Would you buy three-year-old TVs for your rooms?
How about cheap lobby furniture that no one wanted to sit on?
The answers to these questions are obvious. But as strange as it may seem, some hoteliers remain blissfully unaware of another problem right under their nose: their website is harming their business.
Think your website is “good enough?” Think again. Here’s a list of 10 ways it may be insufficient and underperforming:
1. You treat every website visitor the same.
Business travelers expect and need different treatment than couples seeking a romantic weekend getaway. You don’t treat them in the same way when they are on-property, why treat them the same way when they arrive at your site? Simple new technology allows you to personalize the arrival experience and engage with the most relevant message and offer.
2. You treat every booking engine visitor the same.
Once a website visitor performs an availability search and enters your booking environment, it’s even more important to customize their experience. Based on their previous clickstream behavior and demographics, the booking environment should adapt to their profile, preventing reservation abandonment, increasing your conversion and raising your actual ADR.
3. You’ve never actually watched a human test it.
Amazing things happen when you ask unbiased users (no, not your spouse!) to actually sit down and try using/booking on your site. Check out UserTesting.com for cheap, demographically relevant testers.
4. Your pricing is confusing.
Visitors to your online booking environment expect fast, simple, smooth transactions. Travel consumers will surf away from your site at the smallest hint of pricing friction, lack of price parity or complexity. Your revenue management team can have a deeply profound impact on your web team’s results. Make sure the booking environment is carefully monitored and frequently tested!
5. You have no SEO foundation.
Competing with the OTAs and your compset for high Google rankings is hard enough without handicapping yourself from the get-go by failing to build the site on a best-practices SEO foundation. Your link structure, site map and microdata need to be carefully reviewed and crafted by real SEO practitioners.
6. Your fail to showcase your special promos.
Hotel consumers have been conditioned to expect a deal. Groupon, Travelzoo, the OTAs, dozens of other flash sale and deal-of-the-day players have made travel consumers less loyal and more price-conscious than ever before. Fight Back! Showcase your best offers prominently, not only on your website, but also across all your digital channels: mobile, search, social and email to past guests.
7. Your photography is boring.
We live in a world where image is everything. On the web, people look at images first and read only if they like what they see! Simply “taking” photos of your rooms and amenities is not enough. You need to make photos. Hire the best photographer you can afford and a stylist. This investment will come back many times over.
8. You fail to delight meeting/event planners.
If you depend on meetings for any substantial amount of revenue, you need to delight event planners when they arrive at your site. Do you have content to engage these demanding folks? 360º videos of your facilities? Diagrams and spatial dimensions of the meeting rooms? Photos of previous weddings? Sample menus? Maps to nearby entertainment venues? All these and more will make the difference between getting a lead or missing out on lucrative business.
9. You are not optimized for all devices.
Virtually every travel consumer uses two or three different screens in their purchasing cycle. If your website is not utilizing fully responsive website design best practices (i.e., auto-reconfiguring itself depending on the screen size of the visitor) you are losing bookings.
10. You are overspending on traffic until you fix conversions.
The push to shift dependency on OTAs and increase direct bookings has inspired hotels of all sizes to spend billions on driving traffic to their own website. Sadly, its mostly wasted… hotel owners and their marketing teams would be better served by focusing instead on converting a higher percentage of their existing visitor stream, no matter how small it is.
Your website is the first impression guests have of your property, it will shape their perception of your value and determine if they will buy from you, surf away to your competition or book your property through a costly OTA.