November 15, 2011
Most PC web travel bookers today are well informed, know their options, and want to get their results quickly. A marketer’s goal should be able to understand their market segments and be able to anticipate their shopping behavior in order to capitalize to meet their needs.
When you frame the content and design layout of your hotel website, not only should it be appealing and attractive, but it should also have clear content in terms of understandability and a design layout that compliments your hotel and its services. An intelligent hotelier is one who keeps himself informed and updated of the latest terms and technologies not only in the hotel industry, but also in the affiliate industries.
The online travel industry is rapidly evolving with the demands of today’s travelers. Content is available through a variety of sources including third party travel sites, review sites, social media sites and destination pages. Travel marketers should expect that when potential guests visit their website, they may be landing on various pages based on their searches and often come loaded with information from other sites.
Hence, it is imperative for hospitality websites to engage their potential guests at every level.
A compilation of the top ten things you should be doing on your hotel website:
- Embrace Social Media: Majority of social media users expect companies to have a social presence. They want companies to interact with them on social sites. By embracing social media i.e. with a well-planned social initiative, you can turn visitors into fans and ultimately, into brand loyalists. Your social media page should be neat, tidy and not cluttered with too many buttons. You should use a concentration on interesting articles, offers and promotions to make your social media page more attractive. In addition, by embracing social media, you can send messages to thousands of people with just a few clicks on a button.
- Download speed and Landing pages: Internet users are highly impatient and if your website takes too long to open, it will encourage potential visitors to visit your competitors’ website. The loading time of a page should be no longer than 4 seconds. Please note, background music, flash or large images increase your load time. If you are adding any of these elements, make sure that you account for increases in loading time or you might end up driving potential guests away. Once the potential customer has visited the site, the landing page needs to be convincing enough for the customer to stay on the site and ultimately make a booking.
- Image & Video search:Image and video search is an effective way to benefit from different search traffic. You can render image search by including searchable photo galleries, adding images for things to do on the site, being a part of image sharing sites like Flickr, Picasa and adding images on the hotels social pages on Facebook, Twitter etc.
- Mobile search: With over 590 million mobiles in use in India, you can leverage the mobile market by modifying your website for mobile phones and improving the download speed of your website by eliminating flash and heavy graphics. You need to ensure that your website is mobile compatible. This will enable you to tap a larger audience and promote mobile sites across all platforms.
- Manage website navigation smartly: Most web users focus on the upper half of the webpage and then scroll down if they find it appealing. Since the space above grabs most of their attention, it has to be made attractive. You can enhance your web page by using an engaging photo and prominent calls-to-action. The website should be crisp, clean and consistent in every way; after all, it reflects the image of the hotel. Maintain the same layout throughout all of the pages and be uniform with your site navigation, as users do not like learning how to use an unexplored site.
- Booking engine: it is imperative for every hotel website to have a booking engine. By installing a user-friendly booking engine that easily integrates into the look and feel of your website, you can be rest assured that your bookings will keep growing. Adding additional benefits for the customer such as dinner vouchers, spa treatments or arrival gifts can also boost the number of bookings.
- Clear brand image: Knowing who you are as an hotelier and what you are promoting is very important. If you do not place a clear picture in front of the customers then they will not comprehend the brand or your product. Including a prominent hotel logo, which has a direct link to the home page, will make it more convenient for the user. Without using too many unnecessary marketing fuzzwords, include a descriptive tagline that clearly states what your hotel is all about and maintains your hotels brand image.
- Broken links: It is necessary to check your website for broken links on a regular basis as broken links leave behind a very questionable image. Missing one or two of such links is inescapable for some hoteliers; this calls for the use of creative error messages.
- Get Hyperlocal: The term Hyperlocal is essentially an extension of your local social marketing, which is typically intended for residents of a particular community, region, town, city, village or neighborhood. It includes websites such as Facebook Places, Google Maps etc. Getting hyperlocal will literally put your company ‘on the map’. The rise in popularity of geo-tagging applications means that you can offer incentives for ‘check-ins’ to your hotel.
- Study the site statistics: Studying your website statistics will show you the ‘ways and means’ to improve your website. Acquaint yourself with the various terms that are used to describe website traffic including- visits, hits, page impressions, unique views etc. This will enable you to find out which pages are the most successful, at what time of the day does your site receive maximum hits, which search engines people use to reach you etc. Keeping a track on these statistics will keep you posted on how successful is your website.
In a market where travel buyers are becoming more price constrained and choosy in their choice of supplier, travel retailers simply cannot afford to be losing sales to basic mistakes. The issue is that the journey a customer takes towards a purchase is getting ever more complicated. A well-managed website will help you to advance your sales and bookings. Let your website start working for you now!