This article originally appeared on Tambourine.
Hotel website design is much more than pretty pictures…
Excuse us for stating the obvious: but of all the hotel marketing tools and tactics that exists today, nothing will ever be more vital and essential to your hotel’s success than your own direct booking website.
Yet, despite its monumental importance, we still see hotels making these same five catastrophic website mistakes that end up costing them thousands in lost revenue.
1. Letting it Stagnate
Remember when websites used to be static online brochures?
Those days are long gone, friends.
Not only is your website the first impression of your hotel and your brand, it’s at the core of every hotel marketing strategy and direct booking effort. Almost every marketing campaign or tool flows from it or to it: your advertising and retargeting efforts, all of your inbound marketing leads, your SEO, your hotel PPC campaigns, your ROI reporting and more.
Treat your hotel website as a software application, not a brochure.
Your amenities, browser standards, email capture forms, booking engine widget integrations and online plug-ins (like live chat) change all the time… and so must your website. If your hotel website is stagnant, chances are your direct booking flow will be as well!
2. Lack of Visually Arresting Imagery
It takes mere seconds to make the wrong first impression.
Have lackluster or outdated photos on your website?
People will automatically assume that your hotel is also lackluster and outdated. Studies show that hotel photography has the power to change a guest’s mind – making them consider a property that before was not in the running or to drop a hotel they were once interested in. Photos aren’t just pretty pictures, they matter to your bookings and your bottom line.
So, dump all the stock photography, delete your old images and establish higher standards for all new photography. Hire a photographer with an established portfolio of hotel or architecture work. Then, dip into your most valuable photographer pool – your own guests. Your guests are Instagramming their favorite moments from their trips, and some are pretty stunning!
3. Failure to Display Social Validation
Guests will always trust other guests over you.
So, you need to harvest the experiences of past guests to sell for you. This means displaying your property’s accolades, magazine awards and other recognizable trust marks prominently on your website, so that guests will immediately see that your hotel is a trusted, proven player. Also, be sure to showcase compelling guest reviews that sum up the best of your hotel experience.
In marketing, this tactic is called social proof. It basically tells potential guests, “Other travelers stayed at this hotel and loved it. You will too.” You can also use social proof to validate your hotel’s value to meeting planners and win more group business.
4. Missing a Meaningful, Local Story
Modern travelers are driven to book based on what lies outside your hotel walls, not just what’s inside. They want to experience your destination like a true local and crave front-row access to cool discoveries and remarkable experiences unlike anything they can find at home.
So, your website should not only focus on your property; It should share the spotlight with your destination.
Your hotel website should position your property as the epicenter of your destination.
You need to show what experiences guests can look forward to and which are within reach. What cool wine bars or quirky, local coffee shops are within walking distance? What local secrets can your staff share? What should guests know about your immediate neighborhood?
The best hotel websites promise to change the viewer’s perspective on the destination and enrich their lives.
5. Absence of Key Tech Tools
As stated in Mistake #1, your hotel website should never be a stagnant marketing piece that sits still looking pretty. It is the dynamic centerpiece of all your hotel marketing efforts and should be powered with critical technology that amplifies its capabilities. Today, there are a number of technology plug-ins (more affordable then ever) that enable hotel marketers to maximize every click and visit and reap as much revenue as possible.
Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 33rd year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com
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