By Hannah Milborrow, VP of Product, SiteMinder
Of course hoteliers today know they need an up-to-date and optimised online presence in order to sell more hotel rooms directly to guests. They also know a beautifully-designed hotel website is the perfect platform for guests to view everything on offer, and make that all-important final booking decision.
If your current website doesn’t fit the bill, you’re definitely not alone. Many hoteliers are unhappy with their website design and know the improvements needed are becoming increasingly urgent.
But it can be daunting and difficult to know where to get started with web design.
You might ask questions like, ‘Do I employ the services of a web developer?’; ‘How long will the project take?’; ‘Am I getting good value for money?’; ‘What should my website look like?’ – and truthfully you might not know the answers, or even have the time and resources to find them.
Thankfully there are other website design options for your hotel to explore. A good route to take is using a website creator, such as SiteMinder’s product Canvas, which can help hoteliers, just like you, take back control of your online presence.
One rural hotelier, Thelma Gray from the Cowra Country Gardens Motor Inn, decided enough was enough with her old website, and she enlisted the help of Canvas with brilliant results.
Here are three ways that Canvas helped Thelma take back control of her hotel’s website:
1. Canvas created the Cowra Inn’s beautiful new website in an instant
If you don’t have time to keep your website updated, then it’s unlikely you’ll find time to redesign the whole thing. By using a rapid website creator, such as Canvas, you’ll avoid all the headaches of a redesign project. It’s really as simple as signing up for a 30-day free trial, then sitting back while Canvas does the hard work for you. The first time you access your new website, via a secure login, it’s like seeing a first draft. You can change the different elements around – things like photos and content – previewing them all, until you’re happy to go live. Thelma was delighted with the quick turnaround.
Thelma says: “I was never totally happy with our old website. Each time we did have the website redesigned, there was very little change from the previous version, and I felt that they were effectively carbon copies of one another. Even the photos weren’t updated often enough. Basically, there was little imagination that went into its production. Now, it is so different to what is normally associated with an accommodation property of our size and in a place like Cowra.”
2. Canvas supports Thelma so she doesn’t need a mass of resources or technical knowledge
It’s great having a website redesigned and relaunched, but what happens when you need to update some content or add something new? Many hoteliers work with external web developers, and this is where the control of your own website begins to slip. They can often be costly and it takes time to explain what you want. It can be even harder to ask for the help, if you don’t have any website know-how. Canvas enables Thelma and her hotel staff to update any piece of content at any time, add brand new pages, or even completely change the theme, faster than the website creation itself. Canvas is an intelligent, intuitive website creator and editor built with hotels in mind. So if you’re running your hotel’s website without the technical expertise of design or coding, then a website creator like this could be the missing support you need.
Thelma says: “Having ownership over the website design process makes me feel much more confident about the site, and what is on it. Previously having to wait for someone else to complete any changes when I requested them would become very frustrating as I waited for them to be made. For instance, one page we had required changes to be completed urgently, but unfortunately the website designer who needed to do the amendments was overseas for some weeks. You can imagine the difficulties that created for us. Now I can make changes to my website directly without risking its design or visual elements. As someone with only basic computer skills, this is a key benefit of the product for me.”
3. Canvas ensures the Cowra Inn website is SEO-friendly and fully mobile responsive
The phrase “if you build it, they will come” may have worked for Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, but it doesn’t work that way for websites. Ensuring your hotel’s website can be found by search engines, like Google, is a key aspect of competing in today’s internet-led economy. A responsive design that makes your website look great on smartphone and tablet devices is also crucial. But how do you do that without the expertise? All the Canvas templates are fully optimised for search engines making sure you can be found where your guests are looking. They’re also fully-responsive delivering a great user experience on whatever device, and helping you capitalise on the growth of last-minute bookings. It’s now something that Thelma doesn’t have to worry about. The Google rankings for the Cowra Inn increased by an average of nearly four spots across four search terms – moving the property onto the first page of Google for the very first time.
Thelma says: “Working with Canvas I was very pleased with the results immediately. The website stands out so much more and I am confident it is drawing people to the town and to our hotel. The increase we have seen in our Google rankings and bookings, just four months in, is definitely proof of that.”