Your hotel website should be as welcoming as your hotel lobby. While repeat business, brand loyalty, and word of mouth still play an important part in the hotel industry, today’s customers are increasingly shopping for value and are researching numerous hotel sites before making booking decisions.
For customers who find your property via an online search, your site’s design quality provides a powerful first impression and promotes trust if the site is well done. For this reason above all, your next hotel website should be creatively designed with usability and conversion in mind.
The first thing to consider is your target audience. Hotel websites receive a lot of traffic from a wide variety of customers. Your site may need to appeal to everyone from newlyweds to seasoned business travellers to international guests.
If your hotel is already part of a chain, you may have your domain and overall website template chosen by the corporate office. If not, you’ll want to carefully consider your domain and choose one that is easy to remember and simple to spell.
Your website reflects the image you want to project to potential customers and should be consistent with your existing branding. Choose fonts, color schemes and text that complement your overall marketing strategy, while emphasizing the property as unique, especially if it’s within a portfolio of other hotels.
Plan and Design
Explore your competitor’s websites and check out award winning travel sites for inspiration. The Web Marketing Association names a travel website award each year and the Travel Marketing Awards feature a digital marketing category. Looking at other well-designed sites helps you brainstorm for your own.
If your property is particularly picturesque, you may want to include a large photo of your hotel on your home page. If your location is stunning, focus on that instead. Using beautiful high-resolution images grabs a user’s attention, while suggestively offering good reason for a potential customer to choose your business.
Focus on simple design with minimal text and lots of photos. Also, consider adding a short video to allow for a virtual tour. Include detailed information about the location of your property and nearby attractions such as shopping and dining, conference centers, and airport access. An interactive map lets visitors explore the surrounding area before they book.
Another very effective method of hotel marketing is a storytelling approach. Blog entries, social media, photos and video mixed with customer feedback paint a vivid picture for prospective guests about what it will be like to stay at your property. Finally, include very clear contact information and ensure that your online booking system is easy to use and mobile responsive.
Develop and Execute
Once you have a good idea of how your site will look, it’s time to consider technical details that affect usability and conversion rates. Utilize SEO strategies so that your property shows up prominently across search engines. Monitor the analytics and track search patterns in order to maximize your online marketing budget.
To implement an effective local SEO strategy, make sure that you follow best practices for Google’s local search algorithm. You may also want to explore partnerships with nearby businesses such as restaurants and attractions. Affiliate links are another way to drive local traffic, letting area businesses earn a small referral fee for sending visitors to your site.
It’s not enough in today’s competitive market to simply build a great site and expect visitors to come. You also need a social media strategy based on effective content marketing. Launch your blog at the same time as your main site and have content ready to go.
Post regular updates and include area events, discounts and time sensitive offers. Always keep the news up-to-date on your site. Promote your posts via Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Instagram entices followers, visually. Focus on LinkedIn if your primary target guests are more corporate, business travellers. The key is to keep your site and social media accounts running like a well-oiled machine with everything updated in sync, on time and often. Visitors notice stale content.
Make sure your finished site is mobile friendly and downloads quickly. Check the site on various devices to make sure the photos still look great, the contact information is prominently displayed, and the reservation process is simple to manage on the small screen.
Schedule a “health check” for your hotel website regularly, scan for broken links, anything out-dated or incorrect and fix issues immediately. A website is not a static asset. It should always be changing to reflect new blog posts, seasonal updates, and tweaks based on analytics.
A great hotel website effectively delivers your business’s message to a wide audience and encourages visitors to book a stay. Working with a high quality hotel web design company that will commit to your goals and populate results is often the most efficient way to create a great website that attracts and motivates potential clients.