Many hotels are remodeled every few years in order to stay up-to-date and in-tune with the latest styles and technologies. In this day and age, this exact same mentality should be applied to your hotel’s digital property – your website. The web is constantly changing and to stay on top of current trends and get the most online bookings, your website should be redesigned every 2 years. It is even more important to stay on top of this if you are an independent hotel, as you don’t have the brand name to fall back on. The following is a simple checklist for independent hotels to see if it’s time for your website to get a makeover:
Do you have professional photography?Imagery on your website has never been more important than it is today. Especially in the travel industry, it is a big missed opportunity if you are not incorporating impressive, hi-res photos on your site. Don’t be afraid to splurge on a professional photographer – the results will more than pay off in the end! With the emergence of photo-centric social network Pinterest as well as Facebook’s Timeline, your photography can really go a long way and you may be surprised at the amount of traffic these sources can bring to your site.
Is your site SEO friendly?How old is the content on your website? Do you have meta-description tags or a 301 redirect? Most people don’t click past the second page on Google’s results, so being in the first two pages is imperative. Blogging is another great way to stay relevant and dynamic, not to mention it can give your hotel a voice. Chances are there is so much more you could be doing to increase your SEO and redoing your hotel’s website, if needed, is the best way to start.
Are you using new web technologies?If your hotel’s website still uses Flash, you are really missing the boat! iPads are not compatible with Flash, and as a recent eMarketer study estimated the number of iPad users in the US to be 53.2 million by the end of this year, do you really want to risk such a large market segment seeing a gray, empty box when they visit your website on their iPads? Flash sites also prohibit your content from being “pinnable,” so you can go ahead and rule out any site traffic from Pinterest as well. In addition, any titles, buttons, and navigation should be text styled with CSS as opposed to just imagery. Other new technologies such as HTML5 and CSS3 should also be implemented.
Have you integrated social media?Why not show off your accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.? Besides putting social media icons on your website, you can even take it a step further by incorporating a feed directly from your Twitter or Facebook account onto your website. You never know who may be inspired to book at your hotel because of something you posted or tweeted! Install share buttons so people can share your content easily across their social networks.
Do you have a mobile site?Your website should be optimized for mobile viewing. If it’s not, your site may show up distorted and be difficult or impossible to navigate. There also may be some tabs and pages appropriate for your regular website, but not so much for a mobile site. Having a mobile site is a simple, yet essential aspect of a great hotel website.
Do you have clear calls to action?Calls to action can be effective in converting potential guests into actual guests. Make bold statements and have clear conversion paths. Of course, you also want to have a prominent and functioning booking engine.
Overwhelmed? It may seem like an immense amount of time, work, and money, but it’s really not as bad as you think…not to mention the ultimate turnout is bound to have a big impact on your site traffic and bookings. Feel free to contact us for a free consultation if you think it’s time for a little digital remodeling of your own!