Most hotels have websites, but that, of course, is like saying every football team has 11 players – some will be far better than others and that will be reflected in their relative results. For hotels and chains, the only measures of success that matter are revenue and occupancy, although the means by which they are achieved can themselves be considered among achievements, such as a high rate of guests returning for another stay in the future because they enjoyed the first one.
To get people through the door in the first place means good marketing and as the job of selling a hotel becomes increasingly web-dependent, the importance of having a good website soars. For that reason, there are some qualities every website needs.
Great visual content
There is no doubt that first impressions last – and for those whose only way of seeing what a hotel looks like is through the available images, it is important to show your establishment in the best possible light. For that reason, it is highly advisable to ensure you have top quality pictures of the hotel featured prominently on your website. That means using the best angles, ensuring the most attractive features are included – such as chandeliers, a spiral staircase and pretty gardens – and ensuring best picture quality. On the final point, unless you are a very adept photographer it would be worthwhile getting a professional in to do the job. Make sure you use the surrounds as well, when these are an asset. Whether it is a view of the sea or the mountains or a bustling townscape, these can be featured prominently. Conversely, if some local sights are not so pretty, be sure to leave them out.
Great written content
The pictures matter, but the key is the written content. Much of this will be descriptive and it is certainly important to provide a full list of your services, not just because your credentials depend on showing what you provide – from TVs in rooms to the menu in the restaurant – but also because there will be details that matter a lot to many guests. Whether that is Wi-Fi or high chairs, make sure people know. Other useful information includes local amenities; it will be an added attraction if the hotel is very close to a railway station or the shops. Indeed, guidance is an essential part of helping guests. If the site has maps and information on the things that are going on, directions to local attractions, train and bus times and even information on what to avoid, this will be highly valued by potential guests. Good content can also include some content marketing – where the supplier of a product sells without doing so directly. Good examples of this would include details about local initiatives the hotel may be involved with like charities, as well as interactive pages where guests can exchange information and even have a bit of plain, old-fashioned fun.
Lay-out and presentation
The efficiency of a website also matters. Navigation should be easy and obvious, which means the layout should not be too crowded. A sidebar with a menu is a very smart move, as opposed to scattering links all over the screen. Also, avoid garish colours, as this tends to put off anyone older than primary school age. If in doubt over how to go about this, use the services of a good web designer. Of course, all these links must be checked to ensure they work and each one must be fully stocked to ensure all the information is correct and up to date. Indeed, it is important to do the basics and ensure there are no typos or obvious errors, as this makes the website – and by extension the hotel – look amateurish.
There are some very important functions a hotel website needs. A very obvious one is an online booking service, one that is secure and swift, making it quick and easy to secure a room. However, there are other functional considerations. One is to have a mobile-friendly version of the site. This will be ever more important as smartphones and tablets are increasingly used instead of PCs. The key is to ensure that those who browse while on a bus or train do not miss out on important information that is on the main site but omitted from the mobile version, so the key points must be given priority.
A good channel
Finally, a good hotel website should offer opportunities to find out more information. Email and telephone contact details should be available and whenever an email is sent, replies should be swift and informative. By making sure there is good two-way communication, you can be very helpful and informative to a guest, and by answering their query swiftly and relevantly you are demonstrating the kind of efficient service they can expect during their stay. It may make all the difference when it comes to them deciding whether to stay with you or not.