday it wouldn't be as crucial, but I'd expect to see a quality arts holiday advertised with a well-designed site. Perhaps it would be a good idea to invest in some professional help; your advertising budget is one of the most important aspects of your business. Others have recommended various programs, but a program is merely a tool - having a copy of Excel doesn't make one an accountant [:)] The website is your point-of-sale, whatever method the potential client has used to get there and it's where you'll win or lose the bookings.

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First of all, I so hope that things are improving and that you can make a go of your art classes.

I am a professional artist myself and have my own website. However, while the web is ONE way I make money it is only part of an overall strategy. I do shows where I sell art and take orders.

Speaking from the 'art' Point of view....lots of people want to relax and paint/draw in lovely surroundings. I don't know much about B and B but I do know about the art side of things. It would be a shame to give up the art specialty and just do B and B, as some have suggested. Art is an all year round activity after all.  I think exactly what you offer course-wise needs to be emphasized over and over. And new things added regularly. Think about your target groups. They will probably mainly be 'very' amateur artists who want to improve. These people want help to produce something they can take home....and have it nicely mounted and framed too to show the relatives. One target gruop is the newly retired ?  Another is members of 'local art groups' .There would still be scope to do more 'advanced' courses for different abilites.

Secondly, promote your own work. Have a web-site that shows what you can produce, and that showcases the work previous visitors have produced. Mr Site offers easy web-sites where you can have an on-line gallery and shopping cart for less than £40 a year. Its easy peasy too. People want to be inspired! Thats the main thing with art....possibilities and imagination.

Its unfortunate, but sadly a fact, that people equate excellence with specializing in ONE thing. I wonder if the cooking course and the art courses work against that concept. People may well form a 'jack of all trades' idea about you which is the last thing you are after. I think I'd feel it unlikely that the same B and B was equally excellent in both spheres. Perhaps the good food angle can be used to help the Art side of things simply in terms of the quality of the food offered to the Artists.

Finally I would STRONGLY recommend you advertise in 'Artists and Illustrators' magazine. There are 5 pages of Painting holiday adverts at the back...including quite a few for France. Its an excellent magazine which caters for both proffessional artists and beginners. If nothing else, if you haven't already, then get hold of a copy and see what everyone else is doing and how they advertise. If you can't get hold of a copy let me know and I'll send you one on.


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Catherine... tried e-mailing you a while back but maybe I've an out of date address.

The absolutely vital point that nobody else has picked up is that your site is hosted in America. This of itself is reducing the hits (and thereby direct bookings) by around 90%.

We had our sites in the US for a while too and when we moved it to a European host, the hits went up around 10 fold. And, yes, that does mean that bookings made directly through our site went up by about that factor too (from a low-ish base then to be fair but x10 all the same).

I know that others who've made the US to UK move have experienced significant uplift in site hits too.

Sadly, it's the one factor that virtually nobody picks up on. Yes, it's cheaper to host in the US but on a commercial site you just can't afford that 90% drop in hits. You can get UK hosting (and it's best if it's in London) for around £20/year. It's not necessary to move the domain as you can change the nameservers and thereby speedup the move (it takes a couple of days). Note that 1and1.co.uk actually host in Germany and, yes, it makes a difference: I used to do most hosting via 1and1 and moved some sites to a London based host as an experiment which has taken up the hits about 50-100% as compared to when the same sites were hosted with 1and1 (this is with absolutely no changes whatsoever in the sites). PM if you want the host we're currently using or, for the more technically minded, you can just look up where mascamps.com currently lives.




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Hi Arnold,

No didn't receive your email. Address still the same!

You know I'm definitely not a techie so.....when we signed up with our current hosts we thought they were UK based but they turned out to be from the US.  When I used the internet to search I'm convinced they initially said .co.uk! I'm confused as to what the difference makes ie US or UK hosting. We are getting lots of hits on our site even though I realise it needs improving etc.

So, are you suggesting that if you want UK visitors you use a UK based host and if you want USA visitors you use a USA host?

I need more explanation and what are nameservers?




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I haven't been following all of this thread, but I looked in at the beginning and saw your website.  Just looked again and have to congratulate you on the vast improvement.  You must have been working very hard on it.

I hope your business does well.


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[quote user="mascamps.com"]

I did look at the referrer stats and the like before and after the move and it appears that UK sourced hits on the site were what went up but it was very much an across the board 10 fold jump.[/quote]


And where did all those extra 'hits' come from ?


Nick Thompson

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As this thread now has drifted slightly from the original question, and there is some quite detailed and useful information on website hosting in the last few pages, I'm going to attempt to snip out the web hosting information and post it to a new thread, so that it might be of benefit (and be easier to find) for other members in the future.

I'll lock the original thread while I transfer stuff to the new, to stop new posts flying off into a cyber-black-hole [blink]

EDIT: I've unlocked the thread now, and the web hosting information now has its own thread, here http://www.completefrance.com/cs/forums/1/996062/ShowPost.aspx#996062

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