By Clare Riley, Content and Editorial Manager, SiteMinder
Building a successful hotel website can, at times, seem a little like magic. Or, at best, alchemy.
The difference between an effective and ineffective hotel website can seem so arbitrary, and yet if you’re on the wrong side of the fence, the lack of interest in your online presence is going to materially and financially hurt your business.
For hotels that want to receive a lot of bookings directly from guests, rather than through third-party websites such as online travel agents, it is critical to have a website that receives plenty of traffic – and additionally impresses guests enough that they trust your website and book their stay on it.
The basic principles of good hotel website design are not alchemy or magic at all, and are very simple to achieve, especially using creators and editors such as SiteMinder’s Canvas.
Here are six ways your website can turn lookers into bookers:
1. Use lots of great photos
If there is one investment you make in your website, make sure the photos are of a high quality, in order to show off the best your hotel has to offer guest. Hire a photographer if you need to. Or use a smartphone – yes even photos taken on a mobile can look beautiful! Take a look at these stunning examples of hotel photography – and notice how they explore even the most unusual areas of their properties. And if you’re thinking that you don’t have any professional photography skills, check out these great images that were taken using just a smartphone!
2. Proofread your text
Nothing puts a potential customer off a website (aside from ugly photos) than for it to be packed with spelling and grammar mistakes. A professional website needs to have high quality text, so be sure to read everything you write twice, and preferably get some friends and family members to also check it over.
3. Make critical information easy to find
Prices, booking availability, amenities and other important information such as disabled access, are all essential pieces of information, and a potential guest needs to be able to find this information within one click of the website’s main page. Make sure it’s easy to recognise what they need to click on, too.
4. Include plenty of local attractions and things to do
A guest is probably going to want to explore the local area when they stay at your hotel. Creating content where you reccomend things to do, places to eat and so on will help the customer see your hotel as a resource, not just a business, and that will help them have greater trust in the site.
5. Provide contact information!
Sounds really obvious, doesn’t it? Guests like to be able to either email or call to request further information, so your contact details should be prominent on the website. If a guest can have their questions answered quickly, your website will be a more appealing booking avenue than a third-party booking site, which might only have a limited capacity to respond to queries.
6. Don’t overload the website
The modern trend is for websites to be ‘clean’ in design. This means they should not be cluttered with too much text, and should be broken up with plenty of images. There should also be a lot of ‘white space’, with neither text nor images, to focus the eye on the important information on the page. Keep this balance in mind when thinking about the design of the site.
BONUS TIP: Make sure your hotel website is using an internet booking engine, such as TheBookingButton, that not only delivers you commission-free bookings, but also brands the booking experience to match the style of your website. It’s a great way to create a seamless guest experience, and it’s mobile-friendly so you can capture bookings from guests on-the-go too.