Your hotel website is absolutely crucial, as it is your digital façade open to the entire world. We all know that first impressions are fundamental in making judgements, and due to the primacy effect, the first visit to your site will remain in your customers’ memories. Even if your customers book through an alternative channel, such as an Online Travel Agent (OTA), they will still visit your hotel website to search for other deals or to find out more information.
It is therefore crucial that your website follows certain principles to stand above the rest. Not only does this positively impact your customers overall experience, it adds to the chance of being booked directly and other possibilities to boost your hotel’s revenue. This article will cover seven of the most important dos for a modern hotel website to be a step ahead of the competition. Keep in mind that online innovations are happening all the time and that your website will need to be frequently updated according to customer behavior trends and technological advances.
Adaptive Design for Every User
People are becoming more confident with online security, through advances in mobile technology, and are therefore much more open to making bookings for their accommodation, tours and activities on their mobile phones. An adaptive design of your hotel website is one that adapts to to whichever medium the customer uses: mobile, tablet, desktop or TV. Nowadays, research shows that more than 20% of bookings are made with a mobile device, and this is an important market niche to stand out in. If your website does not load or respond adequately it will decrease your chances of conversion. Alternately, if it is very convenient to use and attractive on mobile devices, you can easily gain conversions over competitors.
Another key reason for wanting to have an adaptive design, particularly for mobile users, is that it affects SEO. Google is frequently updating the rules for SEO, and one of the major recent updates is based on the website compatibility with portable devices. A major aspect of this is the loading time the site takes. As your audience is potentially worldwide you should optimize your site to have a good mobile speed all around the globe. You can check this with the Google mobile-friendly search tool.
Ease of Navigation, Visual Attractiveness and Language Translation
A site that easily makes conversions will be very easy to navigate, be visually appealing throughout and be user-friendly to audiences around the world due to translated pages. Navigation bars are a common element in most websites, but their placing, fonts and color schemes also have to jive with the rest of the site. On the other hand, they should also stand out. An easy, obvious placing will make any navigation bar more comfortable to use, as people have a natural cognitive affinity to the familiar. It should also be simple and not overcrowded with options. Making use of sub menus and inside pages on the key landing pages will cut away the visual ‘noise’ while also making relevant information accessible.
The main body of your pages want to be emphasizing photographic material that present your rooms and services in the best way. A picture speaks a thousand words, and if you ever doubted the power of strong images, see the ongoing success of magazines in the internet age. The text that is present should be consistent with the overall aesthetic and be concise, delivering your desired message to the customer. If there is missing imagery of your facilities, potential customers will likely search elsewhere for it, resulting in direct conversion losses to third-parties.
Another common feature of many major OTAs is that they have their information available in multiple languages. This is an important point, as you can no longer take it for granted that your customers- if you have a worldwide audience- will be fluent in English. If you have identified a core customer base from a certain language speaking region, it could easily drive conversions to have your information available in the relevant language. Otherwise customers will simply make use of common OTA sites which do have that information available in their language.
Price Comparison Widget and Bold Call to Action
A convenient tool which can fit nicely into the overall scheme of your page presentation is a price comparison widget. Your customer may come to your landing page from any number of media: search engines, social media advertisements, OTA’s or price comparison sites. Your ideal is to get direct conversions, and this is helped along by showing a comparison of your direct booking prices compared to OTA’s. Comparison widgets can present your prices as the best, as well as emphasizing other benefits of booking direct. You can also use this feature to display access to reviews and comments through multiple channels, keeping your customers on your page, while making their decision. Lastly this tool will give you access to statistics that can inform your pricing policy.
On your site, the most important aspect for driving your bookings is the call to action (CTA), the button which says ‘book now’. The CTA plays a major role in growing or reducing conversion rates. It should, therefore, be as prominent and appealing as possible. It needs to draw attention and so both its color and page context are important. It should be of a reasonable size and there are all sorts of visual cues that can direct a visitor’s attention to it. Lines, indicators and tunnel effects all are possible ways to do this. Or perhaps you want to bring in the human factor and have visitors follow a gaze. Again, this can be tastefully accomplished within the aesthetic harmony and overall presentation of the site.
The core of the hospitality service is customer satisfaction and making your customers feel both valued and appreciated is the right way to do this. This can easily be implemented by creating a loyalty programme integrated into your booking engine. A programme that rewards members for booking directly will create value for you via direct sales and value for the customer as someone with affiliation to the hotel brand. Having promotional deals and privileges to members increases the incentive to sign up. Consequently, this will also provide you extra data about your audience, particularly about those guests who show their loyalty to your hotel brand.
Segueing on from this are the customers that have already booked, whether through a loyalty programme, direct conversion or through a third-party, visiting your page to find out more. Offering up an exclusive information section on the site for these customers has similar benefits. You will be able to collect more specific customer data, as well as create a sense of exclusivity and customer satisfaction before they have even arrived. With a good presentation of the hotel’s services, such as the restaurant and spa, you can upsell from this captive platform.
Offers for the Low Season
A discount or another offer of any kind is always something that a traveler loves, regardless as to whether they are a returning customer or not. In fact, this is a guaranteed way to encourage people to become a returning customer. At the very least you will see a rise in conversions during this time, so it is an excellent way to stay in plenty of business during the low season. Having a tool to instantly inform the site visitors of an existing or upcoming offer is essential. Many booking engines now include this feature, but if not, you can work with your IT team to integrate a similar mechanism into your existing booking engine.
You need to be aware of how this will appear to the site visitors and if it will damage the seamlessness of the experience on the site. A pop-up can be useful if done properly, whilst matching the aesthetic of the site and not compromising the ease of navigation. Alternatively, a dedicated CTA emphasizing special offers could be included on the main page, linking the customers through to the latest offer page. Either way, the offer should be made clear to ensure the desired effects.
SEO, Meta Titles, Descriptions and Content
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a core aspect of most businesses’ digital marketing strategies and it plays a huge role in affecting your hotel’s reach to as wide an audience as possible. As mentioned above, there are many factors that influence your SEO and its ranking on any given search, with these rules changing over time. But some characteristics stay the same and continue to be necessary. When you set up your website, you will need to specify the SEO aspects thoroughly and do so in a way that is conducive to optimizing your other channels. This can be done by appropriate writing of meta titles and descriptions for each landing page, as well as the photographic imagery used. Utilizing appropriate keywords in sync with your marketing team’s Social Media strategy will make each channel benefit the other.
Having a strong SEO ranking will benefit you in multiple ways. It will build interest in your hotel and insure that it stays at the top of search engine results, without having to resort to paid advertisements. On the other hand, it will also lower your pay-per-click (PPC) costs on Google Ads and improve your social media performance. These gains will increase exponentially as one builds upon the other.
A powerful way to build on the overall SEO is to develop relevant and frequently visited content. This means having a dedicated Blog which can be used as a promotional platform and an information hub for the local area. This is an excellent way to get customers engaged in the best there is to offer at their destination, as well as promoting your services, all the while raising your SEO rank. Emphasizing the actual experiences of your services and offering rich content is what customers want from this digital service, and it will have the strongest appeal. This can be integrated with any potential affiliate schemes you might have with local service providers, allowing you to increase hotel revenue and provide another point of customer satisfaction. This content should always be accompanied by relevant images and even video.
Alongside a strong SEO is a good social media page for increasing your hotel’s reach and making sure that you get conversions from your target audience. Millions of people across the world are logged on to Facebook and Instagram at any given moment, so it is paramount that they can find your official social media page, either through your landing page, a search engine or the platform’s search function. This can make the overall ethos of the hotel, its style, quality and the reviews of previous customers apparent and accessible. It is also a great strategy to build hype and interest in the hotel throughout the year. A social media strategy will take time to build and develop, but with a strong SEO and active social media presence, the results will be worth it.
Having a strong presence on the web today is as important as having having a beautiful hotel lobby. Your web page is often the first place that your customers see, so it should be easy to navigate and visually attractive. Making use of multiple tools and an appropriate aesthetic will play a large role in getting direct conversion. Spreading your reach and accessibility via SEO and social media will get your hotel brand in front of the right customers and create interest around the hotel and services. Having deals, offers and loyalty programmes will allow you to build a loyal customer base and make sure that your hotel is strong in business throughout the year.