You might not realize, but your hotel website is the most important distribution channel you’ll EVER possess. It isn’t just potential guests who can browse information about your property, it’s also customers who can make direct bookings and ensure that you don’t have to pay hefty OTA commissions. It might seem like a lot of hard work or taxing at first, but a few tweaks here and there can yield massive results for your business.
Here we want to give you 6 easy ways to create a kick-ass hotel website from the one already existing for your hotel. Let’s dive-in straight away!
1. Keep it Light
If your website is loaded with heavy ‘digital’ content such as crammed up images, too many hosted videos or even long paragraphs of text, it might keep visitors waiting for too long and result in them walking away too soon.
Images are a great tool for capturing your customer’s attention but on the downside, they carry a lot of digital ‘weight’. It’s a good idea to keep it to one image per page wherever possible, making an exception for your gallery, of course!
On pages like galleries, make sure the images only load as people scroll down the page — this reduces load time to a great extent. Alternately, you could pick up pace for your website by compressing images which brings down the digital weight as well.
Videos tend to make your website slower and bulkier. Instead of hosting videos on your hotel website, post them on YouTube and embed them on your website. This way, the videos won’t need to load with the page — instead, they’ll only load when a user is ready to watch. Very often, guests need directions to your hotel and it’s a good idea to show them how to get there using interactive maps. You could accelerate the page loading by placing a ‘map button’ which gets directed to the interactive maps. You could also put up a still image of a map from Google Maps app and link it directly to your hotel’s address, and even include directions in the URL if you like.
Once you have the content in place, it is important to organize it to make ‘scannable’ pages. Highlight whatever content should grasp your customer’s attention using bullets, bolded text and stick to your SEO basics. Don’t just pack your site with hotel specific terms either, make sure you’re considering regional terms as well.
2. Keep Forms Short and Sweet
When a customer engages with you while booking a room in your hotel, or subscribes to your newsletter and updates, you require them to provide you with essential information about themselves to complete the interaction. In doing so, it is important to keep in mind that it shouldn’t be tedious for guests to fill out those forms. As a thumb rule, these forms should be kept short and simple.
Consider what information you absolutely need before proceeding to the next step. For instance, during the preliminary interaction you will only require basic information like their name, email address or phone number. At this stage, you will not need them to provide their credit card number until they reach the payment stage. Keep in mind that the site should convert visitors to bookers.
3. Choose a user-friendly booking engine
First things first — are guests able to book on your website?
Much business is lost when there is no booking engine on the website to book in real-time. Besides making the booking process faster and simpler, you’ll want to ensure an easy time of booking rooms, display available rooms for booking, rates made clear and extras easily added.
4. Provide the Best Possible Rates and Incentivize your Website
According to RateGain, unfortunately, 65%–98% of 4 hotels offer their rooms cheaper on OTA sites rather than on their own. Research shows that most customers would prefer to book directly with the hotel providing they can do so easily and the rates are comparable.
Now that you have a smart booking engine, you can manoeuvre visitors to being bookers. Attract your guests by giving them the best possible price for their package, offer huge discounts when the occupancy is low, add special promotions to returning customers on the hotel’s booking engine. This will increase loyalty and brand perception.
5. Mobile Compatibility
For this reason, it is absolutely essential to provide easy mobile navigation for your hotel’s mobile website. ‘Mobile-optimise’ your site so that it auto-adjusts based on the size of a smartphone. Strategically place call-to-action buttons like ‘book now’, ‘click to view’, and even support buttons like ‘Need Help?’. Don’t forget to ask your guests for their feedback to gain insights on how you can improve your website.
6. Create Backlinks to Hotel Site and Social Pages
Meanwhile, in this wild world of Facebook, Twitter, SEO and analytics, hotels have their own interactive pages that opens up a different channel of marketing. With all of this coming at a negligible cost, hoteliers can speak to customers and advertise their brands on social media. By adding a social button on your hotel’s website you could reach a large audience, build a relationship with them, and carry on with uninterrupted customer service to make consumers feel appreciated and valued while they’re connecting with you on the go.
“Most hotel guests won’t book at a hotel until they’ve looked at its website,” according to Jerome Wise, VP of Global Internet Marketing Services for TravelClick. “The hotel’s website should be its prime sale channel with the lowest cost of sale.” Following these simple ideas will not only change the way your guests book on your website, but also reduce your dependency that your hotel currently has on OTAs.