Your hotel website is the cornerstone of your hotel’s success. It’s the focal point of your marketing efforts, the virtual front lobby to your property and the battleground upon which you will win or lose against your competition and the OTAs. We talk a lot on the Fuel Hotel Marketing Podcast about what you should be doing. This episode focuses on the things you should not be doing on your website. There are certainly more than the 10 that we discuss. Let us know some mistakes that you’ve seen in the comments below.
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Poor quality photography
Whether the image looks pixelated, or the people in the photography are sporting short shorts and a perm, it really doesn’t matter. Bad photography is bad for your hotel. People process images significantly faster than they do text; therefore, the photos on your site are what determine the first impression a potential guest gets when visiting your site. Invest in quality photography and ensure that you’re uploading the appropriate resolution.
Slow load time/image file size too large
Nothing is more frustrating than having to wait for a website to load, especially when you’re researching travel. Often times, a consumer is navigating to multiple sites and comparing rates and value. If your site is slow to load and your competitors sites are not, you may not make the cut. In addition, Google uses page speed as a ranking factor in its search algorithm. So, not only will it hurt your conversion rate, but it may also decrease your traffic.
The main culprit for slow load times is typically images that have been uploaded via the content management systems (CMS) that are far larger than they need to be.
Sometimes, it’s more of a technical limitation due to poor coding, or insufficient hardware resources.It’s good to monitor your page speed and your index speed within the Google Search Console.
Do we really have to keep saying this? If you STILL don’t have a mobile-friendly website and booking engine, then you are 2 years too late and you are throwing away money. More than 50% of travel-related Internet usage is done on a mobile device. That’s right, the MAJORITY of traffic is not on desktop. If you don’t have a mobile-friendly presence, you are providing a sub-par experience to your potential guests. This will reduce your booking and your revenue
.In addition, now that google is focusing more on their mobile search results, you are losing out on much needed visibility and handing your potential guests to your competition and the OTAs. Stop it!
Default Titles/META descriptions
These much overlooked website attributes are some of the most important aspects of your website. Not only do they help your website in terms of where it ranks on search engines, but they are typically the two snippets that a guest sees before entering your site. These are the front lobby of your site; they can be the difference between whether a searcher chooses you or another site. Please, for the love of inn keepers everywhere, take the time to think about what each page on your site should say. Be sure to include the relevant keywords, but more important, be sure that you are summarizing and selling the value of the page. Try to avoid automation, and definitely do not use generic text across the entire site.
Non-integrated booking engine
So, here I am, reading through your beautiful, image rich site. I’ve looked at the homepage, the amenities and the rooms. Yes, this is definitely a property that I would be interested in. Let me check the rates and availability. “Click”. Oh, the horror. What is this monstrosity? I’ve just gone from the aesthetically pleasing, at design to this Frankenstein’s monster of a booking engine. Yes, it has the same logo and colors, but that’s where the similarities end. The font is different, the layout looks like it was designed by a back-end developer. This unwanted shock to my system has left me dazed and confused. I’m just going to click over to that other hotel website that kept me in a consistent look-and-feel.
Also make sure that the booking engine is visible and accessible on all pages. It’s not OK to just have the booking widget on the homepage. It needs to be the focal point of every page.
The moral of the story is that this is 2016. There’s no reason that your booking engine shouldn’t look exactly like the rest of your website and shouldn’t be easy to use and intuitive.
Sending people out to social media pages/video content or review sites
When a guest gets to your website, chances are that you’ve spent money to get them there. Either through SEO, an email campaign, paid advertising. Somewhere, somehow, you’ve done the hard part. You’ve gotten the horse to the water, now all you need to do is get them to drink. Hopefully, your well-oiled conversion machine is up to the task of pushing that guest through the conversion funnel and right through to a booking. So, why in the world would you send them away from the watering hole to get distracted by Aunt Beryl’s latest rant about those damn millennials? Once someone is on your site, do whatever you can to keep them there. Answer all their questions, eliminate all of their fears, and reassure them that they are making the right decision. Don’t let them get distracted.
Conversion dead ends (ie: news page with no CTA)
In addition to not sending the website visitor away, another thing to consider is making sure that they don’t simply close your site. There are 1001 reasons that a potential guest visits your site. Not all of them are at the same point in the conversion funnel. Don’t assume that you’re going to convert all of them first time. Give them a “what’s next” option. If they’re looking at a blog article, show them another related article that pushes them closer to conversion, or better yet, try to get them to sign up for an email newsletter.
Not designing the site for the audience
Perhaps the most common mistake we encounter at the beginning of the redesign process is that the owner/marketing director of the property wants to design a site that appeals to themselves. This often leads to a design that isn’t appealing to the target audience and messaging/content that makes too many assumptions and/or doesn’t sell the value of the property in the right way.
When you’re designing your site, it’s always good to involve your target audience in the process and design it for THEM, not you. You can use your social media pages or your email database to survey past guests on what they like and what sold them on the property in the first place. These become the building blocks for the new site and you end up with a product that performs better.
The ‘NASCAR’ effect
Once your beautiful new site is launched, it’s inevitable that you’re going to want to add stuff. New announcements, awards, offers etc, will all crop up over time. The natural reaction is to slap that new message on the homepage. Right? Wrong! Very, very wrong. The truth is that how a visitor lands on your site has evolved. Often times, the homepage is still the most visited page on your site, but there are an awful lot of people that now land on lower level pages and never even see the homepage. That new bumper sticker that you just added to the homepage is not only junking up your site, it’s also not being seen.
When you do have to add something new to your site, think about it from a relevance perspective. Which people need to know about this and where in their journey would it have the most impact. Then, incorporate that new messaging into the appropriate place and in the appropriate format. If you’re not sure where that is, use A/B testing to figure it out.
Not owning your site
You’ve just been blown away by this glitzy new agency that’s showcased all of their fabulous awards and their extensive portfolio of hotel clients. They convince you to sign up with them for a brand new, state-state-of the art website. It’s going to cost a pretty penny, but you know that it’s a good return on investment, so you sign that lengthy contract with a two-year commitment and you don’t pay attention to the fine print.
Time goes by, the site performs adequately, though never quite delivering on the promise of a 25% increase in bookings. Then, you want to go in a new direction, with a new company. You ask your vendor for the website files because you’re going to move your hosting. BAM. You find out that you actually don’t own your site. It’s built on their proprietary CMS and the best you can do is get a static HTML version of the files. That’s no good to you. How will you make updates? You’re now going to have to fork out another wad of cash to have someone else rebuild the same exact website in another CMS. What a waste of money.
Do yourself and your wallet a favor: Make sure you pick a website provider that give you a non-proprietary CMS and make sure that you own all of the code, in case you ever decide to go in a different direction.
If there are any other mistakes that you see people making on their website, please let us know in the comments below.
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