You know by now that your hotel needs a website in order for your property to continue to draw in new guests. What you might not know is how to build that website.
You may hear that it’s expensive to hire someone to do it for you, or that it requires significant web development skills to do it yourself – which is partly true.
Developing and maintaining your website can be a time-consuming and expensive proposition, and certainly not something that you’d want to do yourself under most circumstances.
And it’s for these reasons that SiteMinder launched a website creator called Canvas, which is specifically designed to meet the needs of independent hoteliers looking to attract guests online.
But how does it work? And what do you need to know about hotel website design to make use of it? Here are 10 things you should understand about Canvas and how you can work with it:
1. What is Canvas?
Canvas is a website creator and editor designed specifically to help hoteliers without technical expertise create a website for a hotel without needing technical coding skills, or the help of a website designer. It enables you to use simple and smart technology to keep your website up-to-date by giving you control of your most profitable channel – your hotel website.
2. How does Canvas work?
Creating and managing your own website is easier than you think! In fact during the product development of Canvas, our co-founder and MD Mike Ford, set the team a challenge: “I don’t have a single design-oriented or graphically-capable bone in my body, and so from the outset I tasked my team to create a product that I could personally use to create a great-looking website in less than an hour. I created one in less than 40 minutes. We were ready for launch at that point, because I knew any hotelier could do the same.”
All the initial work is done for you, so there’s no risk of getting things wrong before you take control of your website. The website is created using purpose-built templates. You can switch between templates whenever you like and preview your changes before making them live. Keeping your content fresh is easy, and you can do it at anytime and from anywhere, without the need for technical expertise.
3. Who is Canvas for?
Canvas was designed with independent hoteliers in mind. It gives you the ability to build a website from scratch that incorporates an equal level of expertise and experience that would simply be out of reach from a time and cost perspective for any hotelier – barring the biggest global hotel chains.
4. How much does Canvas cost?
Our Canvas customers tell us that the product is an affordable alternative to using expensive web developers and designers. We think it’s only fair to offer prices based on your hotel’s size, and of course we have bundle packages that allow you to combine and save if your hotel already uses The Channel Manager and/or TheBookingButton – view our pricing here.
5. Can I accept direct online bookings through my new website?
Absolutely. Being able to accept direct online bookings is a crucial part of any hotel website. Canvas automates this process with an industry-leading and secure bookings platform, TheBookingButton, meaning guests can have peace of mind when booking through your new website. Canvas also integrates with many other online booking engine options.
6. I don’t want an English-only website – is Canvas available in any other languages?
We know that reaching, attracting, and converting guests from all corners of the world is a crucial part of your hotel marketing strategy. With Canvas you have the capability to have your website available in multiple languages including; Chinese, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Thai with more languages planned for the future. This makes it easy for your guests to switch between English and other languages on your website, which in turn builds trust with them.
7. Do I need any design and website coding experience?
No. Nope. Nothing. Not at all. We probably can’t make this point any clearer, but it’s the team at SiteMinder that have, and continue, to do all the backend expert design and coding for you. Think of them as an extension of your hotel’s staff! We have experienced graphic designers, user interface designers, user experience designers, search engine experts, web developers and testers, working continuously on Canvas to offer great websites, so that you can focus on running your hotel and delivering a great guest experience.
8. If Canvas uses templates, will my website look like all the others?
Canvas uses a series of professionally-designed website templates but allows each hotel to easily apply their own brand personality to make each website completely different from any other hotel using the same technology. In addition to the ability to switch seamlessly between page layouts, colour schemes and fonts, you can upload your own images and videos, content, logo, and even create completely custom pages. No two websites will ever look the same.
9. Will my new website look good on mobile devices?
Great question. And it’s one you should definitely be asking! Statistics show that mobile websites are absolutely critical for attracting new visitors to your hotel, and it’s becoming more important each year. When you create a website through Canvas, the result is a responsive website – meaning that the website recognises what device a visitor is using and changes the design to suit. People looking at the site on a smartphone or tablet will see a mobile website, while someone looking at it on a laptop or desktop computer will see the usual desktop design. This again requires no additional work on your part – Canvas handles the responsive design entirely.
10. Does Canvas implement any SEO best practice?
One of the most effective ways to promote a website is through search engine optimisation (SEO). A hotel’s website that has good SEO is easy to find when a customer searches on the likes of Google for words related to your hotel. So, for example, if someone was visiting New York, and needed a hotel, they would type “New York hotel” into Google, and the best tailored and optimised websites will appear high in search results. Businesses spend a lot of money hiring experts to optimise their websites for good SEO results, but the beauty of Canvas is that it is built with SEO in mind meeting all the fundamental and necessary requirements such as clean HTML and CSS that is well-structured, including unique pages with unique titles and descriptions, and a full sitemap to allow for correct indexing by the search engines.
You can read more about how Canvas helped one rural hotelier take back control of her website – delivering increased bookings and boosted search engine rankings too!