Finding alternatives to web designers and agencies at your property
Moving away from working with web designers is the first positive step you can take in better managing your hotel website. With a new approach to hotel web design, your site can win more traffic, impress visitors, and convert more bookings.
You might be here because you can’t accept bookings through your website; your website is slow, dysfunctional and doesn’t convert; or you don’t have a brand website at all.
By now you probably understand that hiring a web designer can be a time-consuming and expensive task. With every little change comes a waiting period and a new charge. You are reliant on someone else to update your own website. Then, you may not even be happy with the work they’ve done! Knowing that you can’t leave your website static for too long, it becomes laborious to continue using a web designer.
If you’re looking for an easier, self-managed, option you’re on the right track searching for a software solution.
Specialised technology providers are in the right place to give you exactly what you need when it comes to hotel web design. Since you may already use hotel technology providers for other services such as channel management or direct bookings, finding one that also offers web design is the most logical way forward for your hotel.
On this page we’ll help you determine what factors are most important when choosing a hotel web design provider, and why SiteMinder is the best fit for your business.
‘Any port in a storm’ may actually work for those on a ship at sea, but in your situation a lack of adequate research could leave you worse off than with a web designer.
You’ll want your web design to be flexible enough to give you freedom and a creative license, but rigid enough that you won’t drown in the scope of possibilities.
Flexibility in the way you control your hotel’s web design so you can:
A certain level of rigidity, or structure, is also important so the web design tool is quick and easy for you to use. The last thing you want is to be making constant mistakes, being confused, or spending too long on any one task.
These are the must-have features you should look for in industry leading hotel web design:
The fact is you don’t get a second chance at first impressions so when travellers land on your website it’s very important you keep them there. In fact it only takes them 0.05 seconds to form a snap judgement on whether they like your website or not.
The value of commission-free direct bookings is too high to have customers drop off the moment they see the poor quality images in your gallery, when a page doesn’t load quickly, or because they find the site confusing to navigate.
It’s one thing to say you are a luxury hotel, it’s another for guests to believe it; and then another to prove it with the experience you deliver.
If you want luxury travellers to book then naturally your website has to scream professionalism and accurately display the luxurious nature of your property.
While guests will have to pay high rates to stay at a luxury property, you don’t have to spend a lot to impress them with a sparkling website. In fact you can enjoy and test the benefits of leading luxury hotel web design for free!
Providers such as SiteMinder offer a free trial period, with no lock-in contracts, on all their products – including their hotel website design software. For 30 days you can use the product absolutely free of charge.
In this time you’ll have full functionality, including:
Across a month of free use, the positive results for your hotel website should be clearly evident. Traffic to your website will increase, engagement will rise, and with direct booking enable your commission-free reservations should see a boost. The bottom line is: your bottom line will rise!
Once the free trial ends, you can choose to continue with billing or cease your use of the service. No contract means no commitment and no risk for your business.
The reality of a sophisticated website is that it takes quite a bit of work on the ‘back end’ to maintain an optimal level of operation and quality.
Using a service like SiteMinder, all this work is taken off your hands – you just have to worry about what you want on the front end, where your guests interact with the site. However, it does consume a lot of time and resources, meaning the service can’t stay free forever.
Normally website design software requires an initial setup fee to create your beautiful new website. Once this is done a flat monthly fee will be charged or, if you choose, an annual contract can be paid for with a discount applied.
A high quality website builder and editor can be secured for around $38USD per month, depending on the size of your property. This price reflects a hotel of 10 rooms.
Try out SiteMinder’s pricing scale here to see where your property fits in!
The real value lies in the ability to edit and update your website as many times as you like without incurring any additional costs – a major benefit when compared to using an individual web designer or agency.
Many travellers prefer to book directly with a hotel because they can reserve their room and process their payment in one convenient and secure location – plus they can upgrade to a package, purchase extras, and make special requests.
This is why you need to uphold important web design standards, delighting visitors and removing any barriers that would stop them from making a booking. Considering the fact that hotel website design best practices change frequently, your hotel needs an intuitive website builder and editor to remain competitive.
With such high standards required, you can’t find the perfect solution just anywhere. While there may be a number of options on the market you need to narrow your options down with some in-depth research.
The best choice for you will depend on your level of experience with web design, and also the priorities you have for what you want to achieve with your hotel website.
One of the best resources to use when assessing and comparing providers is Hotel Tech Report.
Here you can view a range of qualitative and quantitative data on many hotel technology systems and products, including SiteMinder’s suite of solutions. Information that will be available includes:
Summaries will also be included of what specific features are offered, along with videos and screenshots where applicable. All the information is dedicated to making it easy for you to compare providers and judge whether a product offers everything you need.
Written customer reviews are also posted on the site, giving you valuable insight into the opinions of your peers who have already used the service you’re considering. You can weigh the feedback as you see fit, aligning it with your own expectations and goals.
Social media is also an important factor when comparing providers. Visit Facebook pages to see what reviews are listed on there, how many followers a provider has, and to find out the general reputation of the brand.
‘Hotel web design template’ may be too much of a rudimentary phrase to describe the type of product offered by companies like SiteMinder, but the templates provided within website builder tools can be extremely effective – while remaining simple to use.
One of the biggest bonuses you enjoy when purchasing a website builder and editor with SiteMinder is that all the work is immediately done for you. The best providers use custom purpose-built templates and your existing content to kick-start the setup.
Naturally you’d hate for your website to look exactly like a competitor’s, which may be a concern when you use a software provider to build your website. Establishing yourself as a unique brand and promising a unique experience to travellers means your website has to convey this message. So to further help you make your website unique, quality providers give the option to create your own custom pages on the website. There are multiple themes, templates, and colour palettes you can switch between to make your website unique and beautiful – providing you possess high quality images.
For instance, you might want the option to create a blog page for your property. This lets you differentiate from competitors and also more effectively engage with your target market.
You’ll also be able to install themes that are accessible to travellers who have some kind of impairment.
Other features that prove beneficial include being able to install third-party widgets – so you can link to TripAdvisor for example – and connect social media accounts, along with listing your promotions.
The real value of this is the ability to create your own custom pages and make as many edits as you want, for no additional fee.
Using quick and easy templates will increase your ability to:
Making smart purchasing decisions is always extremely important in a boutique hotel. You have a tight budget to juggle and you can’t afford to be spending too much or not seeing value for your money.
When you choose a hotel website design provider, you have to be confident they’ll deliver on their promises and realise your business goals.
Fortunately we have plenty of advice for shopping around:
1. Look for a website builder that will accept high resolution images without compromising the overall speed of your website
There’s no point showing off the amazing imagery of your property if it takes too long for the page to load. Travellers will lose patience and leave your website.
2. Find a website builder that provides you with enough freedom to create photo galleries, blogs, pages for your restaurant, and tourist information
This will strengthen your chances of ranking high on search engine results thanks to useful and relevant information.
3. Implement a website builder that will adapt to any device
If someone is using a desktop computer they should see all the content available to them, as you dictate when setting up your site. But when they use a mobile they should see a condensed and more concise version. Mobile users are goal oriented, they want to navigate and make decisions quickly. A mobile responsive website that delivers an awesome small screen experience can secure those last minute bookings from guests on-the-go.
4. Your provider absolutely must give you a https website
This will allow you to rank higher on search engines and save you from any potential backlash – since it will be much harder for anyone to hack or steal guest details. Google integration in general is very useful, benefitting you from a technical point of view and your guests from a functional standpoint. Nothing is more important to online travel bookers than website security. Their personal and payment details must be kept safe. Most websites use “SSL encryption” to protect data that’s transmitted between a website and a shopper. The SSL encryption requires a secure form of communication between a website and the consumer, known as HTTPS – where the ‘s’ stands for secure.
5. Use a solution that is available to all major languages and currencies
This will mean you’re automatically expanding your ability to attract international bookings and boost the revenue of your business. Look for a vendor that offers both a website builder and an online booking engine.
6. Authenticity and individuality are extremely important for an accommodation business trying to attract travellers
Your website is the focal point of establishing these traits so you need to look for a software provider that can help you stand out from the crowd. Little Hotelier can even allow you to customise the colours and styles of buttons on your website so the finest details of your website are in your control even though you’re operating from templates.
7. Optimisation should be a priority for the provider you choose
Part of a direct booking strategy relies on strong search engine rankings, especially Google,
covering these fundamentals:
With more than 60,000 Google searches taking place every second, a website builder will help make your hotel visible to those queries. Included in your ability to edit your website to suit your needs, the software should also act as a content management system. This means your website is more than a placeholder for rates and availability, it can also be used for more exciting and sophisticated promotion purposes.
8. The website builder you choose should be responsive on all devices, offering visitors a seamless browsing experience regardless of how they’re using your site
Fifty-seven percent of websites users won’t recommend a site if it isn’t mobile friendly, while 85% think that a company’s website when viewed on a mobile device should be as good or better than its desktop website. With an effective design that is optimised for mobile use, you will be able to provide potential guests with the information they need, as well as an easy way to book directly through you.
You should ensure the following friction points are removed on your new site:
9. A good website builder will have Google in mind when establishing design principles
Google is a big friend to have, especially when driving organic traffic is important. There are a lot of factors that go into Google’s search algorithms so it can be tricky to get everything right. It can also be very helpful to travellers if you have integration with Google maps, so they can easily navigate to your property in the first place, and find their way back easily when they’re out and about.
10. An integration with Google Analytics helps you collect data on your website’s visitors and better understand the audience you’re engaging with
You can track how and when people are accessing your content, which pages are generating the most response, and what booking trends are emerging. This allows you to tailor your content and offers even more specifically to target your most popular market.
It may seem like an agency is your best option to handle web design and digital marketing on your hotel website. We’d counter by saying investing the help of an agency could put you in a very similar position to what you are with a freelance web designer.
Agencies will obviously charge you quite a bit more than a software provider and they have the same failings as a web designer.
You’re required to:
It’s hard to predict how many changes you may want to make to your website and its content each month, and any delay could be costing you revenue along with the fee you already pay the agency. When compared to a tool with a set monthly fee that’s completely under your control, it’s hard to see the benefits of working with a web agency.
Here are a list of cons you should consider before you hire an agency to manage your hotel website design:
Their attention is divided
You won’t be their only client, and you not be their most important or valuable client. The potential drawbacks are obvious – will they be doing the best or most timely work for you? When you use your own tool, you have so such concerns.
Do they understand your business?
If an agency is working across multiple sectors it’s hard to be an expert in everything. If they don’t understand your business or the motivations of your customers they may not deliver the result you were hoping for. On the contrary, you know your own business and market inside and out – meaning any work you do will be done with a singular focus.
As we said, an agency may not be cheap. Costs could add up without you realising depending on how the agency is paid and the many ways they will seek payment from you. For example, are they on a retainer, paid by the hour, or paid per project etc?
Communicating the vision you have for your brand and making sure it’s understood can take quite a bit of time but it’s necessary if the agency is to do good work. With the ability to manage your own website, you can off and running much quicker with a new, converting, website.
Using a web design tool such as SiteMinder’s website builder and editor is a viable, affordable, alternative to web agencies and designers.
Not only will you be afforded a 30-day free trial, but full-time onboarding and support staff will be available to help you with any issues along the way. Once you undertake training and complete initial setup, updating and maintaining your hotel website should be extremely easy.
Speed, ease-of-use, and functionality are priorities for SiteMinder’s website design tool and was created specifically with hoteliers in mind. From the ground up, the structure is designed to ensure your website is attracting travellers and capturing their reservation – all the while giving them a smooth user experience.
What matters most is that it gives you control over your own property management and marketing, rather than relying on the constant attention of a third-party.